Life In Portugal For Families – Can You Speak The Language?

"life in portugal learning portuguese as a family"Learning the Portuguese language is something that everyone who is moving to or is living in Portugal will promise themselves that they will do as soon as possible but we all know this is far more difficult than it sounds.  When it comes to life in Portugal for families one of the biggest generational differences you will probably find will be the rate at which members of the family learn the language.

Generally children pick up Portuguese very quickly, simply from being around people who speak the language.  if you send your child to a Portuguese creche, nanny or school then they will generally go from knowing zero Portuguese to being more or less fluent in around three months.

This may sound like a very short time but you have to take into account that children will usually be in a Portuguese environment for at least six hours a day and they soon become saturated by the language and know at least how to speak it and understand others very quickly.

I have known of several cases of British children who speak no Portuguese suddenly becoming fluent after around three months and in most cases the children themselves are shocked by what they have learnt!

To make sure that older children are up to scratch in Portuguese in reading and writing it can be a good idea to ask for extra tuition if your child is over the age of six – children any younger generally have no problem learning how to read and write in one or more languages.

So then we have the case of the children being able to speak Portuguese and the parents still being stuck at Bom dia!

This shouldn’t be a problem but what happens in many cases is that instead of the parents trying even harder to learn they instead just turn to their children to translate anything they don’t understand, this does not make you a bad parent but it does have its down side.

One of the most annoying things for parents when children speak Portuguese and they don’t is the lack of control over a situation.  Before you know it your eight year old child is arranging an appointment at a doctors without consulting you about the details or they are phoning the electricity board and then forget to let you know the important details!!

Equally frustrating is when your child then speaks to siblings of friends only in Portuguese and you don’t have a clue about what they are talking about!  This is at best annoying and at worst can lead to problems if inappropriate subjects are being discussed.

My advise to parents with children who are learning Portuguese is to try and take lessons to be able to keep up with your children – I always like to be one step ahead, although as they get older this becomes increasingly difficult.

Watching Portuguese childrens television with your children and reading their school books are also good ways to be able to keep up and you will find that in no time your entire family will be speaking Portuguese without you even realising it!