Our new life and learning journey

It’s been over a week since we landed in Portugal and it’s been a whirlwind living in the beautiful city of Porto. I last came here for a short trip in 2014 and its mostly as I remember: terraced orange roofs, hilly cobblestone streets and buildings stacked up next to each other covered in beautiful colourful tiling in all sorts of patterns. The vibe is super relaxed; people move about like there’s nothing urgent to do and small cafes line the streets, where people sit outside enjoying espresso or wine at all times of the day. The sun sets after 9pm and the days feel like they last forever.

We’re planning to live here for the next few years, so it only makes sense that I will begin my next learning journey: the language of Portuguese. I’m going into this knowing almost nothing (yeah, I should’ve done a bit of studying before landing here, but whatcha gonna do).

My planned approach is similar to what I used to learn Khmer when I lived in Cambodia, but I hope this time I can stick to the Fluent Forever method a bit more closely, as I expect there will be a lot more learning resources for Portuguese. I really enjoyed studying Mandarin and then Khmer (separately) in the last five years, so I’m really excited to take on Portuguese next, which should be a lot ‘easier’ being a Latin-based language.

Here’s how I plan to tackle this learning challenge:

  1. Pronunciation training. This will follow the Fluent Forever method precisely, which recommends spending the first week or two getting used to the sounds of the language and training your ear to recognise them before diving deeper.
  2. Vocabulary through flashcards. I plan to learn the most ~1000 most commonly spoken words through a Space Repetition System (i.e. Anki flashcards). I’ve already downloaded an Anki deck online so fingers crossed its an accurate one. This phase can be achieved in around 3 months of learning 10 new words a day. I love flashcards because its a measurable way to learn vocab and backed by neuroscience.
  3. Online lessons on iTalki. After scoping out the prices of in-person lessons here, it seems like the most cost effective way to get lessons is still online (€10-20 per hour). I plan to use this to give myself a solid grounding in how to structure sentences, have conversation practice and to keep me accountable to my progress.
  4. Immersion through podcasts/radio/TV and meeting people. Will begin this after I acquire some basic sentences and words. I won’t be able to understand much of what’s going on at first, but over time this will improve and will help me get a more Portuguese accent along the way.


Chances are, I’ll adapt this methodology over the coming months as I found new resources & ways of learning, but for now this is the plan.

My goal for now is to study between 30-60mins a day, with the aim to just study consistently every day, rather than lumping it all into a weekly session. Consistency is the name of the game here – language learning is a marathon, not a sprint after all. I will also be working full-time along with maintaining a daily exercise routine, spending time with Mel, making new friends etc. So the first real step to this challenge is to carve out time in my schedule and build a new habit of studying. Let’s go.