As a reader of Street Smart Brazil’s blog you are ahead of most on the path to becoming fluent in Brazilian Portuguese. You’ve chosen to focus on learning Portuguese as it is actually spoken by people in Brazil and you’ve signed up for classes with Luciana~s team in order to improve your colloquial Portuguese.
Speaking with native speakers is invaluable to your learning, but what do you do when class is over and you want to keep practicing Portuguese? If you live in a major city you might be able to find a community of Brazilians that you can interact with, but that’s not an option for everybody. Luckily there are several websites that you can use in order to connect with Brazilian conversation partners.
Here are the top sites for practicing Portuguese with Brazilians.
Livemocha is the largest social network for language learners. It has a lot of different features, but the main value that you can get from this site is being able to connect with Brazilian conversation partners. Many Brazilians enter this site with the intention of improving their English and/or helping foreigners learn Portuguese. This creates a great opportunity for you to log on and practice your Portuguese.
Once you log into the site and let it know that you’re learning Brazilian Portuguese it will start recommending people for you to befriend. Be a friendly person and send out a few messages to people letting them know that you’re learning Brazilian Portuguese, and want to do a language exchange. After you’ve found some cool people to talk to, exchange Skype information with them and start speaking. Unfortunately there is no advanced search option, so you can’t search for a specific city and make friends before you go there.
Busuu is very similar to Livemocha, having a lot of the same features. It too is a social network sight for language learning, with free as well as paid materials to help you learn a language. I personally think that Busuu’s free courses are a little bit better than LIvemocha, but I mostly use the site to find people to talk to.
As far as chatting goes, Busuu works the same as Livemocha. Search for people by language, add them as a friend, send them a message, exchange Skype information and start talking!
Verbling is a site with a really cool concept that came out pretty recently. It’s basically Chatroulette for language learning. The way it works is you tell it which language(s) you are learning and which one(s) you speak, and it will connect you with someone who speaks the language you’re learning and wants to learn your language. The idea is to do a language exchange where you switch off between the two languages, and every five minutes it will suggest which language you should speak.
If you want to jump right in and talk to someone in Portuguese, Verbling is definitely the site to use. The only downside is that sometimes it’s hard to find someone online to talk to. The best time to get online is at night when people are done with work and are looking for a social outlet. Be careful with Verbling because it can get addicting.
Whichever site you use, its important that you incorporate as much speaking practice as you can. When you get to Brazil, all you’re going to be doing is speaking in Portuguese, so you should get used to doing it now. It’s a lot less stressful to begin speaking Portuguese in the comfort of your own home than when you go to Brazil and have a million other things on your mind.
Josh Plotkin is originally from California but now calls Belo Horizonte his home. He runs the site Brazilian Gringo to help others move to Brazil and teach English.
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