Learning Portuguese Through Art: 4 Wonderful Things to Watch, Read, and Hear This Weekend

Do you know what Daniel Baldwin, Luke Hemsworth and Sophie Thompson have in common, apart from the fact that they all have familiar surnames?

Bad luck. Although they have acting careers of their own, Daniel, Luke and Sophie, will probably be always referred to as the lesser-known siblings of much more popular actors who get all the attention.

In the field of language, this is a common occurrence. In fact, that has always been the case of Portuguese, the attractive but modest sister to Spanish.

Indeed, because Portuguese has for too long played second fiddle to more popular Romance languages, not many people know that there are a good number of reasons to want to learn this lesser-known language. On the one hand, the very fact that it’s not widely spoken makes it a very good addition to your resumé. After all, Portuguese is spoken not only in Portugal and Brazil but also in places such as Angola, Equatorial Guinea, and Mozambique. At the same time, this means that knowing Portuguese will allow you to communicate with a wide range of people who usually have a hard time finding someone who understands what they say.

For this reason, we have come up with a list of 4 things that you must watch, read, and listen to if you want to learn this beautiful language.

1. Até que a vida nos separe (TV series, Portugal)

Daniel and Vanessa are wedding planners whose own marriage has seen better times. Daniel, who used to dream of becoming a great photographer, resents the fact that he had to give up his own happiness to photograph other people’s joy. Vanessa, on the other hand, feels she has wasted her youth by taking care of her home. Through the lives of this couple and the stories of the people they help to get married, this RTP1 miniseries explores how love and family come in different shapes. It’s a wonderful adult drama that deals with midlife crisis, separation, forgiveness and diversity.

2. Clarice Lispector (Writer, Brazil)

Symbol of the modernist literary movement in Brazil, Clarice Lispector is widely seen as one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. Her prose is known for its lyrical quality and the subversion of traditional narrative conventions. Her characters possess a rich interior life full of revelatory insights that Lispector conveys with epiphanic clarity.

She tells stories about sexual awakening, secret desires, madness, suicide, old age… Her stories, as a whole, seem to contain every aspect of life, from the fears of a child to a woman who thinks about her life on her deathbed.

But what makes Lispector an essential author for everyone who loves literature and languages is that she conveys complex subjects through sentences that feel both simple and new, colloquial and lyrical.

3. Aquarius (Film, Brazil)

This French-Brazilian drama film stars the great Sonia Braga as Clara, a woman who refuses to sell her apartment to a construction company that intends to demolish the place and build a more modern complex.

At 65, Clara lives a happy life full of friends, family and lovers. And although she’s a kind, soft-spoken woman, as soon as this construction company starts to covet her oceanfront condo she will show them what she’s made of. From then on, Aquarius focuses on the journey of a woman determined to prove that there are certain things in life that money cannot buy. At the same time, it’s an important statement about how it’s never too late to live your life to the fullest, and that happiness is not a luxury of the young.

4. Mariza (Singer, Portugal)

Sometimes referred to as the new queen of fado, Mariza is one of those rare artists who combine unmatchable vocal talent with a bewitching stage presence. A rightful heiress to the legendary singer Amália Rodrigues, Mariza actually started her career by paying tribute to Amália’s invaluable legacy. However, she has come a long way since then, and we can only be glad that she has found her own voice, as it’s an indescribably beautiful one.

In the song Barco negro (Black Ship), for example, Mariza tells the story of an ill-fated, sea-side romance that ends with one of the partners sailing into the ocean waving his lover goodbye. It’s a beautiful piece made from exquisite sadness, with very few instruments and a whole lot of voice.

So, there you are. A thought-provoking TV series, a wonderful storyteller, a life-affirming movie, and a super-talented musician. If you want to familiarise yourself with the sounds and rhythms of Portuguese, now you know where you can start.

However, remember that if you want to achieve fluency in any language, the best thing you can do is to take lessons with a native teacher. That is why we pair students up with Portuguese or Brazilian tutors who can teach you all about the cultural complexities of their language. Contact us now and we’ll get back at you with the best lesson plan to suit your needs.