Intensive language courses can be a fantastic way to learn a language, particularly the foundations of the language. Most people find that by studying for a few hours each day they learn and retain a lot more Portuguese than they would if they just took a course for an hour or two per week. Plus, it can be a great way to meet other people learning Portuguese – particularly if your course has a residential aspect to it.
But have you considered that you could study intensively at home? You don’t need to wait until you get enough time off work to be able to come to Portugal to take an intensive course.
Most intensive courses last for around 2 weeks and take up around 3 hours per day, so that’s roughly 30 hours, but perhaps slightly more, in total. Typically, you’ll pay around €400 for a 2-week course, which equates to slightly over €10 per hour. This doesn’t include other costs like travel or accommodation.
But, if you wanted to, you could easily recreate the immersive course environment at home. For teaching, there are some fantastic online courses that teach European Portuguese. They’ll teach you all of the grammar and vocabulary that you need to know. Practice Portuguese, for example, is incredibly affordable and covers Portuguese levels A1, A2, B1, and B2.
There are also plenty of resources that you can use to work on your listening skills, such as all the podcasts that cover European Portuguese and have subtitles.
Finally – and this is something you won’t necessarily get with an intensive course – you can book 1-on-1 lessons with a tutor (or more than 1 tutor) on sites like Italki. Doing this, you’ll get to practice your spoken Portuguese as well as get feedback on all the mistakes you’re making, whether that’s in pronunciation, grammar, or anything else.
Visit Italki and you’ll find a number of teachers that teach European Portuguese (make sure to select teachers from Portugal to avoid native Brazilian Portuguese speakers). Prices start from around €10, so for the €400 you would spend to get group lessons, you could actually get around 40 hours of 1-on-1 lessons.
This kind of 1-on-1 attention isn’t something that you get when you take an intensive course. Almost all intensive courses are classroom-based so the teacher’s attention is divided between you and all of the other students. And when you do practice speaking, it’s often with another student and not with the teacher.
In short, your money and time could go a lot further if you create your own intensive course. And you don’t have to put off learning Portuguese properly until you can finally come to Portugal to take one of these courses.
But, here’s the big benefit of an intensive course over self-study: booking an intensive course means you’ll actually show up and study – at least for the lessons you’re in the classroom for. Most people, unfortunately, can’t make themselves study for several hours per day.
Thankfully, you can recreate that dedication by booking lessons in advance. Decide that you’re going to study intensively for 2 weeks and book all the lessons for those 2 weeks on Italki in advance. Go one step further and set yourself a goal of passing an exam (say the A2) and then book the exam – you’ll be much more likely to study for it if it’s actually booked and paid for. Basically: accept that studying won’t come naturally for you and come up with ways to deal with your inner procrastinating monkey.
You can still take that intensive course if you want to – just don’t put off learning Portuguese in between!