First of all, before we answer to this question, there are three things you have to know. The first one is that the difficulty of the Portuguese language will depends significantly on your mother tongue and in a certain way, on the languages you speak. Second, we will need a referential language to answer this question. We will use English as a referential language. Lastly, the third point, it will also depends on your motivation and method.
For whom does the Portuguese language seem easier?
For example, if your native language is Spanish, Italian, French or even Romanian (Latin languages), you will consider the Portuguese language relatively easy. Maybe it will be even easier than English. Although Portuguese language – more specifically grammar – is quite more complex than English, for those speakers Portuguese may seem more similar with their native languages. Consequently, the Portuguese language will be easier for them.
Similarly, if your mother tongue isn’t a Latin language, but you speak one or more of them, you will be in advance!
The role of motivation
However, there is a differentiating factor: the motivation. For example, Portuguese students learn English at school and very often French too. By analogy, French should be easier for Portuguese students than English. Nevertheless, most students think that English will be more important to their lives than French. Therefore, they will put more effort on English, that’s why they will learn it faster and think it is easier.
As you can see, the difficulty level is something relative. Although, we want to be as precise as possible, so we will need to use the English as a referential language. That’s because English is the most spoken language as a foreign or second language.
Answering the question…
Now we are ready to answer the question “Is Portuguese a hard language to learn?”.
The Foreign Service Institute of the US Department of State has compiled approximate number of hours that typically English-speaking learners take to achieve Speaking level 3: General Professional Proficiency in Speaking and General Professional Proficiency in Reading.
There are 5 categories:
Category I: Languages closely related to English (23-24 weeks, 575-600 hours)
Category II: Languages similar to English (30 weeks, 750 hours)
Category III: Languages with linguistic and/or cultural differences from English (36 weeks, 900 hours)
Category IV: Languages with significant linguistic and/or cultural differences from English (44 weeks, 1100 hours)
Category V: Languages which are exceptionally difficult for native English speakers (88 weeks, 2200 hours)
Can you guess in which category is the Portuguese language? Category I! Yes, Portuguese language is in the category I, along with Afrikaans, Danish, Dutch, French, Italian, Norwegian, Romanian, Spanish and Swedish. For example, Russian is in the category IV and Mandarin (Chinese) is the category V.
Thus, if you are going to learn Portuguese, these news are great for you!
If you want to check how the Portuguese language looks like, we recommend you to take a look on our post “Portuguese Phrases – How does it says…” and to get familiar with some basic Portuguese.
Finally, a crucial factor that your success will depend on is the methodology. So, in order to get some advices about how to get the maximum results, we recommend you to check the second part of our post “Portuguese lessons – Learning Portuguese on Portugal Silver Coast”.
And remember: Portuguese isn’t a hard language; you just need to learn it in the right way.