Simon and Karen - Moving to the Algarve

Many students start their Portuguese lessons intending to learn the language for retiring in Portugal.

Simon and Karen, our students from Harwich, Essex, started their Portuguese classes in the beginning of 2014 and in September they made the big move. Despite being absolute beginners and having a short "dead line" until their move, their enthusiasm in the learning process was contagious!

They used to face long journeys driving from Harwich to our classroom in Pitsea, Basildon on a weekly basis, ready and happy to spend 2 hours learning the language with us! The enourmous effort they had put into their Portuguese course inspired me and other students who came to meet them during the Saturday Workshops and the Lisbon Study Week in that year.

After 2 months since they had left Essex, I asked them to jot down some of their thoughts on how their lives have changed and how much Portuguese they are using on their daily life.

Read their account below:


"We emigrated to the Algarve nearly two months ago. It has been a very busy time not without a few problems but the knowledge of the language we had built up over the previous 9 months has been extremely valuable.

Whilst it is possible to live in this region without learning Portuguese it becomes so much less of an experience, and any knowledge is better than none.

We have found in general that the Portuguese welcome your attempts to speak their language even though you are probably making many mistakes. Whilst our level is basic we are able to get over what we mean and we are slowly understanding what is being said back, especially if the replies are slowed down.

"Everyday is a learning experience and new words come in abundance"

In many ways it is exciting to find out out what the new words mean. I asked a man who was repairing my roof if he wanted a drink or I thought I had , I think I actually said toca um bebe ? which means do you touch a baby ? when I meant to say "toma uma bebida?" , anyway, he shrugged and I eventually realising my mistake sheepishly got him a beer for which he was very grateful.

We recently have had long conversations in pigeon portuguese stretching our knowledge to the limit about kitchens and buildings, but the Portuguese people have been very patient and helpful throughout.

In England it easy to go down to the DIY shop and get some filler but what is it called in Portugal? Where do you get it and is it the same?

Restaurant interaction is getting easier though in other places sometimes it is daunting....

"You do need courage and perseverance but once you have got your message through there is a great sense of achievement"

We are looking forward to renewing our studies and learning how to talk in the past tense with the help of Cristiane & Portuguese on Demand"


Note of the Editor: Simon and Karen have enroled in online classes with us now and they are also joining our Lisbon Study week for the second time!

If you are considering to do the same as Simon, I strongly suggest that you start your classes as soon as possible, so you have plenty of time to acquire experience in the language and consolidate the basic aspects of it.

The American newspaper US NEWS has published an article listing the reasons why retiring in Portugal is so nice. You can read the article in here. If you like participating in Fo