Practise!Here is a mixture of words without a pronunciation guide, for you to practise on:
Practise reading Portuguese literature – and when you do so, try to read aloud if at all possible. Read slowly enough to be able to pronounce every word clearly – don’t be tempted to rush, as clarity is more important, and your speed will naturally increase over time anyway. Also listen carefully to educated native Portuguese speakers whenever you get the opportunity (hint: you can access Portuguese TV and radio over the internet). Note the inflection in their voice, their rhythm and intonation, and of course their pronunciation. Try to copy the accent by doing an impression of a native speaker whose voice you are familiar with. Imagine the sound of that person talking, and try to read in the way that he or she would.
As with any language, those who are familiar with it will tend to neglect the formal rules of pronunciation. Sometimes, modifications of pronunciation become common and are even adopted as the standard pronunciation. There are also influences from other countries and languages, so the pronunciation and grammar of any language are always in a state of evolution. For example, it is quite common to hear Portuguese speakers say ‘tá’ instead of ‘está’ – the ‘sh’ sound gets lost completely. These variations and peculiarities will gradually become apparent as you hear more of the spoken language.
A lot of beginners worry that if their accent sounds too authentic, people will assume that they are fluent and fire a barrage of rapid Portuguese at them. Even if this does happen, try to view it as a compliment! As long as you know how to say "I don't understand" (não entendo), it doesn't really matter if people mistake you for a native (which is unlikely anyway!) – it is much better to sound as authentic as you can, because this makes you much more understandable. Just think about how difficult it is for us to understand a foreign person who has a very strong accent! Your efforts to mimic the accent will be appreciated by those you talk to.
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