9 Feb 2015

Carnaval de Portugal

Carnival usually takes place in late February, this year it is held between the 11th and 18th of February. It is celebrated all over the country with slight variances in the celebrations from region to region. The most famous celebrations are in: Ovar, Sesimbra, Madeira, Loulé, Torres Vedras, Estarreja, Loures, Podence, Sines and Elvas. Some carnivals incorporate the pagan traditions such as the Careto and others are slightly more modern and incorporate the samba and lavish parades that are more linked with the Rio de Janeiro carnival.

Source: pinterest.com

Lazarim (Lamego)

The carnival in Lazarim celebrates with the pagan tradition of Roman Saturnalias. Main events include burning colourful effigies and dressing up in home-made costumes. The region is known for its wood craftsmanship so the locals wear heavy, handmade wooden masks. The masks are effigies for both men and women but both of the roles are played only by men. The Lazarim carnival cycle includes two periods: the 1st begins of the fifth Sunday before 'fat Sunday'. Masked figures walk through the town and people feast on various meats, mostly pork. The 2nd begins on the Sunday before Ash Wednesday and incorporates the tradition of 'Compadres and Comadres' with men and women showing light-hearted  authority over the other. 

This is a carnival tradition unique to Portugal. During the bonfire, a girl reads the compadre's will and a boy reads the comadre's will. A donkey is then symbolically given to both the male and female 'heirs' and then there is the final reckoning when the 'Entrudo' (carnival doll) is burnt. 


This carnival is in the central region of Portugal and dates back to the 14th century where flower battles took place or decorated floats paraded through the streets. At the start of the twentieth century the carnival ended following the death of its promoters. However, it was brought back in the 60's and is now one of the most important carnivals in Portugal.

Source: carnavaleshoy.com


Ovar, located near Porto, has been celebrating its carnival since 1952 and it is one of the main festivities in the region. The carnival is known for its creative designs, people prepare all year creating costumes, masks, decorations and floats. The parade features themed music and costumes, ranging from the traditional to popular culture.

Source: radioeste.pt

Torres Vedras

This carnival is often referred to as the "most Portuguese in Portugal". It is one of the less touristy options across the country and the locals are the stars. The highlight of the carnival is the parade of decorated streetcars which satirize society and politics.  

If you are interested in spending some time in Portugal to get to know the culture and the language, contact us to find out more about our language courses in Portugal.

6 Feb 2015

Our schools in Portugal

This month we are all about Portugal, and what could be better than learning Portuguese in its native land, where it first emerged. Portugal had one of Europe's longest empires leaving behind it more than 250 million Portuguese speakers. Portuguese is often in the shadow of Spanish or French in terms of second languages, however it is considered to be the fifth most spoken language in the world, and according to UNESCO is the fastest growing European language. So, whatever you do don't get left behind and read on to find out where you can start learning Portuguese.

Portuguese in Porto

Porto is the second largest city in the country with a warm climate and lots of things for students to do and see. Our partner school, Fast Forward, was founded in 1991 and is dedicated to teaching Portuguese as a foreign language to students aged 17+. The school is located on one of the city's main streets, near to tourist attractions, public transport and a 15 minute walk from the River Douro. It offers students 5 large classrooms, a reception area, a cafeteria and an IT suite with free WiFi. An activity and excursion programme is also available to make for a well rounded experience. 

Accommodation is offered with local host families, who host a maximum of 2 international students (always different nationalities to encourage speaking in Portuguese). Students have single rooms with breakfast included. Double rooms are available for students who are travelling together and half-board is available as an option for a supplementary fee. 

Course Options:
  • Intensive: 20 lessons per week (4 lessons per day), taking place every morning Monday to Friday.
  • Super-Intensive: 30 lessons per week (6 lessons per day), taking place every day (morning & afternoon) Monday to Friday. 

Portuguese in Lisbon

Lisbon is the capital city of Portugal and one of the oldest in Western Europe. The school is located in Alfornelos, near to Pontinha  and Benfica, close to the university. The school has 20 years experience and as such has established an effective and reliable teaching method. It is well connected to the city via public transport and offers students access to its IT suite with free internet. The school offers an activity and excursion programme to give students the full experience of Portugal as a complement to their language lessons. Classes are made up of a maximum of 8 students and are available for all levels and ages 18+.

Students are offered accommodation with local host families who live around 20 minutes from the school, giving students an extra opportunity to practise their Portuguese skills in real life situations. They offer either single or shared rooms with half-board included. 

Course Options:
  • Standard: 15 lessons per week (3 lessons per day)
  • Intensive: 25 lessons per week (standard programme + 2 supplementary lessons) 
  • Individual: 5-40 lessons per week (individual lessons can be added to the standard or intensive programme as a supplement to the group lessons). 

Other Portuguese courses

We also offer the following Portuguese courses:

Want more info about these courses? Contact us, we'd be happy to help!

3 Feb 2015

Bem-vindo a Portugal

Hello to our latest destination of the month. For the cold and wintry month of February, lets think about somewhere where there's sun, sea, fantastic food and beaches. Of all the Mediterranean destinations, this month we have chosen Portugal!

Source: lastminuteportugal.nl

Portugal, officially known as the Portuguese Republic is located in southwest Europe on the Iberian peninsular. The republic also includes the Atlantic islands of Azores and Medeira. It is thought that the country is named after its second largest city, Porto. During the 15th and 16th centuries, Portugal became one of the world's major economic, political and military powers after expanding western influence during the Age of Discovery.

The Portuguese empire was the longest lived in Europe, spanning almost 600 years. The empire spread throughout many territories that are now part of 53 sovereign states, thus having left a legacy of more than 250 million Portuguese speakers. Today Portugal is one of the world's most globalised, peaceful and responsive nations.  


Source: livinginthesun.info

Lisbon, also known as Lisboa, is Portugal's largest and capital city. It is the westernmost largest city in continental Europe and the only one of the Atlantic coast. Lisbon's urban area has a population of 2.7 million making it the 11th most populous urban area in the European Union. It is considered a global city and is one of the major economic centers on the continent with one of the largest container ports on Europe's Atlantic coast.

Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in the world and is the oldest in western Europe, predating other cities such as London, Paris and Rome by centuries. The city has a Mediterranean climate with the warmest winters among all European cities with an average of 15°C from December to February. The average summer temperatures are around 27-30°C.


Source: ladepeche.fr
Also know as Oporto, this is the second largest city in the country and one of the major urban areas in southwestern Europe. It is home to 1.4 million people and is 1 of 5 global cities on the Iberian peninsular (along with Madrid, Lisbon, Barcelona and Valencia). It is located on the Douro river estuary in Northern Portugal. It is one of Europe's oldest centres and the city's historic centre has been listed as a UNESCO world heritage site.

One of the city's major exports is port wine, which is both produced and exported here. In 2014 Porto was voted as the best European destination. It has a Mediterranean climate with summers around 27°C, but it has been known to have heat waves reaching 40°C. 


Portuguese is a romance language and the official language in Brazil, Portugal, Mozambique, Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, São Tomé & Príncipe. It is also the co-official language in Macau, Equatorial guinea and East Timor. 

There is a total of 260 million speakers of Portuguese and is often listed as the 5th most spoken language in the world, the 3rd most spoken language in Europe and the major language of South America. UNESCO states that it is the fastest growing European language. The Brazilian writer Olavo Bilac says "A última flor do lácio, inculta e bela" (the last flower of latium, rustic and sweet). 

Source: one-europe.info

If you are interested in visiting Portugal and trying your hand at some Portuguese, have a look at what we have on offer here! Questions? Don't hesitate to contact us.