How to improve your Portuguese pronunciation with soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo is a soccer player from Portugal. He’s played for Sporting de Lisboa, Manchester United, and he’s now playing for Real Madrid. He’s one of the best players ever. His rivalry with Lionel Messi is considered as one of the best sport rivalries in history.

Cristiano makes a lot of noise: You either love him or hate him. He leaves no one indifferent. He’s been criticized for his attitude on and off the pitch. And he’s been praised for his work ethic. I’m a huge fan of his for both: his attitude and his insane work ethic.

When he arrived at Manchester United at 18, Louis Saha, one of his teammates, told Thierry Henry that Cristiano would become the best player in the world. When asked why, Louis answered that Cristiano was simply working incredibly hard.

C.Ronaldo was raised speaking Portuguese. He then learned English when he played for Manchester. And Spanish with Real Madrid. In this post, we’re going to analyze some of his mistakes when speaking English. We’re going to see why he makes these mistakes, and what you can learn from them.

I’m going to use the video above to point out what betrays him.

At 0:12, Cristiano says “is great”. He forgets to say “it” before “is great”.

At 1:02, there’s a weak uvular trill with the r of “our”. See the glottis in the back of your mouth? You can make it vibrate, and that’s called the uvular trill. You can hear the sound here on wikipedia. If you can’t do it naturally, then practice with this drill: Put the tip of your tongue behind your front teeth, and push air through your mouth. Exaggerate, and really force it! Practice several minutes everyday. You may not get it right the first days, but keep pushing and practicing. Little by little, you will gain awareness of the muscle.

At 1:35, Cristiano says “everything” as if it were “everyfing”.


Why, God, why?!

We grow up accustomed to a certain reference system. So our ear and our mouth are in tune with our mother tongue. And when we have to speak a foreign language, we’re out of tune with its unique sounds. That’s why Cristiano may use a Portuguese r, or doesn’t know how to pronounce “th”.

The same goes for grammar and vocabulary. We are used to certain rules in our mother tongue, and we use these same rules when speaking a foreign language. That’s why Cristiano omits the subject when saying “is great”.

Playing at Real Madrid **ZE best club on Earth**

What you can learn from his mistakes

First, when you speak Portuguese, you don’t always have to use the subject. For example, “it is great” can be translated by “é ótimo”. “É” is “is”, and “ótimo” is “great”.

Second, the Portuguese r comes from the throat and is stronger than the English r. Its weakest version can be compared to an aspired English h. And another version is the uvular trill. The latter can be tricky to make when you’re not used to it. But keep practicing, and you’ll eventually get there.

Then, there’s no “th” in Portuguese. Most words lose the letter h when they’re translated into Portuguese. And you get only a t sound. For example, “theater” in Portuguese is “teatro”.



What we just saw in this post is just the tip of the iceberg. You can watch the whole video to spot other mistakes, and learn some more about Portuguese.

When you start learning a foreign language, take a look at its pronunciation system. Take some time to get used to new sounds. Drill the sounds you’re not used to.

Go to Google and type in “[your target language] phonology”. The first or second link will be a wikipedia page with all the information you need. Most sounds have audio files for you to listen to and repeat. You can also go to YouTube and watch some tutorials.


Thank you for reading this post. If you have any question, let me know in the comment section.

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