I first encountered Portuguese while working in a hotel on Jersey in the Channel Islands where most of my colleagues were from Portugal. Working in the hotel bar I picked up some useful drink-related vocabulary and also learnt words for fruit, numbers and a few other phrases. Unfortunately I didn't make an effort to learn any more than that, something I regret now.
In 2002, in preparation for holidays in Portugal, I started learning Portuguese using the book Colloquial Portuguese, which I highly recommend. As the title suggests this book teaches you the language which people actually speak. On the holidays my knowledge of Portuguese came in very handy, especially when deciphering menus.
I now know enough of the language to be able to read it quite well and to speak and understand it to some extent. Though I learnt the Portuguese of Portugual, I find Brazilian Portuguese easier to understand.
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