Portuguese Learning Resources

This is a rundown of online learning resources you can use to learn portuguese, whether in the form of an app, a yutube channel or a podcast. I have split it off from the portuguese language-hacking page which was getting quite long. If you’re in the market for books to help you learn portuguese yiou might also want to take a look at a separate page I’ve made about those.

Specific Language Apps

The main gripe of students learning european portuguese awlays has to do with Duolingo’s Brazilian bias. basicallly, don’t bother with it. I’ve become reconciled to it recently for studying Scottish Gaelic as a Quarantine hobby, but the fact remains that a lot of the things it tells you are very specifically Brazilian and don’t work in a Portuguese context.

So what to use instead? Well, the most obvious candidate is the Practice Portuguese App. This has been a long time in the making: the boys have been doing a podcast and video series for ages and established themselves as the frontrunners for most new learners but there’s an app now to bring it all together. It’ll cost you a subscription fee of course, because they are doing it full time and have an extra mouth to feed, but if you can afford it I think this looks like a pretty good way to go.

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I’m told by the cool kids that Anki is the best free vocabulary learning app but I prefer Memrise. What makes it different from other apps is that it keeps track of the words you’ve learned and returns to them a short time later, to jog your memory so that they really stick. There’s some science behind it apparently. I dunno. It works pretty well though.

The decks are made by users, so they vary in quality. Some are mildly irritating. For example, I had a deck that had animal names in it once and it gave the word for “horse” as “cavalho” which isn’t right. That doesn’t stop it being a kick-ass vocab-learning tool though, and of course you can easily make your own decks with words you want to learn. I usually have a go on it while I’m brushing my teeth at night and while I’m eating my breakfast in the morning. As with most things, make sure you specify European Portuguese, not Brazilian.

There are lots of other vocabulary apps but I don’t really rate them highly. If you want to take a look, you could try this blog post by Marlon Sabala.

iTalki. Lingq and Hellotalk are useful apps that can help you find formal or informal tuition, language exchanges and so on.

Finally, Lyricstraining lets you play multiple choice games based on music videos by european portuguese artists (among many others). It’s pretty good, steering the line between study and things you can actually do for fun.

Most of the newspapers and broadcasters have their own apps too, and you can set them up to bombard you with portuguese destaques (headlines) throughout the day, and some of the language translation sites like Google Translate and Linguee have apps too.

Youtube Channels by Portuguese Teachers

These have really mushroomed since I wrote the original version of this page. I think the pandemic has made all the difference. Lots of teachers have moved online to gain new students that can have lessons over Skype. Here are a few I know about. I’ll just link one random video of each instead of describing them so you can see which ones appeal to you.

(Practice Portuguese have a channel too but I’ve already mentioned them twice on here – it’s not like they’re paying me to do their marketing!)

Social Media Places

Facebook has a few groups where expats and other learners gather to compare notes and there are usually teachers around offering help and cultivating potential customers. There’s an active Portuguese subreddit too. I’m sure most social media sites that allow more than 280 characters probably have something similar so they’re worth looking at too.

Websites

  • Conjuga-me (excellent website that summarises all the verb tenses for a given verb. Definitely one to bookmark!)
  • Priberam (online dictionary)
  • Linguee (it took me ages to see the usefulness of this, but if you search for a word, either in english or portuguese, it’ll give you actual human-created translations in real books or official publications so that you can get a feel for the way it’s translated in context)
  • Readlang (directory of native speakers reading texts)
  • Badumtish (flashcard game – very basic)
  • Ciberdúvidas (Q&A about the portuguese language)

Podcasts

There are four specific language-learning podcasts for european portuguese that I know about. They all have their own websites but you can find them on most podcast apps too. I’ve put them in order of difficulty with the easiest first.

  • Portuguese with Carla is really focused. Carla and her husband Marlon take a short piece of dialogue and break it down in minute detail, encouraging listeners to follow and repeat the words. It is definitely a good place to start if you have no Portuguese at all or if you want to work on your pronunciation. They have a few weird theories about how smelling herbs helps you learn but no worries; I’ve tried it without performance-enhancing oregano and it has been very helpful.
  • Portuguese Lab Podcast. Very visibly pinching ideas from other podcasts, this one is pretty easy to follow: most of the episode titles tell you what they’re going to teach and how hard they will be.
  • Practice Portuguese is everyone’s go-to podcast for European Portuguese, and if you speak to other portuguese learners they’ll usually mention it within the first ten minutes. It’s produced by a native Portuguese guy called Rui, who does most of the talking and Joel, who is Canadian and adds a learner’s perspective to some of the dialogues.Since I wrote the first version of this post, they have also launched a second podcst called Portuguese Shorties. Pro-tip: if you try the original podcast, don’t listen to it in order because the earliest ones are some of the more challenging. You’re better off looking on the website, where they have a filter system that lets you choose your difficulty level, or just start with the most recent ones and work your way backwards.
  • Say it in Portuguese is the most advanced of all, I think. Each episode deals with an idiomatic expression and explains its use and meaning. It’s great if you are working at the B1/B2 level but it takes no prisoners, and I definitely wouldn’t recommend it if you’re starting out. Some of the later episodes have a brazilian co-host (boo! hiss! ) but that’s OK, it’s not presented in a confusing way.