Beginner’s Portuguese: Courses, Books, & Other Resources

By | Last updated: June 23, 2020

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Your ability to speak a language is normally measured as being at one of three stages: beginner, intermediate, or advanced.

Beginner is the first step, so congratulations for taking the plunge.

What will You learn at beginner’s level?

The beginner’s level (A1 & A2 on the CEFR scale and Accesso and CIPLE on the Portuguese CAPLE scale) starts off with basic phrases for introducing yourself and progresses to the point where you can talk about simple subjects in a simple manner.

It’s the foundations of the language, and there’s a lot to cover. A lot of vocab, but also a lot of essential grammar, which is why it’s a good idea to take a course rather than trying to “pick it up.”

Immersing yourself is really important too, but it’s also important to make sure that you don’t miss out on any of the foundational building blocks. Otherwise, you’ll end up with great vocabulary but end up making simple grammar mistakes.

Did you know: in Portugal the minimum language requirement for Portuguese citizenship is an A2-level of Portuguese. That’s much easier than other countries like France and Germany where a B1-level is required.

Courses for Beginners

The following courses, both in European and Brazilian Portuguese, all cover Portuguese at a beginner’s level.

Tip: Don’t know whether you want to study Portuguese from Portugal or Portuguese from Brazil? Tip: Most people choose Brazilian Portuguese but, if you’re going to be spending the majority of your time in Portugal, it makes sense to study European Portuguese.

European Portuguese Courses

  • Pimsleur European Portuguese Level 1 [*link*] – A very accessible, but ultimately quite basic beginner’s course. This course has a lot of pros, but it definitely has its cons as well. [Read a review here]
  • Michel Thomas, Foundation Portuguese [*Link*] – Similar to Pimsleur, although more detailed and with more levels, the Michel Thomas course is completely audio-based and aims to take you from beginner to intermediate level in European Portuguese.
  • Mia’s Portuguese Masterclass A1 & A2 [*Link*] – A very comprehensive course in European Portuguese, taught by a professional Portuguese teacher, this course has lots of great information but the non-interactive style of watching long videos won’t be for everyone. [Read reviews]
  • Portuguese Lab Academy [Link] – An interactive site that covers covers A1 & A2 EU Portuguese.
  • Instituto Camões’ Portuguese for Foreigners, level A1 & A2 [Link] – Courses from the official Instituto Camões that cover both A1 and A2 Portuguese.
  • ACM’s Plataforma De Português Online [Link] – A free platform from the Portuguese government which covers A1 & A2 Portuguese (as well as B1 & B2 Portuguese, which you’ll hopefully get to later on).

Brazilian Portuguese Courses

  • Pimsleur Brazilian Portuguese Level 1 [*Link*] – A very accessible, but quite basic beginner’s course, however, unlike the European Portuguese Course, Pimsleur’s Brazilian Portuguese course has several additional courses that take you far beyond the beginner’s level.
  • PortuguesePod101 Level 1 & Level 2 [Link] – These courses correspond to A1 and A2 on the CEFR scale.
  • Semantica Portuguese [Link] – Video-based learning that aims to imitate real-life situations.

Books For Beginners

While many people prefer to take a course or use an app to learn Portuguese, there are also plenty of books, many of which come with a CD. Some of these have gone out of print or can be hard to find as they’ve become less favoured over online courses.

European Portuguese Books

  • Get Started in Portuguese Absolute Beginner Course
  • Português Em Foco
  • Passaporte Para Português
  • Dialogar Em Português
  • Olá! Como Está?
  • Aprender Português
  • Português Atual
  • Portuguese in 3 months (Hugo in 3 Months) 
  • Practicar Portugues Nivel elementar and Nivel intermédio
  • Basic Portuguese (Practice Makes Perfect)

Brazilian Portuguese Books

  • Talk Portuguese (Book/CD Pack)
  • Complete Brazilian Portuguese Beginner to Intermediate Course
  • Português para principiantes [Link] – A free ebook from UW-Madison.

There’s also Ponto De Encontro: Portuguese As A World Language [*Link*], which looks as Portuguese as a “world language” rather than differentiating between “European” and “Brazilian” Portuguese.

Related Articles

Read all of the articles about learning Portuguese

About this article
This article was first published in May 2020. It was last updated on June 23, 2020.
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