Books for Learning European Portuguese

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These days, most people who are learning European Portuguese will want to do so via a course or an app. We all have our phones on us all the time, making it easy to study whenever we want, and, besides, most apps or websites offer a lot more functionality than a book. 

That said, there’s a lot to be said for picking up a book — especially if you already have to sit in front of a computer for work. With that in mind, here’s a selection of textbooks, past papers, children’s books, and novels that you can use to improve your European Portuguese. 

You can find a list of courses (with reviews) along with other resources (some of which are free) on the main guide to learning European Portuguese.

Textbooks

Before there were apps, audio courses, and video courses, there were textbooks. In fact, most language schools in Portugal still work with textbooks rather than multimedia. 

Some of the textbooks can look a little intimidating, and they’re not always the most engaging or entertaining, but they are the materials used by language schools. 

And, unlike many online courses, many of the textbooks also cover the advanced levels of Portuguese (C1 and C2). 

Tip: Look out for books that have an accompanying CD or MP3 as well.

Beginner

The beginner level is split into two levels: A1 and A2 on the CEFR scale or ACESSO and CIPLE on the Portuguese CAPLE scale. There are lots of books to choose from at this level – some that only cover the beginner level and some that have other books covering intermediate and advanced Portuguese.

Intermediate

The intermediate level is split into two levels: B1 and B2 on the CEFR scale or DIPLE and DAPLE on the Portuguese CAPLE scale. Many of the books are a continuation of a series that also covers the A1 and A2 levels.

Advanced

Like the beginner and intermediate levels, the advanced level is split into two levels: C1 and C2 on the CEFR scale and DEPLE and DUPLE on the CAPLE scale.

Phrasebooks

If you just need a tourist level of Portuguese, or want to learn the most useful phrases for everyday Portuguese, take a look at the following phrasebooks. 

There’s also 50 Languages, which is a free website that covers essential phrases for tourists visiting Portugal, as well as other phrasebooks but most don’t include an audio component.

Grammar

Pronunciation

It might seem strange to get a book on Portuguese pronunciation (rather than an audio or video-based course) but there is at least one book that aims to teach pronunciation through a book.

Past Papers

Children’s Books

There are quite a lot of children’s books available in Portuguese although, as with adult fiction and non-fiction, many of the books are translated into Brazilian rather than European Portuguese.

That said, there are some great options out there including translated books like the David Walliams books, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and of course Harry Potter. 

AudioBooks

For whatever reason, audiobooks aren’t popular in Portugal at all and, with the exception of 1-2 books on the Fnac website, it’s almost impossible to find any European Portuguese audiobooks. Which is a shame because the speed at which these books are read is often more manageable than TV shows or movies.

However, they are quite popular in Brazil and you can find a good selection of fiction and non-fiction audiobooks on Audible. If you’re struggling to understand what’s being said, you should be able to find the print version of the book on Amazon. 

Novels

Portugal has some fantastic novelists including José Saramago, António Lobo Antunes, and Eça de Queirós. Unfortunately, most of these books are very challenging (if not impossible) for beginner and intermediate-level language learners to read. 

Books that were originally written in English and then translated are often easier to read, and some genres are easier to read than others. A good place to start is more modern, contemporary literature. 

Sophie Kinsella books (author of Confessions of a Shopaholic) may not be what you’d normally read, but the translated versions of these books are very accessible — especially as they often stick to the present tense. 

Unsurprisingly, the majority of these books are translated into Brazilian Portuguese rather than European Portuguese simply because the Brazilian market is so much bigger. 

There doesn’t seem to be an easy way to find books that have been translated by Portuguese translators but, after a while, you’ll start to recognise some of the translators’ names. 

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