If you’re planning on moving to Portugal with your kids, you may be concerned about the challenges of learning Portuguese. It’s true that children learn languages faster than adults, but you don’t necessarily want to throw them in at the deep end – instead, you probably want to give them opportunities to study the language in their own time. Ideally, you want them (and you) to start learning Portuguese before you move to Portugal.
Although there are an ever-increasing number of resources for learning European Portuguese out there, the majority of these are designed with adults in mind. The content is usually suitable for older children, but it is sometimes a little too complex and uninspiring for younger children. Thankfully, there are one or two European Portuguese resources that are specifically aimed at younger learners.
Dinolingo is one of the few language learning resources that’s specifically aimed at children, particularly children ages 2-13 years. It is designed to be similar to a children’s cartoon and uses talking animals and objects, bright colours, and high-pitched female voices to keep the content stimulating. Naturally, as this content is designed with children in mind, the content is also completely child-friendly and there are no links to external websites or chat rooms.
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Practice Portuguese is aimed at adults, but the creators have put together a webpage for parents and children which highlights the best content for younger learners. It is a good starting point for learning the basics and if your child enjoys the Practice Portuguese website, you can explore the rest of the content together.
According to Molly from Practice Portuguese, “Teenagers should be able to use the site without issue, but younger children may find some of the topics less relevant, and may need help from a parent.” She also states that most Practice Portuguese content will be suitable for children, and any episodes that contain content that’s more inappropriate than sarcastic language or mild cusswords will be labelled as such. In general, however, this only applies to one or two episodes.
One-on-One Tutoring through iTalki
If your child or teenager needs a little one-on-one tutoring, you could book them lessons through iTalki. Here you’ll find a number of tutors who teach Portuguese online (e.g. over Skype or Zoom) and several of them offer classes specifically for children (select ‘kids’ under ‘lesson category’). Lessons typically cost between €15 and €30 per hour.
RTP, the national broadcaster, has a lot of content that you can stream on its website, RTP Play, including TV shows for children. Most of the childrens’ content can be found under the ZigZag section of the RTP website but, unfortunately, RTP doesn’t make it easy to find the childrens’ content that has subtitles. You’ll need to scroll through until you find a program that has the CC symbol at the top of the video (here’s an example) or settle for a very immersive learning experience.
(TViPlayer also has a lot of content that you can stream, but the children’s content is more aimed at teenagers. Most TV shows also don’t have subtitles. You will need a VPN or subscription to stream from outside of Portugal).
Lidel is a Portuguese publisher of educational content, including many textbooks on learning European Portuguese. While most of their books are aimed at adult learners, they offer a few that are suitable for children, particularly older children.
- Amigos pelo Mundo (aimed at adolescents and pre-adolescents)
- Na Crista da Onda (aimed at young learners)
- Hora da História (aimed at ages 6-10)
- Timi (aimed at ages 6-10)
You can find a list of textbooks here. There’s usually a tab on the book’s page which explains the target audience for the book. Some of these books can be found on other sites like Amazon as well.
Peppa Pig (Porquinha Peppa)
You can find a lot of episodes of Peppa Pig in Portuguese on YouTube. The episodes are all about 5 minutes long and, naturally, very engaging. Unfortunately, the videos don’t often have subtitles in English or Portuguese.
Although most of us stream movies and TV shows these days, there’s a benefit to buying DVDs and that it’s often easier to find those movies in Portuguese. In Portugal, most movies aren’t dubbed into European Portuguese (although you will find dubbed movies in Brazilian Portuguese) but the exception is animated movies like those made by Disney. Movies like Pocahontas and the Lion King are all available in European Portuguese if you search around.
The following DVDs all have Portuguese audio and you should also check to see whether they have subtitles in English and Portuguese as well. It can be hard to know where you’ll get Brazilian or European Portuguese, but you should assume that for live action (non-animated) movies it’ll be Brazilian Portuguese. Many animated movies that are bought in Europe will have European Portuguese.
There are a lot of books for children. Some of these are in Portuguese (both European and Brazilian) while others are bilingual (both English and Portuguese). A good resource, which normally highlights whether the book focuses on European or Brazilian Portuguese, is the Portuguese Bookshop.
(Note: because the bookshop is located in the UK, physical books will be sent from the UK which is now outside of the EU).
Rosa Estevens’ Books
Rosa Estevens (Lesley Stephens) was a British teacher who lived in Portugal and taught at one of the Algarve’s international schools. She was passionate about teaching Portuguese to children and created a number of resources that covered European Portuguese. Unable to find a publisher, she posted the material for free on her website.
Mantra Lingua offers a lot of bilingual books and e-books for children (books in Portuguese and English). Many of the e-books also have audio support, ensuring your child can practice their Portuguese pronunciation as well. Most of the books are retellings of popular fairy tales such as Goldilocks and the Three Bears or Hansel and Gretal.