35+ FREE Resources for learning (European) Portuguese

By | Last updated: May 20, 2020
"I live in Portugal, I've travelled to almost every part of Portugal, and one day I hope to write a book about Portugal."

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This article lists all of the free resources for learning European Portuguese on the web which, unfortunately, isn’t as long as it would be for other languages like Spanish or German. It isn’t even as long as the list of resources available for learning Brazilian Portuguese.

But while there are only a limited number of free resources for learning European Portuguese out there, we’ve done our best to make sure that this list includes them all — or, at least, the best ones.

Basics Phrases

If you’re just starting to learn Portuguese, these resources could be a good place to start. They’ll give you some useful phrases that you can use at the supermarket, when asking for directions, etc. At some point, you’ll need to progress and learn how to construct sentences yourself. In the meantime, though, they’ll help you to get by in Portugal.

BBC – Travel Portuguese

BBC Languages has a short course covering basic Portuguese travel phrases. Topics covered include greetings, talking about yourself, and ordering food and drink at a restaurant.

Portuguese Lab

Similar to BBC Languages, Portuguese Lab has a number of videos that cover basic phrases for eating out, shopping, etc. There are quite a few videos for beginners, as well as some videos aimed at intermediate and advanced Portuguese learners.

Rough Guides

Rough Guides has a European Portuguese phrasebook, which you can buy from Amazon (paperback or Kindle). The accompanying audio is actually available to download from their website for free, although it’s probably worth buying the book so that you can see the words written down.

Apps/ Fun Websites

Memrise

Memrise is a flashcard app that you can access online or by using the Memrise app (available for smartphones or tablets). Users can create their own vocab flashcards, or you can access the flashcards that other people have put together. There are several European Portuguese flashcard courses available, which you can view here.

* Most of the Memrise features can be accessed for free. There is the option to upgrade to Pro which gives you a few extra features.

Drops

Drops is a little like Doulingo but, unlike Duolingo, Drops is one of the few language learning apps that allows you to specify whether you want to learn European Portuguese or Brazilian Portuguese. The app (available for both iOS and Android) mainly focuses on vocab, and the vocab is broken into sections: food & drinks, nature & animals, fashion & clothing, etc.

Drops is perfect for grabbing a quick Portuguese lesson while you’re commuting or waiting for the kettle to boil. Free users get 5 minutes per day, or you can sign up for the premium version which allows you to use the app as much as you want.

Learn Portuguese Vocabulary – 6,000 Words

This is a slightly simpler but still useful app that covers essential words in categories like family, health, shopping, and transport. It won’t be enough to teach you Portuguese by itself but, combined with other resources that teach you how to put the words in sentences, it could help you to improve your Portuguese. This app is available for iOS and Android.

Lyrics Training

This is a fun way to improve your listening skills: Lyrics Training will play a song, and you have to listen to the lyrics and fill in the words that are missing. It’s difficult, but fun at the same time.

Glossika

Glossika is a new language learning website that covers European Portuguese. Normally you have to pay to use Glossika, but you can sign up for a free trial without a credit card.

The approach that Glossika uses is a little confusing, but it’s worth playing around with it – particularly the translation section of the “extended learning tools” where you can listen to audio and answer multiple choice questions to see if you understand what’s being said.

Portuguese Podcasts

Portuguese from Portugal

Portuguese from Portugal is a collection of short podcast episodes (with a written transcript) that covers topics like pastéis de nata, Easter in Portugal, and overviews of different towns and cities here in Portugal. As well as the transcript, each episode also includes an explanation of some of the vocabulary and grammar used, as well as a quick quiz to test you on your understanding of the piece.

Portuguese with Carla – Podcast

Portuguese with Carla is a great little podcast that includes free transcripts of the audio. Each episode includes a transcript as well as a lesson explaining the vocabulary used.

Say it in Portuguese

Say it in Portuguese is a Portuguese podcast that has a big focus on Portuguese expressions and sayings. The podcast is entirely in Portuguese, and the transcript is available online for free. This means the podcast is not only great for learning the expressions and sayings that it teaches, but also for working on your listening skills and practicing dictation.

Books

Free books from Instituto Camões (with audio)

Instituto Camões has 10+ free books that have accompanying audio on their website, which are a great place to start. The accompanying audio means you’ll know how to pronounce any new words that you learn, and you can also use it to practice dictation as well.

This section of the website is flash-based and a little old, which means you can’t copy and paste any new words, but it’s a pretty good resource otherwise.

Free Kindle Books

There are a few Portuguese books available for free on Kindle. You don’t need to have a Kindle to read these; you can get the Kindle app for your PC, iPad, or smartphone.

If you’re just starting out learning Portuguese, you may find it easier to narrow down to a section like children’s books: the stories will be simpler in these books, but don’t assume just because it’s a children’s book that it’ll be completely straight-forward. Some books, like Harry Potter for instance, use considerably more complex language than you might imagine.

The key, for anything longer than a simple children’s book, is to find something that interests you. That could be Harry Potter, it could be an autobiography, or it could be a non-fiction book.

Children’s Books

Rosa Estevens, a former Algarve-based teacher, has written several children’s books in Portuguese. These books are free to download as PDFs from RosaEstevens.org.

Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg has a number of free Portuguese books. These books are free because the copyright on them has expired, which also means the language is likely to be very difficult for all but advanced Portuguese speakers.

Other Free Ebook Websites

A number of other websites list free e-books, many of which are available in Portuguese. Popular sites include free-ebooks.net, Luso Livros, and Projecto Adamastor. As with Project Gutenberg, many of these books are public domain books which means they are more suitable for advanced Portuguese learners.

Language Exchanges

Tandem Exchanges

A tandem exchange is a one-on-one language exchange. The idea is that you both spend some time speaking English and some time speaking Portuguese, and the native speaker corrects the other person’s mistakes.

Tandem exchanges can be awkward, and the feedback you get is rarely as good as what you’d get from an actual teacher. However, they’re good because they actually get you speaking Portuguese with someone.

These days, tandem exchanges can be done face-to-face or over Skype. MyLanguageExchange.com and ConversationExchange.com are two good websites for finding people to meet face-to-face while Tandem (app) and Hello Talk are are app-based.

Language Exchange Meetup Groups

Language exchange groups are a great way to practice speaking Portuguese with lots of different speakers. If you meet someone that you get along with, you could always exchange details and practice one-on-one at a later date.

Meetup.com is always a good website to start with. There are usually a few meetups happening in Lisbon, but it can be difficult to find language exchange meetups in other parts of Portugal.

For those outside of Portugal, meetup.com shows Portuguese-English language exchanges in places like LondonNew York, and Los Angeles. Classifieds websites like Gumtree (UK), Craigslist (US), and kijiji (Canada) are also a good place to look.

Penpal Websites

If you’re not quite ready to speak (out loud) to someone in another language, you could starts by writing to them through a PenPal website aimed at language learners. As with a tandem language exchange, you chat to each other in the language you’re learning and also correct any mistakes. Popular websites include Interpals and Global Penfriends. 

Lang-8

Feedback is an important part of learning any language: if other people don’t correct you, you’ll carry on making the same mistakes.

Lang-8 is an online community where language learners can upload a text that they’ve written. Native speakers will then view it and correct any mistakes. In return, you’re expected to do the same for others.

Talk Talk BnB

If you’re not based in Portugal or a large international city where it’s easy to find other Portuguese speakers, you could set yourself up as a host on TalkTalkBNB.com and invite Portuguese speakers to come and stay with you. It’s quite a small website but, since it does have a couple of Portuguese speakers on there,  it’s possibly worth signing up to.

Dictionaries & Grammar Tools

Verbix

Verbix is a handy website that conjugates any verb that you give it. Simply enter a verb (e.g. comer: to eat) and it’ll tell you what the Portuguese is for I eat, you eat, we ate, they will eat, etc.

Forvo

Ever learned a word in another language and then said it, only to have a native speaker look at you with a bewildered look? Of course you have: it happens to all of us.

Trying to learn another language by reading it is always a bad idea. If you’re going to learn a new word, make the extra effort to hear the word pronounced as well.

Forvo is an online dictionary that in includes recordings of native speakers pronouncing the word in question. Enter a Portuguese word in the search box, and Forvo will list some audio clips of native Portuguese speakers saying the word.

Conjuguemos

Conjuguemos is a website that offers verb drill exercises, ideal for testing your Portuguese grammar skills. It offers points for correct answers, tracks scores, and has a high score page. The whole process is gamified, which goes a long way to making learning Portuguese grammar fun.

v”ErbuS

v”ErbuS is another conjugation tool for European Portuguese. This tool was created by Coimbra University, and includes (crackly) audio.

Online Courses/Academic

50 Languages

Although free, the English-Portuguese version of 50 Languages is very comprehensive for a beginner’s course. It’s available as an app, as a web app, or as MP3s – which are perfect for listening to when you’re driving or at the gym.

As well as covering essential travel phrases for situations at the post office or at a restaurant, it also covers a little Portuguese grammar as well. The app contains games and tests, which you can either play on your phone or online. There’s also an accompanying course on Memrise.

Plataforma de Português Online

While all of the resources on this page are useful, they lack the structure of a complete language course. Most courses, whether that’s one run by a language school or through MP3s (e.g. Michel Thomas or Pimsleur) charge money, however, the Alto Comissariado para as migrações (High commissioner for immigration) has a free online course that covers levels A1, A2, B1, and B2. The course is very thorough, and useful if you’re learning Portuguese to exam level.

Instituto Camões

Instituto Camões, the institution responsible for the promotion of the European Portuguese language, have some free resources for learning Portuguese on their website. This isn’t a complete course, like the resource above, but there are some basic resources to help you improve your reading and listening skills.

Advanced

RTP Player

RTP, the Portuguese TV channel, has some subtitled content on its iPlayer. The programs aren’t always the most exciting programs in the world but, as well as giving you the opportunity to listen to European Portuguese (with Portuguese subtitles), this is a good opportunity to see what Portuguese TV is like.

Available programs include Portuguese comedy Nelo e Idália, literature discussion program Literatura Agora, and a telenova style series Água de Mar.

Note: RTP don’t always upload all of the episodes, so don’t get too addicted to a program!

Note 2: The subtitles button (CC – Closed Captions) is in the top right-hand corner.

Ted Talks in Portuguese

Interesting content can make all the difference when learning a new language, and Ted (and Tedx Talks) Talks are definitely interesting.

A few talks in Portuguese that have Portuguese subtitles include:

Psy Logic Drawing

Psy Logic Drawing is a Youtube channel that has short, animated videos that cover psychological topics like depression, memory, bullying, and burnout. The videos are all about 3-5 minutes long and have subtitled in both English and Portuguese.

Lucy Pepper on Observador

Lucy Pepper is a columnist for the Portuguese website Observador. Her articles are written in Portuguese and English (Portuguese first), so you can easily flick back-and-forth if you get stuck.

Other Resources

Tests & Quizes

Who doesn’t love a good quiz? Mia from learn-portuguese.org has several short quizzes on her website that cover topics like when to use “a” or “para”, when to use “para” or “por”, as well as simpler topics like the months of the year and days of the week.

Portuguese Frequency Lists

A lot of people like word frequency lists, and you’ll often see it listed as a language learning hack. The idea is this: in everyday Portuguese (or any language) we only use a few hundred to a few thousand words. So, grab a list of the top 100, 500, or 5,000 words used in the language you’re learning and in just a short amount of time you’ll be fluent in that language.

It’s a nice idea, but in practice learning words out of context isn’t a great way to learn a language. Still, if you want to try to learn Portuguese this way, there are plenty of word frequency lists on the web. Wikipedia has one. You can also find flashcards on Memrise (with audio).

Know of any other European Portuguese learning resources? Let us, and other Portugalist readers, know in the comments below. 

About this article
This article was first published in August 2017. It was last updated on May 20, 2020.
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20 thoughts on “35+ FREE Resources for learning (European) Portuguese”

  1. The link above and beginning resourcesbliu appears to be a broken link otherwise it is an accessible from an iPhone I did try using my VPN as a proxy through a Portuguese VPN but it didn’t work

    Reply
  2. My children are going to the Azores to stay the summer with their grandparents I’m looking for a fun engaging app which can help teach them European Portuguese will keep them engaged and is interesting honestly I just don’t care about the cost I just want a very good fun and engaging product with good native speaking audio can anyone recommend such a thing most of the apps that I’m running into that seem high-quality or just Brazilian Portuguese I don’t care if it’s free like I said just want something really good Myself I use practice Portuguese.com andMemorise and they don’t mind using those but I think they would prefer something a little bit more fun engaging and gamy Also is there any other resource for European Portuguese which is like the MichelThomas method but isn’t the Michael Thomas method For instance on YouTube I found a resource called Spanish with Paul and I really enjoy learning with that method but that Spanish and I need to learn Portuguese I became very fluent in Spanish using the Spanish with Paul method and I really enjoyed it not Paul noble a different Paul altogether

    Reply
    • Hi Michele,

      While there are some good European Portuguese products out there (you mentioned Practice Portuguese, for example) they aren’t as creative as what’s available for Brazilian Portuguese. Duolingo, for example, is available for Brazilian Portuguese. Memrise, which you mentioned, is probably the best app for European Portuguese.

      If you’re looking for something game-y, especially for your kids, I wouldn’t worry too much about whether it’s European or Brazilian Portuguese. There are differences, yes, but it’s more important to find something they’ll actually use and study.

      As for Michele Thomas, he does have a European Portuguese course. One course that’s a bit similar and easy-to-use is the Pimsleur course: https://www.portugalist.com/pimsleur-european-portuguese/

      Unfortunately Pimsleur only covers one level of European Portuguese. It’s a good starting point, though. There are more options with their Brazilian Portuguese course if you want to go down that route.

      Reply
  3. My favorite resource is practice Portuguese.com and I know the cartoon Pocoyó has European Portuguese episodes on YouTube Disney has an entire website called Disney PT which is entirely in Portuguese and has games and other videos and resources in Portuguese also you can set your Disney streaming service to play the movies in Portuguese as well and they are well voice acted I would like to find other streaming services which have European Portuguese content such as Hulu or Netflix or Amazon prime if anyone knows about such resources that would be awesome or would it be possible to subscribe to a foreign streaming service in Portuguese We went to visit Portugal and we simply fell in love with it my parents have been to Portugal three times and the first time they went to the Azores they bought 1/3 of business at an apartment and basically said they’re not coming home I’m sending my children there for a time in the summer and I’m really hoping that they can become conversationally fluent before they go it’s a beautiful language it’s engaging I love the people I love the culture someday I hope to end up there myself

    Reply
  4. Very handy this, thank you. What i don’t see is Babbel. Does that mean that babbel also teaches only Brazilian Portuguese? They don’t say it anywhere.

    Reply
    • Yes, Babbel teaches Brazilian Portuguese. It would definitely be helpful if they mentioned that.

      A general rule is, if you see a “Portuguese Course” it’s probably Brazilian Portuguese. European Portuguese courses tend to emphasise that they teach Portuguese from Portugal.

      Reply
  5. Please help me find Portuguese language learning material, I’ve been to several book stores and they have none. Send me an e-book if you have one.

    Reply
  6. Hi! My name is Ricardo and it is my first time in here. I’m portuguese but I’m currently living in the Netherlands, where I’m enrolled in an Erasmus exchange program during this semester. I’ve decided I want to learn the basics of the Dutch language for the time I am here. Fortunately, I’ve made some great Dutch friends and found out one of them is actually trying to learn Portuguese! So, we’ve decided to make some language lessons exchange (can’t imagine a more effective and fun way to learn a language)! I was looking for some support which might be useful for the Portuguese lessons and loved this post and all the suggestions you gave, that are both good and diverse. Personally, I think I would only add Priberam online Portuguese dictionary, which also has sections with grammar (even though the website is completely in Portuguese it may be useful to some people). Thank you for the time you spent helping these people and I wish all the best to all other portugalist’s and that they have a lot of fun learning our beautiful language! Kind regards

    Reply
  7. Thank you so much for this list! It is the best one I have seen of its kind online, especially focussing on European Portuguese! I have found resources here that I otherwise wouldn’t have.

    Thank you for taking the time to put this together.

    Reply
  8. Hi I have registered last year for,the online course but, have received nothing in reply and can’t find on the website where I actually start the course. Can you help at all.

    Reply
    • Portuguese grammar is tough!

      Being honest, I don’t know if the free resources touch on Portuguese grammar enough. The best resource is probably the Plataforma de Português Online, however, it may be worth getting a book on Portuguese grammar from Amazon.

      Reply

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