Learn European Portuguese for FREE: 35+ Resources

By | Last updated: July 19, 2020

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Learning a new language can be expensive. And, even though it’s very difficult to learn a language without spending any money, that doesn’t mean you can’t make things cheaper. 

When it comes to learning Portuguese, there are lots and lots of FREE resources out there — everything from vocab apps to Portuguese TV shows that you can watch with subtitles. So, if you’re looking to learn European Portuguese without spending a lot of money, or as little money as possible, here are a few resources that’ll help you on your language learning journey.

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Basics Phrases

If you’re just starting to learn Portuguese, or you’re visiting Portugal as a tourist, these resources are a good place to begin with. They’ll give you some useful phrases that you can use at the supermarket, when asking for directions, at the post office, etc. At some point, you’ll need to progress and learn how to construct sentences yourself but, in the meantime, they’ll help you to get by in Portugal.

Winner: 50 Languages

50 languages screenshot

Even though it’s free, the English-Portuguese version of 50 Languages is very comprehensive for a beginner’s course and as good as any of the traditional travel phrasebooks. It’s available as an app, as a website, or as a collection of 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.

It’s perfect for tourists, but also great for those who are just starting to learn Portuguese as it gives you sentences that you can use in everyday life.

50 Languages has a website, as well as apps for both Android and iOS. There’s also an accompanying course on Memrise.

Runner Up 1: Rough Guides Audio Download

Rough Guides has a European Portuguese phrasebook, which you can buy from Amazon (paperback or Kindle) but the accompanying audio is actually available to download from their website for free (although it might be worth buying the book as well).

Download the audio from RoughGuides.com. If you want to buy the book, it’s available in both paperback and Kindle versions.

Runner Up 2: Portuguese Readings Audio Phrasebook

Portuguese Sayings is primarily a podcast (see below), but it also includes a very helpful phrasebook (complete with accompanying audio) that covers topics like getting around, staying somewhere, and talking to people.

The Audio Phrasebook for Portuguese Readings can be found at PortugueseReadings.com.

Runner Up 3: Forvo

Forvo’s main purpose is a dictionary, one that comes with audio pronunciation of the word, but it also has a small section with essential Portuguese phrases. These phrases cover a handful of useful topics like shopping, getting around, and even flirting.

Many of the words are read by an elderly Portuguese gentleman who shouts into the microphone, so this is a great way to get a feel of what Portuguese actually sounds like in Portugal.

Forvo’s essential Portuguese phrases can be found here.

Runner Up 4: 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.

BBC Languages’ mini language course is available from BBC.co.uk

Apps & Fun Websites

Winner: Memrise

screenshot of Memrise for European Portuguese

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. 

Memrise has a website, as well as an app for both Android and iOS. There are several European Portuguese flashcard courses available, which you can view here. Read reviews of Memrise from other language learners.

Runner Up 1: Anki

For polyglots and serious language learners, there’s only one language-learning tool: Anki. It’s not as user-friendly as Memrise, which is why it didn’t get the top spot. Like Memrise, it does have some premade flashcards and you also have the ability to make your own.

Anki is available as a desktop app as well as an app for Android and iOS. The iOS version is not free, but the Android and desktop versions are.

Runner Up 2: Drops

Drops is a little like Doulingo but, unlike Duolingo it covers both European Portuguese and 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 fine 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.

Drops is available for iOS and Android, and it’s also available as a web app. As well as both Brazilian and European Portuguese, you can also learn numerous other languages including French, Spanish, German, and even more obscure languages like Hawaiian.

Runner Up 3: 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. And, unlike Drops, you aren’t limited to just 5 minutes per day.

Learn Portuguese Vocabulary is available for iOS and Android.

Runner Up 4: 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.

Lyrics Training is available both as an app and as a website. Unfortunately, the app version is only free for 3 minutes per day, which is barely enough time to listen to a song, so it’s better to use the web version on your computer.

Runner Up 4: 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.

Online Courses

As great as apps and phrasebooks are, you’ll need some structure to your learning and an online course is designed to be exactly that. It’s hard to find a course that’s both free and good, and so you’ll probably end up spending some money here, but that’s not to say there aren’t any free courses out there.

Winner: Plataforma de Português Online

The Alto Comissariado Para as Migrações (High commissioner for immigration) has a free online course that covers levels A1, A2, B1, and B2. Unfortunately, the website can be quite slow but it’s a small price to pay for being able to access a resource like this for free.

Podcasts

While there are plenty of Portuguese podcasts out there, it can be hard to find podcasts with transcripts — essential if you’re learning Portuguese. Thankfully, there are one or two that do have transcripts and are even aimed at people learning Portuguese.

Joint Winner: Portuguese Readings

Portuguese Readings offers a series of interesting texts (complete with accompanying audio) that cover topics like Portuguese gastronomy and surfing, but also include sample dialogues for situations you might find yourself in like buying a train ticket or ordering at a restaurant.

The podcasts are broken up by proficiency levels, and each level corresponds to the CEFR scale (A1, A2, etc).

While all of the free podcasts listed are fantastic, Portuguese Readings is perhaps the most user-friendly of the bunch.

Portuguese Readings is available at portuguesereadings.com. There’s a useful 4-step method for getting the most out of this podcast (and other podcasts) here.

Joint Winner: 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 from Portugal is available to listen to at portuguesefromportugal.com as well as podcasting apps like Google Podcasts and Apple Podcasts.

Joint Winner: 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.

Say it in Portuguese is available to listen to at sayitinportuguese.pt as well as SoundCloud and other podcasting apps.

Books

Reading a book in another language is a challenge, but it’s also a worthwhile challenge and one that a lot of people try to do. Generally speaking, it’s hard to find good quality and especially modern books for free (this might be another area where you need to pay) but there are a few options.

Winner: Amazon

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

Amazon’s free books vary in quality but, even though classic books like those from Luís de Camões will be better, these modern books will be much easier to read.

Amazon doesn’t distinguish between PT-PT and PT-BR so, if you’re only looking for writers from Portugal, you’ll need to take a look at the author bio to see where they’re from.

You can view the free Kindle books on Amazon.com. You don’t need a Kindle to view them: you can download the Kindle app for your computer, tablet, or phone.

Runner Up 1: 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.

The free books can be viewed at cvc.instituto-camoes.pt. The website is quite old, so it’s not ideal but, of course, beggars can’t be choosers!

Running Up 2: Rosa Estevens’ Books

Rosa Estevens, a former Algarve-based teacher, has written several children’s books in Portuguese. As these are aimed at children, they’re obviously very basic but for some people that’s perfect.

Rosa Estevens’ books are free to download as PDFs from RosaEstevens.org.

Runner Up 3: 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. Gutenberg doesn’t distinguish between European and Brazilian Portuguese, so you’ll need to Google the author to see where they’re from.

The public domain Portuguese books can be found on gutenberg.org/browse/languages/pt.

Runner Up 4: Luso Livros

Similar to Gutenberg, Luso Livros contains public domain Portuguese books that are free to read. Because they’re in the public domain, these books are quite old which will mean they’re mainly suited to advanced Portuguese speakers. Books are normally available in several formats, including ePub, mobi, and PDF.

Luso Livros has a website at Luso-Livros.net

Runner Up 5: Projecto Adamastor

Like both Gutenberg and Luso Livros, Projecto Adamastor contains public domain Portuguese books. The site is well-organised and has an impressive collection, however, like the other ebook sites, the language of the books is likely to be quite challenging.

Projecto Adamastor’s book catalogue can be found at projectoadamastor.org/catalogo/

Language Exchanges

While there’s a lot to be said for taking conversational classes with a Portuguese teacher who can correct you on your mistakes — italki is great for this — the costs quickly add up. The easiest way to get that conversation practice without spending big amounts of cash is to pair up with someone who’s learning your language and help each other out. Because this is such a big part of language learning, there are several apps and websites that specialise in this.

Joint Winner: Hello Talk

HelloTalk is one of the newest and most modern-looking tandem exchange apps. Simply download it and search for people that you can swap languages with. The app is similar to any social networking app, but it also comes with language learning features such as the ability to correct someone else’s mistakes.

There is a paid version as well, which allows you to do an advanced search for specifics like someone’s gender, but this kind of turns it into a dating app rather than a language learning app. Maybe that’s what you’re looking for, though?

HelloTalk is available for both iOS and Android.

Joint Winner: Tandem.net

Tandem is very similar to HelloTalk: both aim to modernise language exhanges through shiny new apps. HelloTalk is slightly easier to use, on the first go anyway, but both essentially do the same thing and that’s make it easier to practice languages over social media.

As well as finding conversational tandem partners, Tandem.net also allows you to search for professional tutors

Tandem is available for both iOS and Android.

Runner Up: 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.

TalkTalkBNB is quite a small website but it does have a couple of Portuguese speakers on there.

Dictionaries & Translation Tools

Winner: Deepl

Yes, there’s Google Translate but what a lot of people don’t realise is that Google Translate translates into Brazilian Portuguese and not European Portuguese. That isn’t a big deal if you’re translating from Portuguese to English (or another language) but it does make a difference when you’re translating into Portuguese. Expect to get a few comments from Portuguese people.

Thankfully, Deepl lets you choose between both Brazilian and European Portuguese.

Deepl is available at Deepl.com. There’s also a desktop version, but currently there’s no mobile app available.

Runner Up: 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 from both Portugal and Brazil, both male and female, saying the word.

Forvo is available for web, as well as for Android and iOS. The apps are not free, but the web version is.

Grammar

As much as most of us hate it, grammar is an essential part of learning a language. And while you will have to put in the effort to learn Portuguese grammar, thankfully there are a couple of apps and websites that are free and (maybe) a little fun as well.

Winner: Conjuguemos

conjugemos screenshot

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.

Conjuguemos is available from the website conjuguemos.com. There is no app currently, but you can use the app in your phone’s browser (although it works better on a computer).

Runner Up 1: 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.

Verbix can be found at Verbix.com

Runner Up 2: v”ErbuS

v”ErbuS is another conjugation tool for European Portuguese. This tool was created by Coimbra University in 2015 but, with the exception of the very crackly audio, still works really well. It is one of the only verb conjugators that provides audio, however, so beggars definitely can’t afford to be choosers.

v”ErbuS can be found at lsi.co.it.pt/verbos/index.html

Videos

Watching films and TV shows is a fun way of learning another language, and it can be an interesting avenue into the culture as well. While you’re have to buy the DVDs to watch most Portuguese films, there are a few TV programs, documentaries, and other web-based videos that you can watch for free. And, some of them even have subtitles as well.

Winner: RTP Play

literatura aqui

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.

A list of RTP programs that are available for streaming, along with other suggestions of subtitled videos that you can watch, can be found here.

Runner Up: Ted Talks

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:

Runner Up 2: 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 subtitles in both English and Portuguese.

Psy Logic Drawing’s YouTube channel and full list of videos can be found at Youtube.com

Quizes

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.

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

What to read next

Or read all of the articles about learning Portuguese

20 thoughts on “Learn European Portuguese for FREE: 35+ Resources”

  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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