13+ Ways to Learn European Portuguese for Free (Or As Cheaply As Possible)

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James Cave / Last Updated: February 3, 2023 / Posted in: Learning Portuguese

It’s definitely difficult to learn a language without spending any money, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t cut down costs by using free resources.

Thankfully, there are lots of free resources for learning European Portuguese (yes, European Portuguese as opposed to Brazilian Portuguese). This includes YouTube videos, podcasts, and apps. In this article, we’ll show you the best ones.

This allows you to save your hard-earned cash for useful resources like a Practice Portuguese membership (which is actually incredibly reasonably priced) or 1-on-1 lessons with a private tutor on iTalki (again, very reasonably priced). 

Use 50 Languages to learn Essential Phrases (Free)

50 languages screenshot

To actually learn a language, you need to learn to construct sentences (I want, you want, etc) but when you first hit the ground in Portugal, you’re going to want something a little more practical than that. 

Tourist phrasebooks are the answer. These are packed with all the phrases you’ll need for everyday life, such as at the supermarket or at a restaurant, and the best part: some of these resources are free (or very affordable). 

50Languages has hundreds of useful phrases in European Portuguese, complete with audio clips that tell you how to pronounce them. It’s available as a website as well as an app for both Android and iOS. There’s also an accompanying course on Memrise

If you prefer, the Rough Guides, Lonely Planet, Rick Steves, and Berlitz all produce phrasebooks which you can find on Amazon – or you can usually pick them up secondhand on eBay or potentially for free at your local library. 

Take Advantage of Discounts (Cheap)

As mentioned, some things are worth paying for – but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to pay full price. Take advantage of the discounts many great course providers offer, like: 

Find Cheap Tutors Online (Cheap)

Many people sign up for group classes, assuming that 1-on-1 classes will be more expensive. This is true, but did you know that you can find affordable European Portuguese tutors online?

Italki is a fantastic website for this, although Preply and Speechling are also worth looking at as well. On iTalki, for example, Portuguese tutors start from around $10-12, particularly if you opt for a ‘community tutor’ as opposed to a ‘professional teacher.’ This is a great way to get conversational Portuguese practice and get 1-on-1 feedback on all the mistakes you’re making. 

Find a language exchange partner (Free)

Sites like iTalki might be cheap, but a language exchange partner is free. Here, you find someone who’s learning your native language and you meet up (in person or over Skype) and practice speaking and correcting each other’s mistakes. 

Finding the right language exchange partner is a little like dating – it’s sometimes hard to find someone you click with – but it’s all worth it in the end. And, thankfully, there are lots of websites and apps that make this easier like HelloTalk and Tandem.net 

Use Memrise (Free)

Memrise is a flashcard app that’s free to use (with a paid subscription option as well). You can use it to make your own flashcards of all the words and phrases that you want to learn, but you can also browse courses made by others. And there are a surprisingly large number of courses that cover European Portuguese.

Memrise has their own flashcards, for example, or there are lots of flashcards made by community members covering topics like the top Portuguese words, advanced Portuguese words, and basic conversational phrases

You can view a full list of flashcards for European Portuguese here

Another popular option is Anki, however, Memrise is much more user-friendly. 

Use Conjugemos for Learning Grammar (Free)

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. Another option is Verbix

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).

Textbooks = Affordable Courses (Cheap)

portugues em foco book

There are some fantastic online courses that cover European Portuguese, but some of them cost hundreds of euros. Textbooks, on the other hand, typically cost around €20-30 each. And you can sometimes find second-hand copies on Amazon and eBay. 

Now, it has to be said that the online courses are definitely more enjoyable and it’s often nicer to learn with video rather than reading, but if you’re willing to slog through some material that’s sometimes a little dull, you’ll be able to take yourself from A1 (absolute beginner) to C2 (fluency) using traditional Portuguese textbooks. 

YouTube is Your Friend (Free)

subtitled youtube video

Between subtitled videos (which are often hard to find) and content produced by Portuguese language teachers, there’s a wealth of information to be found on YouTube. 

Some examples include:

  • Easy Portuguese – Real life video conversations, complete with subtitles. Unfortunately, there are only around 5 videos as they are all fantastic. 
  • Talk The Streets YouTube channel – A fantastic YouTube channel where Liz Sharma covers real life Portuguese lessons e.g. pronunciation mistakes, slang, and practical tips for day-to-day life e.g. making an appointment. 
  • Mia Esmeriz Academy – Portuguese tutor, Mia Esmeriz, also has lots of informative videos on her YouTube channel that cover topics like common verbs, typical Portuguese words and phrases, and cultural videos that discuss Portuguese traditions, songs the Portuguese love, and much, much more. 

TedX is Another Option (Free)

You’ve probably come across Ted videos on YouTube, but did you know that TedX conferences (its grassroots offshoot) also take place across Portugal? That’s right. There have been TedX conferences in Lisbon, Porto, Faro, Braga, Coimbra, and even the island of Flores in The Azores.

Many of these videos get uploaded to YouTube or the Ted website, and a small portion of them even have subtitles as well. The content is often a little challenging, making it more suited to intermediate or advanced learners. 

Here are just a few of those videos:

Note: If you enjoy listening to Ted talks, you’ll also find plenty of TedX talks that were recorded in Brazil as well.

Watch Subtitled TV on RTPPlay (Free)

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.

Listen to Portuguese Podcasts (Free)

There are some useful podcasts out there, which can be split into three categories: podcasts that offer a lesson-based approach, easy content aimed at language learners, and interesting, real-life podcasts that are suitable for language learners. 

Lesson-based Podcasts

A few Portuguese teachers have podcasts which take a lesson-based approach. Some examples include:

Portuguese Podcasts with Translations

The following podcasts usually post audio content and then provide a transcription alongside it. 

Real-Life Podcasts

The easiest podcast is probably Portugueses no Mundo, which is suitable for intermediate level learners and up. It features interviews with Portuguese people living around the world. The content is interesting and the questions and answers are often very similar, so it’s very easy to understand the context. 

Listen to Portuguese Songs (Free)

Another fun way to learn Portuguese is by listening to songs. This isn’t always as helpful as listening to dialogues – people aren’t going to sing at you and lyrics are often written in quite a poetic way – but it’s a way of getting an insight into Portuguese culture. 

The easiest way to begin is to search for popular Portuguese songs on YouTube or Spotify or look up the lyrics. Alternatively, Lyrics Training offers a gamified approach where you have to listen and type what you think you hear. 

There are even more resources for Brazilian Portuguese (Free)

Yes, you’re learning European Portuguese but even though you won’t want to speak Brazilian Portuguese, you’ll want to familiarise yourself with how it’s spoken. Why? Because you’ll meet a lot of Brazilians in Portugal and you may want to travel there one day as well. 

Thankfully, there’s even more content for Brazilian Portuguese than there is European Portuguese so you won’t have to look too hard. Some free resources include:

  • Easy Languages – The Brazilian Portuguese version this time, which has even more content. 
  • Netflix – Portugal doesn’t produce a huge number of TV shows or films, unfortunately, but you’ll find a lot of content on Netflix 
  • Youtubers like Juliana Selem who has many videos in Portuguese, complete with subtitles 

Comments

  1. Hi!
    Just to let you know that portuguesereadings.com that you mention in this post no longer exists and was replaced by portuguesepedia.com

    Best regards, Pedro

    Reply
  2. Hi James,
    Any advice on resources for students doing Portuguese GCSE (Edexcel) in England?
    Thank you for all the links you have posted. Very useful.
    Obrigado

    Reply
  3. 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
  4. 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.


      Get the book Moving to Portugal Made Simple on Amazon now

      Reply
  5. 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
  6. 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.


      Get the book Moving to Portugal Made Simple on Amazon now

      Reply
  7. 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
    • Hi Jakes,

      It can be hard to find material outside of Portugal (and even in Portugal).

      The article above contains a lot of different resources.

      I've also written a few other articles that should help e.g.

      https://www.portugalist.com/learn-portuguese-online/
      https://www.portugalist.com/learn-portuguese/
      https://www.portugalist.com/learn-portuguese-a1-level/


      Get the book Moving to Portugal Made Simple on Amazon now

      Reply
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. 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.


      Get the book Moving to Portugal Made Simple on Amazon now

      Reply

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