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.
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.
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 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 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 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 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 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 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.
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.
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 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.
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 London, New York, and Los Angeles. Classifieds websites like Gumtree (UK), Craigslist (US), and kijiji (Canada) are also a good place to look.
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.
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 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.
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 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 is another conjugation tool for European Portuguese. This tool was created by Coimbra University, and includes (crackly) audio.
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, 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.
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.
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:
- Ser mulher negra em Lisboa | Carla Fernandes | TEDxLisboa
- Falar com o inimigo: Henrique Cymerman at TEDxOporto
- A pessoa que conta: Thomas Bakk at TEDxOporto
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.
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.