How to Learn European Portuguese

By | Last updated: June 3, 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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So, you’ve decided to learn European Portuguese (as opposed to Brazilian Portuguese). Maybe you’ve decided to move to Portugal, maybe you’ve fallen in love with a Portuguese man or woman, or maybe you’ve just fallen in love with the language.

Regardless of your reasons, congrats! Portuguese is a beautiful and incredibly underrated language. And, it’s definitely worth learning.

This article covers all levels — from absolute beginner right up until the very advanced levels.

Here are the three main things that’ll get you there.

  1. Take courses
  2. Keep expanding your vocab
  3. Work on your core skills (reading, writing, listening, and speaking)

Take a course

It can be overwhelming knowing where to start. After all, there are hundreds of thousands of words in the Portuguese language and then there’s grammar, pronunciation, and everything else.

That’s what courses, especially beginner’s courses, are for: someone else has done the hard work of working out what words and phrases are most essential, what grammar you need to learn, etc.

The following are self-study courses from beginner to advanced. Of course, if you’d don’t like the idea of studying at home, you could look at studying through a language school instead.

Beginner EU Portuguese Courses

The following courses cover A1 and A2 Portuguese and are designed to take you from not knowing a single word of Portuguese to being able to converse in very basic situations.

Pimsleur European Portuguese Level 1 [*link*]
italki logo A great course that builds your confidence and that actually gets you speaking Portuguese. It does have its downsides (lack of grammar focus, for one) but, for many, this is a great tool to get them started. [Read a review here]

Mia’s Learn European Portuguese Online A1 & A2 [Link] – Mia’s course is very comprehensive and heavy on grammar, but the format is very non-interactive which may be challenging for those with short attention spans. [Read reviews]

Portuguese Lab Academy [Link] – An interactive site that covers covers A1 & A2 EU Portuguese.

Instituto Camões’ Portuguese for Foreigners, level A1 & A2 [Link] – A self-study course that’s taught by the Camões Institute (the official institute in charge of promoting the Portuguese language).

ACM’s Plataforma De Português Online [Link] – A free platform from the Portuguese government which covers A1 & A2 Portuguese (as well as B1 & B2 Portuguese, which you’ll hopefully get to later on).

Intermediate EU Portuguese Courses

The following courses cover B1 and B2-level European Portuguese.

Mia’s Learn European Portuguese Online B1 & B2 [Link] – The continuation of the A1 & A2 course. [Read reviews]

Portuguese Lab [Link] – Covers both B1 & B2 level European Portuguese.

Advanced EU Portuguese Courses

The following courses cover C1 and C2-level European Portuguese.

Instituto Camões [Link] – Self study course that covers the C1 level.

PORTUGUÊS ATUAL 3 [Link] – A textbook with accompanying CD that covers both C1 and C2 levels.

Keep expanding your vocab

The best resources for improving your European Portuguese vocab.

Memrise [Link] – A free flashcard memorisation app that includes several free courses for European Portuguese.

Drops [Link] – An alternative to Duolingo, which also covers European Portuguese. It’s not as developed as Duolingo, it mainly focuses on vocab, and the free version has a daily time limit, but it’s still an option for anyone looking to learn via an app.

Grammar resources

The best resources for developing your European Portuguese grammar.

Verbix [Link] – A simple verb conjugation tool that covers European Portuguese. Simply enter a verb (e.g. falar – to speak) and it’ll show you the Portuguese for I speak, you speak, I will speak, etc in European Portuguese.

v”ErbuS [Link] – Another verb conjugation tool for European Portuguese, but with the benefit of audio. The audio can be quite crackly, but it’s still better than nothing.

Conjugemos [Link] – Has several games where you can test your ability to conjugate verbs. It’s much more fun than trying to memorise verb tables!

Work on your core skills

These resources aren’t necessarily courses, but they’re very helpful for improving your Portuguese.

Core Skill: Listening

The best resources for developing your listening skills.

Practice Portuguese Logo - 100Practice Portuguese [*Special Offer*] – One of the best resources for learning European Portuguese, the Practice Portuguese podcast has hundreds of dialogues that you can listen to.

Say It In Portuguese [Link] – Although less entertaining, the Say It In Portuguese podcast is still a very helpful resource to have.

Portuguese from Portugal [Link] – Another podcast with free audio and text, this resources uses text from Wikipedia articles but covers a variety of Portuguese topics like wine, football, and fado.

Helpful articles on Portugalist

Core Skill: Speaking

The best resources for developing your speaking skills.

italki logo Italki [*Link*] – Find native speakers that you can take conversational Portuguese classes with.

Forvo [Link] – A dictionary that focuses on pronunciation as well as definitions. While most of the audio clips are from Brazilian speakers, you will find quite a few from Portuguese speakers as well (and it’s useful to hear the difference).

Helpful articles on Portugalist

Core Skill: Writing

The best resources for developing your writing skills.

Deepl [Link] – An alternative to Google Translate that covers European Portuguese (if you use Google Translate you’ll translate into Brazilian Portuguese).

HelloTalk [Link] – Improve your Portuguese writing abilities by chatting with native speakers through the HelloTalk app.

Helpful articles on Portugalist

Core Skill: Reading

The best resources for developing your reading skills.

Deepl [Link] – An alternative to Google Translate that covers European Portuguese.

Google Translate [Link] – An incredibly useful translation tool. While it does use Brazilian Portuguese rather than European Portuguese, it’s usually fine for translating for Portuguese to English but it’s better to use Deepl when translating from English to Portuguese.

Helpful articles on Portugalist

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This article was first published in May 2019. It was last updated on June 3, 2020.
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