How to Learn Portuguese Completely Online

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So you want to learn Portuguese, but want to learn it online rather than in a class? Maybe you aren’t living in Portugal yet, or maybe you just live too far from the nearest Portuguese class. Perhaps you prefer to self-study or maybe you like the idea of learning from home or your favourite coffee shop?

Whatever your reasons, it’s possible to learn Portuguese entirely online from just about anywhere in the world. That doesn’t just apply to vocabulary and grammar; it’s also possible to take classes online and find native speakers to practice with over Skype.

In this article, you’ll…

  • See a list of online Portuguese courses.
  • Find out how you can find a teacher who will give lessons over Skype (some people prefer taught classes rather than taking an online course and self-studying).
  • Find out how you can find a teacher who offers conversational Portuguese lessons (this is essential both for practice and making sure that you’re getting the pronunciation correct).
  • Get a list of written and audio resources that you can learn from in your spare time.

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How to Self-Study

Regardless of whether you take classes or you study entirely by yourself, learning a new language always involves a lot of self-study. A language teacher actually can’t teach you a new language. They can give you the materials and correct your mistakes, but ultimately it’s up to you to work on it.

There are benefits to taking classes, though. Firstly, classes give you a bit more of a framework for what to study. Secondly, some people actually need to enroll in a class that they have to turn up to. They don’t have the motivation to study at home themselves.

But, as mentioned, teachers and classes can only do so much. And, there are a lot of downsides to classes as well. If you’re proactive, studying by yourself can be a far more effective use of your time.

What you’ll need

A lot of people think self-studying a language means getting a list of the top 5,000 words or downloading an app like Memrise, Duolingo, or Drops.

Those things all have their benefits, but here’s the thing: most resources usually only cover one aspect of learning a language. There are several things you need to focus on like grammar, listening, speaking, reading, and writing.

To give your studies a focus or a backbone, and to get to grips with Portuguese grammar, it’s a good idea to work through a Portuguese course. Start with a beginners course, then do an intermediate, then advanced.

While there are some good courses out there, they don’t cover everything and, like everything else, they have their strengths and weaknesses. As well as taking a course, you’ll need to expand your vocabulary, practice speaking with natives, practice reading, and practice writing.

Let’s start with courses…

Online European Portuguese Courses

The following courses are all completely online-based, and the list doesn’t include textbooks. If you’d like to see a list of them, be sure to read the complete list of courses that cover European Portuguese.

Beginners Resources

According to the CEFR scale, the Beginner’s Level is split into two levels called A1 And A2.

A1

A2

Other resources

These materials don’t correspond to an exam level, but as a guide they’re they’re A1 to A2 level (beginner).

Intermediate Resources

According to the CEFR scale, the Intermediate Level is split into two levels called B1 And B2.

B1

B2

Advanced Resources

According to the CEFR scale, the Advanced Level is split into two levels called C1 And C2.

C1

Instituto Camões Portuguese for Foreigners C1 – A paid self-study course covering A1 Portuguese, with basic (includes group Skype tutoring) and premium (includes individual Skype tutoring) options.

C2

Finding materials that cover C2 can be tricky, particularly when it comes to online courses, but there are one or two Portuguese textbooks that cover this level.

See the full list of European Portuguese courses & textbooks

SCHOOLS & TEACHERS THAT OFFER PRIVATE LESSONS

Some people want to study online (especially if they’re not in Portugal) but would prefer lessons rather than self-study. If that sounds like you, the following schools offer 1-to-1 classes over Skype which can tailored to your needs.

You can also take structured classes through sites like Italki or Verbling. Both also have teachers that give conversational classes where you just practice speaking and they correct any mistakes that you make.

Practice speaking

A big part, if not the most important part, of learning a language is actually speaking with someone. Traditionally most people would do this face-to-face in a café or in someone’s home but, increasingly, more and more people are doing this online through apps like Skype – even people who live in Lisbon or Porto.

There are two ways to practice speaking Portuguese: either with a teacher or as part of a tandem exchange (where you swap tuition in your native language for the other person’s).

It’s much, much more effective to work with a teacher than with a language exchange partner, and there are several sites where you can find teachers who offer conversational Portuguese classes like:

Italki is the largest of the three, and tends to be the most popular and also the cheapest. Most of the teachers that are on Italki are also on Verbling and other similar sites as well.

(Note: If you just select Portuguese, you’ll get a lot of teachers from Brazil. Be sure to select that you want a teacher who comes from Portugal as well).

Tandem exchange partners

There are several sites which connect native language speakers with people that are learning that language. You chat over Skype or over the phone, spending some time on each language and correcting each other’s mistakes. Sites to look at include:

Other Skills

Besides practicing speaking, it’s important to work on your listening, reading, vocab, and grammar skills. Here are a few articles that’ll help you with that.

What to read next

Or read all of the articles about learning Portuguese
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Article originally published on 10 December, 2018

14 thoughts on “How to Learn Portuguese Completely Online”

  1. Hello
    Could you please advise on where I can do a PORTUEGUESE language text and receive a certificate, preferably online. I will look forward to your response
    Olu

    Reply
  2. I have not noticed that yhe name of a certain site that teaches European Portuguese is on here… so I would like to tell you about it! It is a huge gift for anyone to learn European Portuguese…there are two brilliant individuals in Lisbon who realised some years ago, that most Portuguese classes online was Brazilian, so they created a a wonderful learning tool for this lovely language, and it is strictly European Portuguese….here is the name of their site: practiceportuguese.com they have a free option, and an upgraded option, it only costs about €11 per month and is worth every cent. With the paid option you can record yourself, copying the speaker, so that helps you to repeat until correct. Many other good learning tools on their, have a look for yourself.

    Reply
      • I have listened to the sample words on the practiceportuguese.com website and they do not sound European but Brazilian unfortunately.
        My husband is from Portugal and does not pronounce the words like they do. I need to find a way to bring my level of understanding to a solid A2 but would like to get to a B1 level so I can get my citizenship.
        I realize I have someone at home to practice with but truthfully we don’t. I need an outside source. Also are there any shows on Netflix or Amazon that are in European Portuguese that you recommend?
        I sure wish the Plataforma de Português Online worked better as that would be an awesome place to practice. What are your thoughts on the 17 minute languages? I took the placement test there but am curious what your opinion is on them?
        Thank you for having this resource

        Reply
        • Hi Carol,

          The speakers on PracticePortuguese are definitely from Portugal. There are obviously some dialect differences in how people speak in Portugal, but it shouldn’t be so significant.

          As for Netflix and Amazon, there isn’t anything there at the moment. The first Netflix series in European Portuguese (Gloria) is currently being filmed but I don’t know when it’ll be added. Unfortunately finding Portuguese films is very difficult. You can watch tv shows on RTP Play but they’re not usually the most exciting.

          Never used 17 minute languages.

          As for the Brazilian Portuguese VS European Portuguese argument, I realise you’re studying to take the exam but I do think there’s an argument for familiarising yourself with Brazilian Portuguese. There are a lot of Brazilians in Portugal, and you’ll probably end up with a few Brazilian friends so it’s good to get used to how they pronounce things too.

          Reply
          • Hi James,
            I live in S. Florida and we are surrounded by Brazilians. I practice Duolingo as well that only has Brazilian Portuguese so I do hear it quite often. I can understand most of what they say too. I just really wanted to continue with the European rather than Brazilian.
            I am glad I was wrong with the Practice Portuguese. I didn’t think about the dialect being different.
            I asked about the 17 minute languages because you linked to it for the Portuguese level test so I thought you knew something about their program.
            I look forward to watching “Gloria” when it arrives on Netflix.
            Thanks for your response!

            Reply
  3. Hi James,

    Thanks for all the info!
    I’ve tried Plataforma de Português Online but there seems to be a problem when you press the icon to listen. There is almost never a sound. Very frustrating as the site seems to be very interesting to use for online learning…. :-((((

    Reply
    • It’s a really comprehensive site, but it suffers from some big technical problems. I find it very slow.

      Such a shame as clearly a lot of work went into it!

      Reply
  4. Hi James
    Please could you check the Travellinguist Portuguese 101 site that you recommend? Some of those pronunciations sound distinctly Brazilian – for example, “onde”?

    Reply

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