Practice Portuguese is a popular online learning platform for learning European Portuguese. Actually, it’s probably fair to say that Practice Portuguese is the most popular online learning platform for learning European Portuguese (as opposed to Brazilian Portuguese – yes, there’s a bit of a difference).
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The site was started by Rui Coimbra and Joel Rendall, now married with a baby, who recognised the need for material for learning European Portuguese that was both useful and engaging.
Initially, the site was just an audio podcast with transcripts and has grown to include discussion forums (where you can ask all your difficult questions about the Portuguese language), a long form podcast, a Duolingo-like learning studio, and a verbs area where you can see the most popular verbs in their most popular conjugations (with audio). There’s also an app, which is available for both Android and iOS devices.
New shorties are released every week and each episode is just a few minutes’ long – so short that there’s no excuse not to do them. Naturally, each episode comes with a transcript.
While there are several components to Practice Portuguese, where Practice Portuguese really shines is through its shorties (short audio podcasts) and these are worth the monthly price alone. The episodes focus on useful situations like clothes shopping, signing up for a mobile phone plan, or interviewing for a job. There are new episodes every week, with different speakers, and each episode comes with a transcript as well.
Listening is one of the hardest skills to master, particularly when it comes to learning Portuguese from Portugal, so it’s great to have such a well-put together resource for one of the most challenging aspects of learning this language.
Different shorties are aimed at different levels, from beginner to advanced (which is roughly B2/C1 level). Beginners will probably find the content more useful as all levels will be useful to them (even if the really need to rely on the transcripts for the advanced levels) while advanced learners may find some of the earlier levels too easy, which means there won’t be as much material available for them.
The Learning Studio
The same applies for the learning studio units: anyone who’s already covered a lot of beginner’s and maybe even intermediate Portuguese will probably have covered a lot of the material here. Others may find that the units, while perfectly fine for teaching vocabulary, aren’t quite instructive enough for explaining Portuguese grammar and may prefer something with a teacher (either video-based or face-to-face).
That’s another challenge of Practice Portuguese: the layout. It doesn’t follow a course-like structure (e.g. A1, A2, B1, etc) like other courses do. This can make it difficult to know where to jump in at, and also to make sure that you’re covering everything you need to pass a specific exam.
That said, there’s enough material in the units to keep most European Portuguese learners occupied.
Besides providing content for everyday situations, Practice Portuguese also provides a good introduction into the Portuguese way of life particularly through the videos with Rui’s family members. Not only do these videos give you great insights into things like a Portuguese Christmas, but they also give you a chance to hear Portuguese as its spoken by typical Portuguese people but with the addition of transcripts (something you don’t get in real life, unfortunately).
And, the audio isn’t just limited to the podcasts and videos — throughout the site it’s possible to click on words and hear how the word would be pronounced by a native European Portuguese speaker. This feature is also available in the verbs section, and it’s one of the only verb conjugation tools that comes with a European Portuguese pronunciation feature. It’s just a shame that the verbs section isn’t bigger and covers more verbs.
Practice Portuguese works on a monthly subscription model and normally costs €15 per month. You can cancel anytime, and there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee if you don’t like the product.
No language product covers every aspect of language learning (speaking, listening, reading, writing, etc) and that’s definitely true of Practice Portuguese which is strongest on listening. As with most other products, you may need to combine it with other products and services – such as a teacher from Italki to practice speaking with – but, even so, it’s definitely still worth the subscription fee.
Practice Portuguese is one of the few websites that specialise in European Portuguese to also have an app – both for Android and iOS devices. The content that’s available on the app is similar to what’s available on the website, however, it is designed to be easier to use on a phone. One of the most helpful features in the ‘Smart Review’ feature which allows you to create an audio playlist of all the words and phrases that you’ve marked to learn. It can take a few minutes for the app to create this file, but you can then use it to learn Portuguese while on the bus, walking the dog, or out running.
P.S. If you’d like to learn more about the origins of Practice Portuguese, and the people behind it, take a read of this interview with co-founder Joel Rendall. A Practice Portuguese app is also in the works and will be available on both Android and iOS (Apple devices).