Last updated: July 29, 2016
In this post you are going to get all of the resources you’ll need to learn Brazilian Portuguese from 0 to fluent.
This list is written primarily with the self directed student who wants to learn to speak Portuguese at their own pace. If you’re the kind of person who feels confident taking control of your learning experience and can mesh together your own study plan from a number of different sources then you’ll feel right at home here.
This list, and most of this site for that matter, is written primarily for people who plan on going to Brazil in the near future. Whether that means you’ll be taking just a short vacation to Brazil, whether you’re going on an exchange program or if you plan on living in Brazil long term, you’re probably going to use this page at some point in your efforts to learn Portuguese.
If this is your first time visiting this site I’d invite you to take a look around and see some of the other content that we have on the site. Brazilian Gringo was created to help people like you overcome the initial language and cultural challenges that every foreigner goes through when they move to Brazil.
With that introduction out of the way with, here’s a table of contents that will help you navigate this page and find what you’re looking for.
How to Get Started Learning Brazilian Portuguese
If you’re like the majority of people on this planet, you probably have no exposure to the Portuguese language. You can’t even say hello or thank you in Portuguese. If that sounds like your situation right now then you’ll want to get started by learning some basic phrases.
At this stage in the game you shouldn’t be too concerned with speaking Portuguese with perfect pronunciation. Though pronunciation is important to work on later, at the beginning at least you should just get used to the idea of speaking a foreign language.
Start by taking some basic phrases and say them out loud. You might get embarrassed or judgmental about how you sound, which is perfectly normal. It gets easier to speak Portuguese the more practice you get with it. Right now you’re not speaking for other people, you’re speaking for yourself.
To get started I would use the list at Omniglot to learn basic phrases. Learn to speak Portuguese by building your confidence one word at a time.
Recommended Courses for Learning Brazilian Portuguese
We’ll break this section up into sections, free courses you can use to learn Portuguese online, as well as paid courses.
Learn Brazilian Portuguese Online for Free
There are a number of free courses that you can use to learn Brazilian Portuguese. Here are my top recommendations:
Duolingo – Duolingo is a language learning app that you can use on desktop or mobile. It’s pretty good for learning vocabulary and learning pronunciation on the go. When combined with conversation practice with Brazilians or classes with a teacher this works out pretty well.
Paid Courses for Learning Brazilian Portuguese Online
There are only two courses that I feel confident telling people they should buy. I’m not saying other courses aren’t good, but I just think that most of them don’t offer anything unique that you can’t get in a free course. The two courses below are different.
The Mimic Method Flow of Portuguese by Idahosa Ness – This course is entirely focused on teaching you how to sound like a Brazilian. This unique approach has you retrain your mouth to move in the way that Brazilians move when they speak Portuguese. I’ve used this methodology to improve my accent and sound more Brazilian. Be warned that The Flow of Portuguese has a high drop out rate for the simple reason that its hard work. But if you are willing to put in the work you will speak Portuguese with a better accent than 99.99% of foreigners. You can read a more in depth review here.
Semantica Portuguese – Semantica offers several different video series that teach Portuguese through engaging stories. There are different series for different levels. You can use Semantica to go from a beginner all the way to being an advanced speaker. Each episode teaches a certain aspect of the language, grammar, pronunciation, vocabulary, slang and culture. I think Semantica-Portuguese is the best Portuguese course on the market, and I may only be a little bit biased because I am the co-host of the second season. Read a more in depth review here.
Portuguese Acceleration Blueprint – This one is made by Kevin who runs the site LiveinBrazil.org. You have to like his style of teaching to get value out of this course. Check out his free video series and if you like his approach go for it. Otherwise you might prefer to stick with Semantica or one of the free options.
How to talk to Brazilians Online for Free
The best thing that you can do not only for your Portuguese, but also to improve the quality of your experience in Brazil is to connect with Brazilians. The more Brazilian friends that you have, the more enthusiastic you’ll be about learning Brazilian Portuguese. Your enthusiasm for learning will spread to your Brazilian friends and they’ll want to help you learn even more. This is the fastest way to learn.
There are a number of sites online that were created for language learners to connect with other language learners. There are a lot of different options out there, so take your pick or sign up for all of them. Whatever your approach is, I challenge you to get on Skype with a Brazilian in the next 7 days and say something, say anything, even if it’s just ‘oi, tudo bem?’ You’ll thank me later.
- HelloTalk – My number one recommendation right now for finding Brazilian language exchange partners. This is a free app you can download on your phone that makes it really easy to connect with Brazilians who want to help you learn Portuguese. They have a lot of integrated features which make it easy to use, even if you don’t speak any Portuguese at all. Highly recommended.
- Livemocha – Livemocha used to be my top recommendation for finding language partners, but over the years their model has changed quite a bit and they were acquired by Rosetta Stone, a product I don’t have great things to say about. You can still use Livemocha to connect with other language learners but the interface isn’t as friendly as it used to be.
- Busuu – Busuu is another site that connects you to language learners. They also have a bunch of free resources for learning different languages.
- Italki – Similar to Livemocha in that it connects you with other language learners, but what makes Italki different is that you can be paid to teach your language. This is a good place for budget language learners to find a Portuguese teacher.
Where to Find Online Brazilian Portuguese Teachers
Once you’re ready to take your Portuguese learning to the next level you’ll want to enlist the help of a professional. Taking classes with a professional teacher will help you make faster progress in the language. I have a few recommendations for where you should find an online Portuguese teacher.
- Street Smart – Street Smart Brazil is the market leader in online Portuguese lessons. They’ve been at this for years and have helped hundreds of students become successful Portuguese learners. This experience comes at a premium though and you’ll have to make a serious investment into their classes. Well worth every penny for the quality of their teaching and the results that they’ll help you get.
- Semantica-Portuguese – Semantica is known more for their online video lessons than for their Portuguese teachers, but they do offer online classes for their customers. If you’re using Semantica to study Portuguese on your own (which every serious learner should be), and you’re looking for an online teacher, taking classes with a Semantica teacher will help you solidify what you learned by watching their videos.
- iTalki – Italki is not only a place to find free language learning partners, but it’s also a great place to find teachers as well. They allow two types of teachers to offer their services on their platform, community teachers and professionals. Professional teachers have some kind of certification and more experience, and anybody can be a community teacher. I recommend interviewing a bunch of teachers on Italki to make sure that your personalities match up well before committing to a package of classes.
- Verbling – Verbling used to be a free site that connected language learners, Chat-Roulette style. They’ve changed their model since then and now they’re a platform for finding online teachers. Prices and experience levels will vary, much like Italki.
Brazilian Gringo Portuguese Video Series
I’ve produced a series of videos to address cultural aspects of learning the language, motivation and common mistakes that foreigners make when speaking Portuguese. I have a lot of fun making these videos, and most of the videos I make come from requests from blog readers. If you want to see me make a video, ask me a question via email or by leaving a comment and I’ll probably make one for you.
- Avoid offending Brazilians by not using this word
- How to say Thank You in Brazilian Portuguese
- How to catch someone’s attention in Brazil
- How to avoid sounding like a Gringo when answering questions in Portuguese
- How to overcome the fear of speaking Portuguese in 60 seconds
- When to use “quando” and “que horas” in Portuguese
- How to say “I dont understand” in Portuguese
- When to use porque, por que, porquê and por quê in Portuguese
- When to use Por and Para in Portuguese
- When to use Ser and Estar in Portuguese
- How to use Trocar and Mudar in Portuguese
- What language does Brazil speak?
Podcasts for learning Brazilian Portuguese
Podcasts are a great learning tool because you can use them to learn Portuguese in those moments when you might not otherwise be doing anything. These are great to listen to while you’re in line at the supermarket in Brazil, or while commuting to your job in the US.
- Portuguese Pod 101 – A paid resource with some free podcasts available.
- Brazilian Pod Class
- Brazilian Portuguese Pod – A great podast resource with a lot of lessons for different levels. Recently the creator, André launched a new site, ReallyLearnPortuguese.com that looks pretty interesting.
- Ta Falado – Brazilian Portuguese Pronunciation for Speakers of Spanish
- Brazilian Portuguese 101 by Semantica
- Pimsleur Brazilian Portuguese – While not technically a podcast, I’m putting it on this list because some people like to listen to their lessons while they drive. You can also check out my review of Pimsleur Brazilian Portuguese.
- Todo Mundo Pod – A podcast recently launched by a journalist in São Paulo. A great resource for those that want to get listening practice while learning about Brazilian culture.
Recommended Portuguese Textbooks
- Modern Portuguese Grammar – As far as grammar books go this one is the best. It’s a good idea to wait until you have a basic command of the language before you start focusing on grammar.
- Muito Prazer – This book is entirely in Portuguese and is great way to move beyond the intermediate stages.
- Ponto de Encontro – If you’re interested not only in Brazilian Portuguese but in African and Continental Portugeuse as well you’ll find this textbook interesting.
- Falar/Ler/Escrever – A hands on book that will really help you drill in grammar.
- 501 Portuguese Verbs – A great resource for when you are unsure of how to cojugate a specific verb.
Where to learn Brazilian slang
- Dirty Portuguese is a book that will teach you politically incorrect Brazilian slangs that you wont learn anywhere else.
- Speak Like a Brazilian is a site that is constantly being updated with the most current Brazilian slangs and other colloquial expressions.
- Dicionário Informal – Whenever somebody uses a word that I’ve never heard before, I check to see if it’s on Dicionario Informal. This is the Brazilian equivalent of UrbanDictionary. For advanced learners, as it’s all in Portuguese.
English-Portuguese Dictionaries and Sites with Phrases Lists
If you’re just looking for some quick phrases, or are looking for an online dictionary to use, here are some sites for that:
Bab.La – A dictionary with translations from Portuguese into 23 languages, with the option of 3 side by side translations.
Blogs About Learning Brazilian Portuguese
- Hacking Portuguese – Though it hasn’t been updated recently, Lauren has amassed a ton of useful content for Portuguese learners of all levels.
- Semantica blog – Intermediate-level tips and new vocabulary. Facebook fan page.
- StreetSmart Brazil blog – beginner-level tips, instructional videos, and cultural news. Facebook fan page.
- Transparent Language Portuguese blog – Frequently added Portuguese language tips from Brazilian contributors.
- On Learning Brazilian Portuguese – An American student in Brazil who posts exercises and other useful tips about learning Portuguese.
- Eyes on Brazil – Adam no longer updates his sight, but it is full of cultural insights about Brazil.
- Fun With Brazilian Portuguese – London-based Portuguese teacher Fernando Nonohay’s blog with a huge range of tips, videos, and translated song lyrics
- Sua Língua – a blog in Portuguese written by a Brazilian linguist, exploring the etymologies of various words, grammar and idiosyncrasies of the language
- Portuguese Tips – written by a linguist
- brazilianportuguese.wordpress.com – though it hasn’t been updated in a few years, Dave Maclure’s blog has some great reviews of books and other tidbits
- Sonia Portuguese – Sonia is a Brazilian who has been teaching Portuguese on her website for over 10 years. She has a lot of great material worth checking out
- EatRio – A British expat’s reflections about Carioca culture and the Portuguese language
Anything you expected to see here?
This list is constantly being updated and improved as I scour the web for the best resources for Brazilian Portuguese learners. If you have a suggestion for something to be added to the list leave a comment below.
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