Learn European Portuguese: 6 Fool-proof Steps to Become Fluent Faster (with Resources)
So you want to learn Portuguese. But not just any Portuguese—you want to learn European Portuguese.
The language of the trendy travel destination that keeps on giving, all the kings and queens since 1139, nostalgia, rebellious modernist poetry, fado and colorful streets!
If so, you’ll need to look for specifically European Portuguese learning resources.
In this guide, you’ll learn how to get fluent in European Portuguese in six steps, plus countless resources to get you there.
- 1. Choose Your European Portuguese Resources
- 2. Watch European Portuguese YouTube Channels
- 3. Download and Listen to European Portuguese Music
- 4. Read European Portuguese Books
- 5. Read European Portuguese Magazines and Newspapers
- 6. Have Conversations with European Portuguese Speakers
- The 5 Benefits of Learning European Portuguese
1. Choose Your European Portuguese Resources
Here are some of the most bookmark-worthy online resources for learning European Portuguese.
PracticePortuguese.com has a podcast with engaging episodes about Portuguese history, everyday dialogues, articles and more.
Plus, there are transcriptions to improve your listening and reading skills.
You’ll find animated videos organized by topic—learn how to order pizza, life-saving phrases when you’re at the hospital, useful English-Portuguese cognates and more. Plus, enjoy animated storytelling about Portuguese myths and legends!
The website also includes a short introduction to the program.
Full access costs €15 per month, but you can cancel anytime. However, you can try a few exercises for free if you aren’t convinced it’s the right resource for you yet.
FluentU lets you learn European Portuguese naturally with fun, authentic videos made for native speakers.
This means you can start enjoying Portuguese content right from the beginning, no matter your level.
FluentU teaches you Portuguese through immersion—each video has interactive subtitles, which means you can hover over or click on words and grammar structures you don’t know.
You’ll instantly see the word’s definition, pronunciation, example sentences and other videos that use it in context. Plus, every word you click on gets automatically added to your personalized flashcard decks—which use a spaced repetition system to cement vocabulary into your long-term memory.
While this platform may not seem as fun and appealing as less traditional options, Instituto Camões is possibly the most credible organization for European Portuguese learning since it is intertwined with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Their online Portuguese courses offer year-round opportunities for beginners and advanced learners alike.
They typically last for 12 weeks (and vary in price), and you can study at your own pace with full access to all course content and features.
Click here to see what you will be learning for each level. Mind you, the page is in Portuguese (yes, ironic)!
2. Watch European Portuguese YouTube Channels
Too often, language learners get stuck on videos that are made for students instead of challenging themselves with videos that were created by native speakers for native speakers.
Well, here’s my top list of creative European Portuguese YouTubers you can binge for an immersive experience.
Wuant is an absolute legend in Portugal—any teenager or young adult on YouTube will likely know who he is.
His energy and ability to laugh at himself—as well as his spontaneous, energetic videos about diverse topics such as memes, curiosities, conspiracy theories and science—have made him famous.
His channel would be a good fit if you enjoy this content style in your native language. Or, if you want to challenge yourself to keep up with very fast, informal Portuguese as it is spoken by most young people today.
But be warned: Wuant’s channel includes slang, swearing and vocabulary you might not want to use around your parents or in your next job interview.
Fashion hauls, weekly vlogs, makeovers, giveaways, “what I eat in a day,”…feeling like subscribing already?
Mafalda is a young mom who shares frequent fashion, lifestyle and beauty advice.
Her videos could come in handy if you are interested in learning basic European Portuguese vocabulary about these topics, but also if you need a slower pace to start getting used to the sound of the language.
Compared to other YouTubers, she still speaks rather quickly and informally—but in a way you would encounter when meeting somebody new or hanging out with a Portuguese friend for coffee.
If you often find yourself picturing your next creative dessert, planning delicious meals for your weekend or just craving food inspiration, you need to follow 24Kitchen Portugal.
There are several smaller programs, but “Cozinha com Twist” (“Kitchen with a Twist”)—hosted by Filipa Gomes—is one of the most popular right now.
Her ’50s look and sweet, welcoming attitude have made her one of Portuguese TV’s most recent talents.
The best part? The combination of images with the voice of a Portuguese narrator will help you explore new vocabulary related to food and cooking.
You’ll also get familiar with establishing a sequence with connectors like primeiro (first), depois / a seguir (after that) and finalmente (finally).
Carina’s personality agrees with her look—sober, down-to-earth and casual.
Her channel is all about lifestyle, fashion, makeup and daily habits, but rather than keeping it superficial, Carina often posts about deeper issues in a series she calls “Carina de Verdade” (“Carina for Real”).
She’s posted videos about countless meaningful subjects, like loneliness, maturity and hypocrisy, and even aging!
Carina’s urban and mature vibe will give you slower, extremely clear, yet informal European Portuguese speech that will teach you vocabulary about daily habits, colloquial expressions, clothing and travel.
Bumba na Fofinha
Black Friday. Cellulite. Running. Surviving Christmas. You name it—Mariana has talked about it!
Because Mariana is a comedian, her Portuguese will often be exaggerated, and she sometimes plays with different accents, proverbs, colloquial expressions and even memes.
So her channel might not be ideal if you are trying to learn new vocabulary or have just started learning Portuguese.
However, beginners can still benefit from her channel by using it to explore the variety of sounds you’re bound to hear in Portuguese. Once you reach an advanced level, you’ll start catching up with her jokes on Portuguese society, families, old aunties and clichés!
3. Download and Listen to European Portuguese Music
Music and language learning go hand-in-hand.
Here are a few tips for using Portuguese music to learn the language:
- Don’t worry about understanding every single thing you hear. Get used to the sound of the language, and focus on understanding a couple of words you already know. Or, words that might sound similar to those in your native language. Relax and enjoy!
- Focus on the titles first. This is a fantastic trick if you feel overwhelmed when confronted with large amounts of information. Translate the titles first, then move on to the song’s lyrics. Trust me, you’ll start learning new words quickly.
- Sing along. Once you’re used to the sound of the language and have full access to the lyrics, try singing as you go. You might think you sound silly at first, but you’ll be singing like a true Portuguese fadista in no time!
- Recognize that Portuguese music is influenced by other Portuguese-speaking countries—mainly Brazil, Angola, Cabo Verde and São Tomé e Príncipe. For this reason, you’re likely to find songs that mix genres and different variations of Portuguese.
- Browse multiple genres. Just like English, Portuguese music has countless genres you can explore. Try out a few to decide which you like best, then start exploring other artists in them.
Let’s check out a few of the most popular European Portuguese music genres.
If you like hip hop, I recommend checking out:
For contemporary fado that doesn’t make you want to fall asleep, check out the Portuguese legends:
Fado is great for beginners who want to get used to the sound of the language, as it’s typically slower in rhythm and speech. Just be aware that it’s not a good idea to always trust the vocabulary fado songs use since it’s often outdated.
Famous names in the Portuguese R&B scene include:
Practically everyone knows these rock bands in Portugal:
4. Read European Portuguese Books
I am nothing.
I’ll never be anything.
I couldn’t want to be something.
Apart from that, I have in me all the dreams in the world.
The above (translated) words by Fernando Pessoa—arguably the most famous modernist Portuguese poet—can be found in Portuguese streets, on the walls of coffee shops and stores, on notebooks and planners and more.
Portugal is famous for its poets and novelists, who have been highly rebellious and revolutionary.
The Portuguese language also hasn’t changed much, so you’ll be able to understand most literature if you’re an intermediate to advanced learner.
Here are a few types of Portuguese literature you can check out.
For realism, I recommend Eça de Queiroz and his hit “Os Maias: Episódios da Vida Romântica” (“The Maias: Episodes of Romantic Life”).
It’s a novel about the shocking affair between a young aristocrat and a lady—with a major plot twist I won’t reveal!
This book is mandatory in high schools all over Portugal, so it could be a fantastic topic for future conversations with Portuguese friends.
For fans of imagination, rule-breaking poetry and the modernist craze, the choices are endless, as modernism was a major movement in Portugal.
However, Fernando Pessoa, José Régio and Almada Negreiros are absolute giants.
These poets often write about loneliness, religion and atheism, aging, their contemporary environment, societal expectations and the passage of time—so they’re more suitable for intermediate and advanced learners.
My top recommendation is Fernando Pessoa.
Start with the poems:
- “Tabacaria” (“The Tobacco Shop”)
- “Autopsicografia” (“Autopsychography”)
- “Mar Português” (“Portuguese Sea”)
These works are so famous that practically every Portuguese person can quote at least one line.
Valter Hugo Mãe is a recent phenomenon and is considered to be one of the most promising living Portuguese authors.
He’s written “A Máquina de Fazer Espanhóis” (“The Spaniard-Building Machine”) and “O Remorso de Baltazar Escorpião” (“Baltazar Serapião’s Remorse”)—both about the complexities of aging, friendship and love.
5. Read European Portuguese Magazines and Newspapers
Perhaps you love reading, but books aren’t your thing.
Instead, go for magazines and newspapers.
These are fantastic options if you want bite-sized chunks of information without having to focus.
Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced learner, I recommend printing articles that interest you. Then, underline any new words and expressions you aren’t familiar with.
This will help you practice reading without the need to finish an entire book or dedicate hours of your time.
Here are some popular options among the Portuguese people.
Daily news: Jornal de Notícias and Diário de Notícias
These two news sites are trustworthy and let you access smaller, accessible portions of information in European Portuguese.
First, you get frequent exposure to vocabulary about the weather, employment, sports, transportation and technology.
Secondly, the articles are short and written so the average person can understand them. This means you’ll likely be able to read a few even if you’ve just recently started learning Portuguese.
Society, culture and fun: Visão and Sábado
Whether it’s the opening of the latest restaurant or the most exciting culture and science news, these two popular magazines report it all in clear, brief European Portuguese.
Choose from categories like Economics, Culture, Politics, Science and Health to get the latest information on what’s happening worldwide.
After reading several articles, you may be asked to create a login account, but your access will remain unrestricted.
Health, fitness and well-being: Máxima, Women’s Health Portugal and Men’s Health Portugal
These magazines give you a daily dose of short, accessible articles in European Portuguese related to fashion, well-being, family, nutrition and relationships.
They cover topics like the latest wedding trends, advice for first-time runners, and even strategies for dealing with anticipation stress.
For beginners, they’ll help you get familiar with basic vocabulary that might be useful while talking to Portuguese speakers, as most of the sections explore fears, habits and emotions human beings worldwide can relate to!
6. Have Conversations with European Portuguese Speakers
Regardless of how much we read or listen to music, talking to native speakers is always the best way to improve fast.
Even if you still don’t feel confident enough, know that going through a couple of awkward silences is nothing compared to the joy you’ll feel when you get your message across fluently in Portuguese.
Here are two resources for connecting with Portuguese speakers instantly.
Whether you really are a couch surfer or could never picture yourself sleeping on someone else’s couch for days, this is a trustworthy, cost-free platform to start speaking to new people.
Most users not looking for accommodation still want to make new connections and are open to sharing experiences, especially if they’re visiting your city and want to see some new faces.
Find some Portuguese travelers who are walking around, and dare to say hi!
italki is an entire universe for meeting other language learners, teachers and native speakers.
You can use the platform for free to talk to Portuguese people for fun.
Or, you can pay for actual classes with a teacher. You can also choose from a wide variety of prices.
In your profile, you can mention what type of support or experience you are looking for, what languages you speak and at what level, and what languages you’re trying to learn now.
You can check out our detailed italki review and guide here.
The 5 Benefits of Learning European Portuguese
- The opportunity to relocate to Portugal. If you’re considering living or working here (you probably will be after visiting!), you’ll be happy to know that most Portuguese people understand and speak English well. However, European Portuguese is an essential tool for getting around in Portugal—for understanding necessary documentation, adapting more quickly, creating a deeper connection with your colleagues and understanding what’s going on around you.
- Portugal is the perfect place for job opportunities and business. Portugal is the home of an exciting startup movement that includes interesting tech projects! Why not open your new business here?
- Experience a rich culture that has survived for centuries. With a complex history that includes periods of war, conquest and invasion, living under dictatorship and going through several revolutions, it is not surprising that Portuguese music, literature and culture have so much to give. Learning European Portuguese is key to understanding Portuguese culture—our humor, colloquial expressions and entertainment!
- Learning European Portuguese makes other Portuguese dialects easier. Portuguese from African countries such as Angola, Cabo Verde and Guiné-Bissau share more similarities with European Portuguese than Brazilian Portuguese. So if you want to have a wider reach, European Portuguese is the way to go.
- Learn other Romance languages easier. You’ll get familiar with a Romance language described by foreigners as a creative mix of Spanish, Russian and Polish! Who wouldn’t want to know more about a language like that? Plus, it may help you learn other Romance languages (or non-Romance languages) in the future.
Did you take notes on the above and prepare your resources?
Now you can start exploring new waters!