It’s Saturday morning and you’re a kid again.
You’ve got a bowl of your favorite cereal and cartoons on the TV.
You don’t realize it, but you’re not just relaxing in your pajamas. You’re also learning a language—picking up new words and funny phrases from the cartoon characters and absorbing grammar, accents and pronunciations.
Okay, back to reality. The days of Saturday morning cartoons might be over, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have any use for cartoons anymore.
While it’s natural for kids to learn languages by watching cartoons, we have news for you: Anyone, regardless of age, can benefit from learning Portuguese with cartoon TV shows.
Not too sure how cartoons can help you ramp up your Portuguese acquisition? Well, then tune in for the upcoming sections.
Can You Really Learn Portuguese with Cartoon TV Shows?
Absolutely! In fact, any kids’ show will seriously help you hone those listening skills.
Think about it: Cartoons cater to a young audience that’s still learning the ins and outs of the world around them. These shows have to be simple enough for kids to understand but engaging and educational at the same time (otherwise the kids will just move on to the next show!).
You, as a language learner, are somewhat in the same position—trying to make sense of the Portuguese-speaking world, at a steady and manageable pace.
As with any authentic video or content, getting used to native accents can be a bit overwhelming at first. But the great thing about cartoons is they offer a less intimidating, less complex space for you to practice active listening. Most of the characters you’ll come across will speak at a slower pace than you’d encounter watching, say, a drama in Portuguese.
That means you can progressively get used to hearing conversations with a native Brazilian or European Portuguese pronunciation, which will prepare you over time for more sophisticated media and, ultimately, conversation with native speakers.
Sounds pretty great, right? Up next, we’ll show you how to start digging up cartoons for some binge-watching in Portuguese.
The #1 Tip for Learning Portuguese with Cartoons: Start with Something Familiar
Choosing a cartoon in your native language that you know quite well will help you get the ball rolling on this Portuguese learning exercise. This can be much easier than starting out cold with authentic Portuguese cartoons, where you don’t know anything about the plot, characters or context.
Try and remember some of your favorite cartoons from when you were a kid. Once you’ve selected a few, do a search for their Wikipedia entries. Then, in Wikipedia, switch the language to Portuguese—you’ll find that most entries will give you the name of the series in Brazil and in Portugal. Make sure to pay attention to the corresponding titles, as they’re often quite different.
Here’s an example: If you look up the Wikipedia page for “Pinky and the Brain,” then you switch the language to Portuguese, you’ll find that the Brazilian name for the series is “Pinky e o Cérebro” and the European version is “Pinky e o Brain.”
Of course, there are exceptions to this rule. You might find that some older cartoons and animated films, such as “Branca de Neve e os Sete Anões” (“Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”), have the same title in both countries.
Now, you’re all set to do a bit of YouTube digging. Where possible, use subtitles and closed captions to your advantage. In the early stages, reading the text as you hear it can help with memorization as well as give you a clearer understanding of what’s being said.
Keeping with our “Pinky and the Brain” example, here’s what a YouTube search brings up for the Brazilian and Portuguese versions. If you’ve come across a cartoon with the same name in both countries, add “Pt-PT” or “Pt-BR” to the end of the title, such as “Pernalonga Pt-BR” (“Bugs Bunny Pt-BR”).
Alternatively, you could always search for “[Portuguese cartoon title] online” on Google. Just keep in mind that copyright restrictions might impact your findings and not all streaming websites are legal.
You can find authentic (and legal!) cartoons, TV show clips and other real-world videos on FluentU. The program then turns each of these videos into personalized language lessons with interactive captions, accompanying quizzes, customizable vocabulary lists and much more.
There’s a Portuguese program currently in development, so stay tuned for a fun, immersive learning experience for Portuguese learners, coming soon!
As another alternative, you can buy the DVD/Blu-Ray for the show you want to watch on Amazon, either the official Portuguese version or the English version which often has dubbing in other languages available (just make sure Portuguese is one of the languages).
Once you’ve gotten your feet wet with familiar shows, it’s time to start ramping up your practice and branching out to new cartoons. Below, we’ll explore great series to choose from, some targeted specifically to language learners and others made for a Portuguese-speaking audience.
Kid at Heart? Learn Portuguese with 7 Cartoon TV Shows
It’s time to get animated and learn Portuguese with cartoon TV shows!!
Let’s check out three fun cartoons created for language learners, followed by four Brazilian and Portuguese cartoons that will entertain and educate you.
Online Cartoon TV Shows for Portuguese Learners
This series provides an invaluable resource for Portuguese beginners. Dino Lingo teaches both Brazilian and European Portuguese in a visually engaging manner. Their delightful animated series covers common nouns, numbers and other language essentials.
These cartoons are made especially for young learners of Portuguese, so they employ simple storytelling, repetition and memorable visuals.
BookBox (Brazilian Portuguese)
BookBox creates animated stories for young Brazilian Portuguese learners. Their ultimate goal is to foster a love for reading in all students, while offering insights into the country’s culture and customs. All their stories have Portuguese subtitles that viewers can follow along with as each fable is told.
It’s an all-around great choice for children and ideal for learners of all ages who love a friendly pack of cartoon animals, too.
Practice Portuguese (European Portuguese)
Compared with the other resources on our list, Practice Portuguese has a humble cartoon collection—but they’re definitely worth tuning into if you want something quite culturally specific.
Authentic Portuguese Cartoon Shows
Surely you didn’t think we’d leave without showcasing some Brazilian and Portuguese cartoon productions! For something with a true local flair, try out these cartoon series:
You’ll fall in love with the little ants in this cartoon. “Smilingüido” is an evangelical animated series, but it’s not preachy in any way. Rather, each installment teaches valuable life lessons and morals—at times with religious undertones but often more generalized.
“Turma da Mônica” (Brazil)
Seriously, nobody can talk about Brazilian cartoons without mentioning this cultural icon. “Turma da Mônica” started out as a comic book series. It quickly gained traction with children and adults alike and expanded into a larger phenomenon—in fact, there’s even a theme park dedicated to it!
In a nutshell, each story follows a diverse bunch of characters (from suburban kids, to rural folk and indigenous tribes) and throws great life lessons with a sense of humor into the mix. Suffice to say, it’s quite difficult to summarize the series in a few words, so give it a watch.
“Tic Tac Tales” (Portugal)
Including both live action and animation, this children’s TV series is sure to delight viewers of all ages.
“Tic Tac Tales” starts at a watch shop, where Tobias and Mestre Elias work. Tobias’ musings always prompt Mestre Elias to reminisce and relate a trove of stories, re-enacted by a regular stream of cartoon characters.
You can find clips on the YouTube channel of the show’s developer.
“Romance da Raposa” (Portugal)
Don’t miss this Portuguese classic! “Romance da Raposa” is an adaptation of a novel by Portuguese author Aquilino Ribeiro, and was originally broadcast in the late 1980s.
It follows the adventures and mishaps of a fox called Salta-Pocinhas and his friends. The episodes tell stories about animal life, and are filled with heartwarming life lessons.
Well, that’s all, folks! We’ve given you all the tools to learn Portuguese with cartoon TV shows, now it’s up to you to animate your learning experience.
Unleash your inner child, get watching those cartoons and don’t forget to apply your new Portuguese vocabulary to the rest of your endeavors.
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