Learn Portuguese with TV Shows: 16 Super Series to Boost Your Language Skills
Are you a Portuguese learner looking for your next show to binge on?
If you answered “Yes,” then this post is perfect for you!
I have gathered 16 amazing Portuguese TV shows that will give you hours upon hours of watching time and will help you learn Portuguese in an easy, natural, immersive way.
- Is Learning Portuguese with TV Shows Right for Me?
- Why Learn Portuguese with TV Shows?
- “Os Nossos Dias” (Our Days)
- “Literatura Agora” (Literature Now)
- “Canal Parlamento” (Parliament Channel)
- “Água de Mar” (Sea Water)
- “Na Cozinha com Henrique Sá Pessoa” (In the Kitchen with Henrique Sá Pessoa)
- “O Mecanismo” (The Mechanism)
- “Salvador Martinha: Na Ponta da Língua” (Salvador Martinha: Tip of the Tongue)
- “Bem-vindos a Beirais” (Welcome to Beirais)
- “O Escolhido” (The Chosen One)
- “Aqui Tão Longe” (Here So Far)
- “Avenida Brasil” (Brazil Avenue)
- “O Sábio” (The Wise Man)
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Is Learning Portuguese with TV Shows Right for Me?
Learning Portuguese with TV shows is ideal for learners who already know a bit of Portuguese and are also using other methods of learning to simultaneously strengthen their grammar and vocabulary knowledge.
If you are just starting to learn Portuguese and have close to zero experience with the language, watching a drama series or a space documentary in a foreign language will leave you lost and frustrated. Instead, you can start by watching some cartoons and kid shows in Portuguese just to make your ears and brain get used to the sound of the language.
You can also use FluentU’s authentic videos for even more language learning support. This program uses videos like movie and TV show clips, music videos, news segments, inspirational talks and more to teach Brazilian Portuguese naturally.
You also get access to multimedia flashcards and vocab lists, annotated subtitles with on-demand definitions and interactive quizzes.
It would be very crazy of me (and a blatant lie, too) if I told you that you are going to be fluent in two months just by watching the shows included in this post.
News flash: Learning a new language takes time and requires you to make an effort!
But if you are aware of this and what you are looking for is a way to improve your Portuguese and have fun along the way, then you are in the right place.
Why Learn Portuguese with TV Shows?
Learning with the help of shows and movies is an amazing way to put theoretical skills into actual practice. I could name dozens of reasons why this way of learning is the best for you at the moment, but there is no time or space for that.
What I can tell you, instead, are the top three reasons why learning Portuguese with the help of TV shows will send you to the next level:
- It is entertaining: We all love watching TV, so using shows to learn will make your learning path enjoyable and entertaining. You will not feel that you are learning or studying while watching your next favorite series, but your brain will be absorbing information like crazy.
Sooner or later, with the support of other language-learning methods, you will realize you can watch a show in Portuguese without even having to look at the subtitles.
- It is efficient: When watching TV, you are engaging your eyes and your ears. You think you are just watching a show but in actuality, you are practicing your listening and comprehension skills. If you read the subtitles, you are also practicing your reading skills, and if you take the time to pause from time to time and write down interesting words and sentences, you will be reinforcing everything you have been learning so far.
Bear in mind that you will be listening to native Portuguese, so when your brain starts having a monologue in Portuguese, it will use the cadence and pronunciation it has grown used to—so your speaking skills will improve, as well.
- It is cheap: If you have Netflix or an internet connection, you will not have to spend a single additional penny in order to get in contact with real Portuguese language and real-life situations from the comfort of your own couch.
This will also allow you have that immersion vibe that will make your learning process much more enjoyable and will let you witness cultural tidbits without having to spend thousands of dollars on plane tickets to Brazil or Portugal (or elsewhere in the world where they speak Portuguese).
But enough of my reasons to learn with shows. You are here to get the goods, and the goods you will have. Here are 16 amazing shows to help you learn Portuguese like a boss.
Enjoy the show!
16 Enthralling Portuguese TV Shows for Language Learners
Imagine you only have a 3% chance of making it to the better side of a dystopian world where devastation and progress clash together to make your life almost impossible.
Actually, you do not have to imagine it anymore, because Netflix allows you to witness it firsthand thanks to this Brazilian production that expertly mixes sci-fi, thriller and drama.
There are already three seasons of the show available, and I must confess I cannot wait for the fourth and final one.
This web series may not be the best to start with if your level of Portuguese is A1, but if you love dramas and are ready to watch 45-minute episodes filled with Brazilian Portuguese slang and expressions, do not hesitate to watch this amazing series.
Do you think you would have what it takes to make it to the other side?
“Os Nossos Dias” (Our Days)
RTP (Rádio e Televisão de Portugal — Radio and Television of Portugal), the national public Portuguese broadcaster, allows you to watch all 310 episodes of “Os Nossos Dias” on its webpage for free!
If you like soap operas or are a fan of telenovelas (soap opera), you will definitely enjoy this show. It portrays the lives of many different characters who face everyday problems, share laughs, make love, go on holidays… A perfect tele-series if you want to improve your vocabulary on day-to-day topics and learn conversational Portuguese.
Besides, the show deals with many topics and situations that reflect Portugal’s society and its social/political/economic issues, so you will feel like you are actually living in the country and getting immersed at the same time.
“Literatura Agora” (Literature Now)
Also produced by RTP, “Literatura Agora” is exactly what its name implies: a literature show.
I know it may seem a little bit niche, but each of us has different tastes and I personally love a good literary program.
“Literatura Agora” is an ode to the literary work. Each week, the presenter and his guests analyze masterpieces both in prose and in verse and they try to bring literature in general closer to the public.
Get ready to learn about literature in movies, in music and in our lives. It is a different approach to Portuguese for those who love reading and have a decent knowledge of the language.
“Canal Parlamento” (Parliament Channel)
I hear having a TV channel devoted exclusively to the live transmission of the plenary sessions of the parliament is weird for our American readers but in Europe, every country has its own version of it.
If you are into politics and like to see how Portuguese politicians discuss foreign and national affairs, make decisions, vote, argue and debate, then this is a channel you should not miss.
Needless to say, politicians do not work 24/7, so the live feed is off several hours a day. Fortunately for you, there is an option where you can check when the feed will be up and watch past transmissions and programs that may interest you.
“Samantha!” is a Brazilian comedy series produced by Netflix that follows the life and adventures of Samantha, a former TV kid star who is trying to be famous once again in order to be able to afford a better life for her children.
If you are a fan of the easy laugh and do not mind spending half an hour of your time learning how hilarious Brazilian comedies can be, then this series should be at the top of your list.
However, bear in mind that there is cursing in the dialogue, smoking and drinking alcohol are present more often than not and the series deals with topics like divorce and infidelity—all in the middle of a sexual-innuendo environment that not everybody enjoys.
Still, if you are here for the language experience and want to learn some Brazilian Portuguese while having the time of your life, you should definitely give this series a go.
“Água de Mar” (Sea Water)
“Água de Mar” is another RTP production with over 100 episodes that the RTP site describes as a telenovela.
It offers an urban point of view, following a group of people who have the Arts Academy as their link. The series plays with the dynamics of their lies, secrets, crimes and personal problems to show an everyday portrait of a society that could be any society if you overlook the fact that the main characters speak mainland Portuguese.
If you like tension and cliffhangers and want to have a peek into the lives of a series of strangers and their interactions with each other, do not miss this Portuguese production. Your Portuguese will definitely get better with the day-to-day topics it includes, while you will get addicted to a plot that seems to have been written to cause you a Portuguese heart attack.
Drama has been served!
“Na Cozinha com Henrique Sá Pessoa” (In the Kitchen with Henrique Sá Pessoa)
There is not much to say about this show apart from the fact that it is a cooking show that will allow you to learn those culinary terms you have always wanted to know in Portuguese.
Although it is a special five-episode-only program, this cute little show is enough to show how Portuguese people live and behave around food, what their eating habits are, how they choose their food and how they use their kitchen utensils.
Henrique also answers questions a lot of us have but have never dared to ask, making this program a perfect one if you want to not only learn culinary Portuguese but also get better as a chef yourself.
“O Mecanismo” (The Mechanism)
Netflix’s next superb Brazilian series is perfect for learners who love action, fast-paced episodes, criminal investigations, corruption and scandals.
The series shows an operation to uncover a massive corruption scheme involving the Brazilian government and a few high-end oil companies. It shows the infrastructure secret operations have behind and how criminal investigations can take a toll on the police task force involved.
Loosely based on a true story, “The Mechanism” will certainly be a delight for learners of Brazilian Portuguese who love a CSI flavor mixed with some intellectual drama and a lot of top secrets.
“Salvador Martinha: Na Ponta da Língua” (Salvador Martinha: Tip of the Tongue)
Available on Now TV and BT TV, this show is perfect if you like stand-up comedy and dark humor.
Salvador tackles current topics such as relationships, technology, trends and sex in order to depict the society he lives in through humor, while making an excellent critique of the same along the way.
This program can be a little bit difficult to understand if you are just a beginner learner of Portuguese, but it is definitely one of those shows you will want to bookmark and go back to once you have reached a solid B1 level.
If you are an intermediate learner already, do not miss the hilarious monologues of this master of comedy. I am sure you will want to find all of his shows after watching this one.
“Bem-vindos a Beirais” (Welcome to Beirais)
Yet another huge RTP production with four seasons and over 260 episodes.
“Bem-vindos a Beirais” tells the story of Diogo, an overworked IT guy who suffers a heart attack and decides to leave his life of stress and anxiety behind. He moves to a little village called Beirais, where he tries to start a completely new life as an agricultor.
You can follow his ups and downs while learning more about the small-village culture Europeans are so used to. More advanced learners will also be able to appreciate the different flavors rural Portuguese people add to their conversations and way of expressing themselves.
This is another great option for the soap opera lovers who, like me, have a little gossip girl inside themselves.
“O Escolhido” (The Chosen One)
Netflix does it again with this amazing Brazilian drama thriller I personally cannot get enough of.
Imagine a place where the Zika virus has taken control and gone wild. Three doctors travel to the place in order to supply the inhabitants with vaccines so that they can control the virus mutation. What they find there, however, is not what they were expecting…
Dark secrets, supernatural healing, isolation and secrets are all wrapped together in an amazing web series that will have you biting your nails every single time you watch an episode.
Apart from the occasional medical term, the language in the show is friendly enough for learners with a level of Portuguese of B1 or above.
Watch at your own risk!
Created for the Brazilian branch of HBO Latin America, “Alice” tells the story of a woman who moves to São Paulo after the death of her father in order to get her inheritance.
Coming from a small town, Alice discovers a whole new world in the big city. She gets to know people, make new friends and experience many things for the very first time while she enjoys her new life in São Paulo and starts to know and understand herself.
Alice’s inner journey of discovery and the great depiction of the city make this series a great one for learners who want to know more about personal relationships and day-to-day vocabulary and dream of moving to Brazil someday.
“Aqui Tão Longe” (Here So Far)
“Aqui Tão Longe” is another RTP show consisting of 32 episodes that deals with crime, terrorism and the huge economic crisis that took place in Portugal in recent years.
The story starts with an accident. All signs point to it being a terrorist attack, which transforms Portugal’s status quo overnight.
A rather hard-to-understand level of vocabulary in the dialogues may make this show inaccessible to beginners, but if you are an intermediate or advanced learner into drama, crime, chasing cars and blood (lots of it), you are going to enjoy this one.
Mandrake is a criminal attorney based in Rio de Janeiro who specializes in extortion and blackmail.
Another great HBO production, the show tells the story of Mandrake, a lawyer who helps his wealthy clients keep their secret lives secret while they are being extorted and blackmailed by con artists and corrupt individuals.
The show portrays the double face that people and cities can hide, wealth and glamour on the one hand and corruption and hypocrisy on the other. If you enjoy this kind of dichotomy and like series filled with politically and socially corrupt characters, you will certainly enjoy watching “Mandrake.”
“Avenida Brasil” (Brazil Avenue)
This is another Brazilian telenovela that was the most-watched TV program in Brazil of 2012, with over 50 million people glued to their chairs during the last episode!
The very telenovela-ish story shows the life of a woman (Rita) who is trying to recover her life, a life that was destroyed by her oh-so-surprising evil stepmother when she was a child.
Rita is thirsty for vengeance so she adopts a new personality, infiltrates the family that hurt her so much in the past and… you had better watch the series to learn more!
Money, vengeance, family secrets, plot twists, accidents that are not accidental… You will have it all in Avenida Brazil!
“O Sábio” (The Wise Man)
We close the list with “O Sábio,” a 364-episode RTP production that unveils a story that happened in the past in an old town, a story that is too big and too full of secrets to keep quiet forever.
See the mystery unfold and the secrets get revealed while you learn about the lives of the characters and get to know about secrets that would have been better off staying dormant forever.
All in all, this is a very beautiful story where Pedro, the main character, goes back to his birthplace after 20 years in order to find himself and, possibly, something else.
And that’s all for today, folks!
These 16 amazing shows will help you to improve your Portuguese no matter your personal taste.
You have soap operas, cooking programs, literature, crime, blood, mystery… What else can you wish for?
Learning Portuguese with TV shows is a great way to review what you already know, assess where you are on the road to fluency and learn more as you go along.
So get that popcorn and enjoy the experience! I hope you find your next favorite show among these 16.
Stay curious, my friends, and as always, happy learning!
Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)