3 Top Portuguese MOOCs for Coursing Through the Language

Let’s look back at when the World Wide Web was in its nascent stages.

Its creator, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, had this incredible vision.

He imagined that the internet would be a place where people could share information without any barriers.

The fact that we’ve got so much online material available—for free—is a testament to his efforts.

And MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) in particular are proof of this in action.

But how can this vast array of knowledge available for educational consumption help your everyday Portuguese learner?

Well, if you’re interested in partaking of some self-guided study, this is a great way to go.

We’re about to show you how open courseware can help you fine-tune all aspects of your Portuguese language acquisition.

First up, a quick look at the benefits and accessibility of the educational materials you’re about to be introduced to.


What You Need to Know About Learning Portuguese with MOOCs

Benefits to learning Portuguese through MOOCs

Over the years, MOOCs, or courses made freely available online on a large scale, have become a popular choice for self-guided learning across various disciplines. From web development to graphic design and (most importantly) language learning, there just seems to be something for all interests.

There’s a myriad of reasons why these web-based lessons are so attractive for web-savvy minds.

  • Besides the obvious benefit of being able to study at your own set pace, in the comfort of your own home, MOOCs are known for their clear-cut structures and credibility. Most, if not all of them, are taught by academics who know their subjects inside and out.
  • As a bonus, most MOOC materials can be accessed anytime, anywhere, even when the classes have already finished. Very different from what you’d get in a non-virtual classroom, right?
  • Depending on what MOOCs you take, you might also end up with a nice certificate of completion you can show off—hey, it might not be a fancy college degree, but it is solid proof that you’re on your way to Portuguese fluency!
  • If you’re an advanced learner, you don’t have to stick to MOOCs for Portuguese language learners but can also take MOOCs on other subjects that are taught in Portuguese. This adds variety to your Portuguese learning and vocabulary and may help you pick up some bonus skills, too.

While you’re navigating the wonderful world of MOOCs, do remember you can and should supplement your learning with a good selection of other materials like podcastsblogs, magazines and audiobooks.

And before you sign up for your first MOOC, here are a few things to take into consideration.

Dialect considerations for MOOCs

When looking for these kinds of courses, one thing to keep in mind is that Brazilian Portuguese tends to be highly favored among them. European Portuguese MOOCs do exist, but they seem to be fewer in number and harder to track down.

In order to make sure you’re signing up for something in the right dialect, take a look at the main course provider and do a quick check on where they’re based—that tends to be the easiest way to figure out which Portuguese variety the materials will be written in.

Where to find Portuguese MOOCs

Coursera and Miríada X are two prominent sites that provide Portuguese MOOCs. The content you find on Coursera at any given time may include classes by English-speaking or Portuguese-speaking institutions, and the latter is good for getting language lessons straight out of Brazil and Portugal.

Advanced Brazilian Portuguese speakers can try looking for free courses at FGV Online. Fundação Getúlio Vargas (FGV) was the first Brazilian university to become a member of the Open Education Consortium. The MOOCs available are mostly focused on economics.

Advanced learners may also want to check out EdX, a site where you can always find a variety of high-quality courses from top universities and occasionally ones in Portuguese (one of which is mentioned in the list below).

A quick note for beginners

As it stands, it seems to be harder finding MOOCs catering to Portuguese learners in the very early stages. However, availability is always changing, so beginners should still definitely check out and keep an eye on those open courseware sites above.

Also, this doesn’t mean that there’s any scarcity of other online courses or online Portuguese learning resources for beginners.

If you’re up for the challenge, perhaps consider doing an immersion course to take your abilities up to the point where you’re ready to try out a MOOC. Immersion courses tend to be the quickest in helping you get attuned to the language due to the amount of time you’ll be spending listening, reading, writing and speaking in Portuguese.

If you’re looking for more of a step-by-step, video lesson course that you can take online, you may want to check out Udemy. Their courses, which are designed by teachers and tutors for learners like you, may cost a little money, but are still usually much less than you’d pay for an in-person college course, and some are especially for beginners.

Whether you’re ready to dive headfirst into the varied world of Portuguese MOOCs or you just want to see what’s out there, here’s a sampler of the best the internet has to offer.

3 of the Best Portuguese MOOCs for Self-guided Learning

MOOCs Specifically for Portuguese Language Learners

While these won’t help an early beginner pick up the language from scratch, they’ll most certainly be a saving grace for those who have some basic knowledge and skills under their belts.

Pluralidades em Português Brasileiro (Pluralities in Brazilian Portuguese)

Created by Universidade Estadual de Campinas, this five-week, upper intermediate-advanced online course aims to expand students’ intercultural knowledge, listening skills and reading comprehension.

This one is best suited for Brazilian Portuguese learners who are eager to learn more about the local/social context while they’re ironing out their linguistic kinks.

Beyond Linguistics: MOOCs from Brazil and Portugal

If you’re a more advanced learner looking to test your skills with something more complex, these educational resources will be right up your alley.

With Portuguese-language MOOCs, you’ll discover a ton of interesting topics and courses that will bring a sense of worldliness to your education. Here’s a small selection to get you started.

Lisboa e o Mar: uma História de Chegadas e Partidas (Lisbon and the Sea: A History of Arrivals and Departures)

The European MOOC Aggregator offers this free, self-paced European Portuguese course all about Lisbon’s maritime history. Not a topic many people would know about, and definitely something that will appeal to the history buffs among us.

Lessons run for five weeks and aim to shed light on how centuries of arrivals and departures left their mark on Lisbon and the wider Lusophone culture.

Liderando o Desenvolvimento Sustentável das Cidades (Leading Sustainable Urban Development)

For the politically-minded, EdX has a free Brazilian Portuguese course on the best practices for urban development. Again, quite a niche topic that will be quite interesting for those who like learning about how decisions are made in the cities we live in.


Hopefully, there’s something on this list that you’ll find useful.

Have fun exploring the new study weapons you now have at your disposal!

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