Gone are the days when Portuguese learning was confined to a physical classroom.
You can transport yourself to the streets of Portugal or Brazil with just a few clicks!
In this post, we’ll outline exactly which Portuguese online courses are the best as of 2022.
But who are we, why should you listen to us?
We’re a team of language learners who have been using and building language apps since 2011. Our founder is fluent in 4 languages, and collectively we speak more than 10—we can spot a good course from a mile away.
Read on to discover everything you need to know about these top-tier Portuguese courses, so you can get started on your journey to Portuguese fluency!
- 1. Best Practical: Babbel
- 2. Best Immersion-Based: FluentU
- 3. Best for Speaking: Pimsleur
- 4. Best Course Variety: Udemy
- 5. Best Text Resources: Learn Portuguese with Rafa
- 6. Best for Pronunciation: Rocket Languages
- 7. Best Flexible Tutors: Verbal Planet
- 8. Best Audio Course: Michel Thomas Method
- 9. Best Structured Tutoring: CoLanguage
- 10. Best for Spanish Speakers: Tá Falado
- 11. Best for Culture: Speaking Brazilian
- 12. Best University Course: MIT Open Courseware
- 13. Best Crash Course: Live Lingua FSI Project
- Additional Courses
- How We Select Our Course Recommendations
- The Educational Advantages of Learning Portuguese Online with Courses
- Benefits of Portuguese Online Courses
- What a Portuguese Online Course Will Teach
- How Much You Should Pay for a Portuguese Online Course
- Frequently Asked Questions
1. Best Practical: Babbel
Summary: This course is a practical, well structured course which is great for beginner and intermediate learners of Brazilian Portuguese.
Babbel is an immersive platform that consists of a nice, varied selection of online Portuguese courses for beginner-level learners of the Brazilian dialect.
The platform’s main offerings include six beginner lessons, Portuguese grammar exercises and a special “Country and Traditions” module that focuses on travel-based and everyday vocabulary that would be useful in all kinds of interactions.
Though it may seem pricey to some, Babbel is worth paying for.
2. Best Immersion-Based: FluentU
Summary: This program turns authentic videos into immersive language learning lessons through interactive subtitles and other learning aids. Because it exposes you to the language as it’s spoken by native Brazilians, you’ll pick up more natural sounding Portuguese.
FluentU is a premium language learning website and app that lets you learn Brazilian Portuguese with short, authentic videos: everything from music videos and movie trailers to commercials and inspiring talks.
Learning through authentic content gives you more natural speech, as you pick up how to use words like a native—as well as how to pronounce them correctly. You’ll find that you’re able to remember vocabulary more easily, plus, it’s great for improving real world listening comprehension.
While there’s nothing stopping you from doing this on your own, the process can be tedious. The internet is awash with dull, low quality videos, and it’s slow going looking up words to find proper contextual definitions.
FluentU aims to make this seamless by curating high quality, engaging videos and pairing them with extra learning tools. For example, each video comes with interactive subtitles which provide contextual information about the vocabulary used, as well as transcripts and key word lists. With the video dictionary, you’re even able to see how words are used in different contexts.
You can then review vocabulary with multimedia flashcards or personalized quizzes that include speaking questions and writing practice.
3. Best for Speaking: Pimsleur
Summary: For a traditional audio-based course that places more emphasis on oral language, Pimsleur is a great resource for learning Brazilian Portuguese.
Pimsleur is an old name in the language learning world, providing well-structured courses for a huge number of languages.
It places focus on oral language, which helps you become more confident with your speaking as you’re encouraged to speak Portuguese from the very beginning. This does mean that reading and writing take a back seat, so you might want to supplement the course with additional resources!
That being said, the course is still highly effective and practical—and hands-free, which is always convenient. There is also a lot of reinforcement in the lessons, which aids in memorization and long-term retention.
Choose between learning Brazilian Portuguese or European Portuguese (psst: the Brazilian course is said to be the better of the two!). Read our full review here.
4. Best Course Variety: Udemy
Summary: This platform is great for its variety—it has a large number of courses for all levels, covering both Brazilian and European Portuguese.
Udemy has become quite famous for its vast collection of online courses. In fact, the site hosts a series of lessons for Brazilian and European Portuguese learners of all levels.
Many of these courses are available at a fee, with prices ranging around $10-$30, but there are a few free gems lurking around, too, including this 3-minute taster.
Udemy’s materials follow a really clear, structured path, usually combining a mixture of online videos, written notes and revision quizzes to get learners practicing and honing their skills at a steady pace.
5. Best Text Resources: Learn Portuguese with Rafa
Summary: This resource has lots of free written material covering a variety of topics, with courses available for both European or Brazilian Portuguese.
This course by Rafael Tavares (aka Rafa) taps into his experiences with speaking European Portuguese at home, growing up in South America (Venezuela, actually, though he says that he has visited Brazil a number of times) and learning English in the United Kingdom.
The course steers away from dry academics and gives full insight into daily linguistic conventions. Over the years, he has developed courses for both European and Brazilian Portuguese learners.
His website includes plenty of materials for beginners, including written guides on grammar, verbs, conjunctions and vocabulary, as well as a series of instructional videos that put all of these into context.
6. Best for Pronunciation: Rocket Languages
Summary: This comprehensive program is great for beginner and intermediate learners, with well-structured audio lessons and a stronger focus on pronunciation than many other courses.
Rocket Languages provides classroom-style teaching of a handful of languages, including Portuguese, in a way that is supposed to inspire and make learning more enjoyable.
It’s packed full of useful, everyday Portuguese, taught through roughly 30 minute audio lessons. Structured like conversations between a native Portuguese speaker and a learner, it makes for less formal and more authentic sounding dialogues. They can also be downloaded and used on-the-go.
The virtual voice recognition system is able to analyze your speech and identify problem areas, which is super handy if you’re someone who enjoys nailing pronunciation!
There’s a free trial available, and then you can pay a once-off fee at different tiers to continue to access the program. Read our full review here.
7. Best Flexible Tutors: Verbal Planet
Summary: For flexible learning with tutors, this site helps teach Portuguese to every level.
Verbal Planet is a website that connects students of all levels with native Portuguese-speaking tutors.
It’s an incredibly flexible option for Portuguese learners who want to build up fluency in a highly interactive manner—after all, having live conversations is a great way to immerse yourself in the language!
While the site’s options are pretty easy to customize—you can test the waters with a single Skype lesson or plunge all the way into a complete course—this is a great option for letting someone else take charge of your learning.
8. Best Audio Course: Michel Thomas Method
Summary: This practical audio course is excellent for getting you speaking Portuguese from day one.
The Michel Thomas Method focuses on learning Portuguese through active use, thereby making word retrieval much easier when you’re faced with actually speaking the language.
The approach is quite unique in that it gets you speaking Portuguese from the very beginning, something that not many courses do—but that is very beneficial to your learning!
Because it’s is entirely audio-based it makes for easy listening on-the-go: no books or pens required! While it’s on the pricey side for an audio course, it’s still very effective for some learners.
9. Best Structured Tutoring: CoLanguage
Summary: This site is good for those wanting to work with tutors, with lessons based on the CEFR (plus the opportunity to gain a certificate).
CoLanguage is another tutoring site you can try that offers a little more structure but still accommodates any level.
The Skype lessons you can schedule with teachers here are also very flexible. They base their lessons on the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) levels, so you’ll get regular feedback based on these standards. You can even work to obtain a certificate in a CEFR level if that would be useful for you.
The Portuguese teachers you’ll find here are pre-screened and lessons come with a quality guarantee.
10. Best for Spanish Speakers: Tá Falado
Summary: If you’re a Spanish speaker, these free audio-based lessons are incredibly helpful for mastering grammar and Brazilian Portuguese pronunciation.
Do you speak Spanish? Well, you’re already halfway to speaking Portuguese, especially if you get amongst these lessons!
These series of audio lessons are courtesy of The University of Texas at Austin, aimed at highlighting differences between Spanish and Portuguese for those who already speak the former (though they’re helpful for everyone!). They cover grammar and the ins and outs of Brazilian Portuguese pronunciation—in a lot of detail.
Professor Orlando Kelm breaks down the language concepts behind dialogues performed by Brazilians Michelle and Valdo, with native Spanish speaker José Luis offering a Spanish speaker’s perspective.
They’re completely free, and even come with transcripts!
11. Best for Culture: Speaking Brazilian
Summary: If you’ve already got the basics down, this resource is great for learning authentic Brazilian Portuguese through audio, with several premium courses and other learning options available.
Speaking Brazilian offers free YouTube and Spotify-based language lessons, taught entirely in Portuguese by Brazilian teacher Virginia Langhammer.
Because they’re taught in Portuguese you’ll need a basic understanding of the language before starting, however Virginia speaks clearly and at a great pace for learners to comprehend. Not only do her lessons cover grammar, vocabulary and Brazilian slang, they also provide an interesting insight into Brazilian culture—which is too often missed in other courses.
There are several premium courses (and a free mini pronunciation course!) available on her website, along with other paid learning options such as private classes.
12. Best University Course: MIT Open Courseware
Summary: These free MIT courses are university quality, without the university price tag.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has quite a rich open courseware catalog. If you’re trying to get your head around Brazilian Portuguese, MIT has undergrad study materials available to download for free.
Make sure you take a close look at the full list of courses so that you can select the level that best matches your current abilities. In a nutshell, materials cover levels from beginner to advanced, mostly consisting of lecture notes and supplementary resources that can be used for wider reading.
There’s also an accelerated introductory course offered for those who have a background in Spanish.
While you can’t get a certification or degree from these programs, there are options available on MITx.
13. Best Crash Course: Live Lingua FSI Project
Summary: If you don’t mind slightly old-fashioned audio, these courses offer a great overview of the Portuguese language.
Live Lingua’s Foreign Service Institute (FSI) project offers free-to-access, public domain courses across 40 different languages. This includes a handful of beginner to intermediate lessons for both Brazilian and European Portuguese learners.
Each course is accompanied by e-books and audio files. Learners also get access to an online recorder for some much-needed pronunciation practice.
And this is another resource that gives you a leg up if you happen to have dabbled with Spanish in the past—there’s a course that helps you transition into the Portuguese language seamlessly.
Incase you want a few supplemental courses, here are two online courses which are helpful but that we no longer include in our top recommendations.
Feel free to give them a go if you’d like!
EasyPortuguese is a no-frills website offering a trove of educational material for beginner-intermediate Brazilian Portuguese learners.
It’s not a structured course, per se, but it’s perfect for those who are looking for a more self-guided approach to online learning. All of its content is accompanied by audio files and the site includes some handy grammar guides, too.
Vocabulary lists are its strongest asset. Words are categorized into a number of different themes, including food, nationality, Brazilian and Portuguese names and adjectives.
Why we no longer recommend: While it’s a good resource, it’s more revision than a course.
While the BBC no longer updates its Portuguese study material, beginners to the Brazilian Portuguese dialect can still get some great resources out of the site’s archives.
For those wanting to boost their cultural knowledge, the “Brazil Inside Out” series contains audio files and transcripts about different aspects of local life, from football to Carnival and music.
Another highlight is the Talk Portuguese course, which introduce you to some common Portuguese phrases for everyday situations.
Why we no longer recommend: The courses are archived and no longer updated.
How We Select Our Course Recommendations
With such a variety of courses, you may be wondering how we’re able to review and select all of these great recommendations.
Firstly—as a team of language enthusiasts—the majority of these courses are ones which we’ve personally used and would like to share with the world! Others we have tested out for the purpose of reviewing them.
So either way, our recommendations come to you from a place of experience.
The Educational Advantages of Learning Portuguese Online with Courses
There are good reasons why, over the years, online language learning has seen a surge in popularity. Here are just a few:
- Many respected language institutions have gone out of their way to publish their course materials online. For Portuguese learners, that means leveraging the expertise of credible academic sources and qualified language tutors with a simple click of a mouse!
- Online courses allow you to be in full control of your learning. While you can still find more structured courses, it’s often up to you to set the pace and intensity of your studies according to your time constraints, goals and abilities.
Even if you’re using a more structured course, it’s still up to you to choose from among many and determine what’s best for your individual needs.
- The convenience that comes with this autonomy is a desirable bonus. No longer is the inability to physically “make it” to a lesson a barrier.
In fact, the ability to do things in the comfort of your own home can be quite a strong motivator in itself. When you know you’re responsible for pulling your own weight, you’ll want to hold yourself accountable for doing justice to your chosen online courses.
- If you ever need an extra pick-me-up, supplementary resources are always just a Google search away and are even made available by online courses and teachers themselves. And they’re usually quite fun to explore, too—think online games, blogs, podcasts, movies, apps, radio stations… the possibilities are practically endless!
- Lastly, people are generally drawn to web-based learning because it’s incredibly cost-effective. Online content is often either free to access or very reasonably priced, though there are expensive courses available.
At the end of the day, a bit of research is all it takes to suss out whether investing in a more expensive option will be worthwhile.
Benefits of Portuguese Online Courses
A Portuguese online course can do wonders for your Portuguese! It can provide structure, support and motivation while also guiding you through the technical aspects of language learning.
Of course, how much you’ll get out of it depends on the course itself—not all courses are made equal! Some focus on certain aspects of Portuguese, for example pronunciation or vocabulary, while others provide a broader overview of the language.
Think about your current objectives and skills and see how they match up with some of the different courses available. As long as you do your research beforehand, you’ll be glad you invested in one.
What a Portuguese Online Course Will Teach
These days, you can find online courses that cover pretty much every aspect of the language.
Grammar, pronunciation, culture, slang, Portuguese specifically for Spanish speakers… the list goes on. To find a course that teaches what you specifically want to know, you need to have a proper look into the course before committing.
Generally—with the exception of specialized courses—most courses will at least cover the basics. These are things such as basic phrases and vocabulary, basic pronunciation and important grammar concepts. Some courses cover all four key language skills practice, which is ideal (and perhaps what you should be aiming for). These are reading, writing, listening and speaking.
How Much You Should Pay for a Portuguese Online Course
Once again, the answer to this depends on the course itself!
Many of the online courses we recommend are cheap or even free, and so quite accessible for students on a lower budget, though there are also lots of rather pricey courses out there.
What you pay for a course usually depends on how much content it contains and what you get out of it.
The main area where you’ll find a cost divergence is when looking at different Portuguese immersion courses—for example, software packages are quite popular among Brazilian Portuguese learners, but tend to be on the pricier side.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Portuguese hard to learn?
While Portuguese isn’t the easiest language in the world to learn, it’s certainly not the hardest.
If you have experience with other Romance languages such as Spanish, French or Italian, then congratulations, Portuguese will come more easily to you! Spanish speakers in particular have an easier time as the two languages are very closely related—though Portuguese pronunciation is more challenging!
Don’t worry too much about whether Portuguese is “hard” or not. Ultimately, your motivation is what matters the most.
What’s the difference between European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese?
European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese vary in terms of grammar, vocabulary use and of course, pronunciation.
Though both varieties of Portuguese are usually understood everywhere, if you’re planning on visiting a specific place or using Portuguese with speakers of a particular country, it may be worth sticking to learning Portuguese from that country.
What’s the best way to learn Portuguese?
This really depends on you!
Some people need a comprehensive course while others like to pick up Portuguese more casually, through watching movies, listening to music and just chatting to people.
Personally I think a mix of both is the best option, but you’ll need to do some trial and error to figure out what’s best for you.
Luckily, whether you’re the fully self-guided type or you’ve got an affinity for structured learning, your online options are abundant—as we’ve seen in this post!
Online Portuguese courses are meant to be personalized experiences, so don’t be afraid to try out different options before settling on a resource that works for you.
Then, just keep practicing at your own pace and you’ll soon find yourself reaching new levels of fluency!