Starting any journey requires preparation.
You need to pack all the right things so you don’t end up buying a $10 bottle of water at the airport to avoid collapsing from dehydration.
You need to have all your navigational tools to avoid getting lost.
And you definitely need a map.
Although starting your journey to learn Portuguese may not prove quite as treacherous as a physical adventure, it can be just as daunting.
After all, it’s hard to pick the right Portuguese courses, and Portuguese textbooks can be just as intimidating.
What resources should you choose when you’re a beginner trying to learn Portuguese?
The way you begin can have a serious impact on the rest of your language learning journey.
But don’t worry: You don’t need to start the journey scared and dehydrated.
Let this list be like a giant bottle of Evian in the wasteland of O’Hare. It can quench your learning thirst and keep you going through the treacherous journey ahead.
Here are eight amazing resources to help you start out right on your trip to Portuguese fluency!
How to Choose Which Version of Portuguese to Learn
Once you’ve decided you want to learn Portuguese, the first step is to consider which version of the language you’d like to study.
The two most well-known variations of Portuguese are European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese. Since there are differences in vocabulary, pronunciation and accent, it’s important to consider which version will be most useful for you.
Here are the two most important factors to consider:
First, the usability of the two versions of Portuguese varies based on your own personal goals and experiences.
Brazilian Portuguese is much more widely spoken than European Portuguese. Ethnologue estimates that about 10 million people in Europe speak Portuguese. Meanwhile, around 200 million Brazilians speak Portuguese.
Despite this, European Portuguese is still very useful for anyone looking to travel to or do business in Portugal.
Another key factor for some learners is ease. Many learners find Brazilian Portuguese easier to learn. Meanwhile, some feel that European Portuguese is more formal.
Before you decide, consider how much of a challenge you want and what language style suits you best.
If you still can’t choose between versions of Portuguese, you might also consider learning European and Brazilian Portuguese side-by-side—just be ready for inevitable mixups between the two.
Online Portuguese courses and other online Portuguese tools often list what version of Portuguese they teach. This’ll allow you to mix and match resources in order to study both simultaneously.
Learn Portuguese for Beginners with 8 Riveting Resources
If you want to learn basic Portuguese, Easy Portuguese is a good way to start.
It offers a mixture of Brazilian and European Portuguese.
Vocabulary lists are neatly organized by theme, so you can study common vocabulary in groups like animals, clothing, food, greetings and more. Plus, each vocabulary list comes with audio to help you nail the pronunciation.
Easy Portuguese also offers grammar lessons on topics like verb conjugations, word gender, pronouns and more.
For anyone looking to dive headfirst into Brazilian Portuguese, Babbel has a great course to start you off on the right foot.
Babbel offers several leveled courses. This is convenient since it’ll walk you through the information in a logical order. You start with basic greetings before moving on to more advanced scenarios and building your knowledge, skills and confidence.
The beginner course offers a lot of great features including speech recognition for pronunciation practice, listening activities, translation exercises and more.
Love entertaining videos? Looking to learn Portuguese? FluentU can bring together these two interests into an entertaining and educational experience.
FluentU provides real-world videos—like news, music videos, movie trailers and more—with a unique learning twist. Each video is captioned and the captions are annotated, giving you quick, easy access to any word’s definition, example sentences and an associated image. You can even click on any word to see other videos that use it.
For an even deeper learning experience, try some quizzes, which bring together videos, images and example sentences to test and increase your knowledge.
Whether you’re a beginner or an expert-level student, you can get a lot out of FluentU. That’s because it’s flexible: You choose what you watch and how quickly you go through the material. Meanwhile, FluentU’s algorithm tracks your learning to present you with level-appropriate questions.
A Portuguese learning program is currently in development, so check back soon to get the best of authentic, immersive learning.
You can use FluentU on the website or download the app for iOS or Android devices.
Whether you want to learn Brazilian or European Portuguese, Memrise has you covered.
That’s because Memrise offers two separate courses for the two distinct variations with a European Portuguese course and a Brazilian Portuguese course.
Since they cover the same material, you could even open both in separate tabs to see the differences (and similarities) between the two.
The beginning courses will teach you basic vocabulary words like greetings, food terms and more.
Want a good, basic primer to familiarize yourself with both variations of Portuguese? Try this one on for size.
This free website focuses on general rules and vocabulary terms that apply to both variations of the language. It also includes special notes when there’s a difference between the two, making it useful no matter which type of Portuguese you’re studying.
You can learn all the basics here, including the alphabet, pronunciation rules and simple vocabulary and grammar rules.
Learn Portuguese Now
Learn Portuguese Now has lots of free resources to help beginning students test the waters of Brazilian Portuguese.
One awesome feature is the list of common words. Each list includes a variety of associated activities, like a matching game, flashcard set, test and more. You’ll also find example sentences to show you the vocabulary in context. There’s even audio to help you learn the right pronunciation.
With other great features like free audiobooks, common phrases, beginning-level lessons, grammar lessons, idioms, cooking lessons and more, you’ll never run out of beginner-friendly learning materials!
“Learn Portuguese: 500 Basic Portuguese Phrases For Beginners”
Sometimes, you just want to sit back, chill and watch YouTube videos. That doesn’t mean you can’t start learning Portuguese at the same time!
This YouTube video focuses on teaching basic words and phrases used in Brazilian Portuguese. The words appear on the screen in both Portuguese and English, while the speaker (“Polyglot Pablo”) says them twice in Portuguese: first at a normal rate, then slowly, giving you the opportunity to note the finer points of the pronunciation.
There are 500 different words/phrases, so you’ll learn plenty of great vocabulary concerning greetings, basic questions, common phrases and more.
While the video’s worthy of your full focus, at nearly 53 minutes long it’s also great to have on while you’re doing other things, like cooking, showering or even falling asleep. No reason you can’t start studying Portuguese even if you don’t have time to devote solely to language study!
“Practice Makes Perfect: Basic Portuguese”
There’s something to be said for a good old-fashioned workbook. In a workbook, learning material is conveniently organized into digestible chunks and you never have to wonder what to study next.
And for workbook fans, “Practice Makes Perfect: Basic Portuguese” is a great way to start studying Portuguese. While the main focus of the book is European Portuguese, many Brazilian variations are also noted.
The book is divided into bite-sized lessons that introduce basic grammar rules and vocabulary. There are plenty of examples to show what you just learned in action. Then, the lesson ends with several activities to help you use the newly learned material.
Plenty of great vocabulary and grammar will carry you through to a much higher level of proficiency, but be prepared to supplement your conjugation education: This book only covers the present tense. With all the other material you can learn from the book, the rest of your vocabulary and grammar will likely end up more advanced than your conjugation abilities unless you pair it with another resource.
As you start your Portuguese learning adventure, let these eight resources point you in the right direction. And don’t forget to stop for a drink now and then!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn a language with real-world videos.