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Low Cost Resources to Learn the Portuguese Language

By Jon, published on 20/02/2018 Blog > Languages > Portuguese > Learn Portuguese on a Budget

Although rankings differ slightly from list to list, by current thinking, Portuguese is the sixth most spoken language in the world by number of native speakers.

Portuguese has speakers on almost every continent, from Mozambique, Angola, Sao Tome, and Cape Verde in Africa, to the Brazilian beaches of Sao Paulo or Rio de Janeiro in Brazil to Macao and East Timor in Asisa.

However, the Portuguese language still lags behind other European languages such as French, Spanish, and German, in terms of what is taught to school children.

But the benefits of learning Portuguese shouldn’t be understated, not just in terms of communicating with native speakers across the world, but in terms of business and cultural opportunities.

Before starting to take private lessons or engaging in other learning methods that can often be expensive, why not try and become familiar with the language, just to see if learning it suits you?

If you do end up choosing it over other languages, you can always take more formal classes later on, for example by find a Portuguese teacher using the Superprof website.

Meanwhile, if you want to discover the basics of the Portuguese language and learn Portuguese without paying anything, then here are our tips!

Learning Portuguese for Free Via Study Worksheets

If you want to learn Portuguese on your own, you can do so for free with just a paper and a pen. Just borrow some textbooks or dictionaries from a library and jot down the important elements.

Learning Portuguese will make your trip to Portugal easier Why not improve your Portuguese before visiting the exciting city of Lisbon?

How can you make a good worksheet?

The answer is simple: it’s all about organization!

To memorize Portuguese vocabulary, you might want to classify the words into thematic worksheets:

  • Portuguese verbs,
  • Portuguese adverbs,
  • Portuguese names (animals, work, travel…),
  • Presentations in Portuguese,
  • Frequently asked questions in Portuguese,
  • Portuguese adjectives,
  • Portuguese pronouns, etc.

Organizing words thematically makes it easier to assimilate vocabulary quickly and efficiently. This would work best by using colour coding, especially if you have a visual memory, which has proven very effective for many learners when learning a foreign language.

Remember, a flashcard should not contain a lot of information, just enough to be able to glance at and see everything that you need to know.

If your friends are also learning Portuguese and want to help you with your experience, work together! Doing so will make you more motivated than doing it on your own.

Moreover, it is particularly useful to learn the basics of Latin phonetics. You will have to write down each pronunciation in Portuguese next to the words, then repeat them out loud.

This means you will be working on vocabulary at the same time as your Portuguese accent!

Study worksheets are a major asset when preparing for a trip to Portugal or Brazil. Mastering basic vocabulary is indeed necessary if you would like to avoid the wrong words during a discussion with locals.

When learning the language, a Portuguese student can always refer to his or her worksheets! It is also a question of re-reading flashcards regularly in order not to forget certain essential elements of language learning.

Learning Portuguese Thanks to Apps

In this digital world, everyone can learn the Portuguese language for free and without even leaving home!

Learning Portuguese via an app is easier than ever due to the many free educational options available today on your smartphone or tablet. Many have been validated by linguistic professionals. Whether your level is a beginner, intermediate, or advanced level, as a Portuguese pupil you have the possibility to study on your phone.

Harnessing technology is a good way to learn Portuguese Learning Portuguese on your smartphone is open to both young and old!

Portuguese applications are above all attractive for young students. Familiar with new technologies, young students can learn a foreign language in a way that is fun and educational, and much more exciting than a traditional Portuguese class.

Among the most popular Portuguese applications are:

  • Anki: To learn Portuguese or Brazilian Portuguese for free, this application is ideal. Very visual design-wise, it is great for learning Portuguese vocabulary,
  • Babbel: Babbel is a popular application, a true beacon in the ocean of language learning methods. Just like Anki, there is a paid premium version, but the basic version is free and great,
  • 100% Portuguese is a very practical application for those who are visiting a Portuguese-speaking country. Indeed, the application lists many useful phrases, which are usable in many situations. It is also visually interesting, since it is based on images for vocabulary learning. A pronunciation module is also available,
  • Learn Portuguese 6K words focuses on learning Portuguese vocabulary. 6000 different words are available, which corresponds to an advanced level where you can have real conversations with the locals. The application includes 15 vocabulary themes, divided into 140 different sub-sections,
  • Italk Portuguese is an application that puts the learner in situations of everyday life. Here, it is not a question of simply learning vocabulary but of integrating the words into complete sentences. The application is has been well developed in respect to the audio, which is a real asset when one seeks to improve Portuguese pronunciation. Quizzes are also very good.
  • Let’s learn and play: Portuguese vocabulary learning according to thematic sheets (fruits, vegetables, home…) and via images.

We recommend pairing applications and not just using one. Indeed, some of them are more effective for vocabulary learning, while others are better for grammar or verb conjugation. Using two at a time will maintain the quality and efficiency of the learning process.

These apps are available on the Apple Store and the Play Store for free. However, some paid packages will provide complementary activities or the removal of advertisements.

Warning: the free application does not replace a real Portuguese course provided by a professional. The goal here is not to become bilingual but to discover the language, or to revise between Portuguese lessons!

Learn Portuguese Online for Free Thanks to Tutorials

Video tutorials are another interactive method for learning Portuguese. On YouTube, there are many channels to learn Portuguese and other foreign languages.

One that is really popular is for fast and efficient Portuguese learning is Buxilala. Of Portuguese origin, Buxilala allows her hundreds of subscribers to learn to speak Portuguese and pronounce Portuguese words correctly. Moreover, her videos regarding pronunciation are extremely popular with English-speaking users who are seeking to master the Portuguese accent while having fun.

With videos exceeding 500,000 views, The Travel Linguist is another great YouTube channel which allow viewers to learn the Portuguese language stress free. Indeed, in less than 15 minutes, the channel introduces you to all the words you should learn before traveling to Brazil or Portugal. This is a great way to study on the move!

Polyglot Pablo is a channel devoted exclusively to language learning. One example of a video is a compilation of 500 useful sentences for beginners which have been translated into English for you to use.

Finally, it is also possible to refine your vocabulary with the YouTube channel “Education World”. This one has a video where you can learn 500 Portuguese words. This may be useful if you are looking to travel to Lisbon or Brazil in the near future.

Another thing to bear in mind is that most sites specializing in language learning offer their own video content as well.

Learn Portuguese for Free on Specialized Learning Websites

In order to memorize Portuguese conjugation and everyday vocabulary, some learners are turning to learning Portuguese online.

Open to all, online courses accompany students through their learning process, at a pace that suits them.

Some sites even teach you Portuguese with a voice recognition system!

As the name suggests, Easy Portuguese is for beginners who would like to know the basics of the Portuguese language. The courses focus on specific themes such as personal pronouns, Portuguese interjections, or daily situations. The site also has sections on Brazilian and Portuguese culture. For example if you are looking to learn the Portuguese national anthem, you should head to this site.

You can also learn Portuguese on Duolingo. The site (which also has a smartphone and tablet application) offers several learning modalities that one can choose from according to the time they wish to devote to Portuguese learning.

Students can choose a program that will last anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes per day. A test to assess the student’s level will be taken at registration in order to determine the learner’s needs. This is a very positive and effective way to target ideal learning. Depending on the student’s level, he or she will have access to beginner classes or lessons that are more specific to a topic.

The fun side of the application is the rewards system as we progress to different levels and master certain concepts. This makes the user experience even more interesting. A study has proven that 34 hours of Duolingo corresponds to 1 semester of a language course at university. The method is therefore very effective.

The Portuguese Loecsen website also offers Portuguese tutorials. It is an excellent guide to learn how to tackle everyday situations in Portuguese (expressions, ordering at the restaurant, or booking a hotel with the family…). Although the interface is aesthetically less pleasing than Duolingo, it can be effective with certain aspects of language learning. Use it without hesitation while on a language course in Portugal!

To learn Portuguese online, several other platforms are available:

  • MOOC Portuguese courses,
  • Portugal Mania,
  • World Languages,
  • Goethe-Verlag (30 first lessons out of 100 for free),
  • iLanguages, etc.

However, online Portuguese classes do not replace a real tutoring module. The courses listed above help students who are curious to discover the basics of the language without getting to the advanced stage.

Learners of Portuguese who want to push their learning can do so by studying Portuguese with a tutor thanks to platfoms like Superprof. This will help to strengthen what they have already learned! On our platform, over 93% of our teachers offer their first class for free.

This is a great way to test out your interest in Portuguese culture before considering a serious Portuguese learning module!

Find a Portuguese Penpal

To get acquainted with the language of Camões, why not chat with a real Portuguese local?

Learn about Portuguese culture from a Portuguese person Discover Portuguese culture by regularly chatting with a Portuguese native!

Today, there is nothing simpler than getting in touch with a foreign student. Whereas, for years, chatting was done exclusively via pen and paper and then the computer, it is now possible to chat with people via your smartphone or tablet.

What’s the goal of all this chatting?

To improve your knowledge of the Portuguese language while discovering Portuguese or Brazilian culture!

To do this, you should vary the discussions. Portuguese students can work on their writing by checking their translations with natives and receiving constructive criticism from their interlocutor, but also work on their oral pronunciation by “chatting” via webcam or voicenotes on iPhone.

According to Lexcelera (2014), Portuguese is in second place (24%) when it comes to the most requested languages ​​on online penpal platforms. English is the most popular language on the platform (coming in at 31%).

The penpal platforms in order to get in touch with Portuguese speakers are:

  • Speak-lab, which connects natives of many languages. The principle of exchange is a win-win here. When it comes to Portuguese, you have to find a native who wants to learn English. You will both progress simultaneously, and little by little in the language that you want to learn. For the more shy or those who wonder what they are going to be able to talk about, the site can even suggest conversation topics to follow. Finally, a collaborative forum is available to submit language questions to other members,
  • Swapasap offers the same type of exchange with some variants. First of all, it is possible to register at the age of 12 and the accounts are not individual but with one’s family (with the possibility of having multiple users, obviously). For parents, it’s a safe way to monitor their children’s learning experience. The site also focuses on real exchanges at the end of the chatting. Why not discover Portugal after a few months of conversing with a family from Porto?
  • Students of the world works according to the same methods and principles. It puts students from around the world in touch. The site does not focus exclusively on linguistic practice but on the exchange in general with all that it entails. Here, you will be more just a penpal, you will grow to become a friend.

Other platforms exist like Linguoo or My language exchange. We advise those who are interested in the penpal method to visit each site and use the one or those on which they feel most comfortable. Also note that depending on the platform, the network of registrants varies significantly.

The advantage of being put in touch with a Portuguese or Brazilian (depending on cultural affinities or learning objectives) is the possibility of arriving at a place where one will organize an immersive language exchange.

The learner can arrange to be hosted by a native family. Complete immersion in a language is the best way to learn so being surrounded by a family speaking Portuguese all the time will benefit not only your listening skills, but all of your communication abilities.

Finally, correspondence with a Portuguese person allows the learner to assimilate daily Portuguese vocabulary and the words that are not that taught during traditional Portuguese lessons. Portuguese slang and colloquial expressions allows a student to obtain a fluent and modern level, as well as enrich his or her Portuguese vocabulary to the maximum.

Through a simple conversation, the learner can improve his or her Portuguese without feeling like they are studying.

Watching Portuguese Films and TV Shows in Order to Develop Your Portuguese

Portuguese and Brazilian cinema is rich in content “The City of God” is a Brazilian film that has won many awards.

All the greatest linguistic specialists will tell you the same thing: to master the official language of Portugal, nothing beats watching a Portuguese TV show in its original form!

Attention: Portuguese entertainment is only beneficial if the learner already knows the basics of the language (spelling, grammar, alphabet, etc.).

Entertainment will sharpen a student’s knowledge but it will not serve as an intro to the foreign language in question. To perform effective language learning, the learner must partake in active listening but also seriously read the subtitles in order to work on his or her Portuguese pronunciation and his or her Portuguese writing.

The best movies and TV shows for those wanting to learn Portuguese are:

  • Mysteries of Lisbon,
  • Taboo,
  • The Golden Cage,
  • Bones Beach,
  • Cidade de Deus,
  • Cidade dos homens,
  • Love of Perdition,
  • Conta-me como faith,
  • Mistura Fina,
  • Mundo Meu,
  • Queridas Feras, etc.

Always favor entertainment coming directly from Portugal or Brazil: the translated versions of English series do not allow learners to study how the lips move, which is crucial to retaining pronunciation.

If you are looking to learn Brazilian Portuguese, discover Brazilian or Portuguese culture, and improve your Portuguese accent, there is nothing like a series or a film in its original language!

Take Free Portuguese Lessons

For free Portuguese lessons, one of the best solutions is to take classes through a language association. They can be found around the world, but are often more common in cities with larger Portuguese populations.

Every year, dozens of non-profit organizations work to bring linguistic knowledge to students, regardless of their social background or level of education.

Fend for yourself by learning Portuguese before you travel Command of the Portuguese language makes it possible to travel to the four corners of the world without needing a translator.

English speakers can become bilingual in Portuguese thanks to native teachers offering serious Portuguese private lessons.

Language associations are an opportunity to combine linguistic and cultural learning. Associations often encourage Anglo-Portuguese friendships by offering trips abroad, for example.

You will be able to feel like you are having an immersive Portuguese learning experience thanks to teachers who perfectly master their mother tongue!

In short:

  • You can learn the language through applications, websites that offer thematic lessons, or through more visual media such as video tutorials. As a student, we also advise you to read books in European or Brazilian Portuguese, listen to music to better adapt to the sounds of the language, and watch movies in Portuguese (original version or subtitled).
  • However, these methods should not be used on their own. You can combine them together for best results. For example, taking a Portuguese course for free can be paired with studying with a private Portuguese tutor. The important thing is to be able to make learning a long-term experience and find the methods that work best on your memory (visual, auditory, etc.).
  • Do not hesitate to find a native penpal with whom you can develop your oral and writing skills. It is a great tool to progress quickly and sometimes better in order to understand spoken Portuguese faster.
  • Finally, these free courses will allow you to learn the language and can be supplemented by other paid methods later on (such as private tutoring lessons or paid applications).
  • If you are thinking how to go about learning Portuguese today, then it has never been easier. There are countless resources out there just waiting for you to take advantage of them.
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