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With more than 200 million native speakers worldwide - primarily in Brazil and Portugal, as well as several African nations, and over one million native speakers in the United States - Portuguese is the sixth most common language and one of the least studied. Learning Portuguese can be an excellent way to boost your ability to get a job, to do business, or to speak the language as you travel to some of the most popular destinations on the planet.
A significant advantage of fluency in Portuguese is that it allows you to easily acquire many other Romance languages, such as Portuguese, Spanish, French, and even Romanian. Many people who speak Portuguese can understand those other languages without too much effort, so while it may seem that Portuguese isn't used in many places, you may find that your language knowledge serves you well in a number of countries that you might not have considered.
Tuesday, January 19th
Rocket Language's program for learning Portuguese is simple and effective, giving you the skills for basic conversation and more. Rocket Portuguese is targeted towards those who want to bring their ability from beginner level to intermediate.
Rocket Portuguese's package contains the following:
Other course features include the My Vocab vocabulary builder, the Phrase Finder, progress tracking with badges and leaderboard access, lifetime course access, and two "Survival Kits" that help students quickly master targeted vocabulary within specific conversational situations.
Rocket Portuguese offers a 15-minute audio lesson as a free trial with no credit card information required, along with several "Hear It Say It! Write It! Know It!" examples on the website. Alternately, if you're comfortable with entering your name and email address, you can get a more complete trial with full access to all of the components of the program, allowing you to try out four hours of Language and Culture Lessons, Flash Cards, and more.
We love Rocket Language's 100%, 60-day money-back guarantee, though you may not need it: they carry an average rating of 4.8 with nearly 2000 customer reviews.
We especially like Rocket Language's multifaceted approach to teaching Portuguese, the full-featured free trial, and their customer-friendly satisfaction guarantee. Rocket Language's program is our top choice for Portuguese lessons.
Transparent Language's Portuguese program aims to provide "radically better language learning, in one complete experience". Their lessons allow users to compare their speech to a native speaker's, along with traditional multiple choice questions, listening exercises, and thorough grammar lessons to help students be well-rounded in their knowledge of Portuguese.
Because Transparent Language offers a 14-day free trial of their online Portuguese lessons (no credit card information required), prospective students have the opportunity to determine if the structure is a good fit for their learning style. Transparent approaches language learning from a distinctly flexible point of view: students can easily move from one topic to another without having to master previous lessons, which may or may not be the way that you learn best.
Transparent Language also offers a 35-lesson series of audio lessons delivered via MP3 download. There's no free sample or trial of this aspect of their Portuguese instruction, so it's difficult to tell how the lessons are set up. We definitely would like to see Transparent add a sample lesson to the site, so that people who learn best by listening could see if their Everywhere Audio is a good fit.
Should you be unsatisfied with any aspect of Transparent Language's Portuguese program, you can get a full refund: within six months of purchase for any physical/downloaded product (such as the Everywhere Brazilian audio course), and a full refund prior to the next billing cycle if you subscribed to the online language program.
Transparent Language is one of a handful of Portuguese language programs with options for live instruction and tutoring. Naturally, it will cost you more than the online program - $299 for an 8-week, customized online course that meets weekly, and/or $99 for 90 minutes of one-on-one online tutoring at your proficiency level - but you may find it worth your investment to get more interactive lessons and immediate feedback on your accent and use of the language.
One fun thing we noticed with Transparent Language - which is available for free to anyone - is their regularly-updated language blog. As we searched for topics like "lyrics to 'Girl from Ipanema' in Portuguese" or "How do you say 'Why are you mad?' in Portuguese", almost every time we found ourselves on Transparent's blog! Whether you choose to subscribe to Transparent Language's Brazilian Portuguese lessons or not, be sure to check out their blog for on-point mini-lessons on topics from cultural sensitivities to current slang.
Overall, Transparent Language's Portuguese lessons get high marks for offering live tutoring/instruction for those who want more in-depth help, for having a two-week free trial period, and for offering a refund if customers aren't satisfied with the program. Transparent Language is one of our top choices for Portuguese lessons.
Rosetta Stone is a household name when it comes to language instruction. Their language learning is done by what they call "Dynamic Immersion": rather than teaching Portuguese by translating back-and-forth from English to Portuguese and back, or by using traditional memorization, Rosetta Stone Portuguese tries to convey the language naturally, in the way that a child learns his or her first language.
Rosetta Stone Portuguese's brief free demonstration walks you through several basic words - with no translation, making the experience immersive - and asks you to match what you hear and see. We weren't able to determine from the demo which type of Portuguese they use, but it's safe to assume that it's Brazilian Portuguese rather than what is used in Portugal or other countries.
Rosetta Stone has developed a solid guarantee and return policy: although their 30-day, no risk, money-back guarantee used to apply strictly to their CD products, it now includes any of Rosetta Stone's Personal or Homeschool editions, including online subscriptions, downloads and CD-ROMs.
Any product that is as widely-used as Rosetta Stone will tend to have reviews across the spectrum: from complaints that the program doesn't actually teach language immersively, to praise for the program's fun and useful approach to teaching. Although Rosetta Stone may be promising a little too much by comparing its program with what you would get if you were surrounded by native speakers, the goal is still an admirable one.
Rosetta Stone's Portuguese program is a tried-and-true approach to learning languages, and their pricing is competitive with other Portuguese programs. Although some students have felt that Rosetta Stone left them a little short with respect to fluency, their satisfaction guarantee makes it a risk-free option for you try their Portuguese lessons.
Portuguese Pod 101, by Innovative Language, provides a wide variety of language instruction levels, from brand-new language learners to those looking to refine their accent or even learn about using the Portuguese in a romantic setting!
The high-pressure sales pitch used by Portuguese Pod 101 might make some prospective customers uncomfortable. The main site promises a free account with lifetime access, but no further information is available until you enter your name, email address, and level of learning (beginner, intermediate, and advanced), and then activate your account once you receive the email. The confirmation page then takes you to a "limited, one-time offer" that includes the following:
In order to access this "one-time offer", you'll need to pay $1 as a "bandwidth fee". Otherwise, click on the "No Thanks" link and it will take you to your main account page. On that page, we got yet another "special offer", explaining that we had now been given a 7-day free trial with access to the entire lesson library and Premium tools, but we could get a 10% discount if we upgraded to a subscription plan that day. Fortunately, the sales pitch seems to finish there, as you can jump directly to audio Beginner Lesson 1, "Important First Impressions in Brazil".
In that sample lesson, we particularly like that the audio speed can be changed right on the main screen if you need to hear the lessons more slowly (or more quickly!). Also be sure to check out the spot at the top of the lesson that says "Download PDFs". Here you'll find a transcript of the lesson, lesson notes (including cultural notes and grammar explanations), and checklists to help you track your progress through the materials.
From that point, we found it difficult to know the recommended path(s) for logically progressing through the lessons. We saw that there are also video lessons, so we went to the series "Learn Portuguese in Three Minutes" found under the "Lessons" heading on the main page. Those videos made more sense than the audio files, but we weren't sure if we needed to follow the instructions to "add course to dashboard".
We recommend that students go to the Lessons navigation at the top of the page, and select "Learning Paths": here you will find groups of lessons categorized as Absolute Beginner, Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced. The content initially looks skimpy - for example, under the "Advanced" section of the Learning Paths, it appears to only contain two areas of instruction. However, looking more closely, we saw that the "Flexing Your Fluency" area includes a total of 65 lessons, or more than three hours of content.
Additionally, the learning dashboard shows the recommended lesson progression under the "My Pathway" heading, access to flashcards and other tools, and access to the "My Teacher" feature included with Premium Plus memberships.
We were also confused by the pricing for Portuguese Pod 101's packages. On one page, it said that their packages were priced at $4/month for the Basic plan, $10/month for the Premium package, and $25/month for Premium+; however, on the main pricing FAQ page, the prices were listed as nearly double those amounts. The difference? The higher prices are for a 1-month subscription, and the lower prices reflect a 50% discount given for a 24-month subscription. Keep that in mind as you decide which plan meets your needs and your budget, and be sure to compare the features offered at each subscription level (for example, the interactive voice recording is included with Premium and Premium+ only, while printer-friendly lesson notes are included with all paid memberships).
Portuguese Pod 101 does offer a guarantee. If you are unsatisfied with your membership at any level, you may request a refund within 60 days. Be aware that you will only be refunded for the unused time on your membership plan.
Because of the breadth of the content offered and the solid variety of teaching approaches (such as audio, video, MP3 downloads, mobile apps), we give Portuguese Pod 101 a respectable rating. This rating would improve with fewer hoops for prospective customers to jump through in order to check out what the Portuguese program has to offer, and less emphasis on the sales pitch.
Living Language takes a four-step approach to studying Portuguese: Build a Foundation, Progress with Confidence, Retain What You've Learned, and Achieve Your Goals. For more than 65 years, they've applied techniques originally developed for the US State Department to teach a foundation of essential words and phrases, advance students to full sentences and conversations, and eventually developing practical language skills that students can use in a variety of situations.
There are two primary approaches to learning Portuguese with Living Language, and students can take advantage of both of them if they desire: Portuguese Essential and Complete, which consist of lessons given through books and audio CDs, and the Portuguese Online Course:
Living Language offers a free Language Lab for subscribers and visitors alike. While we think that the vocabulary and alphabet games in the Lesson 1: Essential Expressions area will be fun and useful for students, it didn't give us a feel for how their language lessons themselves are structured. We would prefer to see some sort of free trial of one of their actual lessons, to determine how easily students can pick up on the language using their Portuguese program. Because there is no return/cancellation policy, it might be wise for students to choose one of the lower-priced book/CD packages or a one-month subscription before committing to one of the higher subscription levels.
Also, we were disappointed that Living Language doesn't currently offer their Platinum package for the Portuguese program. For many other languages, the Platinum package is the best value, because it includes 12 e-Tutoring credits where students can get personalized help from a native speaker, with no more than three other students meeting online with that tutor at the same time. Many reviews of Living Language's other programs rave about the effectiveness and flexibility of the e-Tutoring program, but students of Portuguese will have to pay for access a la carte (with the exception of the 12-month online course, which does include two credits). Given the increased interest in Portuguese during and after the Olympic Summer Games in Rio, we hope to see the Platinum package offered in the future.
Many users of Living Language indicate that it is best suited for those who either have some experience with the target language already or who are very comfortable with a less structured approach. Where many language programs require you to achieve a level of mastery in a certain topic before moving on, Living Language allows you to move between lessons and levels as you wish. If you are a beginning student, this might lead to confusion and take longer for you to make progress. On the other hand, if you love being able to jump right to a topic you need, such as Using the Telephone and Making Appointments or Doctors and Health, that flexibility may be exactly what you're looking for in a Portuguese language program.
Pimsleur is a respected name when it comes to learning a new language. Because its primary emphasis is on learning Brazilian Portuguese through simple, 30-minute audio lessons, Pimsleur is an ideal choice for those who prefer to learn by listening rather than reading. Pimsleur offers a free 30-minute Portuguese lesson that can be downloaded from the website, so that prospective customers can get a feel for this auditory approach to learning the language. When we practiced using the sample audio, we felt that we came away with a decent understanding of a basic conversation in Portuguese.
On the other hand, there was no way to try out the non-audio components of Pimsleur's Portuguese program, which includes flashcards, matching games, and other visual components when purchased as a DVD set. Given that 40% of students learn best with visual input, compared with 10% of students who learn best by hearing, we would have liked to see more of what Pimsleur offers in that regard so as to make a more accurate comparison with the other programs in our review..
Pimsleur does offer a return policy that they call a "Proficiency Guarantee": if a customer purchases the Pimsleur Level 1 Portuguese program, completes the course, and fails the provided novice-level test (hosted independently of Pimsleur itself), Pimsleur will issue a full refund. The site is unclear as to whether or not this would apply if the customer purchased levels 1-4 as a package.
Among all of the Portuguese language programs we reviewed, Pimsleur is the most spendy investment: three levels of Portuguese provided via DVD (including both visual and audio lessons) sells for $350 and includes 90 lessons, while single levels can be purchased for $150. Although you might think it would save money to buy only the MP3 or CD edition, you're in for a surprise: 48 hours of MP3s costs $335, while those same lessons cost $695 on CD!
Given its strong emphasis on learning by listening, Pimsleur is a proven choice for students who want to learn Portuguese while on the go: in the car, on an MP3 player (though you may want to download the audio tracks from the DVDs rather than buying the MP3s, given the price difference), or while working in the yard. Because we're less confident in the quality of the non-audio components of their program, we give Pimsleur's Brazilian Portuguese lessons good marks.
LingQ (pronounced like the word "link") takes texts from authentic Portuguese materials like books and newspaper articles, provides audio lessons to review, and helps students make connections with native speaker helpers and tutors in order to teach the Portuguese language.
When creating an account, it can be confusing to determine where to begin. You can create a free account that gives you access to 20 "LingQs". These are saved target words that you've learned along the way. Given that you'll probably want to learn more than 20 words in Portuguese, you'll soon be considering their paid plans, which start at $10/month for an unlimited number of LingQs.
Once you've created the free account, you'll be taken to your dashboard, where you'll see a "+ New Course" button that shows you the available lessons. After you choose your level, you'll see a long list of courses to choose from - and this is where most new language learners would get lost. Do you start with "Meu diario" with 906 new words, LingQ 101, or "Primeiras palavras"? It may be helpful for you to click on the upper right corner on your new username and select "Academy" in the drop-down box. There you'll find a series of How-To videos that might be useful in navigating your first experiences with LingQ.
And, while LingQ also provides easy access to native speakers, it's also quite expensive. A one-on-one conversation with a native speaker costs $5 for 15 minutes, and a 100-word writing correction costs $5. It might be more cost-effective to make a real-world connection with someone who speaks Portuguese outside of what LingQ offers.
While we found several reviews praising the LingQ method, we found it to be somewhat confusing and think that students who are brand-new to learning a language would be similarly lost.
Strokes International Portuguese claims that it meets European Union learning standards for beginning and intermediate Brazilian Portuguese. However, even at first glance, there are basic errors on the website itself - "dictionary instead of "dictionary"", "conjugation with 500 verb" - and with absolutely nothing on the page labeled "Program information", it is nearly impossible to determine if Easy Learning actually meets those standards. The images for the Portuguese program are also in German ("Portugiesich"), so it's difficult to tell if the instruction would be given in German as well.
Strokes does offer a three-lesson trial via download, but given our concerns regarding the program we opted not to install the file. Also, Strokes' free mobile apps for learning languages do not include their Portuguese program. The available language apps have very few reviews, possibly because the apps don't appear to have been updated since 2014. This adds to the overall impression that Strokes is not likely to provide high-quality, comprehensive Portuguese instruction.
Strokes International Portuguese also falls short with respect to customer satisfaction and returns policies: looking at the "Shipping & Returns" section of the website, it only references the costs for shipping within and outside of Europe and makes no mention whatsoever of any kind of return policy or satisfaction guarantee, unlike most of the other Portuguese language programs we reviewed.
If you're looking for an up-to-date, reputable way to learn Portuguese, we suggest that you consider one of the more highly-rated programs in our review. Strokes International provides too little information to determine whether or not their Portuguese language program actually delivers results.
And, the beauty of the cultures where Portuguese is spoken is reason enough to learn the language. From reading the works of Nobel prizewinner Jose Saramago in their original tongue, to dancing samba like they do it during Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, knowing Portuguese is a window into a richness of language, lifestyle, music and more that is unrivaled by any other language. What could be more fun - or romantic - than being able to sing along with "The Girl from Ipanema" in Portuguese?
When choosing a Portuguese language program, you should have your language goals in mind. If your primary focus is to master conversational language - perhaps you'll be visiting Sao Paolo for a month, or making a stop in Lisbon as you tour Europe - you may not need to place much emphasis on understanding written Portuguese, and an audio-focused approach might be a great fit.
On the other hand, if you expect to use the language in a more formal setting or to use it regularly for business, it may be more important to master reading and writing in Portuguese as well as fluency in speech. Make sure to choose a program that will give you that comprehensive exposure to the language. No matter what your goals are, the most well-rounded Portuguese lessons use a variety of strategies to help learners, from flashcards and images to audio lessons and pronunciation practice.
What should you look for as you compare Portuguese language programs? There are several factors to consider, including the following:
TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best Portuguese lessons available today. We hope these reviews help you learn Portuguese quickly and easily!
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