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Busuu Review

Monday, November 29th

2021 Portuguese Lesson Reviews

Busuu Review 4 Star Rating


4 Star Rating
  • 14-day money-back guarantee on Premium memberships
  • Beginner to Upper Intermediate Brazilian Portuguese (Levels A1-B2)
  • Free basic membership with access to 150+ lessons
  • Personalized study plans with Premium Plus
  • Placement test available for non-beginners
  • Certification testing available

Busuu was founded in 2008 - and, if you're wondering, it's the name of an endangered language in Cameroon, too. In 2015, Busuu partnered with McGraw Hill Education to offer certification testing from core topics in the CEFR levels A1-B2. According to an independent study, using Busuu Premium for 22 hours is the equivalent of a college semester of language learning!

Thorough (if aggravating) placement test

You can get a basic membership with Busuu for free: just enter your name and email address (and uncheck the box if you don't want to receive newsletters and offers). From there, you'll be asked if you're new to learning Portuguese or if you'd like to take a short placement test. Frankly speaking, we found the placement test to be annoying and inaccurate: presented with an image of a female medical professional, we filled in the blank to say she was a "doutora" but it was marked as incorrect because Busuu was looking for the word "medica" (they're both correct). It's also a timed test, and when the functions don't let you drop the words into the corresponding boxes on your first try, you get marked down for taking too long. And, if you miss an accent or misspell a word by one letter, it's wrong. But, all grumbling aside, the test is thorough and placed us at a reasonable level of Portuguese (B1).

Set up your learning plan

Once you're given your level (including starting as a beginner), Busuu asks what your main goal is: communicating with friends and family, learning for fun and culture, helping with your education, feeling like a local when you travel, or developing professionally. Next, select which level of fluency you'd like to achieve, set a schedule for which days of the week and time of day you plan on practicing, and indicate if you'd like to get notifications from Busuu (like study reminders and learning tips). You'll also be asked how many minutes a day you want to study (they recommend at least 10 minutes). Finally, based on what you entered, Busuu will tell you how long it will take you to reach your fluency goal. For us, going from a B1 to B2, practicing for 10 minutes a day every day, it was estimated to take us just under a year to get there.


  • Free for Basic membership
  • Premium membership: $9.99/month
  • Premium Plus membership: $13.99/month
  • Discounts available when you pay for 12 or 24 months in advance

Watch the pricing and refund period

Pricing is a little confusing here. On the main page, everything was initially listed in Euros and we were told that we could choose from Basic, Premium, and Premium Plus memberships. But, on the page after our study plan was created, we were only offered Premium Plus for $5.74/month or "Limited Access" (the free basic membership). It wasn't until we clicked on the "learn more" button that we were given the middle-tier Premium membership as a choice. Make sure to click on the pricing options of 1 Month, 12 Months, and 24 Months at the top: the rates are discounted if you pay for a year or two in advance. But, keep in mind that the satisfaction guarantee only extends to the first 14 days after purchase: if you pay for an annual plan and decide a month in that it doesn't have enough materials for you, you won't get a refund.

Extra features with paid plans

Is it worth it to pay for a Premium or Premium Plus membership? Maybe. The Premium level is $9.99/month and lets you access your Busuu content in Offline Mode, gives you grammar lessons, and goes over what you've learned through an AI-powered review. At the Premium Plus level, you'll pay $13.99/month and get a personalized study plan, access feedback from the Busuu community of native speakers, and get your level certified with official tests from McGraw Hill.

Best Portuguese Lessons

Plenty of content for free

Do you need all of that? Maybe, maybe not: Busuu gives you a wealth of content for absolutely free, and you can upgrade your plan at any time if you decide you want the higher tier of features. We worked our way through the first B1 lesson, An Eventful Holiday, in about 8 minutes (it was estimated to take 12 minutes). We love and hate that Busuu marks it incorrect if you don't include the right accents; we suggest using it on your desktop if you want to make sure you're learning proper spelling, and on your mobile device (with the Portuguese keyboard/dictionary enabled) if you want it to auto-suggest the right spelling.

Not as many opportunities to speak Portuguese

What's missing? Speaking exercises. If you want those, you'll have to go to the Social tab and select Conversation, then choose to practice with a picture or a video. Under the Social tab (it looks like speech bubbles), you'll also see what kinds of exercises other people have submitted: you can be a kind human and correct other learners' submissions (like short audio clips or text answers), but you might have to get a membership if you want the same kind of feedback on more than just a few sample photos. Even then, you're still at the mercy of the native speakers of Portuguese on the platform: Busuu doesn't use any speech recognition (that we could see) for that kind of work.

Fun to help others with English, too

Full disclosure: we may have gotten drawn into correcting exercises for lots of Portuguese learners of English as we researched this service. You might too. (It's strangely addictive and fun!)

Mixed reviews from students

What do other people think about Busuu? Only about half of the 10,000 reviews we found gave this program a perfect 5-star rating. Over 20% rated it as average, poor, or bad - the vast majority of the complaints were regarding Busuu's automatic renewal; since there's such a limited cancellation policy, if you miss the reminder email telling you that you're about to be billed again, you can't get your money back. Other users criticize the structure of the lessons themselves, citing instruction without much context, a lack of cultural information, and not having enough content in each level.

Not a bad place to start

You'll have plenty of opportunity to decide that for yourself if you start with Busuu's free account. Take as long as you like to work through the Portuguese lessons you choose and see if you like the overall approach Busuu takes to teaching (and maybe have some fun helping English learners with their exercises while you're at it). If you decide to subscribe, might we suggest putting a reminder in your calendar for the week before it renews, so that you can cancel if needed? Because Busuu lets you get over 150 lessons at absolutely no cost, and given that more than 5000 users like this service enough to give it five stars, we recommend it as a good starting point for your Portuguese learning. Boa sorte!

Where Are the Best Portuguese Lessons?

Maybe you're enchanted by the images of carnaval and your dream is to see it in person someday. Or you live in a tourist destination frequently visited by Brazilians and it would help you in your job to be able to speak Portuguese. Whether your interest in the language is for business or pleasure, it's important to know how to go about learning it!

The truth is, not many places offer Portuguese classes (unless you live near a university). It should come as no surprise that the majority of people learning it today are doing so online! From one-on-one tutoring to fun apps you can use on the go, there's no shortage of ways to improve your fluency and get ready to have actual conversations in Portuguese.

The Best Portuguese Lessons Compare Portuguese Lessons Compare Portuguese Lesson Reviews What are the best Portuguese Lessons Best Portuguese Lesson Reviews

Portuguese Lesson FAQ

Portuguese ranks seventh overall among world languages, with approximately 223 million speakers. 150 million speak Brazilian Portuguese, but it's also the official language of Portugal, Angola, and Mozambique.
Yes, but fortunately they're all mutually understood. Depending on the Portuguese lessons you select, you may learn European (as regulated by the Sciences Academy of Lisbon) or Brazilian (which is more commonly used worldwide). The differences between the two are similar to British and American English, with variations of accents and vocabulary but essentially the same grammar and structure.
E facil! For most native speakers of English, especially those that are already familiar with Spanish or Italian, Portuguese is one of the easiest languages to learn. And, with Brazilians being known as some of the most warm, friendly people on the planet, you should have no shortage of "helpers" with whom you can falar portugues.
The good news is that the alphabet is almost exactly the same, with the exception of accented vowels and one letter - so start by learning how the Portuguese letters are pronounced differently from English. You can also pick up some basic vocabulary based on how you'll be using the language: for travel, for business, or just for fun. Finally, it's a good idea to start watching movies and TV shows in Portuguese: it's the quickest way to develop a more native accent and learn new words and phrases naturally.
It's not easy to find Portuguese lessons in person unless you live near a university. Lucky for you, there are a wide variety of online providers that give you fun, informative instruction at your convenience. You don't have to fit a class into your busy schedule when you can study whenever and wherever you like!
Most smartphone keyboards make it easy: you may have to enable Portuguese in your language settings first, but from there you can usually select the base letter (like "o" or "c" ) and the accented options will pop up. On your computer keyboard, most systems have shortcuts you can use; alternately, there are online keyboard websites that let you copy-paste Portuguese characters as needed.
Not at all: you can learn basic Portuguese for less than $100, or under $25 per month with a recurring subscription. It just depends on the lesson platform you choose and how many features you want (e.g. basic words and phrases or a certificate of completion and live help from language instructors). No matter which type of Portuguese lessons you select, you'll pay much less than you would for a college course.
Possibly. If you're using a month-to-month program, you can almost always cancel future payments but you might not get any money back. With one-off purchases of Portuguese lesson packages, it's common to get a 30- or 60-day satisfaction guarantee with a full refund. It's a good idea to see if the Portuguese lessons you're considering have a free sample lesson or trial period before you make your choice: put it to the test and see if you like the way the class is taught and if it feels right for how you learn best.
Compare the Best Reviews

Continued from above...

Which Portuguese lessons are right for you? The first consideration is your current level of knowledge. Some providers are best-suited to beginners because they don't offer much beyond the basics of "Oi, tudo bem?" and "Eu gosto de comer frango" . You'll want to select a language service that has the right level and quantity of content for as long as you expect to study Portuguese.

Another important factor is how you prefer to learn. Some students want their lessons to be as game-like as possible, with lots of points, badges, and leaderboards. Others feel more comfortable with a traditional, straightforward approach: detailed grammatical lessons (preferably in English first!), lots of repetition, and no competition with other students. There are Portuguese lessons that suit both of those learning styles - and a few that even combine them!

Once you've identified a few good choices for your language learning, here are some criteria you can use to help make your final selection:

  • Value. What does the platform give you at no obligation, like a free trial or sample lessons? What fee-based options are there? Is it a subscription or a one-time cost? How much content will you get for what you pay? Even a "cheap" Portuguese lesson service can be a poor value if it doesn't give you well-structured teaching and plenty to learn.
  • Ease of Use. If you get frustrated with the Portuguese program, you'll likely find it hard to motivate yourself to practice. Take advantage of any options that let you give it a test run before you pay for a subscription. If you notice that you're excited to do just one more lesson or listen to one more dialogue, that's a good sign.
  • Reputation. What do other students say about the Portuguese lessons? Does the company have a good track record for offering quality content and a platform that works as expected?
  • Refund Policy. Once you've paid for your Portuguese lessons, can you get your money back if you're not satisfied? Many services give you a timeframe of 15-60 days to request a refund, but not all do. Understand the provider's terms and conditions before committing to a paid plan.

TopConsumerReviews.com has evaluated and ranked the best options for taking Portuguese lessons. We're confident that this information will help you choose the right learning platform to get you falando portugues in no time!

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