Our reviewers evaluate products and services based on unbiased research. Top Consumer Reviews may earn money when you click on a link. Learn more about our process.

Duolingo Review

Monday, June 17th

2024 Portuguese Lesson Reviews

Duolingo Review 3 Star Rating


3 Star Rating
  • Free to use most content
  • Super Duolingo subscription removes ads, gives you unlimited practice regardless of errors, unlocks extra practice of mistakes
  • Single-user subscription is priced at $12.99/month or $83.99/year
  • Family Plan (2-6 users) is priced at $119.99/year
  • 14-day free trial on all paid plans
  • Heavy emphasis on gamified learning: streaks, leaderboards, levels, and so on
  • Good for vocabulary review

Almost anyone trying to learn a language these days is using (or at least has heard of) Duolingo. You know, the little green bird who oh-so-nicely (and sometimes not so nicely!) reminds you to get your daily practice in? Millions use Duolingo to study everything from Greek to Gaelic, making proud posts to their social media feeds when they hit a new milestone in their streak. But how does it measure up with respect to Portuguese lessons? Full disclosure: our review is coming from the perspective of more than 1,000 straight days using it to learn Portuguese, so stick with us and see for yourself.

Do you already speak a similar language?

It stands to reason that the vast majority of people learning Portuguese have some previous exposure to a Romance language. Perhaps you learned French in high school and now you want to spend some time in Brazil, or you grew up bilingual with Spanish and are ready to make the easy hop-skip-jump over to Portuguese. That will absolutely impact how you experience learning Portuguese via Duolingo: many words are cognates, pronunciation is often quite similar, and you'll be able to rely on your "other language" to give you plenty of clues as you work through various lessons here. That's not a bad thing, but it gives a different overall perspective on Duolingo than, say, trying to learn Korean for the first time and having to learn not only a whole new-to-you alphabet but also pronunciation.

Learning is impacted by what other language(s) you speak

In our experience, coming at Duolingo's Portuguese lessons from a fluent background in both Spanish and English, that familiarity can both help and hinder your progress. On the one hand, you'll feel like a rockstar as you fly through the lessons on Duolingo: you can lean on what you already know and level up almost as quickly as you want. You'll also make fewer mistakes: Duolingo starts you out with 5 hearts, and each mistake will cost you one. Use up all of your hearts, and you'll be waiting a full 24 hours before you can keep practicing Portuguese. So, with some fluency in another Romance language, you may get to keep studying for even longer.

Hints get in the way of genuine learning

Downside? Duolingo has a wordbank on most exercises you'll use for practice. That means that instead of having to type in a word from memory, you'll choose from a selected set of words to create a phrase or sentence. Plus, most of the time you can click on a word you don't know to get a hint (Duolingo will tell you exactly what it is and how to say it), so it's rare that you have to pull something up from the depths of your memory. Across all of the languages Duolingo offers, students often complain about that: too many hints and too many wordbank exercises equals not much genuine progress towards fluency.

Best Portuguese Lessons

Doesn't offer a lot of practical skills

If we're being really honest with you (and with ourselves), nearly 3 years of daily use of Duolingo has barely moved the needle on our ability to speak Portuguese. Given that we're fluent in Spanish and have been acing the Portuguese lessons for 1,000+ days, it shouldn't leave us staring blankly when someone we encounter asks us a basic question... but it does. We can absolutely tell you that o macaco gosta do abacaxi (the monkey likes the pineapple), but if you ask us for directions to the nearest bus station, you're going to have a very painful wait as we try to string the words together (and then we'll probably default to Spanish, hoping you'll understand us anyway).

Gamification will keep you around

So, why have we spent (or, you might even say if you were feeling salty, wasted) so much time on the Bird App? We'll say what most people do: the gamified features of this language platform are addictive, and it makes you like you're really learning a language (even if your functional fluency remains at almost nil). It's the sunk cost fallacy: why would you stop after you finally hit that 100-day (or 1,000-day) streak, even if you're not getting a ton out of the Portuguese lessons? Plus, Duolingo is constantly showing you how you measure up against other language learners: every week is an opportunity to rank on the leaderboard and move up (or down) to a new group (Ruby, Emerald, and so on, all the way up to the top tier of Diamond). You can friend people on the platform and complete challenges together, earning cute monthly badges and encouraging each other to keep up that streak. They don't even have to be studying the same language as you.

Subscribing has some benefits

And did we mention that Duolingo won't cost you anything? While you can use Duolingo for free as long as you like (unlike many Portuguese lessons that only give you a few lessons before you have to upgrade to a paid account), you do have the option to subscribe to Super Duolingo. (And, believe us when we say that you will have many, many invitations to do so, because almost every third ad you'll get on your free account will be for the paid plan here...) What benefits does that get you? First, it takes away the ads. Next, you'll get unlimited mistakes: on the free account, remember that you start out with 5 hearts, and every mistake takes one of those away until you run out, and then you're locked out of practicing until they "refill" over the rest of the day. And, speaking of mistakes, Super Duolingo gives you access to targeted practice of the errors you've made over time.

Best Portuguese Lessons

Options for monthly/annual billing, single user or group account

So, how much does it cost to subscribe? The easiest way to check the current pricing is through the Shop section of Duolingo (which we found most easily on the desktop version, not so much via the app). We want to point out that while you're always quoted a monthly cost, the lowest-priced subscriptions are based on annual billing. At the time of this review, single-user access to a Duolingo membership was $12.99 per month or $83.99/per year (but shown as a monthly price of $6.99). Duolingo has also rolled out a Family Plan, and they're quick to tell you that the 2-6 people on the account don't even have to be a part of your household or your family tree: it's literally anyone you'd like to include, and it's priced at $119.99/year.

You can use it for free

Duolingo doesn't have to cost you a thing. We haven't spent a penny (or a Brazilian real) since we started the journey down the Bird path, and yes, we have picked up on some vocabulary and even a bit of grammar over those 1,000+ days. There's speaking, reading, listening, and some limited writing practice, an array of male/female and old/young voices to challenge the ear a bit, and of course, all of the streak-chasing and friend-encouraging features we mentioned to keep us moving, even if it's just a few minutes a day.

Fun way to fill some time

As a zero-dollar option for studying Portuguese (or many other languages), it's not the worst thing out there. But, for the love of language learning, please don't try to convince yourself that just a few lessons a day on Duolingo will make you fluent. This app is best used as a fun way to fill some free time, or to supplement more in-depth studies using another service (like some of the higher-ranked Portuguese lessons on our list). Duolingo deserves our "just average" rating, given all of the pros and cons.

Where Can You Find the Best Portuguese Lessons?

Portuguese is the sixth most spoken language in the world, with over 260 million speakers spread across several continents. And with today's technology, there are a number of online resources and platforms available for learning Portuguese. These range from interactive apps to comprehensive language courses tailored to different proficiency levels, from beginner to advanced.

For those who seek a more immersive learning experience, tutoring sessions with native speakers can be arranged through live video calls. These give you the opportunity to practice speaking and listening skills in real-life situations. Learning Portuguese online gives you the ability to learn the language in all of these ways.

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...

One of the primary reasons for learning Portuguese is its importance in international business and trade. Brazil, with its rapidly growing economy, is a major player in global markets, making Portuguese a valuable asset for professionals seeking opportunities in sectors such as finance, agriculture, technology, and energy. Additionally, Portuguese proficiency can open doors to cultural exchange programs, academic research opportunities, and international collaborations.

Another compelling reason to learn Portuguese is its rich cultural heritage. From the captivating rhythms of Brazilian samba and bossa nova to the haunting melodies of Portuguese fado, the Portuguese-speaking world boasts a diverse tapestry of art, music, literature, and cuisine. Learning the language provides a deeper understanding and appreciation of these cultural treasures, allowing learners to engage more fully with Portuguese-speaking communities around the globe. Why not order feijoada in fluent Portuguese when you visit Rio?

Learning Portuguese can be an enriching experience for various reasons, including its cultural significance, global relevance, and the potential for personal and professional growth. Portuguese is the official language of Portugal and Brazil, of course, but did you know Portuguese is also spoken in Mozambique, Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, and Sao Tome and Principe, with cultural importance in regions such as Macau, East Timor, and Goa?

Ready to get to it? Muito bom! Let's take a look at some criteria you can use to choose the right Portuguese lessons for your learning style and fluency goals:

  • Levels offered. Consider your current fluency level and what you're hoping to accomplish. Do you need to start from zero, or do you have a background in Spanish or another Romance language that will give you a head start into a more intermediate difficulty level?
  • Mode of instruction. How do you learn best? Is it with lots of audio files with native speaker accents for you to imitate, direct grammatical instruction in English, total immersion from the get-go, or a combination of all that and more? Are you looking for classroom-style lectures or a fun app to keep you motivated? You'll find all of that and then some in today's most popular online Portuguese lessons.
  • Cost. What will you pay to access the Portuguese lessons you need? Many services give you something for free, with the hope that you'll buy or subscribe later. Pay attention to monthly vs. annual billing, automatic recurring subscriptions, and charges that may apply after you sign up for a free trial.
  • Effectiveness. How well will you be able to speak, read, write, and understand Portuguese after putting effort into the lessons? What do other students say about their fluency levels after using the program?
  • Satisfaction guarantee/refund policy. If you pay for access to the Portuguese lessons and wind up not liking them, can you get your money back? Is there a time limit to requesting a refund?

Whether for business, travel, or sheer curiosity, acquiring proficiency in Portuguese opens doors to a vibrant and dynamic world, enriching the lives of learners and fostering connections across continents. To help you on your language journey, the experts at Top Consumer Reviews have tried and ranked some of the most popular Portuguese lessons available today. Boa sorte!

The Best Reviews of Portuguese Lessons