A lot of people underestimate the usefulness of apps for learning Portuguese, and this is understandable.
Not long ago, apps were really simple. Maybe you’d find a good phrasebook or a dictionary or some kind of game that teaches you a little bit of the language – not much else.
Fortunately, that’s changed. You can now learn just about any aspect of Portuguese with an app.
The variety in apps is huge, and so is the range of price, quality, and focus. We’ve tested out an insane number of them and have found some favorites along with some popular ones we aren’t actually fond of.
The aim of this list is to help you sort through the mountain of apps available for learning Portuguese and find one or two that work for you. We’ve loosely organized the apps based on what they do best, but some apps could really fit into more than one category.
GENERAL COURSES AVAILABLE AS APPS
Best for Oral Communication Skills: Pimsleur
Best Lesson Structure: Babbel
Best Interactive Course: Lingodeer
Best Free Interactive Course: Duolingo
VOCABULARY ACQUISITION APPS
Most Enjoyable Vocabulary Practice: Memrise
Best for Customizable Vocabulary Practice: Anki
Best for Learning Words in Context: Clozemaster
APPS FOR READING AND LISTENING PRACTICE
Best for Interesting Reading Material: LingQ
Best Free Reading Extension: Readlang
Best for Side-By-Side Reading: Beelinguapp
Best for Podcast-Style Lessons: PortuguesePod101
APPS FOR SPEAKING AND WRITING PRACTICE
Best for Getting Feedback on Writing: italki
Best for Getting Feedback on Pronunciation: Speechling
APPS FOR TUTORS AND LANGUAGE EXCHANGES
Best Online Tutor Platform: italki
General courses as Apps
The apps in this category are here because they take a more holistic approach to language instruction. This means that they teach more than one skill, often at least touching on several. They also often have lessons that build on each other in a progressive fashion.
While none of them will bring you to fluency all on their own, they can be a great place to start and build a foundation with a new language.
Best for Oral Communication Skills
I initially excluded Pimsleur from this post because of how absurdly expensive their courses are. Well, they recently added a subscription option which lowers the price from over $500 for a one-time purchase to under $20/month. So instead of being terrible value, it’s actually a pretty good option now.
Pimsleur is a bit different than other courses because their focus is more on communication skills – speaking and listening. Throughout the lessons, you’ll need to participate and actively speak Portuguese as you listen to dialogues spoken by native speakers. Those who use Pimsleur will end up with stronger than average speaking skills but will be lacking in grammar, as that’s not covered at all. Read the full review of Pimsleur.
Best Course Structure
If you’re familiar with other language apps like Duolingo, you’ll find familiar exercises here such as matching pictures to words and filling in blanks. It’s also got some more in-depth exercises such as one in which you listen along with a longer conversation and fill in the answers.
Babble may not be super unique or free, but it outperforms similar apps in some key areas.
First, the content it teaches is language you’ll actually use in real life. The second part is that Babbel explicitly teaches grammar rules, something that’s missing in a lot of apps is really important. Read the full review of Babbel.
Best Interactive Course
LingoDeer is one of my favorite course-like apps. I’ve found that the lessons and exercises are structured in a way that mostly makes sense. Exercises are also heavily gamified and short in length, which makes for an engaging experience.
I find it to be a little bit more challenging (in a good way) than Duolingo, where oftentimes you can answer questions correctly even if you haven’t learned anything. LingoDeer won’t be the only resource you need to use to learn Portuguese but it can give you a solid introduction to the language. Read the full review of Lingodeer.
Best Casual Free Course
Pretty much anyone who has ever considered learning a second language has heard of Duolingo. It’s a place where a lot of people get their toes wet. While it’s great that they offer a free way for anyone to start learning Portuguese, the truth is that serious learners are probably better off spending their time elsewhere.
The exercises in Duolingo are fun and convenient, but the app suffers from robotic audio recordings and unrealistic sentences that won’t serve you in the real world. You also won’t get any grammar explanations with the app version.
That said, casual learners or those with motivational struggles are the ones that could benefit the most from Duolingo. It does a great job of getting you to study a little bit each day and it’s fun to use. Read the full review of Duolingo.
Busuu is probably most similar to Babbel but with a nicer interface and less helpful grammar explanations. They also integrate a language exchange aspect where you can get feedback on your writing or speech. Read the full review of Busuu
Mango Languages utilizes some cool features like color-coded text, a literal translation option and phonetic descriptions, but it’s priced a bit higher than similar apps. Overall, it could make a decent option for beginning students. Read the full review of Mango Languages.
Both of these platforms offer access to free online university courses with certificates available for purchase upon completion. You’ll be able to find courses explicitly teaching Portuguese as well as courses teaching other subjects in Portuguese (a good option for more advanced learners).
Udemy is a platform where pretty much anyone can create a course for pretty much anything, including Portuguese. Because it’s so easy to post a course, you’ll find some unique courses as well as some of varying quality. Be sure to wait until a course is reasonably priced as sales are frequent and significant.
Rocket Portuguese features audio lessons and exercises that are repetitive and monotonous, even if they do contain a lot of explanations and opportunities to practice. The price however is probably too high for what’s on offer. While the course aims to provide practice in a variety of language skills, there are simply better alternatives that are also less expensive. Read the full review of Rocket Portuguese.
This is another app I would find it hard to justify paying for. It does some things well but mostly performs poorly. It would be most useful for someone trying to learn a few key phrases before a vacation. Read the full review of Mondly.
One of the most famous resources out there, Rosetta Stone prides itself on its unique total-immersion approach. This sounds cool in theory, but the course offers no explicit explanations and becomes incredibly repetitive and boring with repeated use. Unless you insist on the method, it’s not worth the price. Read the full review of Rosetta Stone.
Apps to help you build your vocabulary
Perhaps the best part about using apps to increase your vocabulary is that they can do things that you couldn’t easily do with pen and paper. Spaced repetition systems (SRS), for example, make study time more efficient: the easier a word is for you, the less often you’ll be asked to review it and vice versa. This is something to look for in a quality flashcard app.
Memrise is another insanely popular app. While the content is organized into courses, and can actually cover a wide variety of material, it’s most useful for building vocabulary. It’s essentially a gamified flashcard system that uses spaced repetition to make help you commit new words to long-term memory.
There are tons of different courses to choose from, both official Memrise courses and those created by users. Because of this, the quality and content can vary quite a bit from course to course. There is a premium version, but most users will find more than enough value in the free version of Memrise. Read the full review of Memrise.
Best for Customizable VocaBulary PRactice
Anki is similar to Memrise in that they’re both essentially flashcard apps. While they can both be used to learn just about anything, they’re most commonly used to memorize new words. Where Memrise is very welcoming to newcomers, Anki appeals more to the veteran language learner looking to customize their learning experience.
Anki isn’t known for its sleekness, but you can make it do pretty much anything you’d want a flashcard app to do. It’s free everywhere except on iTunes, where it’ll cost $25 to download (iPhone users can still use it for free in a mobile browser). Anki also has quite a few shared decks for learning Portuguese that you can import and use.
Best for Learning Words in Context
Clozemaster is a gamified app that reminds me of a 90’s-style video game. Its focus is teaching vocabulary in context, presenting new words in sentences as opposed to isolated. Learning new words this way makes it easier to remember them and understand how they’re actually used.
Exercises are fairly one-dimensional, either fill-in-the-blank or multiple-choice, but the app uses elements of gamification like points and leaderboards to keep things interesting. Again, there’s a premium version but most people will find plenty of value in the free option. Read the full review of Clozemaster.
Here are some more apps you could use to learn vocabulary. They’re worth considering, even if they aren’t our favorites.
Drops has an impressive design and is available in a lot of languages. While the interface is slick and fun to use, the content is the same for each language, limiting its usefulness. It’s free to use for five minutes each day, for more practice you’ll have to subscribe.
Mosalingua is another app that uses spaced repetition. It’s got a few extra features that are nice and the content is mostly very practical. One cool feature is its dialogue section where you can quickly add new sentences from your dialogue to the flashcard list. The app costs $5, the online version is priced differently.
Based on the popular book by the same name, Fluent Forever aims to use SRS and customizable flashcards to teach language. The app is mostly easy to use, but some features are still in development. Read the full review of Fluent Forever.
This popular dictionary and translator app makes it easy to look up words and find example sentences. It’s got some cool features like the ability to create flashcards from the words you look up and could be a good tool for anyone learning Portuguese for a short trip.
The Ascendo dictionary is fairly similar to Bravolol’s but also has a phrasebook, verb conjugations, and vocabulary quizzes. Unfortunately, it’s only available in Brazilian Portuguese.
Apps to improve your listening and Reading skills
Receptive language skills are super important. They’re essential for being able to carry on a conversation and understanding the world around you.
Fortunately, there are quite a few apps designed to help learners with these skills. Since developing these skills involves lots of exposure to language material, finding apps with content that interests you is extra important.
Best for Interesting Reading Material
LingQ is a popular app for reading and listening to content in many languages, including Portuguese. You’ll find various lessons, podcasts (with transcripts), articles, and more.
One interesting feature in this app how it color-codes words. When you start, all the words are highlighted in blue. As you read, words change color based on whether you mark them as “known” or look up their meaning. It’s kind of cool to track how many words you know and visualize how difficult a piece of text is.
A lot of the content is added by users, coming from all sorts of different places. It’s also arranged by difficulty, making it easy to find something that suits you. Another feature that I like is the option to import your own text. I’ve used LingQ to add full books that I’ve found online and found it to be a very convenient way to practice reading. Read our full review of LingQ.
Best Free Reading Extension
Readlang is a web app that makes it easier to look up words as you read content online. Just click on a word while reading and it’ll be translated for you. Additionally, you can have full phrases translated, but that’s limited to 10 per day before you’d need to upgrade to their paid plan at $5/month. There’s no limit on individual word translations. Words you look up are saved for later flashcard practice.
Best for Side-by-Side Reading
Beelinguapp is an app that offers side-by-side texts in quite a few different languages. It’s pretty cool because you can read along with a story while referring to the native text or a translation. You can also listen along while text is highlighted in karaoke mode.
One limitation is that you can only look up the meanings of entire sentences and not individual words, though it’s usually pretty easy to deduce a word’s meaning this way. Lots of the content is children’s stories, but more articles involving science & technology or culture have been added lately. Some of the content is free, but you’ll have to pay a small price for full access.
Best for Podcast-Style LEssons
PortuguesePod101 could also fit in the general courses category. I’ve included it here because the majority of its content is audio, lessons taking the form of a podcast.
The lessons focus on Brazilian Portuguese and span the beginner to advanced levels, progressing logically from one to the next. The amount of English in each lesson decreases as you reach more advanced levels. Grammar and cultural notes are also included, which adds value to the app.
While the design of PortuguesePod101 could be improved, the quality of its content makes it a worthy resource. Read our full review of PortuguesePod101.
Save 25% on a subscription to PortuguesePod101 with the coupon code ‘ALLLANGUAGERESOURCES’.
If the above options don’t quite do it for you, it may be worth checking out the other options listed here. They didn’t make our top-choices, but they’re popular choices and have some good things going for them.
Flowlingo is an app whose goal is to make it easier to read native content. Flowlingo is different for the type of content you can read: Reddit Brasil, O Globo, Wikipedia, or the URL of your favorite content site. Click on words for translations and to save for later study.
Audible is Amazon’s audiobook service. You can find audiobooks narrated in Portuguese from authors like Paulo Coelho, as well as audiobooks specifically made for learning Portuguese. You’ll find lessons from Michel Thomas, Pimsleur, PortuguesePod101, and a bunch more. You can also get two free ebooks if you sign up for a 30-day trial.
While I’m more inclined to recommend Spotify as a way to help discover Portuguese music that you enjoy listening to, you can also find courses for learning the language. Although I haven’t tried these lessons out, I wouldn’t expect them to be the best lessons around. That said, they’re free, and if you’re already using Spotify, they may be worth checking out.
Glossika is a resource that I think is useful but terribly overpriced. It’s a fairly simple app that will help you drill tons of sentences, which is good for listening and speaking practice, if boring.
At $30/month, I could only really recommend it if you plan on using it extensively for a month or two and then canceling your subscription. A subscription grants access to all languages, including Brazilian and European Portuguese. Read our full review of Glossika.
Forvo is a pronunciation dictionary. Anyone can submit a recording of themselves saying any word, so you get authentic pronunciation from people all over the world. For each word, you can also see where the person is from on a map, making it possible to hear some regional differences in pronunciation.
Apps to improve your Speaking and writing skills
Speaking and writing are some of the most exciting language skills to practice. They showcase your ability to communicate thoughts in Portuguese, and practice can be very rewarding.
While there are certainly apps that can help you with these skills, it can be hard to find quality practice opportunities. Here are some that provide solid practice by getting other humans involved.
Best for Getting Feedback on Writing
This is one of my favorite resources, and it’s best known for being an online tutor directory. I’ve included in this category because of a community feature that is often overlooked and available for free – the Exercise section. This is a great place to get feedback on your writing by a native Portuguese speaker, and it’s really easy to use.
Basically, you just write a journal entry about anything you’d like or respond to a prompt, and other users have the chance to give you corrections. It works really well but depends on people willing to help each other out, so be sure to do the same and give feedback to other language learners. Read the full review of italki.
Best for Getting Feedback on Pronunciation
One of the best ways to practice pronunciation is by mimicking native speakers. Speechling recognizes this method and centers exercises around the concept. Using the platform will give you plenty of chances to record yourself speaking with the intention of perfecting your pronunciation.
What makes this platform extra cool is that you can submit recordings of yourself to be evaluated by native speakers. It’s hard to beat receiving personalized feedback from a human when it comes to pronunciation! The platform is free to use for a limited number of recordings each month. Signing up for a subscription unlocks unlimited recordings to send for feedback. Read the full review of Speechling.
Save 10% on a subscription to Speechling with the coupon code ‘ALR123’.
This is a platform that was designed to provide learners with human feedback on writing from other learners. It works very well and is free, but it doesn’t have a community that’s quite as large as the one on italki.
Apps to find tutors and language exchange partners
Obviously, if you’re serious about learning Portuguese, you’ll need to actually talk to some Portuguese speakers at some point. While it’d be great to take an extended trip to Brazil or Portugal, this isn’t an option for most people. Let’s check out some apps that can help you out.
Best Online Tutor Platform
In my opinion, italki is easily the best place to find a tutor and a good option for finding language exchange partners as well. One of the major benefits is that you can book classes directly from a teacher, making it far cheaper and more flexible than other places.
There are currently over 160 Portuguese teachers available, many of them offering classes for under $10 per hour. There are two types of teachers: community tutors and professional teachers. The professional teachers have a professional qualification, and anybody can be a community tutor. Community tutors tend to charge a bit less and classes are typically less formal, usually conversation-based.
Italki is also an excellent place to find a language exchange partner. Many learners write posts looking for partners, and adding and messaging friends is easy. Read the full italki review.
Best for Finding a Language-Exchange Partner
HelloTalk is perhaps the best and most popular language exchange app around. It’s really easy to use and begin chatting with people all over the world. They have an absurdly large amount of users interested in practicing their language skills.
You can message and make voice or video calls. Additionally, there are lots of extra useful features like translations, a way to make writing corrections, groups, and more. English speakers will find it especially easy to find language partners. Read the full review of HelloTalk.
Tandem is another very popular language exchange app that makes it easier for language learners to connect and help each other out. It has similar features to HelloTalk, but the apps have a different overall feel and slightly different community. Compared to HelloTalk, Tandem’s design can almost feel like a dating app. Read the full review of Tandem.
Below are some additional options for finding tutors and language exchange partners. They’re worth looking at if the above resources don’t work for you.
Verbling is a pretty good option for taking online classes from a teacher. It’s very similar to italki in that you book lessons directly from a teacher and it’s very flexible. Lessons on Verbling are a bit more expensive than italki, and there are fewer teachers to choose from. That said, I do prefer Verbling’s design and platform. Read the full review of Verbling.
Preply is another online tutor platform with a ton of teachers. While there are plenty of tutors offering good prices and high flexibility, tutors aren’t treated as well here as the other platforms. If you do go with Preply, keep in mind that tutors aren’t paid at all for trial lessons (which aren’t free). Read the full review of Preply.
Lingbe is newer and not as well-known as the other language exchange apps, and they do things a bit differently. With Lingbe, all you have to do is click the call button and you’ll be connected with someone to speak with. There’s no time spent browsing profiles, sending messages, and arranging a time to call. When you do find someone you enjoy talking with, you can add them and stay in touch.
This app won’t get you any conversation practice with a native speaker, but it will connect you to a community of language learners. HiNative is a Q&A app where it’s easy to get answers from native Portuguese speakers on questions you may not be able to answer with a dictionary. It won’t teach you a language, but it’s a good place for quick questions. It’s mostly free to use. Read the full HiNative review.
While there may not be as many apps made specifically for learning Portuguese as there are with other languages, there are still plenty worth using.
Did I miss any useful apps for learning Portuguese? Let me know!
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