PortuguesePod101 is a great option for anyone looking to learn Portuguese. The platform offers its users a wide range of lessons (in podcast format) that delve into Portuguese grammar and explore the rich culture of Brazil. While the Beginner lessons are mostly in English and focus on grammar and vocabulary, the Advanced options are entirely in Portuguese. A downside is that there is no speaking involved unless you pay for the Premium Plus plan.
It’s confusing to navigate on all the interfaces (PC, mobile and app), but the high production value makes up for it.
A huge range of lessons explore a plethora of subjects as the presenters explain the vocabulary and grammar.
Great value for vocabulary, grammar, reading, listening and learning about the culture. Not so good for speaking and writing.
- The in-depth exploration of grammar points is very useful.
- You learn a lot about Brazilian culture in a short period of time.
- They look at a huge range of topics and real-life situations that will come up.
- Good progression from the Beginner modules to the Advanced lessons.
I Don’t Like
- I found it quite hard to use the platform. It often took me a few tries to find what I wanted.
- There is no way to practice speaking unless you pay for the Premium Plus plan.
The free version allows access to most features but is limited in some ways. Paid subscriptions vary by length and type; the monthly plan is $4 for Basic, $10 for Premium, and $23 for Premium Plus. Monthly prices drop for longer subscription plans.
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Another great feature is that below each audio lesson, you will find a list of the vocabulary used. If you are struggling to remember some of the words or find some of them particularly useful, you can simply add them to one of your ‘word banks’ where you can then memorize them later on.
This feature is not a part of the Basic subscription plan, only the Premium and Premium Plus plans.
Signing up is quick and easy, but they’ll spam your inbox
PortuguesePod101 proudly tells you that it only takes 7 seconds to sign up for a lifetime account, and it definitely is very quick to get started with learning Portuguese.
What I didn’t like, though, is that you are immediately advised to sign up for a ‘one-off incredible unbeatable offer’ without even having tried any of the features.
You’ll also constantly see links to the different plans as you explore the platform further. Ignoring these, you select your level and from then on it’s quite simple to follow the lessons, one after the other.
The early beginner lessons often focus on small parts of Portuguese pronunciation and grammar such as how to use ‘Where?’, ‘What?’, ‘When?’ and ‘Why?’ for example.
Click on the play button and the music begins – you’re ready to start learning!
The presenters introduce the topic and, if there’s a video, it highlights the phrases or words you’re learning with the English translation accompanying it.
Attached to each lesson are further resources that will help you master the topic you’re working on.
There is a list of the vocabulary used, lesson notes on any grammar points explored and a lesson transcript that helps you follow along with the dialogue in the video or audio.
There is also a small quiz on each lesson where you can practice writing the words and memorizing their meanings.
If you explore the vocabulary list of each lesson, you will see that every new word has its translation next to it. They also usually give a couple of example sentences of how it is normally used. I found this to be a really helpful feature. They go into a lot of detail throughout the platform and that is what makes it such a well-put-together and valuable resource.
At the bottom of each lesson is a comment section where the teachers always kindly answer any queries that students may have.
The number of students commenting slowly diminishes the further you progress through the levels!
I’m not sure though if that is an indication of more advanced learners turning to other resources to continue their language learning.
If you find that the beginner level is too easy for you, you can instead select a higher language level. Although it should be simple, I often struggled to figure out where to go on the platform.
After a couple of days, my Dashboard was a convoluted mess of various ‘pathways’ and lessons I had selected at one time or another.
It’s not a very slick or attractive interface, and a big banner seems to always remain at the top of the page, advertising their premium plan. I also received quite a lot of emails from them encouraging me to sign up.
In contrast to the PortuguesePod101 website on both the PC and mobile phone, the app was better and easier to use.
Audio lessons with lots of extra tools
After working your way through the beginner level, you will find that the intermediate lessons consistently follow pretty much the same format.
Whereas the beginner lessons each look at particular words or phrases around a topic, the intermediate ones focus on a dialogue that helps to flesh out the grammar and subject in a bit more depth.
The presenters introduce the topic and setting before you hear the dialogue play at a normal speed. After that, the dialogue is played extra slowly so you can clearly follow the pronunciation of each word.
It was hilarious to hear the first time but also proved to be very useful!
They then go through and translate the dialogue line by line before discussing the grammar points and vocabulary used as well as the cultural setting of the dialogue. The lesson concludes with the audio being played one final time.
A number of very useful resources accompany each lesson:
- a list of vocabulary
- an in-depth look at the grammar used (with further examples of how the grammar can be used in other situations)
- a lesson transcript and a PDF you can download encompassing all that was included in the lesson
- A short quiz
The early intermediate lessons use a lot of English while the later ones transition more and more into Portuguese.
I thought that was a good feature as the advanced levels would otherwise come as a bit of a shock! Here, you listen to around three minutes of quickly spoken Portuguese.
PDFs are again attached so you can easily follow the audio. In these later lessons, a translation of any new vocabulary is available, but grammar is no longer explored and from what I could see, it is mainly Portuguese text present in the PDF.
The intermediate and advanced levels are very successful at immersing the learner in Brazilian culture and they really do prepare you for all situations.
You will find information on anything and everything ranging from how renting works, to setting up a bank account and ordering office supplies!
The advanced lessons are often about one particular aspect of Brazilian culture and they also explore different parts of Brazilian history. While I think the culture notes are well-made, no resource will expose you to Brazilian culture as well as Semantica does.
On top of the lessons, there are a huge number of vocabulary lists that you can access.
These focus on a plethora of topics and you can learn lots of useful words and phrases that relate to all aspects of life in Brazil. It is very simple to add words from around the platform to ‘word banks’ which you can easily create. This too is a great feature.
A lot of the content on PortuguesePod101 follows the same format, and I imagine that if you paid for a two-year plan it would eventually become a bit tedious.
New content is regularly uploaded but, although useful, it does not divert at all from the norm.
There is also a ‘Bonus’ level on the platform and, if you click on it, there are a few other options you can explore.
The ‘Inner Circle’ and ‘News’ features are helpful if you want study tips, but there isn’t much that’s specifically related to Portuguese. Here, the only useful part is the ‘Portuguese Vocab Builder’ which again offers a huge range of vocabulary lists for you to explore.
The audio lessons here are simply Portuguese words read out loud, with English translations following on.
All in all, the lessons offer a fantastic range of content.
You will definitely improve your reading, listening and comprehension skills as well as further your understanding of Portuguese grammar and Brazilian culture.
The lessons certainly progress in terms of difficulty and are well thought out in terms of content, grammar and what you are meant to achieve from them.
A consistent problem though is that writing plays only a small part in all of the lessons.
There is also no way to connect with other students and speaking only features if you pay for the Premium Plus plan.
I’d suggest students visit italki both for writing and speaking practice. There is a Community section where you can submit writing samples and get feedback from Native Portuguese speakers for free.
In addition, you’ll find tons of people interested in language exchanges, and lots of teachers offering lessons, often for less than $10-$15/hour.
That being said, I do think the range of content on PortugesePod101 is very useful and well worth exploring.
Notes on the PortuguesePod101 Interface
As I mentioned, one thing I did not really like was the layout of the website/app and that my Dashboard is now a mess of all the different parts of the platform that I explored.
One thing that’s worth mentioning that I do like is that the audio of the lessons continues playing even when you’re looking through the lesson notes or following the dialogue through the PDF. It makes for a seamless learning experience.
The prices vary significantly depending on the plan and duration
Basic subscribers get access to all of the lessons, PDF lesson notes, 100 core words, Portuguese key phrases, a dictionary and all of the vocabulary lists.
For Premium subscribers, you gain access to the review quizzes and the flashcards and word banks I mentioned above.
You can also customize these word banks and build different lists of what you would like to improve on, which I find useful. There are lots of premade flashcard decks addressing a diverse range of topics so it is very easy to start learning about a particular subject straight away.
Subscribers can also access a list of the 2000 most common words in Portuguese and the very useful line-by-line audio dialogue feature. You also unlock a grammar bank database, a vocabulary sideshow, and a Portuguese audio dictionary.
Premium Plus subscribers get all of the premium features plus a personalized learning curriculum and 1-on-1 access to a teacher. They also get an ‘ongoing professional assessment’ and receive different weekly assignments. I’m not entirely sure though what those actually entail…
Each of the subscription plans is cheaper if you sign up for two-years straightaway.
The Basic plan is $4/month rising up to $8 if you pay month by month.
The Premium plan is $10/month if you sign up for two years and $25 if you pay a month at a time.
The Premium Plus plan is $23/month if you subscribe for the two years and $47 if you pay month by month.
There are also three, six and 12-month plans with varying costs available.
Which plan offers the best value?
I would say that the Basic plan is definitely good value for a beginner or intermediate learner and, for only $8/month, you would certainly improve your knowledge, understanding and use of Portuguese grammar and vocabulary.
You would also further your comprehension of spoken Portuguese and gain lots of insights into Brazilian culture.
The way the presenters delve into grammar and the vocabulary used is very helpful. The production quality, lesson notes and vocabulary lists also help to make this a really good option in my opinion.
Considering the extra features it unlocks, the Premium plan isn’t a bad option either.
I don’t think these extras are absolutely necessary to help you learn the material, but I can definitely see some people finding them to be very useful.
Note that you ultimately have access to all the lessons with the Basic plan, and the Premium plan just affords you a couple more ways to engage with them.
For the amount it costs, I think there are better options out there than paying $47/month for the Premium Plus plan. Advanced learners will appreciate the content on PortuguesePod101, but it would be much cheaper to find a tutor yourself from italki.
No matter the subscription plan, I do think it would be better to use PortuguesePod101 in tandem with another resource that enables you to practice writing and speaking in Portuguese.
We’ve already mentioned some solid resources that would make great alternatives to PortuguesePod101 and some that could be used in tandem. Here’s a breakdown of some of the best options.
This one’s a great place to get exposure to authentic Brazilian Portuguese and to learn a bit about the culture while you’re at it. Lessons are delivered via video and are highly engaging. Like PortuguesePod101, it’s probably not the best place to get any speaking or writing practice, but you’ll surely be able to improve your comprehension skills. Here’s our full Semantica review.
Pimsleur is a widely popular resource offering audio courses with high-quality audio lessons. A major advantage of this resource is that you’ll get lots of listening and speaking practice right from the start. Lessons require high levels of participation, meaning you’ll find yourself getting used to producing Portuguese from the first lesson.
The course structure is also top-notch with Pimsleur. Lessons build on each other nicely and make for a comprehensive learning path. Read our Pimsleur review here.
If you’re hoping to get some speaking practice, or maybe a less expensive way to get access to your own Portuguese tutor, check out italki. It’s an online platform with tons of Portuguese tutors, both from Europe and Brazil, and at all prices.
There’s also a free community feature that’s available on the italki app; it makes a great way to find language exchange partners or to get feedback on your writing skills and pronunciation. We’ve written a full review of italki.
If you’re specifically looking to improve your Portuguese pronunciation, PortuguesePod101 probably isn’t the best place to look. Instead, consider Speechling. It’s a platform that allows learners to get pronunciation feedback from real teachers. Simply record yourself speaking and submit it to be evaluated by a teacher. A subscription allows for an unlimited number of recording submissions, and you can submit a limited number each month for free. The complete Speechling review.
If you still haven’t found what you’re looking for, you might check out our list of the best podcasts for learning Portuguese, the top Portuguese language apps, or our compilation of online Portuguese courses.
I was very impressed with what PortuguesePod101 had to offer and found the content to be very useful and informative. I really liked the emphasis they placed on the grammar and that each lesson set out to teach something specific – it didn’t seem like there was any filler material.
They explore a lot of different subjects, and the progression in difficulty from beginner to advanced is clear and easy to see. They also teach you a lot about Brazilian culture, which I thought was great. That said, I still don’t think any resource can really compare with Semantica when it comes to teaching you about Brazilian culture.
The only downside for me was that the user-friendliness could be improved as it was annoying constantly getting lost.
There could also have been a bit more variation in how the lessons were structured and possibly a feature where you can engage with other students.
I think it is a great platform for beginners and intermediates interested in learning Portuguese.
You would probably want to complement PortuguesePod101with another resource, however, to improve your writing and speaking skills.
While there is quite a lot of material for advanced students, I’m not sure if the Premium Plus plan is the best value around.
The Basic and Premium plans at $4/month and $10/month respectively (if you do sign up for two years!) definitely do give you a lot of return for your money each month, but that’s an awfully long subscription to anything.
It is worth signing up for the one-week free trial to see how you find the lessons, whether the learning method works well for you and ultimately to see if you think any of the subscription plans available suit your learning goals.