Portuguese, while still a popular language, is somewhat underestimated.
It’s constantly in the shadow of Spanish, upstaged by its more admired cousin.
But with over 250 million speakers, Portuguese is the sixth most spoken language in the world, and is rapidly growing in popularity.
As learning Portuguese gets more and more desirable, it can be hard to figure out where to start.
There are plenty of resources out there which seem promising initially, but quite often you’ll find that many books and apps don’t give you the tools necessary to really cement your understanding of Portuguese.
That’s why I’ve taken the time to evaluate the best apps to learn Portuguese.
Whether you’re a beginner who just wants to learn a few common phrases, or an avid language-learner who craves more sophisticated aspects like grammar, there are numerous apps that will let you tailor your Portuguese journey to however suits you best.
Keep reading to discover a Portuguese-learning app that’s right for you.
Best apps for studying Portuguese
If you’re in a hurry for Portuguese app recommendations, here they are in a nutshell:
- Best for grammar: Babbel
- Best for beginners: Mondly
- Best for audio/listening: Pimsleur
- Best dictionary: WordReference
- Best overall: Rocket Languages
Read on for a detailed explanation of each one.
I’ve selected the best apps for learning Portuguese (personal favorites) that offer the highest quality content.
Whether you’re a beginner, at intermediate level, or a more advanced speaker, you’re bound to discover an app that’s right for you.
Pimsleur is a highly effective app for learning Portuguese.
It boasts a sophisticated yet user-friendly interface with courses on over 50 languages.
Prospective learners can choose up front which variant of Portuguese they want to study between Brazilian and European (Pimsleur, like a lot of apps, unfortunately doesn’t give users the opportunity to learn an African variant of Portuguese).
The course will then be tailored to that dialect, meaning you can hone your skills in a way that’s best suited to your objectives.
A lot of language-learning apps out there focus heavily on vocab.
They’re sneaky, because they give you the impression that you’re progressing through the language quickly and easily.
But when you actually go to hold a conversation, you’re stumped.
Pimsleur uses scientific and linguistic grounding (the ‘Pimsleur Method’) to provide a service that encompasses all aspects of the language, not just repetitive vocab.
While this app is comprehensive and refined, it unfortunately isn’t free.
Although, there is a 7-day free trial you can take advantage of, so you can see if Pimsleur is an effective app for you without committing to making a purchase.
You’ll find yourself with the ability to hold natural conversations in no time with Pimsleur!
See this detailed Pimsleur review.
The versatility and range that Rocket Portuguese provides means their Portuguese courses are almost unbeatable (read review).
The team at Rocket Languages knows what it takes to provide a comprehensive language-learning app.
They don’t focus on one specific area, but include all linguistic aspects (reading, writing, listening, and speaking) so you can be sure that your skills will develop profoundly.
They’ve been teaching languages for 19 years, so you can bet they know their stuff.
Their Portuguese course is well-structured and will take you through the actual workings of the language, so you can get a good understanding of the language as a whole, not just the basic vocab and grammar.
While Rocket Languages is definitely a top recommendation, it only offers students the chance to learn Brazilian Portuguese. So if your goal is to travel to Portugal, this app might unfortunately not be the best fit for you.
Another downside is the price.
It’s obviously a bit pricier than other apps, but this is because it’s a one-time payment that will give you access to the course and their online community for life.
Mondly is a great app for beginners.
It’s simple and easy to use, and doesn’t overcomplicate the language-learning experience. The activities are refreshing and different, and will allow you to grasp the basic structure of the language with relative ease.
Each module finishes with a quiz, meaning you can keep track of your progress as your Portuguese improves.
There are a number of different topics you can choose from to learn the vocab and grammar, from classic subjects like family and sport to more practical scenarios like using public transport and planning a trip.
One downside to Mondly, however, is that it only offers Brazilian Portuguese.
What’s worse is that it has the option to learn European or Brazilian Portuguese, but if you click on European Portuguese, the app still uses Brazilian vocab, accents, and grammar.
If you didn’t know any better, you’d be learning Brazilian Portuguese thinking it was European… which could have embarrassing consequences down the line!
Read this Mondly review.
Babbel (see review) is another app that’s excellent for beginners, and can propel you to intermediate level in just a couple of months.
Babbel offers extensive courses which go beyond simple words and phrases, giving you a greater insight into the Portuguese language.
It was one of the first apps to stand out in the language-learning market, making it a classic favourite of so many students.
The only downside is that it doesn’t offer European Portuguese, as with so many of these apps.
Brazilian Portuguese is more popular and more widely spoken anyway, so unless your aim is to visit Portugal, Babbel is a great place to start your Portuguese journey.
Students of other languages may well have crossed paths with Duolingo many times before.
In my experience, however, they aren’t always productive encounters.
In fact, I remember my teachers avoiding Duolingo, because of its tendency towards simple yet ineffective language learning techniques. I have included it here, though, because everyone learns differently.
What doesn’t work for me, may work very well for you.
With over 300 million users, Duolingo must be doing something right.
It is a very popular app, and will allow you to gain that base level of Portuguese knowledge in no time. It’s great if you have the odd five minutes to spare here and there, as you can dip in and out of it with ease.
Just don’t go into it with high hopes that you’ll suddenly be able to have fluent conversations within a month or two.
In my experience, Duolingo’s uncomplicated system doesn’t really do much for your long-term memory. The activities are easy, sure, but you’ll forget what you learned very quickly.
Again, I’m probably biased.
But if you try Duolingo, leave a comment at the end - I’d love to hear what you think about it!
Also read this Duolingo review.
My favorite Portuguese dictionary apps
Every good language professor will tell you that bilingual dictionaries are invaluable.
Of course, lugging around a 1000-page monster of a dictionary is not ideal, but luckily the digital age has moved everything online.
Here are a few handy Portuguese to English dictionary apps that you should consider downloading alongside your course apps to really supplement your language learning.
Available both online and as an app, WordReference is the saving grace of many students.
It boasts a vast collection of words in many different languages, and its Portuguese dictionary is no different.
Unlike other free dictionary apps, WordReference is sure to have the term you’re searching for.
One of its best features is its ability to recognise different definitions of a word, and will offer various translations with context so you can be sure the word you select is right for your situation.
This handy app is great for when you need to quickly find a certain word.
For real-life scenarios, it’s invaluable, as after just a few easy taps on your phone you’ve found that word that was eluding you.
It works offline, too, so you don’t have to worry about finding wifi when you’re out and about in Lisbon or São Paulo, or whichever Portuguese-speaking place you may find yourself in.
Portuguese Translator + also contains a verb conjugation section, which is extremely helpful.
You may know the verb’s infinitive, but forgetting which conjugation you need is an all too common problem for Portuguese learners.
Luckily, this app takes that stress away by giving you all the conjugations and tenses for the verbs you’ll need in everyday scenarios.
While this dictionary is useful, it’s not the most extensive.
The amount of words it offers translations for is limited.
Deciding on the right app to use
Everyone learns differently, so it can be hard to find an app that’s most suited to you.
Here are a few general points to consider if you’re looking to find an app to help you learn Portuguese:
- Language level: If you’ve already got a bit of Portuguese under your belt, you’ll want to avoid beginner-level apps. You’ll find it too easy, and you won’t build upon your existing knowledge.
- Goals: Before purchasing an app, consider what your objectives are and what you want to get out of it. If a few key phrases are what you’re seeking, there’s no point in paying for an extensive and pricier app, especially if you don’t intend to continue after a month or so.
- Preference of dialect: If you’re learning Portuguese because you’re aching for a trip to Lisbon, it’s definitely best to seek out an app that teaches you European Portuguese. Of course, the locals will understand you if you speak Brazilian Portuguese, but it’ll be a massive help if you learn the variant of the country you want to visit.
Rocket Portuguese takes my top spot as the best overall app to learn Portuguese.
Plus, the Brazilian variant is better anyway! 🇧🇷 😊
There are so many reasons to learn Portuguese, and it’s becoming increasingly popular as a language every day.
There are more resources out there than ever before, but the ones featured in this article are the very best on offer.
The Portuguese-speaking world is beautifully rich in culture.
Learning Portuguese is undoubtedly a great decision, so I wish you the best of luck in your journey to fluency.
And, as always, boa sorte!