The 9 Best Books to Learn Portuguese Effectively

Kelsey Wetherbee Last updated on May 22, 2023

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If you want to falar português, there are many resources available to help you. Studying with a book provides a simple yet effective way to learn a language. This article can help you find the best Portuguese books available. Whether you are a beginner or an advanced learner, there’s a book on this list that will help you learn Portuguese fluently.

Best Books to Learn Portuguese

The Portuguese language has over 257 million speakers and is one of the most spoken languages in the world. It’s an official language of eight countries that span three different continents: Portugal, Brazil, Angola, Cape Verde, East Timor, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, and São Tomé e Príncipe.

Portuguese is a Romance language derived from Latin, so it’s similar to languages like French, Italian, Spanish, and Romanian. It’s generally considered an easy language for English speakers to learn and will be even easier if you already speak one of the other languages listed above.

How Long Will It Take You To Learn Portuguese?​

What is your current level?

Upper Intermediate

What level do you want to reach?

Upper Intermediate

How many hours will you study each day?

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You might wonder if you should learn Brazilian or European Portuguese. Many language learning resources choose to teach Brazilian Portuguese. By numbers alone, Brazil has a population of 214 million people and Portugal has 10 million. You’ll find many more exported cultural products like music, movies, and tv shows from Brazil. 

The biggest difference between the two variants is the pronunciation, but there are also significant vocabulary and grammar differences. The two are mutually intelligible, meaning that if you learn European Portuguese, you will still be able to communicate in Brazil, and vice versa. Ultimately, the decision of which one to learn comes down to your personal motivation and language goals. 

What Are The Best Books To Study Portuguese?

To find the best books to learn Portuguese, we put together a list of some of our favorites along with popular choices for language learners. Then, we examined the books to see the key features of each one and who could benefit from studying with them. Finally, we compiled the following list to provide options to meet all needs.

Below is the list of the best Portuguese books for language learners. Scroll down to read more about each one, including price and features.

Best Overall Portuguese BookPonto de Encontro
Best for Self-StudyComplete Brazilian Portuguese
Most Comprehensive BookThe Everything Brazilian Portuguese Book
Best for BeginnersLearn Portuguese
Best for Conversational PortugueseTudo bem? Vamos aprender Português!
Best for ReadingShort Stories in Brazilian Portuguese for Beginners
Best for ChildrenPortuguese-English Bilingual Visual Dictionary
Best for TravelersLonely Planet Portuguese Phrasebook & Dictionary
Best for PronunciationSay it Right in Brazilian Portuguese

Ponto de Encontro

Best Overall Portuguese Book

Ponto de Encontro is different than other books because it teaches Portuguese as a world language. It has notes on how to learn both Brazilian and European Portuguese in the same book so you don’t have to choose which variant you want to learn.

This extensive volume teaches all important aspects of language, such as vocabulary and grammar concepts. There are practice exercises to check if you are mastering the material. You can also purchase an accompanying workbook with additional practice questions. Reviewers liked the comprehensiveness of the book and that it was easy to use. See what you think about the book here.

Key Features

  • Learn European and Brazilian Portuguese
  • Develop the most important language skills
  • Cultural, social, and political notes about Portuguese-speaking countries

Complete Brazilian Portuguese

Best for Self-Study 

Complete Brazilian Portuguese focuses on the 4 skills necessary to learn a language: reading, writing, listening, and speaking. It’s designed to be a self-study option for learners to move from beginner to intermediate, although it’s not recommended for absolute beginners. 

The book uses the discovery method, so you learn by practicing rather than with long explanations. There are notes about Brazilian culture, practice tests, and audio of conversations so you can hear how native Portuguese speakers talk. Reviewers liked the thoroughness of the book, but recommend adding in additional audio practice from outside sources. Read more about what they had to say here.

Key Features

  • Great for self-study, check your own progress
  • 18 learning units plus additional references
  • Move from beginner to intermediate level

The Everything Brazilian Portuguese Book is a comprehensive introduction to the language. It starts with the alphabet and there are explanations in English so it’s a good choice for absolute beginners. It helps you develop all areas of language and will help help you speak, write, and understand Portuguese quickly.

The book includes vocabulary lists, practice tests, and English-Portuguese/ Portuguese-English dictionaries. The included audio CD helps you practice listening and pronunciation. One reviewer liked the detailed grammar explanations and felt that she understood Portuguese much better after using the book. You can see what other reviewers had to say here.

Key Features

  • Introduction to Portuguese for absolute beginners
  • 20 learning units plus additional reference material
  • Audio CD with pronunciation guide

Learn Portuguese

Best for Beginners

Learn Portuguese is an excellent option for beginners or people who have studied the language before and need a refresher. The book starts with basic Portuguese, including pronunciation fundamentals and essential grammar rules. But it’s also an interesting way to learn because it includes fun phrases, common mistakes, and slang terms.

Once you’ve mastered the basics, you can move to the second part of the book which contains 11 short stories in Portuguese. The idea is that you will learn new vocabulary and see examples of grammar structures while learning in context. The stories are written entirely in Portuguese, and each one has an English summary, word list, and comprehension questions to make sure you understand. You can learn more about the book here.

Key Features

  • 2 books in 1
  • Learn basic fundamentals of the language
  • 11 short stories in Portuguese

Tudo bem? Vamos aprender Português!

Best for Conversational Portuguese

Tudo bem? Vamos aprender Português! is an all-around reference book that places a large emphasis on conversation and helps you speak Portuguese. Throughout the book, you’ll learn the most used verb tenses and vocabulary you need to have a conversation. Explanations are in both English and Portuguese so you’ll understand no matter what your level is.

Each unit includes tons of comprehension exercises with an answer key to make sure you are understanding what you learn. There are also useful references like modern expressions, everyday situations, and writing exercises. Once you have the beginner book mastered, you can move on to the second book in the series for intermediate and advanced learners. See what you think about the book here.

Key Features

  • Learn grammar and vocabulary for conversation
  • Easy-to-understand explanations
  • Practice exercises with answer key

Short Stories in Brazilian Portuguese for Beginners has 8 stories to help introduce you to reading in Portuguese. They focus on the most commonly used words and have natural-sounding dialogue so you can see how people really speak the language. However, they use controlled language that is suitable for learners that are beginning to read in Portuguese.

Each story has a word list, plot summary, and comprehension questions to check for understanding. People who bought the book thought the stories were interesting, but weren’t too difficult to read even though there isn’t an English translation. You can read what other people thought of the book here.

Key Features

  • 8 different stories
  • Each story has a plot summary and comprehension questions
  • Portuguese-English glossary

The Portuguese-English Bilingual Visual Dictionary is great for children who are new to the language, but it’s also helpful for adults who want to expand their Portuguese vocabulary. There are over 10,000 words and each one has a unique illustration with both English and Portuguese meanings. 

The book is arranged by themes and you learn vocabulary related to that specific topic. It also includes access to a free audio app so you can hear the words pronounced by native speakers. People who purchased this book thought the illustrations were beautiful and the book was well-formatted. You can see if this book is right for you here.

Key Features

  • 10,000 illustrated words with Portuguese and English meanings
  • Arranged by topics
  • Learn correct pronunciation with included audio app

Lonely Planet Portuguese Phrasebook & Dictionary is the best choice for travelers because it has over 3,500 words and phrases that can be used in everyday speech. It’s a two-way dictionary, so you can look up words in either English or Portuguese to see the translation. There are also phonetic pronunciations of words so you know how to say the words correctly.

The book also includes key phrases, common questions, and tips on culture and manners. Many people who purchased the book bought it to use on a trip to Brazil or Portugal and found it to be handy. See what you think about the book here.

Key Features

  • Contains 3,500 words
  • Two-way dictionary
  • Phonetic pronunciations

Say it Right in Brazilian Portuguese

Best for Pronunciation

Say it Right in Brazilian Portuguese is a handy reference for perfecting your pronunciation. It contains a detailed pronunciation guide as well as more than 500 words and phrases to practice with. The book is arranged by topics like hotels, getting around, and shopping so you can learn specific vocabulary for your needs. 

The book includes other useful references like a dictionary, pronunciation tips, and a quick reference sheet. People who purchased the book thought it helped them quickly improve their Portuguese pronunciation, and many of them used it as a reference on their trips. See what other people thought about the book here.

Key Features

  • Master Brazilian Portuguese pronunciation
  • 500+ essential words and phrases
  • Pronunciation tips

Why You Should Use Books To Study the Portuguese Language

Books are a traditional, but effective, way to study Portuguese. There are options for every type of learner and every level. If you’re just starting, a comprehensive textbook that works on all language skills will be the most beneficial. Once you’re more advanced, you can move on to books that were originally written in Portuguese or other books that have specialized topics like pronunciation, vocabulary, and short stories.

Books are also an inexpensive and easy way to learn. They often cost less than a few months of subscribing to a language app and can be used anywhere. For some learners, putting pen to paper and using a physical book is much more effective than digital material and can help you remember more.

How To Use Books To Learn Portuguese

Finding the right book to study Portuguese is only step one on your language-learning journey. Next, it’s time to create a study routine that you can follow. It’s best to study every day or at least a few times a week if you want to see improvement and remember what you learn.

Books are an excellent way to study the Portuguese language, but they’re best used alongside other language resources. For example, a book can give you detailed grammar explanations, but a Portuguese language app might be a more effective and entertaining way to learn vocabulary. Or taking an online Portuguese course is good if you prefer a more structured way to learn.

Best Books To Learn Portuguese: Final Thoughts

Hopefully this list has helped you find a book that is useful for you and can make studying Portuguese more enjoyable. Finding the best way for you to study will help you create, and stick with, a learning routine. With consistent study, you’ll be speaking Portuguese before you know it!

Best Books To Learn Portuguese: FAQ

How can I learn Portuguese myself?

There are many ways to teach yourself Portuguese, but some of the most effective ways are to use a language app, take an online course, or use a high-quality language book. A comprehensive textbook introduces important Portuguese grammar topics and vocabulary. Many include workbooks or practice questions to check your comprehension.

What is the best way to learn Portuguese?

The best way to learn Portuguese quickly is to study frequently and dedicate the time necessary to learn. But there are some ways to make this process easier. Finding a language learning resource that you enjoy using will help you learn faster and make the process painless. Many learners enjoy using language apps or more traditional methods like books or 1-on-1 lessons.

What’s the best book to learn Portuguese?

The best book to learn Portuguese is Ponto de Encontro. It’s meant for beginner to intermediate learners and teaches Portuguese as a world language. It has notes on how to learn both Brazilian and European Portuguese in the same book so you don’t have to choose which variant you want to learn. It teaches important aspects of language, such as grammar and vocabulary, and includes many practice exercises to see if you are mastering the material.

How long does it take to learn Portuguese fluently?

According to the US Department of State, it takes 600 class hours to learn Portuguese to a proficient level. But this number depends on various factors, such as your ability to acquire language and if you already speak a language that is similar, such as Spanish, French, or Italian.

To see how long it will take you to learn Portuguese, check out this Fluency Calculator.

Kelsey Wetherbee

Kelsey is the Content Manager and Editor of Langoly. She is a TEFL-certified English teacher with more than eight years of classroom experience in three different countries. She’s an avid language learner with an advanced level of Spanish and is currently studying French. Whenever possible, she loves to travel and enjoys meeting people from all over the world. Connect with Kelsey on LinkedIn.

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