The 9 Best Books to Learn Portuguese Effectively

Kelsey Wetherbee Published on March 22, 2023
Best books to learn Portuguese

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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 to put you on the track to fluency. Whether you are a beginner or an advanced learner, these books are valuable resources that can improve your skills and teach you what you need to know to reach the next language level.

The Portuguese language has over 257 million speakers and is one of the most spoken languages in the world. It’s an official languages 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. While there are some differences in vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation between European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese, the two are mutually intelligible so you’ll be able to communicate regardless of which one you choose to learn first.

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How We Chose and Tested the Best Portuguese Books

For any language learning products we’ve tested or researched, we follow a strict testing methodology to make sure our experts make the same considerations. Here are the factors we looked at when testing Portuguese textbooks specifically:

  • Structure and Topics: We checked each book to see if their content and lessons were easy to navigate and follow along. We also looked for useful extra features like glossaries, answer keys, available translations, and more.
  • Quality of Content: We reviewed the complexity of each book’s content to see if they provided detailed explanations for grammar topics, how they treated the cultural aspects of the language, and if they fulfilled their goal effectively.
  • Features Available: We checked for additional features like audio tracks, mobile apps, flashcards, recordings, and other tools that might be useful for Portuguese learners.
  • Value for Money: We took the three previous factors and compared them to the price of each to determine if they are valuable and convenient resources for Portuguese language students.

Our Top Picks for Best Books to Learn Portuguese

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 the best book overall 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. Instead of teaching you one single form of the language, this book has lessons that show you the variations in vocabulary and grammar that you can find in Portuguese-speaking countries all over the world. To me, this is very important because the Portuguese language is very widespread and has changed to adapt to the reality of its speakers. Ponto de Encontro shows you how to apply the language to handle situations you might encounter on your Portuguese journey, like introducing yourself, talking about family members, and other classroom topics. There are practice exercises to check if you are mastering the material, but there’s also an accompanying workbook you can purchase to access more extensive practice.

This extensive volume teaches all the important aspects you need to truly understand the language, such as vocabulary and grammar concepts. I found that the book does a spectacular job of providing clear explanations for the vocabulary and grammatical topics you need to start speaking Portuguese, but my favorite aspects were the cultural notes. Ponto de Encontro gives you the cultural and social background information you need to use the language with confidence. Overall, this is a very comprehensive resource and I recommend it to all levels of Portuguese students. See what you think about the book here.

Key Benefits

  • Study European and Brazilian Portuguese in the same book and learn about their differences
  • Develop the most vital language skills you need to communicate in Portuguese
  • The book includes cultural, social, and political notes about Portuguese-speaking which gives you an in-depth understanding of the role of the language in the world

Complete Brazilian Portuguese

Best for Self-Study 

Complete Brazilian Portuguese is the best book for self-study because it focuses on the 4 skills necessary to learn a language: reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Its lessons contain a mix of cultural notes, common expressions, dialogues, and writing exercises to teach you how to apply verbs, tenses, pronouns, and successfully construct grammatically correct sentences using conversational language. It’s designed to help Portuguese learners 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, quizzes, and audio of conversations so you can hear how native Portuguese speakers talk.

This book is perfect for self-study because of its thoroughness and comprehensive approach. It’s unusual to find books that allow you to practice all your skills in one place, but Complete Brazilian Portuguese’s progressive lesson plan continuously expands what you previously learned so you’re always using the knowledge you acquire. For me, this is an effective way to practice and remember the language in the long term. Note that this book doesn’t include information about European Portuguese, so you’ll need to use other resources if you’re interested in learning both variations. Read more about the book here.

Key Benefits

  • Follows a structured lesson plan to help Brazilian Portuguese beginners move to the intermediate level through self-study
  • Includes 18 learning units and practice material to help you work on your reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills
  • There are audio tracks you can use to listen to native speakers’ conversations and test your conversational abilities

The Everything Brazilian Portuguese Book is the most comprehensive book because it starts with the alphabet and the basics you need to build a foundation in Portuguese, and progressively moves to more complex topics like imperative and subjunctive sentence structures, impersonal assertions, and the differences between tenses. All the explanations are in English, which makes it a good choice for absolute beginners. There are vocabulary lists, practice tests, and English-Portuguese/ Portuguese-English dictionaries, as well as an audio CD to help you practice listening and pronunciation.

The book is designed to help you develop all areas of language and understand Portuguese quickly. The explanations are detailed and go over topics most Portuguese learners struggle with, like verb conjugation and the different types of tenses. In my opinion, The Everything Brazilian Portuguese Book is a useful resource you can use to tackle any problematic language areas on your own. The content is straightforward and doesn’t overcomplicate grammatical rules, which makes studying Portuguese feel easy and keeps you motivated. Grab your copy of the book here.

Key Benefits

  • Provides a thorough introduction to help Brazilian Portuguese beginners easily understand the basics of the language
  • There are 20 learning units and additional material to help you practice all the skills you need to communicate effectively
  • The book includes an audio CD with a pronunciation guide so you can develop your speaking and listening skills

Learn Portuguese

Best for Beginners

Learn Portuguese is the best book for beginners because it helps you build a strong foundation in the language without having to rely on memorization. The book starts with basic Portuguese and includes pronunciation fundamentals, essential grammar rules, fun phrases, common mistakes, and slang terms which ensures you learn the language the way native speakers use it. The lessons start by introducing you to the alphabet, capitalization in Portuguese, and gender pronouns before moving on to topics like determiners, articles, verb conjugation, and tenses. Once you’ve mastered the basics, you can move to the second part of the book which contains 11 short stories in Portuguese.

The goal of Learn Portuguese is to teach you new vocabulary and make sure you understand meaning and application. The stories are written entirely in Portuguese to help you practice reading, and show you examples of how to use Portuguese grammar in context. Each story has an English summary, word list, and comprehension questions so you can review what you read. While some might argue that reading full texts can be too overwhelming for beginners, I think Learn Portuguese is a good starting point for those who want to be able to read the language and apply the grammar without problems. You can learn more about the book here.

Key Benefits

  • Combines 2 books in 1 to teach you Portuguese vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, reading, and writing
  • Learn basic fundamentals of the language including common mistakes, slang terms, and fun phrases
  • Read 11 short stories in Portuguese, read an English summary, and complete different comprehension questions to test your reading comprehension

Tudo bem? Vamos aprender Português!

Best for Conversational Portuguese

Tudo bem? Vamos aprender Português! is the best book to learn conversational Portuguese because it covers the most essential topics you need to speak and understand Portuguese. Throughout the book, you learn the most used verb tenses and vocabulary you need to have a conversation. The lessons teach you how to pronounce different pairs of letters, how accents work in Portuguese, personal pronouns and how they alter specific words and more. Its explanations are in both English and Portuguese so you can understand regardless of your level of Portuguese. Each unit includes tons of comprehension exercises with an answer key, which allows you to study and check your progress on your own.

One of the things I enjoyed most about this book is its useful references to modern expressions, everyday situations, and writing exercises. All the language included in the book is natural and accurate to how it’s used in the modern world. Most books only focus on the formal aspects and ignore the colloquialisms, but this isn’t helpful if you want to interact with native speakers. Once you have the beginner Tudo Bem? 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 Benefits

  • Learn the formal aspects of Portuguese like vocabulary and grammar along with conversational phrases and slang
  • The explanations are concise and reference modern scenarios to help you adapt to the Portuguese-speaking world
  • Use the practice exercises and answer key to test your knowledge and ensure your progress

Short Stories in Brazilian Portuguese for Beginners is the best book to start reading in Portuguese because it focuses on the most commonly used words and has natural-sounding dialogue so you can see how people really speak the language. It has 8 stories that introduce you to reading in Portuguese in a smooth and engaging way to keep you motivated. The topics of the stories are also relatable for travelers since they cover topics like picking a friend at the airport, going to Brazil for a language exchange program, and preparing for a trip.

Each story has a word list, plot summary, and comprehension questions to help you make sure you understand the reading. Note that the stories don’t have English translations, so you need to be an advanced beginner to make the best of it. Even though the language is controlled so that Portuguese learners can have an easy time reading, it’s still a good example of how many common phrases and words are used in Brazil. My favorite aspect and the reason why I wanted to include this book in this list was that it gives colloquial language the same importance as formal language, which is something most books don’t do. Learn more about the book here.

Key Benefits

  • Read 8 different stories completely written in Portuguese to practice reading and become familiar with the use of the language
  • Each story has a plot summary, comprehension questions, and vocabulary lists so you can review all aspects of the reading to make sure you understood all the content
  • Includes a Portuguese-English glossary to help you find the meaning of the words you don’t know and increase your vocabulary

The Portuguese-English Bilingual Visual Dictionary is the best book 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, each with a unique illustration with English and Portuguese meanings. The book is arranged by themes and you learn vocabulary related to that specific topic, like going to the gym, eating breakfast, or arriving at a hotel. It also includes access to a free audio app so you can hear the words pronounced by native speakers.

This is an easy way to introduce children to the Portuguese language. The book has colorful images and it’s easy to navigate, so kids can use it to learn basic vocabulary, spelling, and pronunciation with ease. I think that, even if you’re an adult, there’s a big chance you’ll like using this book if you’re a visual learner and want to practice during breaks or on the plane to a Portuguese-speaking country. Note that the book doesn’t include grammar explanations or written exercises, and works better when combined with other Portuguese learning resources. You can see if this book is right for you here.

Key Benefits

  • 10,000 illustrated words with Portuguese and English meanings to make learning easy and entertaining
  • Arranged by topics to help you find what you’re looking for quickly
  • Learn the correct pronunciation with the included audio app and speak Portuguese with confidence

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 so this is truly a handy reference guide to help you navigate the Portuguese-speaking world.

Whether you’re planning a trip to Brazil or Portugal, the Lonely Planet Portuguese Phrasebook & Dictionary can teach you the skills you need to communicate in common scenarios you might find in daily life. Even if you’re not familiar with the words and phrases, I find that the phonetic examples it includes are clear enough to help you pronounce unfamiliar sounds. Its price and size also make it an accessible reference tool for all sorts of Portuguese learners. See what you think about the book here.

Key Benefits

  • The book has 3,500 Portuguese words with translations and phonetic pronunciation examples to help you understand the meaning of each word and speak with ease
  • This is a two-way dictionary, so you can easily look up words in English or Portuguese
  • Its size makes it easy to carry in your bag

Say it Right in Brazilian Portuguese

Best for Pronunciation

Say it Right in Brazilian Portuguese is the best book to perfect your pronunciation through self-study. 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. You begin by studying the Portuguese vowels and consonants using the EPLS Vowel Symbol System, which is an easy way to familiarize yourself with pronouncing each letter if you don’t speak a similar language. Then, the book introduces you to essential words and phrases. It also includes other valuable references like a dictionary, pronunciation tips, and a quick reference sheet.

While the book doesn’t include lessons to teach you grammar or sentence structure, its explanations and examples for pronunciation are clear enough to teach you to communicate effectively. In my opinion, the system the book uses to teach Portuguese learners how to speak the language can be very helpful because you learn the correct pronunciation through the association of symbols with sounds in similar words of the English language. For its price, I think this is a useful resource to help you increase your vocabulary and improve your pronunciation skills quickly. See what other people thought about the book here.

Key Benefits

  • Learn +500 Brazilian Portuguese words through the EPLS Vowel Symbol System and use English as a foundation for Portuguese pronunciation
  • Includes additional material like a dictionary and a reference sheet that show you which English words have similar sounds to those used in the Portuguese language
  • The book has pronunciation and conversation tips to help you navigate all sorts of conversations

Other Portuguese Learning Books We Researched

We reviewed many Portuguese books aside from the ones included in this list. Here are some that weren’t included:

  • Portuguese in 3 Months: This book promises to help you understand and speak Portuguese with ease in just 3 months. The book comes with a free audio app and a weekly study plan, but 3 months is not enough to acquire all the skills you need to communicate effectively.
  • Portuguese in 10 Minutes a Day: This is a comprehensive and visually engaging book with interactive features like practice activities, quizzes, flashcards, and even a digital version that allows you to study on your computer. However, it focuses only on Brazilian Portuguese and is too basic to be useful for students past the beginner level. 
  • Easy Portuguese Phrasebook: This book has over 1,500 phrases in Portuguese to help you communicate with native speakers on your next trip. While this book can be a handy reference, many users disliked that it didn’t specify that it uses Brazilian Portuguese only.

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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