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There are plenty of textbooks out there for those learning Portuguese, especially for beginners. But which ones are worth your time and money? I am afraid that most of the stuff you come across scores below the mark.
This article will bring you clarity about what books may best suit your needs whether you are looking for a textbook, grammar book, lexicon, or short stories specially written for language learners of Portuguese*.
* You’ll find suggestions for both standards of Portuguese – from Portugal (pt) and from Brazil (br).
Let’s get started.
This is a series of great all-around textbooks by Lidel publishers. If you want to work simultaneously on all your language skills in a consistent, well-structured way, then you won’t be disappointed by them.
There are four volumes available for each level of language proficiency. They all provide you with downloadable audio material for listening practice.
Each book is divided into thematic chapters sequenced by the level of complexity. The topics of the first two volumes are related to everyday life situations – the content is direct and concrete.
The third and fourth volumes focus on Portuguese history and culture – they use a more abstract, advanced language.
In each chapter, you’ll get to work on all language skills: listening and reading comprehension, writing and speaking – always in relation to the chapter’s topic. Also, each chapter focuses on a specific grammar aspect of the language.
At the end of each chapter, there is a revision section with exercises where you can consolidate your freshly acquired knowledge. You’ll find the key to these exercises at the end of the book.
You can access all transcripts to each and every listening practice drill. There is even a glossary with all the words used throughout the book with translation to English, German, French, and Spanish.
This suite of coursebooks includes three volumes and 9 audio CDs and it is the most competent self-study material I am aware of for the Brazilian standard.
It is an investment with a high return as it is capable of taking you from being an absolute beginner all the way to the advanced level.
Living Language Brazilian Portuguese – beginner through advanced levels (A1–C1)
The volumes are textbooks and workbooks all in one – there is plenty of room for exercises and drills so that you can digest each unit’s content. All language skills are covered and you’ll be working on all fronts: topical/vocab, grammar/structure, and pronunciation.
Brazilian culture is woven into it, which means that you’ll be also learning the cultural codes of the country.
There’s a clear focus on colloquial language and how people actually talk in day-to-day life. Besides, you get heads-up on regional differences in pronunciation (Brazil is a big country).
Includes additional learning resources online.
This textbook is way more affordable than the previous one and will nonetheless help you develop solid language skills up to the low-intermediate level. The book is suitable for self-study learners.
It contains authentic conversations, vocabulary highlights, and grammar explanations that will equip you with the skills you need to become a competent user of Brazilian Portuguese in a variety of day-to-day situations. Along the way, you’ll also develop your cultural awareness of Brazil.
This is an outstanding grammar reference book published by Routledge. Although succinct, it still gives you a comprehensive overview of Portuguese grammar. It’s in English.
It suits either independent learners or students taking Portuguese classes. It serves all language proficiency levels. I highly recommend it.
Portuguese – an essential grammar (all levels)
The book is user-friendly and jargon-free, laying out the complexities of Portuguese in concise, readable sections. It simply is a competent reference book you can turn to in moments of doubt.
It is divided into four parts. The first one deals with Portuguese grammar, word class by word class. The second part offers you an overview of Portuguese language usage in everyday life situations, pretty much as a phrase book would do.
The third part deals with the specificities of Brazilian Portuguese. The fourth and last part gives you an overview of the Portuguese-speaking world as well as its historical and cultural background.
This is hands-down the most competent grammar book out there specific to the Brazilian standard (by Routledge publishers). Suitable for all levels of language proficiency.
While most of the other books in the same category conform to a formal language (that nobody uses), this one reflects the day-to-day, colloquial usage of Brazilian Portuguese.
The book’s language is jargon-free and explains the structures and intricacies of the Portuguese language in an easy-to-digest fashion. Simply put, this is a quality reference book you can turn to in moments of doubt.
There is a workbook available if you want to help you assimilate Portuguese grammar (see below).
This workbook is complementary to the grammar book mentioned before. It is the perfect companion to drill and assimilate Portuguese grammar.
These are self-study grammar books with two available volumes – beginner/lower-intermediate and upper-intermediate levels respectively.
Each unit consists of 2 pages and deals with a specific grammar topic that is succinctly explained on the left page. On the right page, you’ll find respective exercises to practice on.
I personally like these books, as they are well structured and pragmatic. On the other hand, if you’re learning Portuguese by yourself, bear in mind that their instruction language is Portuguese – studying grammar in the target language is surely not impossible, but it can be challenging.
This book (by Lidel publishers) is suitable for all learners of Portuguese up to the intermediate level, especially those struggling with long-term word retention.
It contains 133 vocabulary exercises and activities spread across different topics (family, hobbies, shopping, sports, food, clothing, etc. ) At the end of the book, you’ll find the key to all drills.
Praticar Português A1-A2
The Oxford Portuguese Dictionaries are the most authoritative English-Portuguese / Portuguese-English dictionary out there.
The extended version covers both standards of Portuguese (European and Brazilian) and contains over 200,000 words and phrases. It’s been designed for both Portuguese and English native speakers and includes the latest vocabulary from computing to business and the media.
The layout has been designed for ease of use. The most commonly used sense of each word is shown first and more than 130,000 real-life example phrases help you figure out meaning and usage accurately.
The dictionary also provides extra features such as cultural notes as well as Portuguese verb tables and a list of irregular English verbs.
There’s also the compact version covering essential day-to-day vocabulary with over 40,000 words and phrases and 60,000 translations. This dictionary is easy to use and ideal for travel, work,
This affordable, pocket-size phrasebook by Collins is a good travel companion. It will provide you with the phrase or word you’re looking for, be it when you’re booking a hotel room, ordering a meal at a restaurant, or when asking someone the way.
It is useful even if you’re not on the road. Any language learner, especially beginners, can benefit from browsing a phrasebook every now and then – by doing it, you’ll both expand and consolidate your vocabulary.
This competent phrasebook (by Lonely planet) is ideal for travelers and beginners. It offers a comprehensive mix of practical and social words and phrases covering a wide range of situations (checking in at the hotel, ordering a meal in the restaurant, buying train tickets, asking for directions, etc.)
It also includes a 3500-word two-way dictionary, essential tips on culture & manners, and pronunciation cues.
It is a well-established fact that vocab retention is higher when we associate words with images. These illustrated dictionaries (by Porto Editora) are suitable for both standards of Portuguese.
Both are divided into thematic units that relate to everyday life. All words are paired with their respective illustrations.
This visual dictionary by DK Publishers comes with more than 10,000 visuals paired with their respective words (English and Portuguese). This is an indispensable and comprehensive Portuguese language companion.
The book is organized into different topics/situations – whether you are at the restaurant, at the grocery store, or in the hotel lobby, you’ll readily find the words and expressions you need. In the end, there are comprehensive word indexes (in English and Portuguese) that will facilitate your search.
The book comes with a free audio app that you can get from the App Store and Google Play so you can learn the pronunciation of day-to-day words and phrases.
Learning Portuguese doesn’t need to be a chore. A sense of pleasure and fulfillment will easily drift into your language learning journey as soon as you get hold of enticing materials – just like stories can be.
At StoryLift (by Portuguesepedia) you’ll find stories specially written for language learners like you. Let stories lift your Portuguese to another level.
Published by Lidel, these books consist of short stories specially designed for language learners.
Each short story has side notes to help you with idiomatic expressions. At the end of each story, you’ll also find questions assessing your reading comprehension – you’ll find the key at the end of the book.
You should know that reading in your target language dramatically increases vocabulary retention while improving, at the same time, your idiomatic feel for it. Also, by reading, you are naturally learning grammar structures, which is to say, you learn grammar effortlessly.
This book comprises a collection of eight captivating short stories for adult learners of Brazilian Portuguese. The following formats are available:
These short stories cater to students from high-beginner to low-intermediate level (A2/B1). They should give the learner a sense of achievement as well as enjoyment.
Carefully designed to keep you motivated, the book includes key features that will support and consolidate your progress, including:
Get right on track towards fluency
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