The gold standard of online Portuguese education

In the last 6 months, we’ve seen major new content and website relaunches from three of  my favorite Portuguese websites. I think these three resources now constitute the gold standard of online Portuguese education. Throw in a copy of the Green Book and you’ll have everything you need to get started, get better, or get fluent:

  1. StreetSmart Brazil – personalized lessons over the internet from an amazing group of teachers. SSB launched a new website this year, brought on board new teachers, developed new types of classes, and improved the custom materials that they use.
  2. Semántica – video lessons featuring stories shot on-location in Rio. Semántica recently launched a new 100-video series for intermediate speakers, to add to their offerings for beginning and advanced speakers.
  3. BrazilPod – lessons for all levels from a crack team of language professors at UT Austin. BrazilPod just launched Língua da Gente, a new podcast for beginners.

These three projects have a few things in common. All of them have been around since the start of Hacking Portuguese in 2010. All of them played a major role in helping me achieve fluency, meaning I can vouch for them personally. One of them (BrazilPod) is entirely free, and for the others I’ve been able to negotiate discounts for Hacking Portuguese readers (see recent blog posts). And they all work well together.

Finally, you’ll notice that none of these projects are affiliated with major language education brands that churn out ‘content’ for dozens of languages. Instead, they each have smart, experienced individuals at the helm who are passionate about Brazilian Portuguese and only Brazilian Portuguese: Luciana Lage at StreetSmart Brazil, James Hall at Semántica, and Dr. Orlando Kelm at BrazilPod.

It’s these folks who give these projects a personal and human touch that is missing in so much language education. If you haven’t given them a shot yet, I hope you’ll check them out and come to know how awesome they are just as I have, and get amazingly good at your Portuguese in the process!

Now for some honorable mentions. Unlike the ones above, these are made by companies with multiple language offerings, and I have expressed skepticism about them in the past. However, after using them more (and hearing about others’ very positive experiences, in the case of BRIC), I now feel that they are worth another look:

  • PortuguesePod101 – HUGE amount of content for all levels, even quite advanced. PP101 tries to be comprehensive with podcasts, recorded dialogs, vocabulary banks and a built-in spaced repetition flashcard system.
  • DuoLingo – free, turns language learning into a game with levels, awards, points. Good for quick and easy ‘downtime’ learning on your phone.
  • BRIC Language Systems – intensive online tutoring with real teachers and original course material
  • LiveMocha – social languag learning site which pairs you with English learners
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5 Responses to The gold standard of online Portuguese education

  1. Adam says:

    Great resources, Thank you! Brazil Pod and Semántica videos have been very helpful.

    After reading this post I have spent some time with DuoLingo. Just want to point out that while it is a nice app to have on the phone (extra time at the dentist, etc), it does not really teach spoken Brazilian Portuguese correctly. I find myself opening the app and reviewing grammar during down time, but I think it is very important to approach it knowing that it is quite robotic, and many times it will flag a correct answer as “incorrect”.

    In many cases it prefers language that would sound strange in spoken brazilian portuguese. A few examples… este/esta vs esse/essa (Brazilians opt to use the latter when speaking but duolingo flags as incorrect), “nessa casa” it translates as “into the house”. I can’t recall now all of the errors that I’ve encountered. Although I do not plan to delete it, I think it is just important to use the app while aware that it is robotic and not a practical method to learn the language as it is spoken.

  2. Robyna Hill says:

    I’m currently using Duolingo because I’m a complete beginner. I find it helpful, and plan to use to it to give me a decent base in common vocab and sentence structure. Beyond that, I’ll move on to other resources for sure. But you can’t beat free!

  3. Ryan says:

    Come back!

    I just found this site and I started learning Portuguese a few months ago.
    I’m learning because my girlfriend’s parents both don’t speak English. They only speak Portuguese. My girlfriend is fluent in both which is helpful, but I’d like to be able to speak to her parents.

  4. Stefano "Estevao" says:

    Two years ago I decided to learn Portuguese, and I am thankfuld that I found this website It has been very helpful and has saved a lot of time for me. I am still improving my portuguese, and still find some information that I can use on this site. BUT: it does need a comprehensive updating, because very much has happened during the last few years, and there is a lot of information out there – that cannot be found on these pages. So I hope Lauren can and will take the time, and maybe other people will help, too. Because it is so great for beginners to get all this advice, which cannot be found on the commercial sites. Best wishes, “Estevao”

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