Even though Portuguese has millions of native speakers worldwide and is the 5th most spoken language in the world, it can be hard to find good resources for learning the language.
Solid audio courses can be especially hard to find. If you’ve googled Portuguese language courses lately you’re likely to have heard of Pimsleur.
Pimsleur has a long standing reputation as an effective audio course for language learning. Their method isn’t perfect, and their courses certainly have their shortcomings.
We cover their method and courses more in depth in our complete Ultimate Pimsleur Review.
In this article we specifically look at the Pimsleur Portuguese courses, and we point out the features that we feel could most help or hinder your study of the language.
Review of: Pimsleur Portuguese
Use: Audio courses for learning Portuguese
With Pimsleur you will be able to speak at a functional level
Pimsleur Courses are expensive. Expect to pay $100+ for 1 Level
Each lesson is 30 minutes
Ease of Use
Lesson are simple: just listen and repeat when prompted
Pimsleur courses are well designed and structured to teach you a foreign language
I Don't Like
Summary: Pimsleur courses are known as some of the best audio courses for learning to speak a foreign language. Their method includes a question/recall/response technique that is very effective for helping you internalize the basics of a new language.
Many people who use Pimsleur cite a marked improvement in their speaking abilities.
Pimsleur is also one of the few language courses that focuses heavily on correct pronunciation, which can be a challenge when learning Portuguese.
However Pimsleur courses also have their drawbacks. They're pretty expensive compared to other audio courses. They also tend to use highly formal language that is too respectful for most day to day situations. This is especially true in the famously casual culture of Brazil.
Starting at $19.95 for 5 lessons up to $107.95 for 30 Lessons
Pimsleur offers courses for both Brazilian and European Portuguese. Which one you use will depend on where you want to go. Brazilian and European Portuguese are mutually intelligible, if you speak one you’ll understand the other. But there are some differences between the two that you should be aware of.
The biggest difference between Brazilian and European Portuguese revolves around the pronoun “you”. In Portugal two pronouns are used: tu (informal) and Você (formal), while in Brazil Você is typically used for both formal and informal situations.
The two styles of Portuguese also differ in their pronunciation. With sounds like “s” sometimes being pronounced as “sh” in Portugal but “s” in Brazil. Even though the pronunciations are different you should still be able to understand one if you know the other.
Here's a video highlighting some of the differences between Brazilian and Portugal Portuguese.
Brazil and Portugal will sometimes use different words for different things. For instance an identity card is called a cédula de identidade in Brazil but a bilhete de identidade in Portugal.
To the complete beginner native Portuguese can sound like a glob of fast and unintelligible sounds. As a Portuguese audio course Pimsleur is one of the best options for breaking down the sound system of a language and developing your Portuguese ear as well as your accent.
All Pimsleur courses breakdown new words and phrases by syllable so that you listen and repeat each sound one at a time until you can blend them together to form words and sentences. It’s the blending aspect that makes Pimsleur stand out from other courses.
When you’re given a series of words Pimsleur will break it down based on the way a native would say the phrase, not on the sounds of individual words.
This is because is all languages native speakers drop and morph sounds when they say words together. A word in a sentence may sound a bit different than it would if you heard it in isolation. Pimsleur incorporates this often overlooked aspect of pronunciation into their Portuguese courses.
Pimsleur isn’t known as a good course for learning to read a language. To be honest the reading sections of their courses feel like an afterthought. But because Portuguese is a Romance language and uses a latin alphabet, the reading sections in the Portuguese courses is better than other Pimsleur courses.
The reading portion of a Pimsleur course includes a list of sentences and or words in a booklet or pdf and corresponding audio. You’re suppose to read along with the text as a native speaker reads out loud on the recording.
This method has its merits but if you’re looking to really dive into reading Portuguese you’d be better off with a different resource.
Pimsleur always errs on the side of formality when giving you new vocabulary. If you only use the Portuguese you learn from Pimsleur you will come across as extremely polite. Natives will still understand what you say, you’ll just come across as unusual.
This is especially true in a country like Brazil which is well known for having a more casual and laid back culture. If you’re walking around the streets of Brazil and use your Pimsleur vocabulary you’re likely to get odd looks.
Pimsleur made little effort to amending their Portuguese courses to the cultural context of the countries that speak the language.
Pimsleur’s most popular language courses have 4-5 levels. Brazilian Portuguese being less popular only has 3. European Portuguese only has 1. With 5 levels of Pimsleur you can expect to approach a low intermediate level of proficiency in a spoken language, but with just 1 or 3 levels you’ll be hard best to get best a beginner’s level is Portuguese.
...if you are looking for a quality audio course that can teach you how to speak Brazilian Portuguese with a good accent, Pimsleur is definitely one of the best choices for that. Although a learner should be aware of some limitations of this course.
20+ minutes a day
Rocket Portuguese is built around recorded audio in the form of dialogues. The dialogues have English explanations and usually teach the language in "chunks" or phrases versus individual words (this is great for conversational Portuguese).
Rocket Portuguese doesn't have the "speak and think" emphasis of Pimsleur, but it is fairly comprehensive and also focuses on reading and writing Portuguese.
From $4+ per month
15+ minutes a day
Portuguesepod101 features audio lessons in a podcast format. Lessons are great for grammar and vocabulary, and are centered around a recorded dialogue between two native speakers.
The teachers (aka podcast hosts) do a great job of keeping things engaging.
While it's not as structured as Pimsleur, Portuguesepod101 is still a substantial Portuguese learning tool (it's also much cheaper too). The site features transcripts for each lesson, and there is also a flashcard system for learning new words.
$6+ per hour (varies between teachers)
30 minute or 1 hour lessons
An intro video from one of Italki's Portuguese teachers.
Italki is an online market place that connects language learners with language teachers for one-on-one language classes via video or audio chat.
You can connect with language speakers from around the world and practice your speaking skills. Italki has over 150+ professional teachers and informal tutors for the Portuguese language.
*with a purchase of $20 or more. After your first purchased lesson a credit of $10 will be added to your account
Pimsleur’s Portuguese courses have all the strengths and weaknesses Pimsleur is known for. For an audio course, they are one of the best resources for learning to speak Portuguese.
The language used in the courses is highly formal, so you will probably sound a bit out of place using it in an informal country like Brazil. Both European and Brazilian Portuguese have less levels than Pimsleur’s more popular languages.
Still, even with their shortcomings Pimsleur’s Portuguese courses are a viable option for beginner to intermediate Portuguese learners. Pimsleur offers the first lesson from level 1 of their language courses for free on their website. It’s a great idea to work through it yourself and see if the course is right for you!
I'm definitely an unlikely language learner. I failed Spanish in high school. I started learning German as a hobby while studying abroad. Long story short...and a couple languages later...I love language learning!