How to give the gift of learning Portuguese

Gifting someone the means to learn the Portuguese language is one of the most valuable, long-lasting, life-changing and door-opening gifts you can possibly give.

Portuguese is spoken by over 215 million people as their first language, making it the sixth most spoken language in the world in terms of native speakers, the third-most spoken language in Europe and a major language of commerce and culture in the Southern Hemisphere.

Incredible places to travel, fun and vibrant people, crazy dancing, exciting culture, tropical jungles, immaculate beaches and incredible cuisine all await the Portuguese speaker...

But how can you be sure you are giving the exact right Portuguese learning gift?

These days the options are boundless: podcasts, apps, games, software, lessons, audio, video, tutoring, books, online courses and more all compete for attention in the Portuguese education space.

But - taking into account their specific needs and goals - which one is the right Portuguese product to give someone?

This article will explain:

1) How to work out exactly what kind of Portuguese gift to give someone
2) The various options available for gifting Portuguese
3) How to select the perfect match amongst the host of options


* How to take into account the person's ideal learning style when selecting Portuguese language gifts.

* An incredibly valuable native Portuguese pronunciation course that compliments any of the recommended products below.

So let's get started!

1) Find out exactly what they will use Portuguese for

When answering inquiries I receive from Portuguese learners about what method or approach will work best for them, I first get them to think about why exactly they want to learn Portuguese.

What will they use Portuguese for? Travel? Work? Studies? Relationship? Research?

Surprisingly, many people overlook this massively important step, not realizing that selecting the right materials is actually the vital first step on a path that will lead to real results the fastest.

As a Portuguese gift giver, you need to first determine what the specific needs are of the person receiving your gift.

Let's compare some examples to help illustrate this:

John the Backpacker

John wants to learn Portuguese because he is planning to backpack through Brazil for a few months and needs to know the local lingo to get by, to negotiate and avoid overpaying in markets, to understand the gist of what's happening around him, to ask for directions and to meet locals and engage in basic conversations.

John the Backpacker needs to be able to speak as fast as possible and have a basic understanding of how Portuguese is written. He would benefit best from an approach that focuses on listening and conversation first with some basic overview of reading and writing.

Jane the Student

Jane is preparing for a semester abroad in Lisbon, Portugal, where she will be learning Portuguese language and culture at a university. She has very basic knowledge of the language and needs to get acquainted with the basics and get as much of a head start as possible before landing on the ground running.

Jane needs to develop a solid foundation upon which to build while at university in Portugal. She needs to understand some of the basic language used in the classroom, have good knowledge of the writing system and be able to engage in simple conversations both in the classroom and while out and about in the city.

Jane would best benefit from a complete Portuguese solution that covers all the bases completely, from reading and writing to listening and speaking.

Pat the Business Traveler

Pat heads the marketing department for a US company that is opening operations in Brazil. Pat will be moving to São Paolo for a year to take charge of this expansion and work out an effective marketing campaign for the Portuguese audience. The actual work is in English, but having a basic knowledge of Portuguese will give Pat greater confidence and also allow for life to be enjoyed more fully and easily while living abroad.

Pat needs to achieve basic competency in speaking and listening for both everyday life and the business world.

Pat would best benefit from a business-focused approach to achieving basic conversation and listening comprehension.

Unique Portuguese needs require unique Portuguese solutions

John, Jane and Pat all have different reasons for learning Portuguese.

They all three have different goals and, therefore, will benefit from unique solutions that best match their immediate concerns.

If you don't know, ask the person why they are learning Portuguese

The person you are gifting Portuguese to will certainly have a unique need for learning the language.

If you don't already have a good idea of what it is, the easiest way to find out is simply to ask the person why they want to learn Portuguese.

This can easily be done without alerting them to the fact that you're looking for gift giving hints - simply show interest in their desire to learn and ask them about why they want to learn and what they will use Portuguese for.

Asking questions about their planned use for the language will give you great insight into their motivations for wanting to learn.

This, in turn, will help you home in on the best choice of for a Portuguese present!

The next section outlines how to work out the best materials to match individual needs.

2) Familiarize yourself with options for Portuguese learning gifts

Now that you've got a solid idea about why they want to know Portuguese, let's explore general learning materials and what kind of goals they are good for.

Portuguese Apps

Apps for learning Portuguese cover an enormous amount of ground in terms of what kind of learning experience they offer.

Apps can be focused on anything from Portuguese language exchange to Portuguese courses to Portuguese learning games and Portuguese flashcards and beyond.

Apps are great for learning the basics of a language in a convenient, mobile way. The options are huge, and some apps go deeper into the learning experience than others, offering additional means for learning such as Portuguese podcasts and lessons.

Portuguese Podcasts

Podcasts for learning Portuguese are growing in popularity fast and there are more and more of them showing up on the scene everyday.

This makes deciding on a Portuguese learning podcast somewhat daunting, but I'll make it easy for you as there is one system that has become hugely popular and continues growing quickly.

Some of the things podcasts are great for:

  • improving Portuguese listening skills
  • learning Portuguese vocabulary
  • Portuguese cultural insights
  • easy repetition of important material (just listen again)
  • learning can be taken anywhere
  • learning can be happening while doing other things, like cooking, commuting and exercising

Also mentioned in the app section above as it covers that ground as well, this innovative Portuguese podcast is my go-to recommendation for anyone interested in learning Portuguese with podcasts and apps.

Portuguese Tutoring

Simply put, there is really nothing better for individual focus and speedy progress than a well-trained Portuguese tutor.

Professional tutors also provide a level of accountability that apps and podcasts cannot offer, despite their incredible convenience and portability.

There is a great option for online Portuguese tutoring which has a vibrant community of both professional teachers as well as free language exchange partners.

Portuguese Books

Think Portuguese books are dead? Think again!

There are a few Portuguese learning books worth considering if you want to place a physical item in a package and gift that.

(You could also wrap any box in nice paper and put the info inside about any digital product you decide to gift in order to make it possible to give a "physical" present!)

If you want to gift a book, my top recommendations are "Colloquial European Portuguese" (US/UK) and "Colloqual Brazilian Portuguese" (US/UK).

If you'd like to know more about these, check out my reviews of Colloquial Brazilian Portuguese and Colloquial European Portuguese.

Portuguese Courses

These days "Portuguese courses" exist in a wide variety forms - text, audio, video, online, etc.

By courses, I mean specifically a learning tool that is designed to take you on a guided journey from zero to Portuguese - not just random unconnected lessons, but a format that starts with the basics and builds up to fluency in steps.

Three popular courses that offer the widest variety of learning materials are Innovative Portuguese (podcast, online lessons, apps), FluentU Portuguese (enhanced learning with videos) Babbel Portuguese (online plus app).

Portuguese Audio

Portuguese audio can be very useful for people who commute, love to cook and/or exercise as they can turn these activities into Portuguese learning time as well.

Audio is specifically good for people who want to have good Portuguese listening comprehension skills and practice pronunciation through repetition of the audio.

The top resource for audio is Innovative Portuguese.

The good thing about this innovative system is that audio is one aspect of their system and is supplemented by texts and other materials.

Portuguese Video

Watching videos is a great way to learn Portuguese, especially when the videos are intentionally geared toward learning and include enhanced tools to improve the experience.

There is one video gift option that goes way beyond simply watching and engages learners in the process, provides awesome video learning tools and offers structured paths to learning: FluentU Portuguese.

Simply put, for learning Portuguese with videos nothing compares! To learn more about it, read my review of this Portuguese video learning system.

Portuguese Software

Portuguese software gifts could easily be included along with the apps listed above.

However, I wanted to keep it separate because there are some resources that offer amazing learning experiences through Web software services as well as apps.

An excellent web-based software system for learning is Busuu, a kind of superpowered Portuguese language learning system.

Another option is Babbel Portuguese which is available online as well as via their app.

Portuguese Language Exchange

Language exchanges have simply blown up online, the Internet being such a great way to meet and communicate with people around the world.

Typically, language exchanges begin by searching for someone who wants to learn your native language and speaks your target language.

This process can be hit or miss, and language exchange partners vary widely in how effectively they can teach you.

Keep in mind, these are not professionally trained educators, just people interested in learning languages and helping others to do the same.

Language exchanges are free, and there are many social language learning options.

But there is only one that lets you also opt for professional teaching alongside language exchange, and that is iTalki.

iTalki is a very popular language exchange platform which also offers paid trained teachers.

3) Decide which kind of Portuguese learning materials best match their needs

Now you know what your giftee's motivations for learning are.

You also have become familiar with many of the possible gift ideas for Portuguese learners.

The next step is to decide which gift will best meet their exact needs.

A few guiding thoughts for this:

  • If they need Portuguese for travel, lean towards gifts that offer a fast path to speaking Portuguese such as "Colloquial European Portuguese" (US/UK) and "Colloquial Brazilian Portuguese" (US/UK)
  • If they need Portuguese for business, go for Innovative Portuguese
  • If they are keen to learn to read and write, lean towards more textbook materials like "Colloquial European Portuguese" US/UK) and "Colloqual Brazilian Portuguese" (US/UK)
  • If they are more likely to get motivated to learn with videos, definitely go with FluentU
  • If they've got a lot going on in their lives and want to fit Portuguese learning into commutes, cooking and exercising, opt for podcasts and audio: Innovative Portuguese
  • If it's for a relationship or family, I'd suggest any of the above keeping in mind the way the giftee best learns (see next section)

Keep in mind the person's best learning style

Knowing what kind of learner the person you want to gift Portuguese to is can also be a massive help in choosing.

It's a big misconception that there is one best way to learn languages - quite the opposite.

What matters most is how we each best learn! (Not just languages but anything.)

Do you know if the person is an audio, visual, reading/writing or kinesthetic/tactile learner?

To massively simplify:

  • Audio = people who learn best by hearing
  • Visual = people who learn best by seeing
  • Reading/Writing = kinda obvious
  • Kinesthetic/Tactile = people learn best by doing things hands-on

You'll want to select a gift that is appropriate for the person's learning style in addition to their motivations for learning.

Keep in mind: almost everyone benefits most from a mix of different styles, not just 100% one kind!

If you don't know what style of learner the person is, there are tests like this quick quiz that can help figure this out. Of course, you will have to either answer the questions as you think the person would, or better yet, get them to take the quiz for fun and tell you the results.

Don't worry overmuch about the style learner, as many of the above-mentioned resources actually cover many learning styles. But it's definitely worth considering when making the final decision on what to get them!

Note on learning Portuguese pronunciation like a native

If you're into the idea of combining two or more of the above-mentioned options, I'd like to throw in there another unique course that is specifically designed to get learners to sound like native Portuguese speakers: Mimic Method Portuguese.

This is truly an added value to any Portuguese gift as it will train them in exactly how to overcome the most difficult hurdles in pronunciation and sound as much like a native speaker as possible.

(Often students of this method are confused with native Portuguese speakers!)

Go gift Portuguese!

Now that you've got a good idea about how exactly to find the best Portuguese learning product for anyone, you're well on your way to giving the gift of a new language!

Again, just check my curated list of top Portuguese learning products and select the best fit.

Have you ever given the gift of language before? How did you choose and how did it work out for the person? Please answer below in the comments!