Oxford Picture Dictionary English/Brazilian Portuguese

Score:
1 2 3 4 5 6 (7) 8 9 10
“Seven outta ten!”
Pros:
a ton of Portuguese vocabulary arranged by theme; colorful, glossy presentation full of images; each image corresponds to vocabulary words on the same page; topical arrangement (categories and subcategories) works perfectly and reflects language use in everyday life; precise selection of useful words; questions for further discussion & even some exercises on some pages; reference index includes page numbers for every Portuguese & English vocabulary item

Cons:
not organized or designed as a dictionary; difficult to use as a primary language lesson course without further resources; extra resources available cost extra and intended for classroom use; extensive vocabulary lists require lots of memorization; designed for Brazilians studying English, though this does little to impact its usefulness

The OPD English/Brazilian Portuguese is less of a dictionary and more of an extensive, themed vocabulary list with a few extras like questions, simple activities and a reference index. These image-driven pages full of categorized Portuguese words may help you expand your understanding of Portuguese, and offer a way of visualizing vocabulary as you learn to speak the language.

The heart of the book is divided into broad categories like people, food, work and plants & animals, and narrow subcategories like a grocery store or a restaurant (under “food”) or feelings or daily routines (under “people”).

Each subcategory takes up one or two pages, and includes either one large image or a series of smaller, square pictures in rows. The images are all full-color, realistically illustrated cartoons. Letters or numbers on each image relate to a particular vocab word. The word or word list is written next to the image.

The OPD extends its use by including questions for further discussion and practice activities on many pages. Certain pages also contain reading activities, but, since all readings and questions are in English, you’ll quickly realize this book’s real target audience: Brazilian ESL learners.

The Oxford Picture Dictionary offers an attractive and well-organized way to visualize Portuguese vocabulary, or, at least, to connect words with images. Still, it’s not a fully developed vocabulary lesson book on the one hand, and far from a real dictionary on the other. If you’re a beginner and could use such a Brazilian vocabulary resource, this book should be worth your purchase.

Semantica Brazilian Portuguese Level 1

Semantica Method: Brazilian Portuguese is a conversational language course divided into 36 lessons. Uniquely, the “lessons” are all videos spread across 2 DVDs. The learning process involves watching a video series of filmed conversations and interactions between Brazilian Portuguese speakers. Like many audio methods, Semantica’s program doesn’t involve written exercises or significant amounts of reading. Limited explanations, in the form of teaching sessions, build competence in vocabulary and grammar as you progress.

I haven’t posted a full review of this language learning video program, since I haven’t acquired a full copy to review. Please give your feedback below, particularly if you’ve used this course to learn Portuguese.

Pois não: Brazilian Portuguese Course for Spanish Speakers

In Pois não, Antônio Simões delivers a Portuguese course with a “basic reference grammar”. It’s different from your typical Portuguese course, as it targets learners who already speak Spanish. Although there are great differences between Spanish and Portuguese, the author capitalizes on the mass of similarities between these two Ibero-Italic languages to speed up the learning process. The theme and style are reminiscent of Simões’ other effort, Com Licença!: Brazilian Portuguese for Spanish Speakers.

In this book, you learn grammar, syntax (sentence structure), vocabulary and conversation skills through modular lessons. Lessons include explanations of a variety of language topics, along with drills and exercises. Throughout the text (actually, in both books mentioned above), the writer consistently draws comparisons between Spanish and Portuguese. These comparisons highlight each and every language topic in the course.

Since I haven’t acquired a copy of this book to read thoroughly, I don’t give this book a score or a full review. I’ve thumbed through it the few times I’ve seen it at a bookstore. Do you have any recommendations related to Pois não?

Instant Brazilian Portuguese Vocabulary Builder by Tom Means

Score:
1 2 3 (4) 5 6 7 8 9 10
“Four outta ten!”
Pros:
good exercises ask you to make word associations in Portuguese rather than in translation; good focus on Brazilian use & examples; phrases for certain words, and meaning hints for trickier words; audio tracks read select vocabulary & exercises out loud; helps students make connections between words endings & basic vocabulary patterns

Cons:
the book’s main feature is to offer lists of relatively straightforward Portuguese words that are similar to English words – few students need so many pages & exercises to build this simple skill; introduction & pronunciation guide are bare-bones, merely providing a distraction; lengthy vocabulary lists with very little pacing to get you through them; browsing through a Portuguese dictionary teaches most learners the same vocabulary building skills; you must know a good amount of Portuguese for the exercises to be at all useful to you


The Instant Brazilian Portuguese Vocabulary Builder is all about endings. Its 200 pages cover lists of words with similar endings in English and Portuguese, capitalizing on the fact that the former borrowed many words – indeed, an entire word-building system – from Latin for so much of our “formal” or “learned” vocabulary.

In each of 24 chapters, you’ll focus on pages of vocabulary words with one such ending. Chapter titles list the suffix in English then Portuguese, such as -tion/-ção. Then, page after page of vocabulary lists give words in English first, then Portuguese to the right, every word having that chapter’s suffix. The chapter treating -tion/-ção starts off with:

abbreviation . . . . . . . . . . . . . abreviação (meaning “a shortening”)
abdication . . . . . . . . . . . . . . abdicação
aberration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . aberração

And the list goes on. Some words (like “abbreviation” above) offer further meaning help, while others give short example phrases directly beneath them to show the word in context. The book doesn’t delve deep into the semantics of Portuguese words – the focus remains on the 24 derivational suffixes common to Portuguese and English.

Exercises end each chapter, and are among the book’s few truly strong points. You’ll match Portuguese words containing the specific ending you just studied with their Portuguese synonyms, read paragraphs and answer questions using words you learn, and more.

The audio CD included with the book allows you to listen to the paragraph-long readings as you complete the activities. Unfortunately, these exercises require you to have some mastery of the language before undertaking them. An appendix contains answers to the practice exercises.

Since the Instant Brazilian Portuguese Vocabulary Builder focuses entirely on words and word forms that are similar in Brazilian Portuguese and English, it severely limits itself as a resource, while also rendering most of its vocabulary lists redundant. You’ll learn a little and complete worthwhile exercises in this course, but, in the long run, you’re much better off with a good dictionary. To be honest, even a simple travel phrasebook will get you further in your efforts to speak Portuguese.

Talk Now! Learn Portuguese by EuroTalk Interactive

(The top image link is for Brazilian Portuguese. The second links to the European Portuguese product.)

Talk Now! Learn Portuguese offers a software package that trains individual learners to speak basic Portuguese words and phrases from a home computer. These lessons include audio files that read the phrases out loud, games & activities for each topic, and progress tracking. The program supports a microphone or headset for recordings.

You can purchase Talk Now! for either Brazilian Portuguese or European Portuguese (which is just labeled “Portuguese” on the software’s cover).

Since I haven’t acquired a copy to review, I haven’t rated this course. If you would like to recommend this product to others, please post your comments below or contact us send a copy to this site for review.

Talking Brazilian: A Brazilian Portugese Pronunciation Workbook by Mario Perini

Talking Brazilian is a text book with 2 audio CDs by Mário Perini. The book aims to help learners pronounce, speak and read Brazilian Portuguese with native confidence. Like Modern Portuguese, this same author’s treatment of grammar, Talking Brazilian introduces students to the way Portuguese is actually spoken in Brazil instead of the standard formal language as taught in Brazilian classrooms.

I haven’t rated this book, as I have not acquired a copy to review. If you would like to recommend this book to others, please post your comments here or send a copy to be reviewed by contacting this site.

Teach Yourself One-Day Portuguese by Elisabeth Smith

Score:
1 2 3 4 5 6 (7) 8 9 10
“Seven outta ten!”
Pros:
straightforward audio & booklet; listen, learn and repeat approach great for auditory learners; mostly sticks to 50 basic words and 20 essential phrases that will go far in your travels around Portugal; affordable; good niche product that provides a small stepping stone for learning to speak more Portuguese

Cons:
for travelers to Portugal only!; very basic conversational phrases relevant to meet & greet, dining and where places are – beyond this, you’re out of luck; the interplay between the audio & booklet isn’t 100% intuitive and could use some tweaking


Teach Yourself One-Day Portuguese furnishes you with an audio CD and a short little booklet, with the goal of instilling in you 50 essential European Portuguese words and 20 ways to combine words into phrases.

You’ll start with a dialogue between two native Portuguese speakers, whose words and phrases are broken down and listed in the booklet (3 pages). Then, you’ll find the 50 words you’ll need to remember, and the 20 sentences you’ll memorize.

After that, the booklet challenges you with a “one-day quiz”, asking you how to say a selection of phrases. The author’s questions are pointed and relevant to situations you’ll find yourself in (“ask someone if the shops are far”). There’s a scoring and self-assessment grading guide, along with a certificate of completion on the last page.

If you’re off to Portugal and you need to gulp down a handful of essential phrases quickly, One-Day Portuguese provides a cheap, focused way of doing just that. If you arm yourself with other resources – a phrasebook or an introduction to Portuguese conversation & grammar – you’ll be ready to start speaking fairly quickly.

Auditory learners will get the most out of this course, but if you have the time and money, you might opt instead for a more robust audio course, like Pimsleur or even the more teacherly Michel Thomas Portuguese. Such a lesson course often helps you learn more while memorizing less by rote.

Teach Yourself Beginner’s Portuguese by Sue Tyson-Ward

Score:
1 2 3 4 (5) 6 7 8 9 10
“Five outta ten!”
Pros:
decent pacing; lots of dialogues and activities; vocab lists kept short and relevant to readings/topics; language and grammar points covered are solid for beginners; includes index, glossary & table of contents;

Cons:
European Portuguese only (but sometimes covers Brazilian use without really explaining what’s going on); organization only so-so, especially study/grammar points; quality of activities and short length of dialogues may put off some learners; explanations often miss the mark, failing to connect the dots or explain grammar as well as they should


Sue Tyson-Ward’s Teach Yourself Beginner’s Portuguese attempts to break down and teach the basics of Portuguese to new students over the course of 19 lessons. The book & CD combo expose you to an array of conversational and grammar topics.

The book’s format is typical of a TY course (or most other conversational language courses). Chapters start with dialogues, then give grammar or language topic explanations over a few pages. You’ll do paragraph-long reading exercises, as well as practice activities. Readings, dialogs, explanations and activities are often interchanged, which adds variety at the expense of consistency.

The course opens with a short crash course in pronunciation, which is enough to get the ball rolling if you’re learning Continental European Portuguese. The CD or cassette tape follows along, pronouncing a few dozen words so you can get an ear for the language.

Each dialogue is fairly short, but believable. Dialogues and readings are quick and disjointed, so expect to use them for repetition practice, not for any engaging immersion to Portuguese. Unfortunately, not all dialogues are covered on the audio CDs.

The explanations of grammar and language topics sometimes throw verb tables or grammar rules your way without proper introduction, other times offer adequate instructions. Mostly, it’s disappointing that they build on each other mildly and bear minimal connection to the chapter topics or overall course organization. What’s worse, they’re sometimes misleading or conflicting.

Exercises give you a chance to do the typical fill-in-the-blanks or translation & repetition more than anything else. At times, you’ll stray from that formula by, say, picking out what’s going on in a cartoon drawing, or filling out a crossword puzzle.

The end of the book has answers to activities, a Portuguese-English vocabulary glossary and short index. The table of contents also lists chapters by title and summarizes the main points in each chapter.

If you’re looking to ease into conversational Portuguese, and can withstand some of the faults I found in this course, Teach Yourself Beginner’s Portuguese is one way of getting through the basics. But, personally, I recommend other of the many courses available to you.

Barron’s FSI Mastering Portuguese by Jack Lee Ulsh

Score:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 (8) 9 10
“Eight outta ten!”
Pros:
like one long pronunciation and conversation drill in Portuguese; rather good pacing; plenty of example phrases to repeat along with; many variations of a single phrase make for solid and diverse practice; good audio breaks down phrases and tricky pronunciation points; covers grammar in conversational context

Cons:
European Portuguese only; the barrage of pronunciation and conversation drills have no setting or context; exercises and explanations always point back to repetition drills; two-way conversation drills suggest this course is designed for partner or classroom use


Barron’s FSI Mastering Portuguese wraps the Foreign Service Institute’s language training program into a book and tape course for beginners. Over the course of 25 lessons (units), students will read, hear and repeat countless variations of words and phrases until learning to speak basic Portuguese.

Each unit begins by asking you to repeat along with the audio as it reads aloud words and parts of words. The text in the book focuses on troublesome sounds. For instance, one section asks you to practice a variety of words ending in -om, taking care not to pronounce the “final m” the way you would in English.

Then, you’ll charge ahead through conversation dialogues. These start out as simple, two or three line exchanges. Later, the exchanges become more intense. The book includes many of them, with many variations on a single theme to make sure you’ve nailed down a specific facet of Portuguese conversation.

Units spend some time introducing and explaining grammar topics, but you’ll always sense they play second fiddle to the ever-present conversation drills. Practice exercises are here, too, but they often involve repeating lists of Portuguese sentences, or creating slightly different versions of a single phrase. Additionally, some sections improve your Portuguese vocabulary building skills, encouraging you to recognize words related to English, avoid “false friends” (cognates with different meanings in English and Portuguese), and so on.

These lessons have a decent table of contents, listing units and section names and numbers, but no index. You’ll also find a Portuguese-English vocabulary glossary at the end of the book.

As a language learning course, Mastering Portuguese is either a repetitious and routine or exacting and practical coverage of conversational Portuguese for beginners. You’ll skip some important grammar points and miss out on more creative approaches by taking on this lesson program. Yet you’ll have plenty of practice with a wide range of Portuguese words and phrases, with nuanced variations of each. Dedicated students looking to gain some real conversational abilities in European Portuguese will appreciate this course. You certainly won’t be afraid to hear or read Portuguese anymore, and you may be a good deal more prepared to speak it.

Modern Portuguese: A Reference Grammar by Mario Perini

Score:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 (9) 10
“Nine outta ten!”
Pros:
solid treatment of huge range of grammar and sentence structure topics; plenty of examples of real-life Brazilian Portuguese in use; author focuses on grammar as it’s used by native speakers in Brazil, unlike the standard language of even Brazilian Portuguese textbooks; well organized; great table of contents and index; amazing reference resource for learners to grow with

Cons:
more scholarly and linguistic than other books reviewed here; whatever your skill level, you must be willing to take it for what it is and extract useful examples and explanatory analysis for your own learning benefit


Mario Perini’s Modern Portuguese intends to bridge the linguistic gap between standard Portuguese and real-life Brazilian language use in his thorough breakdown of Brazilian Portuguese grammar.

The foreword and introduction are very academic, mostly of interest to linguists. From there, Perini moves on to an extremely detailed coverage of Portuguese grammar, with a specific focus on the structure of Brazilian usage.

There’s no point in keeping students in the dark about the difference between standard Portuguese and the real Brazilian Portuguese language as it’s spoken. It’s not a matter of slang or improper speech – people of all walks of life in Brazil speak differently than they write.

To shed light on this subject, Perini builds a robust, well-organized guide that breaks down all the essentials of Brazilian grammar. The topics covered are rather technical, and that’s where a knowledge of linguistics comes in handy.

Yet even if your knowledge of linguistics stops at “nouns” and “verbs”, the exposure to real Brazilian usage is the key here. Unit by unit, section by section, the book tackles every major topic of grammar and sentence structure. You’ll read plenty of fluent examples that illustrate each point along the way.

The book does an excellent job of analyzing Portuguese grammar into smaller, manageable chunks, and tracking down examples that illustrate those chunks. It sets out to cover the whole of Brazilian grammar, and does an equally commendable job of covering such a wid range of topics. Some have mentioned mistakes, but I didn’t see anything that would keep me away.

If you’re learning Brazilian Portuguese, Mario Perini’s Modern Portuguese is a welcome addition to your collection. Non-linguists will have to use this as a secondary grammar reference, not as a main lesson course. Any student of Brazilian will be able to mine examples and quickly find topics of interest in this methodical, deep, well-organized resource.