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Although Spanish is my first love, Brazilian Portuguese comes in a close second. I think it’s nearly impossible not to love this lyrical language and the people who speak it. I mean, who wouldn’t want to share in one of the warmest and most welcoming cultures on the planet?
Given my love of Brazilian culture, ever since we decided to homeschool, I knew that I wanted our kids to study Portuguese. However, gathering resources to do actually this has been more difficult than I had expected!
If you’re trying to teach Portuguese to your children—whether as a heritage language or a foreign language—you’ve probably discovered the same. I know I’ve heard this complaint from many families in my Language Learning at Home Facebook group, so I wanted to write this post especially for you.
The following resources have been tried and tested by our family—and not only that, but they get my approval as a language teacher. Everything you see here is backed by solid language learning principles, so you can trust that they are good investments of your time and treasure.
For learners of any age:
Audiobooks in Portuguese
I’ve written before about how audiobooks can be a secret weapon for homeschool language learning, and we have found them to be a welcome addition to our Portuguese study! We’ve purchased a few of our kids familiar favorites in Portuguese and like to listen to them with the (English-language) book in front of us (for the picture clues). If you have access to these books with Portuguese text, even better! So far, we’ve enjoyed:
Books by ABC Multicultural (best for younger learners)
By far the biggest frustration I’ve faced in homeschooling Brazilian Portuguese has been the challenge of finding quality, affordable literature to read to my kids. Currently, there just aren’t that many Portuguese children’s books available in the U.S.. However, thanks to the work of Ana Cristina Gluck of ABC Multicultural, families like mine now have access to authentic picture books in Portuguese. A bilingual mom herself, Ana founded her publishing house as a way to share her home language with her children, and has steadily grown ABC Multicultural’s offerings over the years. We own a number of her books, which we use in conjunction with our Linguacious cards for vocabulary building and language exposure. They are written in simple language that would be appropriate for Portuguese learners with a year or so under their belts (or Spanish speakers who have had some exposure to Portuguese).
The majority of ABC Multicultural’s books are available for free as a part of the Kindle Unlimited program (which offers a free 30-day trial), but they’re also reasonably priced as individual Kindle books, with most costing between $1-2. Here’s a few that we’ve enjoyed and recommend:
O gato comeu recounts the tricks of a very mischievous cat. This is an ideal book for beginning Portuguese learners, as the language is very simple and the illustrations are very particularly helpful in understanding the story. It also teaches a finger game to go along with the text, which is a great way to draw in young language learners and get them participating in the reading!
Uni duni tê tells a story built around a popular children’s rhyme (the Brazilian version of “eeny, menu, miny, moe”) and can help children learn to recognize syllables in Portuguese.
iTalki is an amazing resources for homeschoolers looking for affordable conversation practice. For just a few dollars an hour, iTalki will connect you with one of their experienced language instructors, who will provide age-appropriate and customized tutoring sessions to your child via Skype or another platform of your choosing. You get to choose the tutor and the schedule that works best for you, which ensures a great fit for your family. We’re using iTalki this year to give my kindergartener some basic conversation practice in Portuguese and help him learn more about Brazil (from his Brazilian teacher!).
Music in Portuguese
We use our subscription to Amazon Music Unlimited to listen to our family favorites in Portuguese during playtime or, for more focused listening, in the car. I seriously can’t say enough about how much this affordable monthly subscription enriches our homeschool. Not only do we use it for Portuguese learning, but also Spanish learning, composer study, hymn study, and elaborate playtimes—like playing “knights and castles” alongside the Braveheart soundtrack. Epic.
I have sung the praises of Linguacious flashcards before—here’s my full length review—so I won’t repeat myself, but I will say that after a year of owning these, I am still really pleased with how many ways we have been able to use them in our homeschool. And perhaps more importantly, my kids still like using them! Using these flashcards to play interactive games is an excellent way to build a foundational vocabulary for any language learner, and because they’re pictorial, you can use them with even the youngest homeschoolers in your crew.
This isn’t a resource that I’ve had a chance to use yet, but it’s scheduled to arrive in my mailbox next week and I can’t wait! I love the approach of this curriculum: it is practical and hands on, and teaches a second language in a very natural way—by teaching mom to use the language with her kids in everyday situations. Since I focus so much of my mental energy on speaking Spanish consistently with my kids, I do need a bit of scaffolding and encouragement to use Portuguese in real life (even as a fluent speaker). I’m hoping that Talkbox Mom will provide that when I get my hands on it in a few months!
For older learners (all pictured above):
This book is specifically designed to teach Spanish speakers how to read and write in Portuguese, and it’s one of the most helpful resources that I used as an adult Portuguese learner. It’s a combination grammar textbook and workbook, so plenty of practice exercises are included, and for a high school student who is learning Portuguese, it would provide at least a full year’s worth of curriculum. It is laser-focused on teaching grammar—so no fancy photographs or cultural learning tidbits are included—but it gets the job done. Importantly, it also includes a reference grammar in its appendices—which is helpful given that most other Portuguese grammar books on the market are exorbitantly expensive ($70 or more).
Portuguese Vocabulary Cards
For children who can read, this set of 1,000 Portuguese flashcards cards is a helpful tool for building vocabulary, particularly with verbs and adjectives (which the Linguacious sets generally do not include). The flashcards aren’t anything fancy, but they can be made more engaging with a few simple tricks: have your children sort the adjectives into synonyms and antonyms, pick a set of 5 verbs and have your child practice conjugating them in different tenses, or choose 10 cards at random and have your child illustrate them. You can also use any of these games to help your child practice his new vocabulary.
Talking Brazilian: A Brazilian Portuguese Pronunciation Workbook
Anyone who has heard Brazilian Portuguese spoken knows that it doesn’t sound much like American English. Nasal sounds and sing-song intonation are just two distinguishing characteristics of this language—and two that don’t come naturally to those of us raised in the U.S. Enter Talking Brazilian, a step-by-step guide to perfecting your pronunciation. This workbook of listening and speaking exercises comes with a CD and can be paired with any curriculum that your older child is using (I paired it with Pois não for myself).
If you have any other Brazilian Portuguese resources, please share them here!