Portuguese Language Programs Abroad

Back to Programs

A Guide to Portuguese Language Programs Abroad

Portuguese is right behind Spanish and French as the most popular Romance language. It is also a gateway to samba, beaches, steakhouses, colonial history, and more. As an added bonus, Portuguese is a very easy language to learn, with solid conjugations, easy grammar, and logical vocabulary. So whether you’re looking to put on your dancing shoes and soccer cleats in Brazil, scuba dive in Mozambique, or hike to some epic castles in Portugal, pour yourself a glass of vinho verde and start reviewing notes for your first Portuguese language course abroad.


Spoken across three continents, Portuguese language courses are possible in a variety of locations; the problem will be actually choosing just one place to study Portuguese abroad. Brazil is huge, Angola and Mozambique are difficult to get to, and Portugal is the most expensive. At the same time, all four of these locations are real life paradises, so there are many more factors you should consider before deciding where to enroll in Portuguese language courses. 

Brazil. The biggest country in South America and home to excellent steak, lively rhythms, sandy coastlines, and enthusiastic futebol fans, Brazil is one happenin’ place. There are intensive Portuguese language schools in practically every city throughout the country. Typically, the north shows more African influence, while the south is more metropolitan and industrial. The center of Brazil is full of grasslands and rolling hills, while the east has some amazing beaches and dunes. There really isn’t a “wrong” city for Portuguese languages courses in Brazil.

Portugal. Sitting on the western coast of the Iberian peninsula is Portugal, birthplace of the Portuguese language. Home to castles, excellent port wine, and golden beaches, Portuguese language programs in Portugal offer students a unique experience of the language. Ocean breezes singing through its gently-lit cobblestone streets, laid-back Lisbon offers a glimpse into a vibrant past and promising future. Other popular cities for Portuguese language courses around Portugal include Porto, which is the second largest city set along the River Douro, and Faro, with its impressively-preserved ruins despite the 1700’s earthquake. Any Portuguese city offers delightful buildings with tile exteriors, historical monuments, and patê de sardinha to accompany your aperitivo.

Mozambique. Located on the southeastern coast of Africa, Mozambique is a land of coastlines (notice a theme among Portuguese-speaking countries?), palm trees, and adventure. Not incredibly popular for most travelers, Mozambique is a breath of fresh air in terms of getting off the beaten path. With well-preserved coral reefs and a teeming landscapes filled with elephants and lions, this is a great place to not only learn Portuguese, but have an adventure waiting right outside your classroom door.

Portuguese Language Programs

Portuguese language programs tend to follow stereotypical classroom curriculum, with main variations occurring in course length, class sizes, and optional extras. Universities offer traditional classes, while Portuguese language schools and long-term immersion programs have customization options in how students want their classes run; it’s up to your learning style!

University Courses. Intensive Portuguese language programs run by universities offer a number of benefits. The main benefit being accreditation, which means transferable course credits while partaking in the fun and ease of learning Portuguese in a Portuguese-speaking country. The other pro of university-run Portuguese language courses are extracurricular activities, such as cooking lessons, dance classes, and conversation socials. Universities often have a more traditional class setting, which comes with stricter schedules, potential sign-up fees, and bigger class sizes.

Private Language Schools that run independently from higher education institutions give students more customization, especially in terms of time commitment. While most Portuguese language classes will be offered in group settings, a lot of private language schools also offer one-on-one tutoring that can invaluable to those looking to gain Portuguese fluency quickly (they also offer free “language exchange” options frequently, which can amount to the same thing). The challenge with Portuguese language schools is that most don’t offer accommodation, and it can be hard to get courses accredited at a university back home (but don’t forget about placement tests!). Portuguese language schools differ in costs, as rates are calculated by weekly class hours, but most are cheaper than attending a university.

Immersion Programs. These types of Portuguese language programs are typically on-site for six months to a year. This is best type of program for those who are either majoring in Portuguese, want to gain native-level fluency, or just have a lot of time on their hands. Doing a long-term Portuguese program will be the most expensive and time consuming option for learning Portuguese abroad, but since it is an easy language to learn, students will be at near-native speaking level by the time they finish.

Tips for Gaining Portuguese Fluency

Because of its presence around the globe, there are an infinite number of resources for Portuguese language learners to draw on for practice. Whether it’s axé in Brazil, reading a newspaper on a beach in Mozambique, or reading the museum signs in Portugal, it’s easy to immerse yourself in the Portuguese language all around the globe. 

One of the biggest, and maybe the most obvious, hacks for learning Portuguese is to listen to music. Brazil is home to some of the most beautiful music in the world: samba, forro, bossa nova, and many more styles. Diving deep into Portuguese music is more fun than educational at times. In general, music in Portuguese is sung at an easy-to-understand pace, so language learners will have an easy time picking out individual words and phrases.

The other big thing that gives Portuguese language learning a kick in the butt is to live with a host family. Breathing and sleeping Portuguese is the best way to learn it quickly, and the only way to truly do that is to live with a family. It’s just a side bonus that most food in the Portuguese-speaking world is amazing, and homestays will offer good conversations over delicious dinners.

The Brazilian film industry has produced some amazing movies over the past five decades. For all the cinephiles out there, this is a built-in way to immerse yourself in Brazilian culture and the Portuguese language. From City of God to Central Station, most Brazilian movies are easy to find online and a great way to study the different accents and slang from around the country.

Benefits & Challenges

Understanding the Portuguese World. Sure, you can get a feel for what Cape Verde or Angola is like by visiting. However, by learning Portuguese abroad, you can understand the ins and outs of what makes these countries tick. For example, there is a term in Brazilian Portuguese (saudades) which, very simply,  means to miss something; but, that’s like saying Star Wars is about a farm boy with a laser sword. The connection between linguistics and culture is an interesting investigation into traditions and history.

The Love-Hate Relationship with Spanish. For those with a background in Spanish, the beginning of Portuguese will be very easy, as many of the conjugations and vocabulary are similar. However, knowing Spanish might also get confusing, and it’ll take extra caution to keep the two language separate. Additional words of warning: Brazilians can become offended if a foreigner speaks Spanish to them, assuming the national language of Brazil is Spanish, so don’t make that mistake.

Accents. Brazilian Portuguese is very different (and evolves in its own direction every day) from the Portuguese spoken in Portugal and Africa, which makes choosing where to study Portuguese abroad a bit difficult, as Brazil has the most speakers. However, understanding Portuguese-Portuguese after learning Brazilian Portuguese can be tough. On the other hand, this lets you blame all mispronunciations and funky intonations on linguistic distinctions in other Portuguese countries, so it’s not all bad.

Taking Portuguese language courses abroad will not only immerse you in some of the most fascinating countries in the world, it can also help you accomplish a year’s worth of work in mere months. Furthermore, you’ll be able to talk to 220 million more people, and there’s not a country where Portuguese is natively spoken that isn’t beleza (beauty). What are you waiting for?

Read More

written by:

A Guide To
Portuguese Language Programs Abroad


 Find Portuguese Language Courses Abroad


This listing has been saved 2 times

Languages Abroad

Experience one of the best Portuguese language immersion programs with Languages Abroad's Live and Learn program in Lisbon, Portugal! Lisbon is a remarkably safe capital city and a perfect place to learn Portuguese in Portugal. The school is located in the city center of Lisbon and also has another two study locations across the city, all located around the Saldanha Square area and close to ...


This listing has been saved 2 times

Iberlínguas - Portuguese Courses

Welcome to Iberlínguas! We are a specialized Portuguese language school in Lisbon, always welcoming new students and forging new friendships. Our young and dynamic team of teachers create a sociable, family environment in which you won't just learn a language, but live a language! When the time comes to say goodbye to our students, they leave us with "saudade" of their own.


This listing has been saved 2 times

Rio de Janeiro Intensive Portuguese Language Program

In this six-week, eight-credit program, students complete the equivalent of one year of Portuguese language at the intermediate level in Rio, known as the cidade maravilhosa: the marvelous city. Excursions to sites within the city complement the classroom learning and allow students to discover this spectacular city and its world-renowned beauty.


This listing has been saved 2 times

Language Vacation

Learn Portuguese in Porto,enjoy your Portuguese learning vacation in Portugal's second largest city on the river Rio Douro. The city has a number of distinctive districts, the quarter along the riverside known as the Ribeira is full of narrow twisting streets with houses once painted or tiled in colorful facades, at night you will find bustling "tascas" and restaurants. Porto lies on the ...


Study Portuguese in internacional atmostphere

What sets your program apart from other programs? aprenda² is a small school where students can easily feel at home while learning. You will also enjoy the international atmosphere as it provides rich and passionate cultural exchanges. The staff will always be present and helpful if you have any problems, and always does the utmost to adapt to each student. The lessons are made with our own de...


This listing has been saved 12 times

Travellers Worldwide

These are our "Off The Wall" projects that focus on language and culture - the out of ordinary, the different and the crazy! These projects are uncommon, exciting, fun and beneficial at the same time! They don't fall into the normal categories of teaching or work experience or conservation. So if you like the unusual or the quirky, you might find something here to suit you. ARGENTINA: * Lea...


This listing has been saved 4 times

Portuguese Classes in Brazil

CI Experience Brazil collaborates with some of the best schools for international students in Brazil. These schools and language centers offer students the opportunity not only to learn the beautiful Portuguese language, but also to learn from experienced teachers while immersing in the fabulous culture. This exciting program is a fantastic way to embark on an unforgettable Brazilian adventu...


This listing has been saved 33 times

Center For Study Abroad (CSA) - Direct Low Cost - Budget

Study this summer in beautiful Florianopolis at the Universidad do Sul de Santa Catarina, where Portuguese language and Brazilian culture courses are offered and taught in English for the months of June and July. Located on the island of Santa Catarina, the Florianopolis University campus is close to many beaches like Praia do Sonho. For those who love the sea, Florianopolis is a unique and saf...


Study Portuguese Language in Brazil, Salvador

Study Portuguese, one of the world’s most romantic and widely spoken languages, in Salvador - a city in Brazil famous for its fascinating blend of Portuguese colonial architecture, tropical coastline, and Afro-Brazilian culture. Basica Lingua offers intensive Portuguese programs designed for students looking to study the language while immersing in Brazilian culture. Classes are conducted in...


Portuguese and Volunteering in Brazil with Freepackers

Participate in rewarding volunteer projects in Brazil while following Portuguese classes with Freepackers! This program offers language courses at all levels and allows you to get involved in side-projects at the same time. Participants can choose to volunteer in orphanages or homes for abused children, or with one of our medical partners. Our school and placements are located in the picturesqu...