Category Archives for "Language"

5 Great FREE Brazilian Movies With English Subtitles

And They Are All On YouTube (for now)

For many people, the toughest part of learning a foreign language is understanding what people are saying. We aren’t used to different sounds and tones.

One great way to practice your listening comprehension is music. Every language has its own rhythm. So it makes sense that a country’s music would have the DNA of the language in it.

In the future, I will write about a few great Brazilian artists who will have your ear drums buzzing.

This post is about practicing listening through videos. Watching movies is a great way to learn a language because not only are you listening to the language, but you are watching the physical mannerisms of the speakers as well.

Many times, you might not know exactly what someone is saying to you in Portuguese, but based on the words you did understand combined with their gestures, you will be able to make an educated guess.

The popular saying that communication is 85% non-verbal is true.

YouTube has a few great, free Brazilian movies with English subtitles.

When you become more advanced, watching the film with Portuguese subtitles will be the next step. The last goal is to be able to watch the films with no subtitles at all and still getting the main gist of the dialogue.

So, check out these free Brazilian movies with English subtitles that I cosign to the fullest.

Related Article: Semantica Portuguese: The #1 Online Brazilian Portuguese Course

NOTE: Sometimes movies are removed from YouTube, so if you come across this article in the future and a movie is no longer available, leave a comment below and I will try to update it with a new link or maybe even a new movie.

1. Bus 174 (No longer on YouTube)

Bus 174 is a gritty documentary about the tragic life of Sandro do Nascimento, a young Afro-Brazilian man who hijacked a Rio de Janeiro city bus in 2000.

The film takes a detailed look into the sociological reasons for why Sandro decided to commit the crime. The filmmakers interview his family, childhood friends and people who tried to help Sandro throughout his life.

What makes this documentary so interesting to me is that the entire standoff is caught on tape from beginning to the end; it was broadcast live to the world.

The footage of the hijacking not only showed the despair of Brazil’s poor class and street dwellers, but it also exposed the incompetence of the Rio de Janeiro police department.

2. Proibido Proibir (No longer on YouTube)

Proibido Proibir or Forbidden to Forbid is a tale about three university students and how their lives intertwine with people who are in less fortunate situations.

Actor Alexandre Rodrigues, who played the main character Rocket in City Of God, stars in the film.

Below is a brief plot summary from IMDb.

“The story of three friends in Rio de Janeiro: Leon (Alexandre Rodrigues), a sociology student; his girlfiend Leticia (Maria Flor), an architecture student; and Paulo (Caio Blat), a medical student and Leon’s best friend and roommate.

Although Paulo finds himself attracted to Leticia, his friendship with Leon prevents him from acting on his feelings. When Rosalind (EdyrDuqui), a leukemia patient at the hospital where Paulo interns, asks him to get in touch with her sons, the three friends are pulled out of their relatively tranquil lives and drawn into the violence and police corruption in one of Rio’s infamous favelas.”

3. Minha Mãe É Uma Peça (No Longer on Youtube)

To lighten the mood, the third movie on this list is a comedy.

Minha Mãe É Uma Peça or My Mother Is A Character, is a 2013 Brazilian comedy starring Paulo Gustavo. While watching this movie for the first time, it was difficult not to compare it to the Tyler Perry movies featuring his popular character Madea.

But it’s a fair comparison.

Minha Mãe follows an average day in the life of Dona Hermínia who lives in Niteroí, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It was a huge hit in Brazil; more than 4 million Brazilians saw the film in theaters and made it the most watched film in 2013.

The sequel will be in theaters early February, 2016.

4. Central Do Brasil

A collaboration between France and Brazil resulted in Central Do Brasil (Central Station in the English market), a heart-felt drama about a boy living in the streets who is taken in by a bitter, retired school teacher.

Central Do Brasil is ranked No. 57 in Empire magazine’s “The 100 Best Films of World Cinema” in 2010, according to Wikipedia.

Read below for a quick plot review from Empire magazine.

“An odd couple movie, in essence, Central do Brasil sees a hoary old ex-schoolmarm taking a lost child whose mother has died off for an adventure – an adventure to find his father.

Over the course of their journey they bicker and fight and deal with the increasingly awful setbacks that come their way, all with such heartfelt and genuine delivery that it’s easy to see why the two were showered with prizes after its release.

Its simple premise belies the complexity in this beautiful pair of characters, prickly and authentic. It’s touching, beautifully shot, wonderfully scored, and even has time to show the dark underside of Brazil while it’s at it.”

5. Bicho de Sete Cabeças (No Longer on Youtube)

I haven’t seen the last film on this list, but I’ve read awesome reviews for it. Bicho de Sete Cabeças or Brainstorm, is a film about the mental institution system in Brazil and how Brazilian society deals with drug use.

It also takes a look at a strained relationship between father and son.

From a foreign review on IMDb:

“A trip to the mental institution hell. This odyssey is lived by Neto, a middle class teenager, who lives a normal life until his father sends him to a mental institution after finding drugs on his pocket.

The marijuana cigarette is just the final drop that exposes the family tragedy. Send to a mental institution, Neto gets to know a completely absurd, inhumane reality in which the people are devoured by a corrupt and cruel institution system.

The documentary type language used by the director give this movie a sensation of realty that increases even more the impact of the emotions Neto goes through. In the mental institution, Neto is forced to mature. The transformations that he goes through change this relations with his father.”

Don’t Go To Rio Just To Eat McDonalds

Don’t Eat Cheeseburgers & French Fries

You see that picture above?

Those are coxinhas my friend. Tasty, breaded treats stuffed with chicken. Top it off with ketchup and I’m in heaven. They are my favorite Brazilian snack to pick up on the go if I don’t have time to sit down and eat a real meal.

On my first trip to Rio, I made the mistake of sticking to fast food places I was used too. I stayed in an apartment on Rua Miguel Lemos in Copacabana; if you are familiar with the area you know there is a McDonald’s, KFC and other American fast food restaurants nearby.

Luckily, I had a Brazilian connect who took me out one night and introduced me to popular, Brazilian food. If it wasn’t for her, I would have spent my whole trip eating cheeseburgers and french fries.

That would have been a disaster.

Learn A New Culture Through It’s Food

You’re in Brazil! Eat like a Brazilian.

One of the best ways to understand a new culture and country is through its food. I’m a big fan of the Travel channel series No Reservations starring Anthony Bourdain. Bourdain travels the world, tasting the best foods of each country he lands in.

Every episode begins with him not understanding anything about the foreign culture. But by the end of the show, he leaves with an appreciation for the country and its people. Everyone needs to eat. When you are in a different country, its best to satisfy your hunger with the foreign cuisine. You may not like every Brazilian dish you taste, but with more knowledge of why Brazilians eat certain foods, you’ll understand their culture more.

How To Order Food In Brazil

It’s a piece of cake to order food. The two basic verbs you need to know to order anything in Brazil are QUERER and GOSTAR DE. Check out examples using both verbs.

QUERER – To Want

Location – A small, local boteco

Me: Oi bom dia, eu quero duas coxinha por favor. (Hi, good morning, I want two coxinhas please.)


Location – A semi-fancy restaurant

Me: Boa noite garçom. Eu gostaria de pedir uma feijoada por favor. (Good evening waiter. I would like to order feijoada please.)

Useful Restaurant Vocabulary

  • a conta – the check, bill
  • o cardápio – menu
  • entrada – appetizer
  • estar pronto(a) – to be ready
  • fumante/nao-fumante – smoking/non-smoking
  • gorjeta – tip
  • janela – window
  • volte sempre – come back soon

Menu/Utensil Vocabulary

  • frutos do mar – seafood
  • carnes – meat
  • aves – poultry
  • sobremesa – desserts
  • bebidas – drinks
  • sanduíche – sandwich
  • o copo – glass
  • a combuca – bowl
  • a faca – knife
  • o garfo – fork
  • a colher – spoon
  • a garrafa – bottle
  • o guardanapo – napkin
  • o palito – toothpick
  • o prato – plate

Useful Phrases

  • Como está a comida? – How is the food?
  • Está salgada – It is salty
  • Está apimentada – It is spicy
  • Está gordurosa – It is fattening
  • Está doce – It is sweet
  • Está sem sal – It is unsalted


This is what a typical meal looks like in Brazil:

Learn Portuguese FAST With This One Book

Don’t Waste Your Time

Besides living in Brazil and immersing yourself in the culture, it’s going to take a lot of initiative and dedication to learn Portuguese fast.

It’s extremely easy to waste months by studying lackluster language learning material; it pays to know exactly what you need to learn and the best method to meet your desired fluency level.

So, I’ve written a brief post of the three main avenues you should take during your language learning journey. It’s great if you haven’t started yet, you will be astonished how much you will learn in a couple of months.

If you have already spent months learning, but still aren’t feeling like you are getting anywhere, no worries. You can reprogram your study strategy and start fresh.

1. Learn Portuguese Fast With The Green Book

There are a lot of grammar and language books that claim to offer the essential vocabulary, verb conjugations and communication tips that will have you speaking Portuguese like a Brazilian in the shortest amount of time. But in my three in a half years of studying Portuguese off and on, no grammar book is as thorough as the Modern Brazilian Portuguese Grammar by John Whitlam.

Also known as the “Green Book”, Modern Brazilian Portuguese Grammar teaches every major language communication skill you would ever need to have an in-depth conversation with a Brazilian.


You can also buy the workbook that goes by the same name to test what you learn, but the guidebook is all you really need to perfect your writing and general knowledge of the grammar.

What I really like about the book is that the second section of it has communication scenarios from how to greet someone to how to express your desires or wishes.

This book is really detailed and I will definitely use it for the rest of my life. And it will definitely help you learn Portuguese fast.


2. Beyond The Green Book

To become fluent, you will eventually have to practice speaking Portuguese and hear the sounds out loud by a native speaker.

There are tons of companies like Rosetta Stone and Pimsleur that are popular among language learners, but I haven’t had any real success with their generic content. The past few years have seen a few smaller, lesser known companies that have produced fantastic language learning content for Brazilian Portuguese.

Your ears have to get in tune to the foreign sounds and tones of Portuguese. To learn Portuguese fast, you have to understand what Brazilians are talking about!

Check out the top 2 video/audio sites I recommend below.

Video Language Learning


  • Semantica Portuguese-
    • The blog is free and you can check out their YouTube channel for free clips of their videos. But the monthly and yearly subscription fee is extremely affordable for over 100 videos of native Brazilian conversation. Awesome site for the price and I recommend this video course first.
  • Brazil Pod-
    • This resource is entirely free and it’s quite crazy when you think about it because the amount of quality content you receive should cost you something. But the good people at Brazil Pod have chosen to offer free, excellent material for Brazilian Portuguese students.

3. Speak Like A Brazilian

And finally to get your conversation on point, you have to actually speak the language. I like Italki ( because you can not only hire an affordable native Brazilian teacher to help you converse, you can also find Brazilians for free language exchange. This site is great. Semantica Portuguese also has webcam lessons.

4. OK, So You Might Need One More Book

If you hate memorizing words you will never use, you are like me. To learn Portuguese fast , building relevant vocabulary is a must and you will find a lot of it in the Green Book.

But I have to recommend another awesome book called A Frequency Dictionary of Portuguese by Mark Davies. This dictionary has the top 5,000 most common words in Brazilian Portuguese.

There are also vocabulary boxes every few pages with the most common words in a specific group such as verbs or adjectives.

This book is a must have to strategically memorize the Portuguese words you are going to need to know.

So that’s about it. I could write a book on strategies to learn Brazilian Portuguese (and I think I will, stay tuned), but I think a brief post about the best resources is all you really need to get started on the right foot.

The best way to learn Portuguese fast is to live in Brazil but until you can get down there, doing these three things is your best option. Now get to learning.