If you want to learn Portuguese, the first thing you need to decide is whether you want to speak the European or Brazilian variety. Don't panic though - whichever you learn you'll be understood everywhere, and most sites will indicate the main diferences between the two varieties so that you can understand speakers from both regions. For a quick summary of the main differences see this article or this list.

If you're a complete beginner, you may find it useful to start with an introduction to the pronunciation of Portuguese. It's not very easy to find a good one though. Learning Portuguese has a very clear explanation of the sounds of European Portuguese, but sadly no audio. Look at it and then go to Portuguese language On-line to hear the sounds individually (click on Pronunciation) and in words (click on the green arrow at the bottom of the page).

If you want to hear how sounds are pronounced in Brazilian Portuguese, try Carl Youngblood's site. This does have audio, but annoyingly you have to click on the sounds and wait for them to load one at a time.

There aren't many really good Portuguese sites on the net, and in particular very few which have adequate exercises. The BBC's Quick Fix and Talk Portuguese give a basic introduction to Portuguese for travel, covering both the European and Brazilian varieties, but there's not much practice. Talk Portuguese provides a slideshow with language and explanations, and then some video clips. Make the most of what's there by using the dialogues to create the sort of activities which were recommended in the Learning Tips article, Two steps forward and one step back.

In addition, if you're in Britain, you can also use the TV programmes which accompany the course. You'll find the schedule on the BBC site, or check in our Language Learning News section.

De Tudo Um Pouco is intended as a beginners' course in European Portuguese - but for me it throws too much in at once to be suitable for complete beginners. It's more suited to elementary learners. It's also an annoyingly difficult site to navigate, though there is a navigation guide on the home page. But here are some tips. The world map top left takes you to the Home page, while the book icon leads to a complete glossary of the vocabulary used, and the little man with a spanner takes you to the grammar. The letters and numbers top right take you to the individual lessons, or "episodes". A and B are introductory, and are followed by eight further units. Click on one of the numbers or letters and you'll get a list of the language items (grammar, pronunciation etc )covered in that episode. Click on each one for an explanation, and then click on the green arrow at the bottom to get to the exercises. The speech bubble signal links to the audio. One of the most useful sites on the web, as long as you're not a complete beginner.

Sonia Celegatti Althoff 's site focuses on Brazilian Portuguese and gives a pronunciation guide, grammar explanations, exercises and more. Off putting layout but again, one of the best of a sadly bad bunch.

As you get to the post beginner stage, you can start to test your knowledge of Portuguese verb forms at Verbs On-Line.

At intermediate level, a good resource is the university of Austin's Ta Falado. The course is a series of podcasts, which can be played straight from the computer or downloaded, aimed at helping you to understand spoken Brazilian Portuguese, and focusing also on the pronunciation and grammar. Transcripts of the conversations used in the podcasts can be downloaded in PDF format.

At higher levels check out the different regional accents of both European and Brazilian Portuguese at
Learning Portuguese or try reading and listening to the news on BBCBrasil.com

And if you're a teacher or home-schooling parent looking for tips on methodology, lesson plans and practical activities to use in the classroom, go to our section for Teachers and Parents.