While growing up in Portugal, my favorite TV program was Cartoon Network. I woke up early on Saturdays to watch the Power Puff Girls, Samurai Jack, and Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends… In English. With no subtitles.
I and many other people my age were exposed to English early on, which allowed us to start getting used to the language while relatively young. This, allied with the fact that it’s uncommon to dub films in Portugal, made learning English a lot easier for a lot of people.
While there aren’t a lot of widely available cartoons made in Portugal, there’s a wide variety of dubbed cartoons. In this article, we’ll cover cartoons for all ages.
Where Do You Watch These Cartoons?
Especially if you’re not in Portugal, getting access to Portuguese cartoons can be hard if you don’t know where to look. But fear not! There are solutions.
RTP (Rádio e Televisão de Portugal) is Portugal’s public service broadcasting organization, and it’s done a wonderful job in making shows and films available and accessible to the public. One of the ways they do this is through RTP Play, a platform that carries a free catalog of their media. The children’s section of RTP Play is Zigzag play, which you could access through a VPN.
There are subscription-based websites like Filmin — which has a kid’s section and some animated films — the well-known Disney + or Netflix, and zero em comportamento — a cultural association focused on bringing lesser-distributed movies to a wider audience.
Through these websites and YouTube, you’ll have access to a lot of the suggested shows and movies.
CartoonsPortuguese television has been broadcasting cartoons since the 60s. There were specific time slots for kid’s shows in public channels like RTP, SIC, and TVI in the beginning, and later channels dedicated to children's content like Canal Panda and Cartoon Network were created and became available with cable.
While there were laws that limited the type of TV programs that could be dubbed, today most TV for children is dubbed. So, let’s look into some cartoons!
Puffin Rock (3-6 years old)
Puffin Rock is an Irish cartoon about a puffin living on an island with her family and friends, and going on adventures where she can help those around her. The episodes are about 15 minutes each, and the animation style is charming. This is the perfect pleasant and easy-to-watch cartoon for you and your young child to watch together.
The show was nominated for an International Emmy and won two Kidscreen Awards and a Royal Television Award and is available on Netflix.
Coelhos Corajosos (3-6 years old)
Coelhos Corajosos (or Brave Bunnies in the original) is a Ukrainian animated show in which a family of bunnies embarks on a road trip and makes friends with creatures that look very different from them.
It’s a wonderful show for young children to learn how to interact with different people, and now it’s available on RTP2.
Era Uma Vez a Vida (7+ years old)
Era Uma Vez a Vida is a cartoon familiar to many generations of Portuguese people. It’s an educational cartoon about the human body. Each episode focuses on a different organ or system of the body. There are human characters, as well as anthropomorphic representations of bodily components such as enzymes or blood plackets.
This cartoon is originally French and came out in 1987, and it recently ran on RTP2. The fact that it’s been broadcast for so long and is still relevant is a testament to its quality. It’s available on RTP Play.
As Aventuras de Ladybug (7+ years old)
As Aventuras de Ladybug (Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir in English) is a widely loved cartoon that tells the story of two Parisian teenagers who turn into superheroes to shield the city from evil. It’s available on RTP Play and Netflix.
It’s a French show that has acquired quite a large young adult and adult audience. So, especially if you’ve already seen the show, rewatching the Portuguese version will be a particularly good exercise in language learning. Maybe even try it without the subtitles!
Destemidas (12+ years old)
Based on the webcomic by Pénélope Bagieu, the Mini-series Destemidas (Cullottées in the original, Brazen in English) tells the stories of 30 female figures who changed history. Each episode focuses on one woman and includes people like Hedy Lamarr, Leymah Gbowee, and Josephine Baker.
The animation style is beautiful, and it’s worth watching even if you’re an adult. The show is probably better for a teenage and up audience, as some episodes deal with topics such as abortion, homosexuality, feminism, divorce, and religion.
Todos os Patinhos (Any age)
This last recommendation is for signaling bedtime for any child (or adult). It’s a song that was played at the end of the RTP2 cartoon time slot to tell the kids that were watching that the cartoons were over and it was time for bed. I think I was conditioned to get sleepy when hearing this song — that’s how powerful it is.
The song is, essentially, a duck performance. A little duck in a sailor’s outfit walks onto a theater stage to sing about how the ducklings finished playing, put their pajamas on, and brushed their teeth (beaks?) to go to bed — because it’s time to sleep!
Some Final Words…
This is by no means a comprehensive list of the best cartoons in Portuguese. That would be an impossible and far too subjective task. Instead, I chose to ensure the cartoons are accessible to anyone and to focus on a wide range of ages.
Passive learning through listening to a target language is a great way to absorb information with little effort. You and your child will get used to sounds in that language, learn how sentences are structured, and have a gauge for your progress.
Hopefully, these cartoons will help in that Portuguese learning journey.
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