Courses in Portuguese for Speakers of Other Languages, in particular for adult immigrants, have been steadily expanding in Portugal over the last 15 years. These programmes aim to promote educational and labour market integration, access to Portuguese nationality, and cognitive development. This paper argues that official
Portuguese learning policies have mainly targeted a population with an immigrant background that fails to represent the full range of adult immigrants’ needs. In particular, less educated adult immigrants’ educational needs have been persistently neglected. Considering that, hitherto, approximately 9% of trainees have been adult immigrants with little or no schooling, this group has not received sufficient attention in policy measures,
nor has it been fully accommodated in institutional terms. As a starting point, the paper identifies the place of adult immigrant literacy in international and national discussions. Subsequently, it discusses the main official programmes offering Portuguese for Speakers of Other Languages to adult immigrants. The data from the main programmes were backed up by fieldwork, in particular interviews carried out with teachers and public officials which highlight the main barriers and strategies impacting on this group. Finally, we argue that programmes should consider tailormade solutions, given the counterproductive heterogeneity of classes and the arbitrariness of informal procedures.