March 20, 2022
By Audrey Conjat and Railane Louven. Translated by Alex McGery.
Have you ever considered learning Portuguese?
Maybe you haven’t personally considered learning Portuguese, but thousands of foreigners have and followed through to the end!
Do you remember that churrasco* where you couldn’t join in with the Portuguese conversation and had to fade into the background, barely speaking a word? Integration can be very difficult if you can’t speak the language. In Brazil, only 5% of the population have some knowledge of English, and only 1% speak it fluently. Speaking Portuguese therefore, will help you to get to know more people, make new friends and help you to stay in the foreground at that next churrasco.
English may serve you well in particularly touristy places, however, if you want to really get to know Brazil and stray from the beaten path, Portuguese is a must. Even for simple acts such as booking a hotel or buying food, you will need to have some basic communication skills.
Although our familiar friend Google Translate may help you to some extent, many areas in Brazil have little or no internet coverage and you will therefore not be able to rely on having the service at hand.
Brazilian culture is one of the richest in the world. A mix of indigenous, European Portuguese and African culture, the country has very strong and diverse traditions. You will be surprised to discover the sheer variety of food, music, dance and even religions that can be found in Brazil, but without an ability to speak the local language, your appreciation of the culture will be limited.
Yes indeed ! There are approximately 250 million Portuguese speakers in the world, most of whom live in Brazil. However Portuguese speakers are also present in Mozambique, Angola, Guinea Bissau, East Timor, Equatorial Guinea, Macao, Cape Verde, Sao Tome and Principe and of course Portugal. This may seem unremarkable, but for many it is not. Instituto aprenda² receives many students who consider Portuguese as a useful perk, allowing them to make deals and to set-up businesses of their own while being able to connect to other Portuguese speaking countries. Aside from this, being able to speak Portuguese may open up new job opportunities in your country of origin with companies that interact with the Brazilian market.
Even though the Brazilian economy is not doing its best at the moment, Brazil remains well seen by multinationals and small international companies. Instituto aprenda² often receives foreign businessmen who come to live and work in Brazil temporarily; in such a case, learning Portuguese is an imperative.
As a consequence of globalisation, many people are leaving their home countries in search for better or more challenging job opportunities than the ones that may be on offer in their respective countries. This is an especially common scenario for young adults. In Brazil, there is a shortage of skilled labour workers, whereas in many European countries, the economical situation is such that there aren’t many opportunities for young people. Areas with skilled labour shortages tend to hire many foreigners who possess the right work profile to meet the demand. For example, a few years ago the Brazilian government created the Mais Médicos programme in order to tackle the lack of medical staff in the countryside and periferias (poor areas in the outskirts of cities) of Brazil. This attracted many foreign doctors to the country. However, in order to work in Brazil they had to learn Portuguese and provetheir proficiency in the language. One of the ways in which you can do so is through the exam CELPE-BRAS. As well as in Brazil, speaking Portuguese can open doors in many other lusophone (portuguese speaking) countries. By participating in our ALEGRIA SOCIAL INTENSIVE course, one of our former students, Lucie, was able to ascertain a Visto de Estudante (VITEM IV) (Student visa necessary to stay for more than 3 months in Brazil). With her newly acquired Portuguese skills she went on to work in a high position at the Lisbon International Film Festival.
What makes a successful or unsuccessful expatriation?
According to an article by Kelly Ross, a learning and talent strategist, a successful expatriate is somebody with flexibility (the capacity to “try new ways of doing things”) and open-mindedness (the “ability to look at the new environment with a despite to learn about and understand it, and an interest in seeing things differently). Undoubtedly, learning Portuguese will help you to avoid language barriers and some of the potential cultural shocks that you may encounter, but not only this. The process of learning itself will actually reshape your brain, giving you a bigger capacity for flexibility and open mindedness, therefore contributing considerably to your success as an expatriate.
I crossed the ocean for love:
With the Internet, meeting and keeping in touch with people miles away has become much easier. Many of our students enrol because they are in a relationship with or married to a Brazilian and need to communicate with their significant other’s family. In such situations, learning Portuguese is vital! Then, there are those who come visit friends and decide to learn Portuguese while they are here.
Some of our students enroll in our Portuguese classes for foreigners simply because it is a rich and varied language, with a trove of phonemes, which aid in the acquisition of other foreign languages.
In order to verify the claims made above, we have asked our students to answer the following question :
Why learn Portuguese in Brazil ?
Here are some of the responses :
Note: Having received an overwhelming amount of responses, we couldn’t publish them all. The names of the students have been kept secret for reasons of confidentiality.
The financial company I work for opened two new branches in two foreign countries, one of which is in Brazil.Seen as I am the chief executive of the Brazilian branch, I had to move to Brazil so as to develop and promote the company. In order to do so, I need to learn to speak and understand Brazilian Portuguese.
It became evident upon arrival in Rio de Janeiro, that I would have to learn Portuguese. You will need more than French or English to truly appreciate the Carioca lifestyle, make friends, and experience the local culture. In order to reap the most from this experience, you must study Portuguese.
When the Brazilian economy was growing, at the break of globalization, English and Chinese were the most sought after. However, you shouldn’t pass by the opportunity to learn Portuguese. And why Brazil ? Who doesn’t like a good meal, great people, and beautiful beaches?
Learning Portuguese is personally enriching ; I think it is always interesting to learn new things.
I wanted to build relationships with Brazilians and to have the opportunity to share many things with them. This is why Portuguese was an absolute must.
And for those of you interested in an immersion into Brazilian language and culture, we invite you to stop by one of our schools, Instituto aprenda²! We have two schools : one in Sao Paulo and one in Rio de Janeiro! We also offer CELPE-BRAS preparation courses, if a diploma is what you seek. Feel free to visit our website or to send us an email, so we can send you all the information you require!
São Paulo: email@example.com
Rio de Janeiro: firstname.lastname@example.org
What have you thought of this list? Do you agree? Disagree? As a foreigner, are you interested in learning Portuguese? Have you studied it before?
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