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Brazil - Speaking the Language

The Amerindian community of Brazil accounts for 215 of the languages in the country. However, only a tiny percentage of the Brazilian population actually speaks these languages. An estimated 40,000 out of a population of 202 million people are able to speak their indigenous languages.

Portuguese is the country's official language, a relic of Portuguese colonialism. 180 million Brazilians spoke Portuguese as of 1998. Other languages, such as English, Japanese, Italian, and German, thrive due to an influx of immigrant communities in the country. In addition, a good number of Brazilian nationals speak Spanish in areas that border Spanish-speaking countries.

There is an uneven distribution of English speakers throughout the country. However, it is quite easy to find English speakers in big cities such as São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Brasília, which is why many shopping malls have put up signs in English. Most signs erected during the World Cup and Olympic Games were in English. However, it gets a bit more difficult to communicate in English when you go to the rural parts of Brazil.

According to a report submitted by the Economist Intelligence Unit, Brazil is among the worst countries to do business in, because of the huge language barrier between English and Portuguese speakers. The ability to speak Brazilian Portuguese is really useful when it comes to conducting business in Brazil.

Brazilians are proud of being the only country in South America that speaks Portuguese instead of Spanish. Therefore, many Brazilians find it culturally insensitive when people speak Spanish to them. Oral communication is usually more predominant than written and it is always advised to follow up with a phone call or a visit after sending written messages.

Even though a number of senior and middle ranking Brazilian business executives speak fluent English since most of them completed their studies in English speaking countries, English is not widely spoken and when conducting business with people outside the major commercial cities it is important that you learn Portuguese or hire a translator.

Verbal communication in Brazil can be seen as being dramatic and over-passionate by expats who put a great significance on the maintenance of professional reserve in all circumstances. In Brazil, if you feel something strongly then you have to show it. If you fail to express yourself, it implies a lack of conviction. Body language is taken as the deeply felt belief of the speaker.

Most native Brazilians maintain eye contact when communicating with each other. Although a combination of touch, proximity, and eye contact can be seen as intimidating in some cultures, it is crucial that you adapt to these communication habits as fast as possible, otherwise Brazilians may interpret your reserved nature as unfriendliness.

Television shows are mostly in Portuguese and there are no subtitles. In addition, most of the shows are not dubbed in English. However, Netflix Brazil airs shows with subtitles and some shows have been dubbed in English. Very few public channels air shows with subtitles. However, watching Portuguese shows with English subtitles can help you learn the language, especially the pronunciation of Portuguese words. Contrary to common misconception, there is a distinct difference between European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese.

If you are thinking about learning Portuguese by watching Brazilian TV shows, there are American TV shows that are dubbed in Portuguese. Some of these shows are aired on national TV stations in Brazil. A good example is the popular television show Modern Family that is aired in Portuguese with English subtitles.

Expats who speak and understand both Portuguese and English can easily use their language skills as a means of employment. Corporate organizations are really pushing to have their employees learn English so as to compete effectively in the global market.

Professionals in Brazil who speak English are more attractive to employers than those who do not speak English. According to a recent survey by Catho, Brazilians who speak English have higher salaries than those who only speak Portuguese. Pursuing a career as a language teacher in Brazil can be financially rewarding.

Expats can learn Brazilian Portuguese in the following institutions:

The Carminhos Language Center
phone number: 0055(21)2267-6552.
Address: RuaFarme de Amoedo 135, Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, 22420-020.

Rio & Learn
Skype ID: rioandlearn
Phone: (21) 3547-6392.
Address: RuaSiqueira Campos 16 / SBL 202 Copacabana - Río de Janeiro CEP: 22031-070.

Carioca Languages
WhatsApp: +55 (21) 98847 0797

The Idoma Portuguese School
Phone number: +55.71.2132.6033

Portuguese is the most prevalent language in Brazil. Whether you are a student or professional staying in Brazil, learning Portuguese can help you interact with the locals or seek assistance during an emergency, and can open up doors for you in your professional life.

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