Language – Part I

Brazilians speak Portuguese and unlike the language spoken in Portugal, it is not as harsh.  To me, their language is a sweet sounding spoken word similar to an Italian melody.  I must warn you again though, that in a country of over 199 million people (per the 2013 population census), Brazil is 95% Portuguese.  Comparatively, very few people speak English although there are many, many language schools located throughout this vast country.

I am a TEFL (Teach English as a Second Language) Instructor so I had an opportunity to teach

Portuguese Students at London School of English

Portuguese Students at London School of English

business executives in their offices as well as to teach students in the classroom.  However learning English is a benefit of the more fortunate.  So the ordinary citizen would not have access to such a luxury.  In fact, I found that the majority of the people I met are aware of the need to speak English because of the upcoming World Cup in June 2014 and the Olympics in 2016.  But most feel helpless, blaming the Brazilian government for doing little to nothing to prepare the people for the influx of visitors coming to their country, from around the world, to enjoy the games.

Most often, I found the average Brazilian embarassed when I spoke to them in English.  They would back up and say with an embarassed look on their faces, “Eu não falo Inglês,”  (I don’t speak English) or they would apologise fearing that they would speak so inadequately.  However with a bit of coaching, they would learn a sentence or two and be quite proud of themselves.  What was more difficult for me was when I went into a restaurant and they didn’t have an English menu.  It was very frustrating because most often, none of the staff in the restaurant spoke any English.  So make sure that goggle transate or your favorite internet translater is available to you at all times.  If not, you can do as I did.  I would use a translator to request the information, service or supply I needed, I would then print off the Portuguese translation, and take it to the store clerk or the person I needed to communicate with, to get what I wanted.  It was not always the best decision, but since my Brazilian friends were working and were not always available to me, I had to work it out as best I could since I had travelled there without knowing a word of Portuguese.

What I enjoyed most was to teach my English to someone in exchange for learning Portuguese.  Their language is “muito complicado” (very complicated) since a word can be spelled one way and yet have two specific pronounciations, like “bon dia” (good morning or good day) which is surprisingly pronounced ‘bon gee-a.’  I was able to learn enough to satsfy my basic needs.  But now that I am not using the language, I am losing it fast.

You will notice that speaking English will earn you lots of friends, and sometimes many unwanted friends.  But generally, the Brazilian admires the English speaking person.  Let me forewarn you again however, that they call anyone who speaks English, American (smile).  I often had to clarify my citizenship when someone would boldly introduce me as being from America.  There would be a humble apology and a laugh or two but no harm was done and we just moved on until it happened again. However if you are interested in learning some basic phrases that you can use while there, feel free to go to this website located at: <a href=””>Basic Portuguese Phrases</a>.