Cross-Cultural Perspectives

5 Reasons to Learn Portuguese

Bom dia! (‘Good morning!’)

Portuguese is the 5th most spoken language in the world, especially due to the Portuguese colonization across South America and Africa, during the XV and XVI centuries. It is an official language of eight countries, Portugal, Brazil, Mozambique, East Timor, Angola, Guinea-Bissau, São Tomé and Principe, and Cape Verde, which form the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLC).

learn portuguese
Photo: old typical Portuguese transport system in Lisbon known as “Eléctrico”, an electrical tram.

Portuguese language is a Romanic language, along with Spanish, French and Italian, for example; this means it originates from Latin, brought to Iberia during the Roman occupation about two thousand years ago.

Some good reasons to learn Portuguese language might be…

– Job advantage: Brazil (whose main language is Portuguese) belongs to the BRIC group, an acronym for ‘Brazil, Russia, India and China’, which means its economy has grown rapidly during the last years. During the next few years, more jobs will open up in Brazil and Brazilian companies will also expand their operations into more countries around the globe. So, you just might find yourself moving to Brazil to work or having a competitive advantage over colleagues at your company if you speak Portuguese;

– Volunteer opportunities: You might have dreams of becoming a volunteer abroad; why not in a Portuguese speaking African country or in East Timor? Many institutions organize annual voluntary missions to promote the development of those countries. Whether you are a doctor, a nurse, a cook, a nutritionist, a teacher or just a simple citizen desiring to help and experience something new and exciting!

– Multi-linguistic: Once you learn how to speak Portuguese, learning Spanish, French and Italian becomes much easier. For example, the word ‘example’ is exemplo in Portuguese, ejemplo in Spanish, esempio in Italian and exemple in French. Actually, a Portuguese can easily learn how to speak Spanish, French, Italian and even English, in part, because of the similarity between many of the words.

– Exotic vacations: Most of the countries that are part of CPLC are beautiful holiday destinations due to their paradisaical and exotic landscapes. So, being able to speak Portuguese might be useful if you are planning on diving into the pure waters of São Tomé e Principe next summer!

– Bring on Portuguese smiles: And of course, you’ll find out that when you visit Portugal, even though most Portuguese people will attempt to speak English, Spanish or French once they realize you are a tourist, every one of them will be pleased and proud to hear you say obrigado (‘thank you’) in a funny way!

One of your main challenges as a Portuguese language student might be the phonetics. From my experiences abroad, judging from hearing and speaking other languages, I can confirm that the Portuguese phonetic is quite different, not only because of the use of nasal vocals, but also because of the way we sometimes pronounce the ‘s’. I fondly remember how hard my French flat mate tried to pronounce my surnames ‘dos Santos Silva’!…

Anyway, the task of learning Portuguese might become easier if you are… Russian! I have been told many times that Portuguese sounds similar to the Russian Language – In any case, it is not surprising because thinking of it, both languages are characterized by a great variety of melodic vowel sounds.

Até breve! (‘See you soon!’)

Did you enjoy reading 5 Reasons To Learn Portuguese? Do you speak Portuguese or would you consider learning it? Leave a comment!

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