You might be thinking; why learn Portuguese? As a language which comes from a small European country of just over 10 million people, can there really be that many benefits of taking the trouble to learn this Latin language? The answer is most definitely yes!
Portuguese is so much more than just Portugal. In fact, learning it could be a significant opportunity for you!
Speaking Portuguese will not only bring light to new linguistic horizons, but also touristic and professional ones…
From its popularity, to the fact that it is in use in many different parts of the world, let’s discover the 10 reasons that should push anyone to get started with Portuguese.
Rather than learning French, Spanish, German, or Italian, let’s tackle the language of Vasco da Gama, and find out why we should learn Portuguese!
Portugal is full of traditional festivals like Viana do Castelo, Tomar, Campo Maior, or Festa da Flor.
Although Portugal is a lot smaller than many other countries, its language can be found far and wide.
In fact, Portuguese in an official language in 9 countries across 4 continents.
What might surprise you further is that it is the seventh most spoken language in the world, with an estimated 220 million native speakers.
Therefore, learning Portuguese to travel is a great idea, and one that might even open doors for your along the way!
Once you have learned the conjugation, grammar, and pronunciation, you will be able to travel to Portugal and improve your language level as you converse with the local population. Learning this second language in the country itself will allow you to pick up new phrases every conversation that you have with a native speaker, at the same time as deciphering the different dialects that can be found around the country.
A trip to the land of Magellan can quickly be remembered as an unforgettable trip you will want to repeat again and again.
The sun, which shines 300 days a year, will convince even the most reluctant.
The advantage of this trip is that in addition to exploring the culture, relishing in the gastronomy, and basking in the history of this 800-year old country, you will be able to learn to speak Portuguese and perhaps one day even master the language used in Sao Paulo. If you want to learn Brazilian Portuguese, you need to remember that it differs from the European version.
In Africa, several countries use the Portuguese language as their language of choice.
Indeed, as former Portuguese colonies, the African continent is home to several countries which have Portuguese as an official language.
Angola, the most politically and economically stable country of these, is the most sought after by travelers who wish to study the language.
But, don’t forget, for those of you who are a bit more adventurous, Guinea Bissau, Mozambique, Cape Verde, and Sao Tome and Principe, are all places where Portuguese and its Patois version are used to communicate by local populations.
What about the Brazilian job market and its promising trends?
In Latin America, another popular Portuguese-speaking destination is Brazil (the largest Portuguese-speaking nation in the world with over 200 million speakers) which will lure in beginners, intermediate, and advanced Portuguese speakers.
As a former Portuguese colony until 1822, Brazil has since reinvented the language of Pedro Alvares Cabral, the man widely credited with being the first European to reach Brazil, to create its own version. Some go as far as learning Brazilian Portuguese so as to integrate themselves more easily into Brazilian culture. Você fala português?
Brazilian Portuguese differs from the European version both in the vocabulary and the expressions used, but first and foremost in its pronunciation of the language.
Anyone who has previously studied European Portuguese will need to allow themselves a short space of time to adapt to the new way of speaking, particularly when you consider that the Portuguese pronunciation of certain words changes depending on where you are in Brazil.
In 2011, UNESCO named Fado on its list of the World’s Intangible Heritage
Of all the Latin languages, the Portuguese accent is perhaps one of the most identifiable. Considered as a major difficulty for students, the Portuguese language is distinguished from French and Spanish by the tonic accent, which we also encounter with Italian.
This distinction in tonic and atonic syllables (stifled), as well as the presence of open, closed, and nasal vowels scares the learner into bad pronunciation of the words.
Yet sounding like you are singing is a hallmark of speaking Portuguese.
The history and culture of Portuguese is fascinating. In fact, this southern European country is ranked as the smallest country with the most World Heritage sites – 21 in total!
Its cultural heritage would make any lover of architecture, breathtaking landscapes, and music blush and sigh with pleasure.
The proof is in the pudding. We should highlight the cities of Sintra and Serra, which have been classified as “Cultural Landscapes” with their natural parks and buildings that betray the secret of the history of Portugal just by their mere presence.
As delicious as French gastronomy, Portuguese cuisine is recognised world-wide by its explosion of tastes and flavors. Recognised as a guarantor of the Mediterranean diet by UNESCO, there are several dishes that you must be sure not to miss when you visit. The include:
Portugal has had a way with words for centuries and centuries. Indeed, poetry occupies a historical place in the history of this country, notably through troubadour poetry.
Evolving over the years, Portugal has been put on the map by the poet Fernando Pessoa, and Nobel Prize for Literature winner José Saramago, who was rewarded for his work in 1998.
Finally, because we would have to write a book about Portuguese music if we really wanted to graze the subject, we will only mention Fado. This is a genre of music which can be traced back to the Lisbon in the early 19th century. In 2011 it was recognised by UNESCO and put on its list of the World’s Intangible Culture, meaning that it has traditions and skills which it has passed on to other cultures.
Portuguese is the mother tongue of both Portuguese and Brazilian men and women all over the world. In fact there are over 220 million native Portuguese speakers in the world, with some estimates suggesting that this number will pass 335 million by 2050.
Portugal is famous for its heritage, its architecture, and its football team.
There are many professional reasons to learn Portuguese, some of which might not be immediately apparent.
First of all, unlike Spanish, which is found on a lot of English-speakers’ CVs, Portuguese will make you stand out from the crowd of candidates when you apply for a job.
The Portuguese, who have now witnessed the beginnings of a revival of their economy, would be happy to hire a foreigner who speaks Portuguese and English. The sectors that most correspond would be:
Should we stop there? Não é possível (not possible)!
In relation with its colonial past, we know that the Portuguese language is not only found in Portugal but also found in Latin America, Africa, and on the Asian continent.
Is this an opportunity? Yes, it is a real opportunity for Portuguese-speakers to work abroad.
In Africa, Angola is the best place to find work. Its thriving economy is now attracting foreign investors as well as Portuguese workers fleeing the economic crisis.
In Latin America, it is the country of football, samba, and feijoada that will be looking for your skills, though you should look into the visa arrangement that your country has with Brazil.
Finally, for those still not happy with the choices above, you can also work at home using the Portuguese language.
How about teaching at a school, university, or online?
Let’s not forget about the translation profession – a sector in which they recruit both at home and abroad. This could also allow you to work freelance.
Whether you discovered her through Evora, or in a compilation of world music, Cesária Évora’s melancholy music is part of the culture of the Portuguese language.
Learning to sing her songs is definitely one of the best ways to learn Portuguese!
She died in December 2011, but “the barefoot diva” has left behind a large number of Portuguese students who will be happy to practice karaoke trying to imitate the sublime voice of the Cape Verdean artist.
Portuguese comes from Latin, and its conjugation, vocabulary, and grammar are all very similar to another romance language; Spanish.
The linguistic proximity is often forgotten given the different accent and pronunciation, which is very specific to where it is spoken – Brazil or Portugal, or even Cape Verde.
Learning Portuguese will make the task of learning Spanish much easier, and likewise if you can already speak Spanish, then this will facilitate the task of learning Portuguese.