The world is learning Portuguese
By Jose Schuster
Globalization is making people across the world discover the Portuguese language as a valuable tool. The language is the seventh most spoken in the world and the most spoken in the Southern Hemisphere, with more than 250 million native speakers.
Although being the official language of seven countries (Brazil, Portugal, Mozambique, Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau and São Tomé and Príncipe), andwith speakers spread around the globe , Portuguese has only two dialects used for learning: European and Brazilian.
Brazilian Portuguese appeals to many learners due to the high number of speakers, a little over 200 million. Brazil is also one of the fastest growing economies in the world, being considered by Canada a priority market. It is a major economic player, not just in South America, but also globally, the 11th largest trading international partner.
“Brazil is one of the world’s most enticing markets, boasting stable mining, manufacturing and agricultural sectors and a dynamic, innovative science andtechnology industry. Economically secure, with a vast and growing middle-class, Brazil offers Canadians an attractive investment environment with room for substantial growth”,say representatives with the Canadian government.
Portuguese Schools in Toronto
According to Unesco (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), Portuguese has the highest potential for growth as an international language in South America and Southern Africa. The mandatory offering of Portuguese classes in school curricula is already observed in Argentina and Uruguay.
This has boosted the opening of Portuguese language schools – private and online classes. Two leading Brazilian Portuguese schools in Toronto have similar names: Accent Brazil (www.accentbrazil.ca), coordinated by Meyre Santos, and The Brazilian Accent. (www.thebrazilianaccent.net), owned by Fátima Rivela.
“The number of foreigners looking for Portuguese classes is growing. In the GTA, businesses such as real estate, banking and mining investors have an eye on Brazil now, more than ever”, says Meyre. “The past decade saw an increased awareness of the importance of Brazil in the world scene. This was motivated by the business sector looking at investment and commerce relations with Brazil and also because of more tourists traveling to Brazil”, adds Fátima.
Following and researching this growing market, Meyre, made her decide to start her own school. She has a degree in Portuguese and English and has taught Portuguese for the past 15 years. “With Accent Brazil’s approach, students can speed up the process of language acquisition”, she says.
On the choice about Brazilian or Continental Portuguese, Meyre says “we do not see advertisements for Argentinean Spanish, Australian English, or Canadian French, for instance. It is just Spanish, English and French. Whether someone wants to learn Portuguese in Portugal for business or other affairs, then later on do business or visit Brazil, it is possible to communicate, with some adjustments related to vocabulary and cultural and social aspects. Accent Brazil is able to teach Portuguese that can be adjusted to the clients’ needs, not only Brazilian Portuguese.”
The Brazilian Accent
Fátima notes “people interested in Brazil are usually aware of the slight difference of accents, despite the language being the same, but they come to us because they want to learn Brazilian Portuguese; they want to learn “Portuguese with the Brazilian accent”. My purpose is to help students gain knowledge in order to communicate well and understand and enjoy our rich Brazilian culture”.
Both schools have a diverse clientele. Most of them are men and women with ages ranging from 25 to 55, being executives from mining, IT, real estate, as well as professors, bankers, accountants and even opera singers. There are also children of Brazilians moving back to Brazil.
With many world-class events happening in Brazil (World Cup, Olympics, World Youth Day) Fátima sees many students learning Portuguese to develop business in Brazil. “With the continuous and steady growth of trade relations between Brazil and Canada, the interest to learn Brazilian Portuguese has increased. The demand for professionals seeking to learn Brazilian Portuguese is on the rise, especially in the financial sector.”
Fatima highlights that some of her students are able to participate in business meetings and do presentations in less than 100 hours of classes. “Those executives excel because they have learned primarily for personal growth and not only for work purposes”, she explains.
In her opinion, the success in learning another language is linked to the interest in the cultural aspects, people, and language. “The Brazilian culture has a long, rich and diverse tradition, which, by itself, is reason enough to learn Portuguese.”