Language Profile: Why Learn Portuguese?

In celebration of the World Cup in Brazil, OpenLanguage has recently launched our new Brazilian Portuguese channel: “Língua da Gente” which means “language of the people”. Made in conjunction with the University of Texas in Austin and renowned Portuguese professor Orlando Kelm, Língua da Gente is an exciting new addition to OpenLanguage.


So why Portuguese?

Portuguese is part of the Ibero-Romance language family and is very closely related to Spanish. Though originally the national language of the 10 million residents of Portugal, Portuguese was brought throughout the world with Portugal’s colonial expansion and now is the 6th most-spoken language in the world with 260 million speakers.

Today, Portuguese is dominated by Brazil. With over 200 million people, Brazil is by far the largest home of Portuguese speakers. Due to Brazil’s large population, Brazilian Portuguese is the most spoken language in South America, not Spanish. Brazilian Portuguese is quite different from Portuguese Portuguese due to centuries of influence from African and indigenous South American languages which has resulted in a more lilting and arguably sweeter accent than the more rapid-fire and almost Russian-sounding Portuguese accent. With Brazil’s population and cultural influence, Brazilian Portuguese has in fact become the dominant dialect over the original Portuguese dialect.

The Lusophone world, the name of the Portuguese-speaking world, extends far beyond just Portugal and Brazil. There are nearly 50 million Portuguese speakers in Sub-Saharan Africa, mostly in Mozambique and Angola. The Portuguese spoken in these countries has been greatly influenced by Brazilian Portuguese and thus is very similar. These two former Portuguese colonies today comprise two of the most vibrant economies in Africa with blistering GDP growth rates and great future economic promise.

The Lusophone world also extends to Asia. East Timor, up until recently known for its protracted struggle for independence, is now the politically stable home of 1.2 million Portuguese speakers and is posting some of the highest GDP growth rates in the world. And if you already have money to spend, Macau, the former Portuguese enclave in Southern China, is now the gambling capital of the world with more gambling-related revenue than even Las Vegas.

The economic incentive of learning Portuguese vis-a-vis the rise of Brazil is at this point well-discussed. But looking beyond professional opportunities, Brazil is one of the greatest cultural producers in the world. Sometimes viewed as the South American version of the United States, Brazil is a melting pot of immigrants from around the world with large African, European, Asian, and Middle Eastern populations. While often known for the modern metropolises of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, modern Brazilian history stretches back to the year 1500 and has left a plethora beautiful preserved colonial towns throughout the country.

All of this coupled with the nation’s varied topography of rainforest, plains, mountains, and of course beautiful beaches creates a culturally rich and vibrant destination that one could spend a lifestyle exploring without seeing everything.

Whether for work or for play, learning Portuguese will enrich your life. So check out the free complimentary OpenLanguage Portuguese channel Língua da Gente course and get studying today!

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