Portuguese is like Spanish’s talented younger brother that is often ignored by the world when in actuality, its influence and usefulness is quite broad. In addition to Portugal and Spain, several countries including Mozambique and Angola have adopted it as an official language. An estimate of 260 million people in the world speak Portuguese. It is perhaps the most spoken language in the southern hemisphere and the sixth most spoken language in the world.
As a romance language, Portuguese developed from Latin with its earlier form as Old Portuguese. Cervantes once said that Portuguese was “the sweet and gracious language” and many other famous literary figures have also praised the language for its “sweet” feature. Brazil even has a Museum of the Portuguese Language in its capital of San Paulo, the first ever language museum in the world. Once you master the poetic language of Portuguese, tackling Spanish also becomes much easier.
Read the guide on this page written by the Go Overseas team, just for you. Then choose a Portuguese language program from the list below. You'll be on your way to becoming a fluent Portuguese speaker!Photo credit: Artur Luiz dos Santos.
Portugal and Brazil are definitely the two top choices for studying abroad. There are general language courses at language schools as well as more comprehensive programs focused on language and cultural immersion. Intensive language courses are offered on more of a short term basis and are great choices for people with less time available. Many programs, especially in the more popular options of Portugal and Brazil, offer joint programs between language study and meaningful travel.
Group Courses : Many language schools offer courses for language students of any age to participate in short or long term immersion programs. Language schools have a wide range of classes that cater to people with different schedules and proficiency. Even if you’ve never been exposed to Portuguese in your life, language schools will for sure have a course for beginners. If you are short on time and just want to focus on improving your portuguese in an academic setting, this is the choice for you.
Language Study and Culture Immersion Combination Programs : Language study and culture immersion programs combine more of the cultural aspects to learning the language. In this case, students will have to make a choice as to where the study abroad according to what culture they want to experience more. In addition to the dialectic differences between countries, Mozambique will undeniably have a different vibe from studying in Portugal.
Language Study and Internship Combination Programs : Some programs offer language courses concurrent to a placement in an internship position in your host country. These are more likely to be restricted to urban areas so if you’re looking to go off the beaten path in more rural areas, a volunteer option might be better. Although there is definitely a minimum language requirement for this option, it can be a great choice to improve your Portuguese, gain experience for your resume, and have a kick ass time traveling overseas!
Level of Difficulty
Portuguese is not an easy language to learn. Although it is often compared to Spanish due to Portugal’s close proximity to Spain, Portuguese can be argued to be more difficult than Spanish. They differ in pronunciation but of course even within the Portuguese language, there are many different dialects and differences in regional pronunciations. If you do speak Spanish however, Portuguese will be much easier to learn as the written language and certain words share a lot of similarities.
Why Learn Portuguese Abroad?
If you want to master a language that is spoken in several different regions in the world, Portuguese is a beautiful language to expose yourself to. Especially with the diverse cultural associations with the language, why wouldn’t you want to learn how to speak Portuguese and travel around the world?!
With 9 countries boasting Portuguese as their official language, there is no shortage of choices as to where you can go. As mentioned earlier, Portugal and Brazil are the most popular choices but alternatives such as Macau or Cape Verde might catch the attention of those seeking for a different cultural experience. The Daman and Diu as well as Goa states in India also have a strong Portuguese presence as they were once Portuguese territories. Language program may be harder to find in these places although it can definitely be a great cross cultural experience.
- Portugal: Right next to Spain and right above Morroco, Portugal is the go-to destination to learn Portuguese.
- Brazil: The other population would be to travel to Brazil in South America. In addition to dialectical different in Portuguese, going to Brazil will expose you to a passionate culture quite different from Portugal.
- Macau: Macau is a tiny territory next to Hong Kong. Portuguese is a co-official language here and a great choice for anyone interested in traveling to Asia. Hong Kong is also a quick ferry ride away, hello weekends!
- Mozambique: Mozambique is another country that speaks Portuguese and a wonderful opportunity for anyone wanting to go to Africa and learn a language that can be spoken in other countries as well.
Choosing a Portuguese Learning Program
The first step to choosing a language study program is to decide whether you want to learn European Portuguese or Brazilian Portuguese as this will help narrow down your study abroad destinations by a lot. Portuguese is also widely known to be harder than Spanish so a lot more commitment is needed to truly learn the language. The results are totally worth it though, since you’ll be able to communicate in several countries across the world.
Say "Hello" like the Locals: Olá
O que é que é surdo e mudo mas conta tudo? (What is deaf and mute but tells it all?)
Answer: O livro (a book)
Atirar-se de cabeça
Literal Translation: Plunge head first
Meaning: Face a problem without hesitation
There are a few different dialects of Portuguese, mainly classified into European and Brazilian as these are the two most often taught to international students.
Costs differ according to where you choose to travel to as studying in a European country will obviously be more expensive than a developing country. With the price difference also comes higher standards of living and safety, so it’s important to weigh out the pros and cons to decide what you’re looking for in this experience. It’s possible to find a job teaching English at the same time if you have the right credentials and a longer time commitment. This can help you earn a salary as well as provide an extra level of language and cultural immersion.