Become a fan of Bossa Nova music, futebol, and enjoy thousands of miles of beaches while learning a new language in Brazil, South America’s largest country. As a beginner or expert, language learners can take private one-on-one language classes or expand their language skills in small group settings, then take their new vocab to the undeniably exciting streets of whichever Brazilian city they choose. Talking to the locals and falando português will supply students with meaningful experiences that will help their language skills last for years.
Rio de Janeiro is by far the most popular destination for language programs in Brazil, and for good reason; Rio is filled with festivals, beaches, and tourist attractions year round. For those interested in a more tranquil experience in a less cosmopolitan city, there are plenty of language learning options in less populated coastal areas.
Rio de Janeiro is the heart of Brazil’s culture and art scene. Its location on the southern mountainous coast makes for breathtaking views, relaxing beach days, and some beyond delectable cuisine. Language students can wander down the Copacabana boardwalk, visit the art district of Santa Teresa, and enjoy samba dance performances in Lapa on their free time.
Salvador. Located on the western coast of the country, Salvador is known for its Afro-Brazilian culture. Also located on the water, students will find that the beaches in Salvador are not quite as busy as the ones in Rio. Language students can watch the sunsets in Barra, check out a show at the Castro Alves Theatre, and, if they’re around in February, attend the world renowned, Carnaval.
Maceio. If you are a lover of the sea, Maceio may be your paradise for language programs in Brazil. This city has emerald clear waters, white sand beaches, and reefs just off the coast for language students to explore via snorkeling. Maceio is a more relaxed version of a Brazilian beach town; it is easily navigated by bike, and the city even offers an excellent bike-share program!
Language Programs in Brazil
With dozens of language programs in Brazil to choose from, you’ll have the chance to customize your language learning experience based on your needs and interests. However, Portuguese is the most common language of study in Brazil by far.
Most Brazilian language schools offer classes for 20 to 30 hours a week, with opportunities to enroll in group classes (seven to ten students), private one-on-one lessons, or a mixture of the two. The length of most language programs in Brazil is flexible, lasting from two week to 12 months depending on the schedule and desired fluency of each student. For the majority of language programs lasting for more than six week, students will have the option to receive college credit for their coursework, although it will come at a higher cost.
If you’re interested in a total immersion experience, be sure to choose a language program in Brazil with a “no translation” policy, meaning the teacher will never use English in the classroom, only Portuguese, regardless of your fluency level.
Many language schools in Brazil supplement classroom learning with learning experiences out of the four walls of the classroom. Supplemental learning activities may include things like Brazilian dance classes, language exchanges with local Brazilians, and cultural dinners. These activities can be fun ways to experience the local flavor while applying your newly acquired language skills in real life situations.
Some Brazilian language schools offer rotating teachers, ensuring that students are exposed to native teachers from different regions with different accents. If you’re planning on traveling around Brazil, it can be very beneficial to become accustomed to the various dialects around the country before you go!
Costs & Affordability
Brazil is not the most affordable country in Latin America, but it is a better value than its more popular Portuguese language program alternative of Portugal. In a city like Rio, you can get a soda for under a dollar, a decent lunch for $8, and a two tickets to a nice theatre production for $50. These prices become even more affordable in smaller cities like Maceio.
Bare bones language programs in Brazil, which solely provide group classes and materials, are very affordable, at around $400 per week for 20 hours of classes. Private language lessons are obviously more expensive, but arguably more effective, if you’d like to expedite your language learning. For a six week language program in Brazil with all the bells and whistles, including accomodation, college credit, field trips, insurance, and more, you’re looking at a price tag of $9,000.
Accommodation & Visas
Do you like a home cooked meal dinner every day or the flexibility of eating out or cooking on your own each day? Living with others or solo? Language schools in Brazil offer just about every type of housing option; you can find something on your own, or stay in a homestay, apartment, or hotel provided or recommended by your program provider. If you’re end goal is to maximize your language learning, it is recommended that you stay with a homestay or independently find a shared apartment with Brazilians. The latter can be difficult, but result in incredible language and cultural experiences with locals and your peers.
Visas are required for tourists in Brazil, and this requirement also applies to language learners. The visa process can take a few months, so make an appointment and start gathering the required documents as early as possible. Most language schools in Brazil will help point you in the right direction throughout the visa process, but only a few provide hands-on assistance without a higher program cost. Expect visa processing to take longer than you think, start early, try not to get stressed, and you’ll be in Brazil in no time!
For the latest information on visas for travel to Brazil, consult GoAbroad’s Embassy Directory.
Benefits & Challenges
Brazil, like the rest of Latin America, is a very laid back country. This can be great in terms of relaxing and gaining important skills like patience, but can be really frustrating when you’re really hungry and it takes 15 minutes for a server to even take a look at your table. Prepare to wait, and always keep a snack with you at all times to avoid getting hangry.
It may seem obvious, but Spanish and Portuguese are not the same language. If you have a background in Spanish, it can be both a blessing and a curse. It is easy to get confused with false cognates and misinterpret something in Portuguese for what it sounds like in Spanish.
Regional dialects also vary greatly, so the Portuguese you learn in Maceio may sound strikingly different from what you hear on the street in Salvador. Don’t be discouraged! It is often a conversation starter to throw out regional slang to the locals, and then ask them about the word’s origin and about any other regional differences. Brazilians are known to be warm, kind, and outgoing people; they’re easily approachable and will be excited to chat with you about just about anything!
Memories of the destinations you visit in Brazil and the cultural traditions you experience are things that will stay with you for a lifetime. During your language study in Brazil, you’ll have ample time to explore the sights, take in the customs, and immerse yourself in the beautiful language of Brazil. So don’t waste any time, sign up for a Portuguese language program in Brazil today!