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10 Good Reasons Why You Should Learn Portuguese

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Picking up a second language comes with several added benefits. To learn a new language is to acquire a powerful communication tool that will help you dig up new opportunities and get in touch with extraordinary worldviews you would otherwise never experience. 

But considering the vast number of world languages you could choose from, why study Portuguese? After all, Portuguese is not a common choice among language learners and there are plenty of others that are higher in demand on a global scale. 

Sure, eccentricity could be a driving force (we don’t judge anyone around here). But there are certainly more rewarding answers for why you should learn Portuguese.

This language is often overlooked in a growingly multicultural world. It’s one of the top 10 most widely spoken languages, with more than 250 million speakers across at least three continents—but it’s not even close to being one of the 10 most studied languages.

Has this made you more curious about the Portuguese language and what makes it stand out from all others? Then let’s dive in! But before looking at our 10 good reasons to learn Portuguese, let’s talk a bit about where this language is spoken.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Portuguese Table of Contents
  1. About Lusofonia and Portuguese
  2. General Reasons to Learn Portuguese
  3. Personal and Professional Advantages
  4. Conclusion

1. About Lusofonia and Portuguese

“Lusofonia” is a broad term used in reference to the Portuguese-speaking world’s cultural sphere of influence. The root of this word lies in Lusitania, which was the name given the Roman province where Portugal now stands.

A Beach with a Palm Tree and Seagulls Flying

Long oceanic distances separate the lusophonic community, but the language binds it.

Nowadays, Lusophone countries comprise the Community of Countries of Portuguese Language (CPLP). There are also some other territories outside the CPLP that, surprisingly, have a Lusophone background—but don’t worry, we’ll get there soon.

This extensive cultural reach worldwide is quite remarkable, even in comparison to that of other popular languages such as French and Spanish. To give you a clearer idea of what kind of reach we’re talking about, here are some facts about the CPLP’s many countries.

Angola

Angola’s ethnic mélange is most noticeable in the influence of Bantu languages such as Umbundu, Kimbundu, and Kikongo on the country’s Portuguese.

Brazil 

The population of Brazil accounts for around 80% of the world’s Portuguese speakers.

Cape Verde

This 10-island archipelago was uninhabited until Portuguese colonization in 1456. It’s one of the most stable African governments, and is home to volcanoes as well as beaches of Caribbean-like white sand and crystal-clear waters. Natives also speak Kriolu in normal day-to-day interactions.

East Timor

East Timor’s independence is still very recent: Until 2002, it was under Indonesian rule. The Malayo-Polynesian background of this nation is very unique in the Lusophonic world.       

Guinea-Bissau 

Guinea-Bissau is a largely Muslim nation and is very much linked to other Guinea Coast countries, especially Senegal and The Gambia.           

Mozambique 

Mozambique is well-known for its outstanding coral reefs and safaris in the Gorongosa National Park.         

Portugal

Portugal has been attracting tourists and expatriates from many parts of the world for some years. Many people are attracted to its location, climate, and culture.      

Saint Tomé and Príncipe 

This is a beautiful country, but is somehow ranked as one of the world’s least visited countries.        

2. General Reasons to Learn Portuguese

Now that you’re more familiar with Portuguese-speaking countries and their cultural backgrounds, it’s time to explore the top reasons as to why you should learn Portuguese! 

1. The language is elegant and plural.

The Portuguese language was combining influences from at least three continents way before globalization and plurality were “cool.” Portugal’s pioneering naval explorations led this European kingdom to disseminate its language in America, Africa, and Asia. This resulted in centuries of mutual feedback and influences on culture and language throughout the local populations.

These varieties of Portuguese combine the structural elements of a Romance language with vocabulary and expressions (and consequently, diverse perceptions) from different populations of those three continents.

2. It will give you access to different cultures.

Following the previous point, learning Portuguese can help build a bridge to better communication and understanding of local populations—even if they don’t speak Portuguese. 

This is because learning the language will make it easier for you to study the cultural background of a given group of people. For example, you’ll be able to draw parallels between their idioms and those of Portuguese. You could also read primary sources on the topic in their original language. And let’s not forget that a sound knowledge of Portuguese will also give you some familiarity with other Romance languages, such as:

  • Italian
  • French
  • Spanish
  • Romanian

The African continent alone is home to speakers of more than 2000 languages, plus thousands of dialects, accounting for some 30% of the world’s languages. Portuguese speakers in Africa have spread throughout countries in the Guinea Coast, Eastern Africa, and Southwest Africa. It will thus be difficult to gain contact with the various African cultures through any other language—unless you’re willing to learn Arabic or Swahili… 

It’s a brave new world of cultural knowledge. Instead of asking, “Why should I learn Portuguese?” maybe you should view this as only the tip of the iceberg on your way to a very rich knowledge of various cultures and languages.

3. You’ll be able to form stronger bonds with native Portuguese speakers.

Christ the Redeemer Statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Learning Portuguese will help you develop a whole new way to look at your touristic destinations.

Here’s a fun reason why you should learn Portuguese: To exponentially boost the quality of your upcoming trip!

Knowledge of the language will enrich your travel experiences and enhance your understanding of other cultures, colonial relations, and historical data. Even if Portugal’s influence in the Lusophonic world is not politically significant nowadays, its language and culture are still relevant—even in other, non-Lusophone countries. 

The autonomous region of Macau in China is one example. Though the teaching of Portuguese has been decreasing since the handover of Macau from Portugal to China in the early 2000s, the territory still retains many buildings of the colonization period and some other Portuguese-influenced cultural traits.

Goa, in India, is another example. Again, Portuguese is not the official language there: Hindi and Konkani are the most common modern languages. But many Portuguese words still linger in the daily life of this Indian province, such as:

  • Mez – Table (Mesa in Portuguese)
  • Jonel – Window (Janela in Portuguese)
  • Pão – Bread
  • Colher – Spoon
  • Vistid – Dress (Vestido in Portuguese)

4. You’ll meet interesting people.

A Bunch of Kids Raising Their Hands in a Classroom

If you want to meet new, interesting people, raise your hand!

There are hundreds of millions of Portuguese speakers worldwide, yet their culture is not as prominent as that of the most studied languages. Make a quick search for videos and texts about some of the countries mentioned in this article, and you’ll probably conclude that there’s more material made by tourists and foreigners than locals! If you want more local results, try to search in Portuguese and with the country code (BR for Brazil, PT for Portugal or Portuguese).

Digital technologies have made communication more horizontal, but it’s still very hard to reach radically different cultures without a mediator. The complex realities of some countries and some people can only be reached, even if superficially, through real-life experience outside the media and our digital screens.

If someone asks you why you want to learn Portuguese, one of the best answers you could give is that it represents a good opportunity to get in touch with other ways of thinking and different lifestyles. You’ll better understand aspects of the culture such as fashion, dances, music, celebrations, food, and religion, for instance. 

When you learn this fascinating language and immerse yourself in the culture, you’re bound to meet some very interesting people along the way! 

3. Personal and Professional Advantages

Still wondering why to learn Portuguese? Well, in addition to the more generic reasons to study Portuguese we mentioned earlier, there are more pragmatic reasons for getting in touch with Camões’ language.

5. Improve your memory.

A Close-up Image of an Eye

Learning a new language can be a tool for improving your brain’s health.

Want to improve your memory in a fun, non-medical way? Go study a foreign language. There is ample and consistent scientific evidence that students of another language have improved memory capacity compared to people who have not learned another language. This active maintenance of your brain’s health can delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia for up to five years.

6. Portuguese has some interesting phonological phenomena.

Why would you want to learn Portuguese if you’re headed to Eastern European countries on your vacation? Actually, it might be helpful for your oral Slavic language skills—and maybe even your Chinese. 

There are some sounds in the Portuguese language that are very different from those of other Germanic and European languages. The ‘hissing’ (as in the ‘sh’ phoneme) and the closed-sounding pronunciation of some words resemble certain Slavic languages such as Russian, as improbable as it might sound to you.

Also, the language contains nasal sounds that other Romance languages don’t. (This particular feature is more common in African countries and Brazil than it is in Portugal.)

Familiarity with these phonological phenomena can satisfy your linguistic curiosity, help you learn other languages in the future, and maybe even help you out in certain situations!  

7. Keep an eye on the developing world.

Most Portuguese-speaking countries belong to the developing world and have large potential for growth and foreign investment. And we all know that making or breaking a great deal can boil down to whether we speak the local language or not. 

For instance, Mozambique is one of the world’s poorest countries. Yet, there’s a lot to improve upon there and much potential for growth, as in the gas and oil mining projects that have the potential to become the largest infrastructure enterprises on the African continent.

Also, Brazil is an industrialized country and ranked ninth place on the list of the world’s biggest economies in 2019. Still, it’s far from having a fully developed structure of sewers and drinking water.

Portugal, too, can be a good destination for foreign investment. Even though it’s not a developing nation, it is a member of the European Union. 

These are only three examples, but if you look into all the countries on this list, you may find great business opportunities.

8. There are big consumer markets to be found.

Coworkers Partying and Having Drinks Together

Open up the Portuguese door to new business opportunities.

Another reason why learning Portuguese is important businesswise is the potential for consumers in Lusophonic communities. Though Portuguese is not widely studied, it is vastly spoken, as we mentioned previously. It’s hard to ignore an almost 300 million-strong population.

Brazil is a huge country where many multinationals own operations. The bilateral trade with the U.S. is significant, and Brazil maintains various types of exchange with other countries: educational, cultural, economic, and more.

9. There’s a competitive advantage for English-speakers in Brazil.

Many job positions in Brazil and other Lusophone countries demand a good knowledge of English, but this language may still not be widespread among local populations. Within this context, an English-speaking individual with additional knowledge of Portuguese (and skills specific to the job, of course) could have a strong professional edge in comparison to competitors!

4. Conclusion

There are many reasons why you should learn Portuguese, but the ultimate purpose remains within your individual interest in the language. Yet, there’s a very motivating final reason to study this widely spoken language. 

Reason #10: It’s easier than ever to master it.

In our increasingly digital world, we have a vast multitude of media resources that make our lives more convenient. Imagine if you could combine these highly engaging virtual formats with a well-structured and fun approach to grammar, oral practice, writing exercises, and interaction with native speakers.

PortuguesePod101 brings to you the best of both worlds of language learning: autonomous discovery and directed instruction. Don’t miss the opportunity to get in touch with thoughtfully crafted content suitable for learners of all levels. We even offer private lessons and dynamic content to speed up your Portuguese learning! 

Before you go, let us know in the comments if this article helped you decide whether to learn Portuguese or not. We hope we inspired you to give it a try! 

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