Do Brazilians want to speak Spanish?
Spanish is not a popular language in Brazil.
Outsiders, specially Europeans, might find this strange, as 8 of the 11 countries we border have Spanish as an official language, but things are a bit more complicated than that.
There are 3 main reasons why most Brazilians couldn’t care less about learning Spanish:
English is kind of a international language, or the closer thing we have of it, anyway.
It’s the most practical 2nd language to learn.
Not many people in Brazil learn a 2nd language, and learning a third language is very rare.
There are many things Brazilians dislike about Spanish.
First it’s too close to home.
Learning a completely alien language is more interesting than learning something that is similar to your own language but also extremely different.
Some people say it’s harder to learn Spanish than to learn other romance languages such as French or Italian.
2nd: Spanish is not that useful.
While Brazil border many Spanish speaking countries, truth is that Brazilian population is isolated from those countries.
There is a huge jungle in Brazil’s northern borders, a huge swamp in the west and giant rivers in the southwest.
Brazil only had much interaction with the southern cone, and even then not that much.
As someone posted here, most Brazilians live thousands of km from the frontier.
3rd Brazilians tend to look down on Spanish speaking countries.
I won’t make generalizations, since I know many people who visited our neighbors and loved it, but anyway, Brazilians love to hate themselves.
We usually think Brazil is the worst place on earth and complain about it the whole day.
It’s almost like talking about the whether.
Then people from other countries migrate to Brazil and we think “WTF is wrong with your country for you to come here, of all places?”
However, it must be said that Spanish can be quite useful depending on the sector you work.
Mercosur is the most important market for Brazilian industry and making Manuals in Spanish may be requirement for some industries.
Be sure to check
Brazilians aren’t big on learning languages, unfortunately.
Most will never learn anything more than a few words in English.
With Spanish being close to Portuguese (and with Brazil’s tendency of isolating itself in its own bubble), many Brazilians believe it’s just not that necessary.
They think that, if they ever need to talk to a Spanish speaker, they can just improvise with some “Portuñol”.
The reality, of course, is that the proximity between Portuguese and Spanish can be quite misleading, and Portuñol really isn’t enough for effective communication.
English is also viewed as more relevant and useful and the idea of studying more than one language just seems absurd to many.
That, obviously, doesn’t prevent some Brazilians to study Spanish with a passion.
I remember it being somewhat popular in my city for a time, and when given the option of studying either English or Spanish in high-school I took Spanish, since I was already pretty fluent in English at the time.
Another exception is my wife, who is fluent in Spanish.
I think Érico Caldeira number 3 is so true! hahaha If you to get master degree at USP Law School, you need to attend a second language test.
And guess what? No Spanish option! You can choose English, French, Italian or German, but now, there is a proposal to add Japanese.
In a way, Spanish is seen as the second language of people who have no second language.
It is common to see monoglot people saying they can speak Spanish, even though no Spanish speaker can barely understand them.
For those people, if there is a need of reading an international text (like a site or the instructions of a product) and there is no Portuguese option, they’ll try to read the Spanish version, as you can grasp a general idea even if you can’t speak the language.
When you apply for ENEM (the Brazilian equivalent of SAT), you need to choose English or Spanish as a foreign language.
Anyone who can speak both languages well will always choose English, as the English test is ridiculously easy.
The Spanish test, on the other hand, is a lot more difficult in order to prevent people who only speak Portuguese to get too high scores.
Very few do make a point to speak Spanish correctly for a few reasons:
Some Brazilians, however, who do not like the way English sounds, end up enjoying learning Spanish, because it is warmer and faster to learn.
The majority of Brazilians have little access and interest for education, and learning a new language is regarded as a great feat.
The few Brazilians who will be interested in learning a new language will generally take up to English.
English is widely valued as “cool” and considered as a basic skill for many jobs (e.
at least basic skills for using softwares or working online).
Spanish on the other hand is socially regarded as “tacky” and “funny in a bad way” and fewer jobs will be asking for any level of proficiency.
Business exchanges and contact with the neighboring countries are not very intense, and most Brazilians will resort to English in approaching our other fellow South Americans.
Very good texts of mates in here.
I´d like to add that Spanish and Portuguese are close languages.
Brazilians with a reasonable education can understand Spanish.
In the other hand even both languages are Iberic Languages( and so close languages), there are some important differences.
Brazilian usually when triyng to use Spanish make many mistakes .
Example of words that have nothing to do.
English Spanish Portuguese
window ventana janela
while mientras enquanto
early temprano cedo
pregnant embarazada grávida