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May 20, 2012



Interesting links you've posted there. I had no idea how much little English us Brazilians knew. If I had to guess I'd have said around 10%. I'd never expect the figures to be as low as 3%!

And I do hope foreign languages (at least English or Spanish) are improved at the elementary and secondary school. I went to a private school and the English classes were horrible. Since I had taken English private course since I was 6yo, everyone wanted me when there were group activities.

Thank you!


Excellent article,Rachel. Excellent, as usual.


Why do they not open up more works visas for native English speakers to come there and teach? Would it really take away a job for a Brazilian? In the end, a native speaker will always trump a non-native, it's just natural. Now of course I am providing that the teacher is of good quality and knows how to teach that is.

I just think if this doesn't happen, then they are really going to hurt themselves for the big events. I would LOVE to come there and teach English, I teach it here at home already to immigrants but I will not come there and do it illegally like most do.

Account Deleted

There's another underlying issue in this: these companies don't value the bi/tri/multilingual employees as they should.

Salaries on this tourism/entertainment area are still way too low, so it doesn't attract those who have the real skills needed, and Brazil doesn't have a "tipped employees" culture per se so that they could "complement" these low wages.

Let me give you my real world example: I do speak English (fluent), Portuguese (doh, native) and Spanish (intermediate, after all, I spent half of my past 3 years in Miami). I understand French and Italian as well. But I prefer to work from home (home-office) for two companies (a Brazilian one earning around R$ 3k/month for full-time, and a US one earning US$ 1k/month for part-time) as well as running my own small business (I sold most of it last year, that used to bring me liquid another R$ 2k a month but also had too many defaults, so I sold 90% of it).

I am highly specialized on what I do, and the brazilian corporations don't like that. They prefer to hire cheap barely-knowledged people and train them internally so that they can be their own "specialized monkeys". Unless you come from this background, scaling in the corporate ladder (and enter the circle and go around other companies after these credentials are gained) you are not allowed in (a.k.a. the "panelinha").
Thus, my reasonable demands for like a R$ 5k/month salary are easily laughed out (as "I don't have the credentials they want", although with what I do and know I could easily get R$ 10k or more monthly compared to other professionals in the area).

That is in my specialized field area (web infrastructure). Now imagine on the tourist industry, where wages are usually minimum wage to R$ 1000? And this having to be on iced schedules, running around and heavily working out, having to take public transportation and facing 2-3h of traffic jams each way, versus my R$ 3-5k/month to work from home from my bed/couch. There are simply no attractives.


I've been a working PR writer and trade journalist for more than 10 years. I speak Portuguese highly fluently (25+ years), read well, and write fairly well. I spent almost two years in 2009 and 2010 trying to build business writing and translating Brazilian web sites into English, and write English copy for Brazilian business. What I found is that Brazilian companies are looking to get their English on the cheap. They are OK with substandard (i.e. bad) copy because there are price points they're not willing to exceed. I found more work and better paying work, editing Chinese web sites already written in English, and putting them into better English, (I don't speak Chinese).

I have friends in Brazil with strong, thriving translation businesses, who say the future is only in interpretation and that translation and writing in English is still dropping in price, even with Olympic and Copa demand. Brazilian companies need to produce English copy to compete, but from what I've seen, quality is not a concern to most Brazilian business. You can look at huge companies like Petrobras for example who have deep pockets and could easily pay to have quality materials written / translated and tell that their English materials are written by a very excellent Brazilian speaker of English, but not by a native speaker.


I just checked out the tourism portal and it looks like they've given it an update. I had seen it previously though.


Excellent points everyone!

You have hit the nail on the head. Until companies and Brazil as a whole VALUE good quality English standards and translations, there isn't much hope of improvement.

The entire system and perspectives need to be re-vamped to appreciate quality English teachers and not be satisfied with sub par work.

Maristela Demarco

Brilliant and sadly realistic article.


And for all those who failed high school physics, I think this hotel is very kind to accommodate us.

"The Seamar Hotel makes use of 34 apartments, being twenty of them with sight for the sea, equipped with TV 20"with canal for signature, air-conditional, to frigobar, telephone with direct, safe-individual dialing (servisafe) and digital radio-clock. We still have apartments with adaptations for deficient physicists."


Rio Gringa

I actually did almost fail high school physics and may go to Fortaleza later this year. Definitely for me! :)

Mario Brazo

Sou Brasileiro , se eu for para os Estados Unidos irei sabendo Inglês , se qualquer pessoa de outro país quiser conhecer o meu país tal pessoa que aprenda a falar Português , simples assim.


I speak Spanish since last 2 years and it’s still tough to communicate in Portuguese. It’s one tough but beautiful language.


I'm part Brazilian and every time I come to Brazil I shake my head at the poor English seen everywhere: from the corner shop to the official World Cup website to signs. Even Brazilian embassies abroad have poor English (and often appalling design). It's absurd but very Brazilian. Companies have no interest in quality, they just want to wing it and/or hire someone's nephew who has a degree in English but who can't actually speak the language.

People may come up with whatever excuse they wish (Brazilians need more visas to work abroad or foreigners can't get visas to work in Brazil) but it's all bologna. I've Brazilian nationality, I actually speak English and I've a couple of university degrees but I was unable to get any more than a couple of interviews during the 6 months I spent in Brazil trying to find work. During my time here I met many other dual citizens who were facing the same frustrating situation.

Brazil has no interest in decent English, not even if it means making lots of money.

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