Portuguese isn’t the first pick for most people when it comes to foreign languages. Many have heard of the language, but not everyone knows how rich the language is or even where it’s spoken (outside of Portugal at least).
Honestly that is their loss, and in this post we look at why. Here are five unexpected benefits of learning the Portuguese language.
1. It’s not too far from English
Portuguese comes from the Romance family of languages, which also includes popular foreign languages like Spanish, French, and Italian. This is good news for native English speakers! While English isn’t a Romantic language (it comes from the West Germanic language family), it has more in common with Portuguese than you might realize.
Much of this is due to the now extinct Latin language. Both English and Portuguese take a lot of influence from Latin. As a result you’ll find words in Portuguese that look and sound awfully similar to their English counterparts.
These shared linguistic roots don’t stop at Latin though. Greek also had a hand in the development of English and Portuguese. Also many modern words are also similar. Take for instance the English word airport and the Portuguese aeroporto.
Who knew your native English could also give you a head start in Portuguese?!
2. Portuguese helps you learn Spanish and other Romantic languages
It’s no secret that Portuguese and Spanish are closely related, but most people don’t realize just how similar these two languages are. They share an 89% lexical similarity.
This means that the vast majority of words in Spanish and Portuguese are similar. To put this in context the English language has a 60% lexical similarity with German and 27% with French. The words don’t always look or sound exactly the same in Portuguese and Spanish. Still, if you dedicate yourself to studying Portuguese your hard work will also go along way to help you learn Spanish.
The two languages also have similar grammar systems. Both languages use two genders (masculine and feminine). Both also use four definite articles (equivalents of “the” in English). Portuguese and Spanish also have similar verb tenses and word order. To see a practical example of how these similarities carry over between the two languages compare the Portuguese future tense to the Spanish future tense.
You’ll notice some striking similarities!
3. It’s spoken across the world (Europe, Brazil, Africa, Asia)
When you think of the Portuguese language what countries come to mind? Portugal is the obvious choice, and Brazil isn’t that far behind it. But the reach of Portuguese goes far beyond these two countries.
Several countries on the African subcontinent list Portuguese as an official language, including Angola, Cape Verde, and Mozambique. There’s even an autonomous territory in western China called Macau, which also speaks the language.
So how exactly did Portuguese end up in these far flung regions of the world? It was through the colonization of the Portuguese Empire (most people don’t even know that Portugal had an empire!). These Portuguese speaking nations were once colonial territories.
Many languages like English, Spanish, Russian, and French steal much of the hype for being international languages. If you have a penchant for global travel Portuguese is also a language of choice, though like me you may not have thought of it as such.
4. There are good resources for learning it
Portuguese learners actually benefit from the popularity of Spanish as a foreign language. Out of all foreign languages none have the amount of courses, tools, and resources for native English speakers that Spanish has. This is probably do to the rapid growth of Spanish speakers in the USA.
Portuguese sort of piggybacks off the demand for Spanish courses. Because the languages are so similar, language learning companies who design a successful Spanish course have no problems making a Portuguese one. For a good example of this simply checkout SpanishPod101 and PortuguesePod101.
The result is that if you’re learning Portuguese, you’ll have your pick of quality resources. Don’t take this for granted. Students of less popular or more difficult languages don’t have such options.
This also means that Portuguese courses are likely to be more effective than courses for other foreign languages. A method that works well for the Spanish language probably isn’t going to be as effective for learning Japanese. However it is likely to be just as effective in learning Portuguese (again, because of the similarities between the two languages).
5. Economic edge
Typically people don’t mention Portuguese in the same breath as Spanish, German, or Mandarin when discussing foreign languages that give their students a leg up in the business world. In the English speaking world Portuguese isn’t as popular as the aforementioned foreign languages, but that’s precisely why it could lead to more opportunities in the marketplace!
This is because of the looming economic rise of Brazil, the largest Portuguese speaking nation on the planet. The country is already the world’s 8th largest economy. Brazil has a market of 200 million people strong, an enormous cache of natural resources, and a history of economic growth that has surprised even the experts.
The number of Portuguese speakers around the world is also growing. It’s already the 6th most spoken language on the planet with around 260 million speakers. Some estimates say that by 2050 that number will have risen to 335 million.
When all this is coupled with the fact that theren’t simply aren’t that many native English speakers who also speak Portuguese, you get a sense of the potential opportunities of someone learning Portuguese.
Portuguese is a beautiful language spoken by an array of countries with rich cultures. The language has certainly left an impact on global history. However the language continues to be relevant today with the promise of even more influence in the near future.
Even with all this talk of other languages, travel, and economics; don’t miss out on the number one reason you should learn portuguese. You should learn the language because you want to, because you enjoy it! These other reasons are great, but in the end they are just icing on the cake!