Why Learn Portuguese?

Today, Portuguese is spoken by an estimated 250 million people in four continents (America, Africa, Asia, and Europe), and it is the official language of eight nations. With around 200 million speakers in Brazil—the world’s fifth largest country and one of its fastest growing economies—Portuguese is the sixth most widely-spoken language of the world, and the fastest growing European language after English, according to UNESCO. There are large Portuguese-speaking communities in Andorra, Go, Luxembourg, Macau, Namibia, Paraguay, and South Africa. An estimated 1.3 native Portuguese speakers live in the United States, and Portuguese speakers comprise the third largest linguistic minority group here in Massachusetts.

Portuguese plays an ever more important role in the global economy and international politics. It is a working language and/or official language of several international organizations, including the African Union, the Community of Portuguese Language Countries, the European Union, Mercosul, and the Organization of the American States, among others. Interest in Portuguese is increasing worldwide—it is a more and more popular choice for foreign language study, even among native Spanish speakers. It is also desired in a number of professional sectors, such as politics, diplomacy, and international trade. In addition to enriching your intellectual life at Boston College and your employment opportunities afterwards, proficiency in Portuguese and knowledge of its cultures opens the door to a rich variety of artistic, literary, and cultural traditions.