October 27


The Influence of the English Language in Brazil

By Gordon Gaffney

October 27, 2021

The Influence of the English Language in Brazil

Did you know that the English language is the most widely spoken language in the world, with around 1.132 billion speakers? Yes, it's a lot of people.

English is considered the official language of the Internet and for those who live in Brazil, being able to communicate in English becomes more important with each passing day 

This is true for several reasons, such as: 

• In the job market, those who do not know English are at a huge disadvantage when looking for a job.

• The amount of information accessible to the public for free in English is much greater, whether it's to do academic research, find out about a product you want to buy or even to learn a new skill. 

• Foreign expressions are increasingly common in Brazilian society. 

• The influence of the English language in Brazil is stronger every day. 

How did the English language arrive in Brazil?

Literary records tell us that the teaching of the English language in Brazil began with Dom João, in 1809, because of the need to establish commercial agreements due to the opening of ports to foreign trade. 

Why is English part of the Brazilian school curriculum?

Nowadays Brazilian governments are aware of the importance of the English language and the influence it exerts. They have included the English language teaching as a compulsory subject in schools from the first year of elementary/primary school. But this measure only serves as a way to introduce the basics of the language, as it is usually just a few hours a week.

Therefore, whenever possible, it is recommended to seek a deeper understanding of the English language in order to keep up with all the trends that always arrive in Brazil. 

What does the term ‘Estrangeirismo’ in Portuguese mean?

Estrangeirismo in Portuguese can be translated as ‘Foreignism’ in English and it refers to the process of using words from other languages as an integral part of the local language.

Examples of ‘foreignisms’ in Brazil

There are many examples of words coming from the English language that have being incorporated into the vocabulary used by Brazilians, here are some examples:

Jeans: (refers to the type of fabric, which may appear as jeans, denim shorts, etc.) 

The influence of the English language in Brazil


Light: (most common use in the nutrition environment - to label certain foods having lower calories)

Diet: (same as above, but diet refers to food that has no added sugar)

Top model: (this was the title of a TV show broadcast by a popular TV station in Brazil- it refers to a supermodel, a very beautiful woman who earns a lot of money by showing her body)

Delivery: (term used to refer to the home delivery service of a product)

Milkshake: (milk drink mixed with ice cream)

Shopping centre:
(centro commercial in Portuguese)

Fast food: (comida rápida in Portuguese, stores that offer food with a minimum preparation time)

Pet shop: (centre that offers service for pets)

LAN house: (house that sells internet access and other computer services)

Drive through: (commercial model where the person does not need to get out of the car to order, pay and receive the product - adopted by fast food restaurants, pharmacies, etc.)

Pit stop: (stop for maintenance or refueling)

Air fryer: (cooking equioment that does not require the use of oil to fry food)

Home office:
(Now, due to the covid-19 pandemic, this word is more fashionable than ever. It refers to working from inside the home. It is interesting that “home office” is not used in this context by English speakers, instead "working from home" or WFH is used) 

The influence of the English language in Brazil

Home Office

These are some examples of English words that are often used in Brazil as an integral part of Portuguese, the country's official language. We list these words in this article to illustrate and emphasise the great influence the English language has on Brazilian culture.

If you've made it this far in this article and you're still wondering:

But why is the English language so important?

The importance of English is growing due globalisation and with it the fact that the speed of communication is a lot faster. This makes interacting with people in other countries, who often sell exclusive services, a lot easier.

And whether you like it or not, it is a general rule to use: 

English as the universal "business language"

If you are in Brazil, a country where the native language is Portuguese, and you are doing business with someone who is in Spain, for example, where the spoken language is Spanish, most of the time the communication between the two parties happens in English. Even though Spanish and Portuguese are similar.

Furthermore, the production of knowledge in the English language is a lot higher than in the Portuguese language, due to people from all over the world collaborating in scientific research, mainly in English.

This explains that any thesis or academic research that is done, in addition to the Portuguese version, the English version must also be done. All universities demand this, it is a norm of the scientific community. 

Learn English with a native 

There are several ways to learn a language, below we list some of them along with their respective advantages and disadvantages.

• Study on your own, mainly taking advantage of the resources available for free on the Internet. It works, but it takes more effort and time.

• With an online video course from a native, you can study at a time that works for you and can watch classes as often as you like. 

• Enroll in a traditional English school and follow its teaching methods, with a textbook and activities prepared by teachers form your own country, for example Brazil; the disadvantage is that perhaps they are teaching you mistakes that they don’t realise themselves, or that they teach you English that is not correct everyday speaking that a native English speaker will know. 

• Learn English with private lessons directly from a native speaker - a practical, fast and inexpensive way to speed up learning, as you force your brain to communicate in the new language right from the start - lessons can be taken via Zoom, for example. You can read about a typical class with me here.

• Doing an exchange program - this is an alternative that requires greater investment but also brings enormous benefits, after all, there is nothing better than an immersion to learn a new language, right? 

So, now that you know how important and influential the English language is in Brazil, do you want to learn English with a native? Get in touch now and schedule an introductory class!

Gordon Gaffney

About the author

Gordon is The Irish English Teacher, creator of this blog and many products to help all students learning English as a second language, but with a focus on Portuguese speakers.

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