Influx of Portuguese Learners Reveals Hole in Market
As language departments are downsized, or cut altogether in U.S. universities, the demand for Portuguese is growing. Although Portuguese has always been an important world language, it has only recently been recognized as an important language for business and international relations.
The profile of today’s Portuguese student is quite different from the humanities majors, lovers of Brazilian music, or heritage learners of before. Today’s student is interested in Portuguese as a means to get ahead in the business world. Associate Professor of Portuguese at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, Rodolfo Franconi, attributes the increased interest in Brazil to two factors, “One, knowing just Spanish limits them to working in only one side of Latin America and right now, the Brazilian side is becoming more appealing and, two, the growing interest in ‘emerging’ countries on the part of the richest nations, especially U.S. interest in Brazil.”
Other students hope for a cushy expatriate position in a Lusophone metropolis, like São Paulo or Luanda. Dartmouth College Assistant Professor, Carlos Minchillo explains, “The consequence of Brazil’s economic performance in recent years and the future events to be held in Brazil, such as the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games is that we have more students who choose Portuguese for professional reasons. Some of them are even eager to live and work in Brazil.”
While the demand for Portuguese language training continues to grow, so does the demand for materials that teach Portuguese for special purposes, such as business Portuguese. The market has yet to catch up to the influx of Portuguese language learners. Professor Franconi points out that while there is some dynamic material for beginners, more advanced textbooks leave much to be desired, and “Regarding materials for special purposes such as the petroleum industry, just introductory compendiums, reference books and specialized dictionaries are available.” The lack of adequate intermediate and advanced material leaves a hole in the market that has yet to be filled by publishers. As more students strive toward fluency in Portuguese, the need for new material will also grow.
– Kristal Bivona