The language belongs to the Indo-European family, coming under the classification of Romance. It is the official language of eight countries and is spoken by around 230 million people. UNESCO says that, along with Spanish, it is the fastest growing European language after English, and that in South America and southern Africa, it possesses the greatest growth potential as an international language.
Given Portugal’s rich history of discovery, the language has always been important. However, now there are many newer reasons to speak Portuguese as fluently as possible. It is an important diplomatic language, as the countries that count it as their first language are scattered all over the globe and are important players on the international stage. Also, with the emergence of Brazil’s economy, plus the future prospects in African countries such as Angola and Mozambique, business and job opportunities are set to increase significantly, not least in the field of tourism. And if you are a tourist, the ability to speak Portuguese will provide a much better cultural experience, through a deeper appreciation of the literature, music, architecture, etc.
It was spread to both South America and Africa by the colonisers and is now an official language of the EU and MERCOSOL. The 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games will take place Brazil, and, the language, will adopt a firm position at the centre of the planet’s consciousness. Furthermore, there is already an increased demand in American universities to learn the language in order to exploit the growing raft of opportunities, be they in Brazil, Portugal or Africa.
The better one can manipulate the language, the easier is to conduct relationships with the native speakers. Having a working knowledge of the language increases the chances of spotting opportunities earlier, whether looking for employment or a business opening. Being able to speak Portuguese with a country’s citizens not only earns respect, but also gives the speaker greater access to that society and its culture, making the whole venture a more fulfilling experience. Those who speak Portuguese hold the key to both future business and personal enrichment.
Although Portugal is the home of the language, in much the same way that the UK is the home of English, it is Brazil where most speakers can be found, in much the same way that the United States has the largest concentration of English speakers. And the similarities don’t stop there. Just as there are differences between US and British English, so there are differences between the language as spoken in Brazil and Portugal. They occur in syntax, grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation and spelling, although due to recent changes brought about by the Portuguese Orthographic Code, all spelling disparities will be phased out by 2014. However, none of these language idiosyncrasies are insurmountable, and speaking European Portuguese to a Brazilian and vice versa won’t cause any problems.
Portuguese is said to be an easy language to learn, particularly for speakers of other Romance languages, and while there are many different ways to acquire it, both on- and offline, Babbel is widely accepted as being an effective and efficient way to learn at a reasonable cost.