7 Reasons to Learn Portuguese

Christina Baum
Published: 23 March 2023
Portuguese speaking countries

Want to learn a language but can’t decide which one? Why not Portuguese? Here are 7 reasons besides the obvious cognitive benefits of studying a foreign language.

Portuguese is a global language

Portuguese is the 6th most spoken language in the world, with over 285 million speakers. It’s the official language of Portugal, Brazil, Angola, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, São Tomé and Príncipe, and East Timor. And due to historical ties, Portuguese is also spoken in Goa, India, and Macau, China.

By learning Portuguese, you'll discover the richness of the language and its interesting local variations. For instance, Brazilian Portuguese and European Portuguese have significant pronunciation and grammar differences. The most striking contrast is the vocabulary.


English Brazilian Portuguese European Portuguese
mobile phone celular telemóvel
bus ônibus autocarro
train trem comboio
tram bonde elétrico
ice-cream sorvete gelado
surname sobrenome apelido
suit terno fato

Table above: Examples of the difference in vocabulary between Brazilian and European Portuguese.


Sometimes these differences can be quite amusing and even baffle native Portugues speakers. For example, cueca means men’s underwear in Brazil, but women’s underwear in Portugal.

Video: Portugal vs. Brazil: Different words with the same meaning [English subtitles]

Portuguese is easy to learn

Portuguese and Spanish can be very similar. The two languages overlap in grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation.

Compare the following sentences—roughly equivalent to the English proverb "A word to the wise is sufficient," or, a more literal translation, "To a good listener, a few words are enough.":

Al buen entendedor pocas palabras bastan

(Spanish pronunciation: [al ˈβwen entendeˈðoɾ ˈpokas paˈlaβɾaz ˈβastan])

Ao bom entendedor poucas palavras bastam

(European Portuguese pronunciation: [aw ˈβõ ẽtẽdɨˈðoɾ ˈpo(w)kɐʃ pɐˈlavɾɐʃ ˈβaʃtɐ̃w̃])

(Brazilian Portuguese pronunciation: [aw ˈbõ ĩtẽdeˈdo(r) ˈpo(w)kɐs paˈlavɾɐz ˈbastɐ̃w]).

If you already speak another Romance language, like Spanish, French or Italian, you don’t have to start from scratch and can learn it much faster. City Lit offers a unique course for you if you already speak a Romance language.

Related course: Portuguese rapidamente

The language family tree depicting origin of Romance language from LatinThe language family tree depicting origin of Romance language from Latin
The Romance Language Family Tree

Access to diverse and vibrant cultures

Video: Portuguese artist, Mariza sings MAria Lisboa Live.

Learning a new language is an invitation to understand the nuances of a new culture. Portuguese has a wide range of regional dialects, which add to its diversity and cultural richness. 

Knowing Portuguese can open doors to not only one but several diverse and vibrant cultures, encompassing literature, films, music, history, artistic and culinary traditions of the Portuguese-speaking world across four continents.

Imagine how lovely it would be to sing Mariza’s fados and read Mia Couto in the original language.

Expand your travel opportunities

Wonderful view of Conceicao Beach, Fernando de Noronha Island Brazil with the famous Peak Hill (Morro do Pico)Wonderful view of Conceicao Beach, Fernando de Noronha Island Brazil with the famous Peak Hill (Morro do Pico)
Travel to Conceicao Beach, Fernando de Noronha Island Brazil with the famous Peak Hill (Morro do Pico)

Portuguese is the primary language spoken in popular tourist destinations like Portugal and Brazil.

Taste some of the best Portuguese wines in the Douro region, sunbathe on one of the 2,000 stunning beaches along Brazil’s 8,000-km coastline, take a boat ride along the Amazon River, snorkel in Bonito, which is called bonito (beautiful) for a reason, or go surfing in the volcanic archipelago of Fernando de Noronha.

Learning Portuguese can help you connect with locals, navigate around these countries and appreciate their diverse cultures.

Three dancers in brightly colours costumes captured in mid-air while dancing in unison on sunny day.Three dancers in brightly colours costumes captured in mid-air while dancing in unison on sunny day.
Brazil's carnivals attract millions of tourists and spectators every year.

Open up more career opportunities

Despite the large number of native speakers, few people choose to learn Portuguese as a second language. Give yourself an edge – language skills are a great way to set yourself apart. By learning Portuguese, you could bolster your CV and improve your job prospects.

With Portuguese on your CV, you're more eligible for jobs in international organizations such as the European Union, the World Health Organization, the African Union, the Organization of American States, MERCOSUL and the Community of Portuguese Language Countries.

Learning a new language also demonstrates a willingness to learn and adapt, which can be valuable traits in any job. It can also indicate cultural awareness and sensitivity, which is particularly important in today's globalized economy.

Portuguese is a truly beautiful language

Portuguese is a very melodious language, and musicians go as far as to say that Portuguese is the best language for music. After all, it is the language of bossa nova, samba, fado and morna.

The Brazilian author and songwriter Chico Buarque performed the remarkable feat of squeezing the 7-syllable word paralelepípedo (cobblestone) into his samba song Vai Passar.

Learn untranslatable words like saudade, master the pronunciation of the strange sound –ão, as in instrução (instruction), opinião (opinion) and fascinação (fascination) and the words avô (grandfather) and avó (grandmother).

It’s a pleasure to learn

Is there a better reason to learn a language than for pure pleasure? Polyglot Steve Kaufman, who speaks 20 languages, says that the most important thing to learn a language is “to find ways to enjoy it” and “find content that interests you.”

At City Lit, we offer language learning materials that are relevant, engaging and in line with our communicative approach.

A language student joins an online classA language student joins an online class
City Lit offers online Portuguese courses taught live by expert tutors.

Learn Portuguese online & in London

Enrol now and join the global Portuguese-speaking community!

Whether you're a beginner or want to improve your language skills, City Lit offers varied daytime and evening courses in-person and online. Portuguese language learning courses are delivered through a communicative approach with an emphasis on speaking and listening skills through interactive classroom-based learning.

If you're based in London, why not pop in for a coffee and visit our beautiful building on Keeley Street, Covent Garden? City Lit has a range of state-of-the-art facilities, such as the Digital & Design Lab, Photography Studio, John Lyon's Theatre, Wellbeing Centre, City Lit Gallery, and The Lunchroom Cafe. It also includes a modern library and student centre, offering a range of materials and services.






7 Reasons to Learn Portuguese