Language Education Policy Studies
An International Network
New members welcome!

Brazil’s Spanish Overview: Market & School Perspective

Spanish is a main foreign language for Brazilians. Economic and political elements play important roles for the learning and teaching of Spanish in Brazil. Firstly, there is the economic factor that the commercial cooperation between Brazil and Spanish-speaking countries. In the 1990s, the creation of Mercosur due to new markets caused “the boom of Spanish”. Thus Mercosur’s establishment created an increased need for local employees who could speak Spanish. This phenomenon had a profound influence in Spanish as a foreign language in Brazil. Because of the increasing demand of learning and teaching Spanish, native Spanish speakers from countries like Uruguay and Argentinean came to Brazil, many of them working as language instructors. In this sense, their language varieties became the dialectal reference for Spanish in Brazil.

In addition, the support from the government has had an important effect on the teaching of Spanish in Brazil. For instance, the Brazilian government passed a federal law in 2005, establishing Spanish learning as compulsory in middle and high school, and allowing it to be taught in elementary school. Since learning Spanish is required by the government, every Brazilian student needs to learn it at school. Brazilian president Lula da Silva was awarded the Don Quijote prize since he supported such a law to popularize Spanish in Brazil. However, a conflict between the government and academia ensued. In order to support the teaching and learning of Spanish in Brazil, the government started a project called Oye!, aiming to train 45,000 teachers to serve 5 million students from 2006 to 2010. However, universities and local professional organizations protested the project because it did not provide enough training for teachers. In universities, students who want to become Spanish teachers have to take 2,000 hours of training to get a bachelor degree, while in this kind of project, teachers only need 600 hours of distance courses.

In sum, the flourishing of Spanish in Brazil has been caused by economic and political factors, and Spanish has already become a major foreign language in Brazil.

However, the government has not taken effective and strategic action to make the “boom of Spanish” into a success. For example, the government does not respond to language pedagogy issues, and leaves some important issues unattended. Although teaching and learning Spanish is increasingly demanded by the market, there is not an efficient way to organize the situation, and many things are left to be done for the teaching and learning of Spanish in Brazil.


Do Brazilians speak Spanish?


Why is it important to learn Spanish?


Bugel, Talia, & Santos, Helade Scutti. (2010). Attitudes and Representations of        Spanish and the Spread of the Language Industries in Brazil. Language         Policy, 9(2), 143-170.

FOCUS ON BRAZIL: Spanish choice. (1987). Screen International (Archive:        1976-2000),(627), 36.


This web page has a copyright. It may be referred to and quoted, or reproduced and distributed for educational purposes according to fair use legislation only if the following citation is included in the document:

This information was originally published on the website of the International Network for Language Education Policy Studies ( as

Shu Yang. (2018). Brazil’s Spanish Overview: Market & School Perspective. In F. V. Tochon (Ed.), Language Education Policy Studies (online). Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin—Madison. Retrieved at: (insert link) 

Widget is loading comments...