43% of Brazilian students taking the national Enem test (Exame Nacional do Ensino Médio) prefer Spanish

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Here is an interesting article from a few weeks back in Portuguese. It's interesting for two reasons, and the first is the information from the article itself. According to the article 43% of Brazilian students taking the national Enem test prefer to go with Spanish instead of English, even students like the first one interviewed who have never heard a word of Spanish before, choosing to risk it simply due to the similarities to Portuguese. The second student in the article said she had never learned Spanish in school but knew some from the internet and books, and so went with Spanish instead of Portuguese. The 43% number is especially interesting considering that seven out of ten schools do not offer Spanish classes, whereas they all teach English. The article ends with some caution that simply relying on the assumption that Spanish will be easy due to similarities to Portuguese can be dangerous, and in extreme cases this may be true, but then again there is no other language for a Portuguese speaker where a student can actually feel comfortable risking taking it on a test after having studied it for exactly zero hours.

The second interesting thing about the article is that the audio in the embedded video matches the text almost exactly, so that site (Jorna da Globo) looks to be a great place to learn Portuguese. Videos with live interviews do not match up, but all the ones with prepared news reports seem to, such as this one from yesterday on the North Korean attacks on the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong-do.

Two other related articles from the past year on Brazil and Spanish are: this one where the number of students learning Spanish in Brazil has increased by 400% over the past 3 years, and this one on the plan to increase the number of those proficient in Spanish in Brazil from 11 million to 50 million by 2015. As today's article shows, Brazilians are already quite familiar with Spanish in a passive manner, and learning Spanish is more a manner of tweaking their native language than learning a new one from scratch.

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