English speaking in Brazil


Eventough the english language is considered a basic tool in the business world, and a pre-requirement to work in most of the companies, only one out five employees has advanced knowledges of the language in Brazil according to a survey done by Robert Half a human resources company.

According to the survey, that was released with 100 human resources directors, more than 80% consider english fluency, very important for the business of the firm. Nonetheless, directors estimate that only 20% of all employees of the firm are fluent in english. According to their opinion 45% of the employees have an intermediary level and 1/3 are still in a basic level.

These results achieved by Robert Half show an interesting difference between the desired level of english companies would like their employees to have and what is really found in Brazilian employees. According to Fabio Saad, manager of Robert Half, english is seen as a signal of qualification. The english speaking professional in Brazil ends up taking the attention during the selection process and can earn higher salaries, fact which ends up inflationating the market in Brazil.

What companies have been doing in Brazil to overcome this gap is to hire a professional that isn’t completely fluet in english and after the professional is hired, companies tend to have partnerships with english schools, so a percentage of the classes is sponsored by the company and another percentage is paid by the employee, and the classes can take place at an english school or sometimes even in company.

English First (EF) prepared a study to evaluate the english proficieny per country. Brazil ranked in 31st place. According to EF the high proficiency in english, shows a strong correlation with the gross national income of a country.

One of the reasons for the low english proficiency, as it still happens in Brazil is the general level of education of the population.  If the primary public education is deficient,the level of english proficiency of a nation will clearly be not satisfactory.

So in order to Brazil reach higher levels of english proficiency it is necessary to:

Trying to find information on google on how many Brazilians are fluent in english or, can at least sustain a conversation in english I found that 24% of the Brazilian population consider themselves fluent in english. Honestly I believe that this number is way lower, and it would probably be something ( this is a huge guess) around 7%, that I believe is fluent.

So in order to Brazil reach higher levels of english proficiency it is necessary to:

  • Put children in school and give them an education coherent and consistent with the actual global standards needed;
  • Incentive the english teaching in all Brazilian public schools for students from 12 years.This learning process must or at least should never stop during all high school and university period;
  • It is also necessary to recognize that several adults did not have the chance to learn english at a younger age. They therefore, need acessible ways to learn the english language and realistic goals to learn english. Companies supporting them with english programs can reall bring an impact, but above all it is necessary that the adult himself makes a conscious choice to permit himself to learn english


Hope you have enjoyed this article,


Carlos Monteiro is a Brazilian citizen, graduated in Business Administration by the Catholic University of São Paulo. He lives in Odense, Denmark with his Danish Wife, Cathrine, and their half Danish /Brazilian daughter Ines Marie. You are very welcome to be in contact him at any time.

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