By Sam Green, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Everybody is talking about boom time in Brazil, and more and more foreigners are arriving in the country with the eighth largest economy in the world seeking to make the most of the opportunities. Helping them transition into the work-place is language school BridgeBrazil, which is focusing on helping clients arriving in Brazil who do not speak Portuguese.
Started in Rio in 1984, BridgeBrazil is an offshoot from its head office Bridge in Denver, U.S., and has recently merged with Trends & Business, a language consulting company based in São Paulo. BridgeBrazil is a subsidiary of Bridge, an international language, education and travel company, leading the field with innovative services for nearly three decades with centers across the globe, including Chile and Argentina.
BridgeBrazil director Verônica Horta has witnessed the growth of demand for Portuguese language training. “I started as an English teacher in the Nineties but then started teaching Portuguese in 2001 and have seen the demand increase dramatically in the last decade.”
According to Horta, the interest in business-language proficiency has been the area with the most growth. “People come here for many different reasons, but what we have really noticed is the growth in the number of people wanting to learn Portuguese because they are coming here to work. They will be our main clients from now on.”
Horta goes on to explain: “We still have a lot of people coming to us because they have moved here to be with their Brazilian boyfriends or girlfriends, but business clients have increased in the last two years in particular. I would estimate the numbers have tripled.”
Horta said foreign employees from oil and gas companies and people arriving for work related to the football (soccer) 2014 World Cup in Brazil and the Rio 2016 Olympic Games have provided the largest share of the increased demand.
“It’s great because they really feel that they need and want to speak Portuguese. People used to think it was possible to live here without speaking Portuguese, but when they arrived they found that they really needed to learn the language.”
Horta continues: “For example, if you work in a big company you will probably find that only the people in the highest ranks speak English, so if you want to get on with everybody you really need to speak Portuguese.”
Most clients have lessons at BridgeBrazil’s Rio headquarters on Rua da Quitanba, close to Avenida Rio Branco in Centro, but the company can also send teachers to offices and homes of clients.
The company also offers students the chance to earn university credits and is the only language school in Brazil certified to teach Germans under their ministry of education ‘Bildungsurlaub’ plan. They also provide professional classes for people seeking to pass the CELPE-BRAS qualification used to gain citizenship.
“You cannot really find another language program like ours in Rio,” says Horta. “We are internationally recognized, we offer the chance to earn university credits, we help with accommodation and provide 24-hour support. I think we’re the only ones providing this kind of structure.”
BridgeBrazil uses a variety of creative teaching techniques, such as studying Brazilian films and history, and using online tools. But as the biggest market comes from business students, they provide many classes focused on teaching business vocabulary.
Monica Szwarc became Bridge’s Country Manager in Brazil after merging her Trends & Business firm. She will remain in São Paulo and bring her expertise in matching clients with the right schools and teachers, and also will assist customers who want to study abroad.
Szwark explains: “The merger will make us stronger, with very good prospects for growth, a bigger portfolio and expansion in a country that is growing so much.”
While Horta has lost some of her Carioca accent after years living in Goiás and speaking English, she enjoys hearing students picking up the Rio accent. “It’s so funny when you ask them ‘tudo bem?’ and suddenly they come out with ‘beleza’ or when they visit São Paulo and the Paulistas notice.”
To learn more about BridgeBrazil, visit their web site at http://www.bridgebrazil.com, or contact either location in Brazil:
Rua da Quitanda 191 / SL – Centro
Rio de Janeiro – RJ
Tel: +55 (21) 2220-8659
Sandra Monica Szwarc
Rua Augusta, 2445 – 3rd floor – Suite 6
Sao Paulo – CEP 01413-100 SP – Brazil
Tel: +55 (11) 3081-1837
* This is a paid Advertorial for BridgeBrazil.