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The Chinese are arriving

The profile of foreigners looking to learn Portuguese in Brazil varies in accordance with mood swings in the international economy. “My latest batch of students are Chinese”, says Denise Coronha Lima (born in Rio), author of the book “Teaching Portuguese in the Corporate World”, launched in Brazil by the QualityMark publishing house in February. Denise lives in Rio de Janeiro, where she gives classes to executives of Chinese companies living in Rio since the 80s. “The Chinese are excellent – they help each other during classes”, she points out. “It is different from other cultures, where students compete with each other or prefer to keep quite in group classes”.

Denise teaches executives from various nationalities, including Norwegian, Thai, American and Swiss students. In addition to the language, she gives classes on the local culture, discussing themes such as the lack of punctuality, problems with delivery deadlines, styles of meetings and interpersonal space. She says that 20 years ago, the profi le of executive expats was a middleaged male, married to women who had quit their careers to follow their husbands. Today, there are a growing number of female and single executives. “20 years ago, executives thought Brazil was hell on earth – in their minds, it was a sacrifi ce just being here, and that´s why they distanced themselves from the language” notes Denise. “They would only learn Portuguese as a communication tool and nothing else”, she recalls. In the 90s, she points out, the outlook started to change.

Many executives came to Brazil during the wave of privatizations; they already saw Brazil as a center of opportunities and wanted to learn Portuguese in order to stand out from the competition. Things really improved in 2000 onwards, with the spread of the Internet. Many of the new expats, now students of Denise, lived in other countries such as Libya, Kazakhstan, Malaysia or Singapore and arrive in Brazil speaking at least a few words in Portuguese and knowing exactly what they want to learn.

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