Academics: Majors and Programs

Why Should You Study Portuguese?

Portuguese is the fifth most spoken language in the world and the third most spoken language in the Western world. There are over 260 million speakers.

Portuguese is an important language for the African Diaspora. It is spoken in countries such as Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde, and Brazil. Learning Portuguese will give you access to a wealth of cultural and academic materials about these countries’ history, literature, religions, and society. 

There are many Brazilian communities in the United States, including Los Angeles, New York, Boston, Miami, Atlanta, and other areas (see the Language Map of the Modern Language Association Learning Portuguese would allow you to serve these communities in your future profession, whether you will be a lawyer, a doctor, a psychologist, a business owner, or an educator.

Interesting Facts

  • In recent years, Brazil became China's largest trading partner
  • Brazil will be hosting both the World Cup in 2014 and the Summer Olympics in 2016
  • Brazil’s economy is the 7th largest in the world and it encompasses services, manufacturing, mining, and agricultural sectors
  • Brazil is the 9th largest producer of oil and a leading producer of ethanol. It is also a leader in agricultural research
  • The U.S. Department of State has declared Portuguese a strategic language

Departmental Certificate of Proficiency in Portuguese

Students who complete Portuguese 301 and one other 300 or 400-level course with a grade of B or above are eligible to receive a departmental Certificate of Proficiency in Portuguese.​​


Portuguese 101-102
These courses introduce students to the Portuguese language. They encourage meaningful and contextualized use of the language through reading, listening, writing and speaking tasks based on pedagogical and authentic materials. Through a very hands-on approach to language learning, students use the language in simulations of everyday interactions, manipulating grammar and vocabulary in order to communicate. Topics covered in this class include university life, friends and family, leisure activities, clothing, and sports. All topics are connected with the everyday culture of the Portuguese-speaking world.

Portuguese 201-202
These courses are designed to develop students’ fundamental linguistic skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing with emphasis on oral proficiency. It reinforces and builds upon skills acquired at the 100 level, introducing students to new grammatical structures and vocabulary related to seasons and celebrations, work, food, health, travelling, the environment, society, and technology. These courses also aim to expand students' knowledge of everyday culture, as expressed through language, in Portuguese-speaking countries.

Portuguese 301

This course, Conversation, Composition and Culture, develops students’ linguistic skills in Portuguese bridging the intermediate and advanced levels. It encourages meaningful and contextualized use of the Portuguese language with an emphasis on speaking and writing. Each class focuses on topics of personal and general interest, including family, leisure activities, seasons and celebrations, and current events in the Portuguese-speaking world, with a focus on Brazil.

Portuguese 352
Luso-Afro-Brazilian Cinema (cross-listed as CWS 352 and SIS 352, counts as an elective for the Women Studies major and minor, the International Studies major and minor, or the Sociology/Anthropology major).

Taught in English, this course focuses on the cinema of the Portuguese-speaking world. It covers topics such as gender, race, the city, migration, violence, and history in the cultures of Brazil, Portugal, and Portuguese-speaking Africa as represented in film in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Students will watch several films and read scholarly work about the films in question, about the topics addressed in the films, and/or about the history and the societies of the Portuguese-speaking countries depicted in the films.

Questions addressed in this course include: How are women of various races and social backgrounds represented in Lusophone cinema? What social spaces do they occupy and what is their role in society and in history as represented in the films? What are the main issues pertaining to Lusophone history represented in films? How do the films reproduce or question official narratives about the history of different countries in the Portuguese-speaking world? What migration patterns are represented in the films? How do the films portray the causes and consequences of these migratory movements? How are images of rural and urban landscapes constructed in the films? What do these images tell us about socio-economic differences in these territories?

How do you say… in Portuguese?

  • Hi/Hello = Oi/Olá!
  • Good morning = Bom dia!
  • Good afternoon = Boa tarde!
  • Good evening/night = Boa noite!
  • How are you? = Tudo bem?
  • What’s your name? = Como você se chama?/Qual é o seu nome?
  • My name is… = Eu me chamo…/Meu nome é…

Music in Portuguese

  • Brazil: Vanessa da Mata, Seu Jorge
  • Portugal: Mariza
  • Cape Verde: Cesária Évora

Singers from other nationalities that have recorded in or with Portuguese-speaking artists Portuguese: The Black Eyed Peas, Ben Harper, Frank Sinatra, Nelly Furtado, Laura Pausini, Diana Krall, Diego Torres, Alejandro Sanz, Shakira.

Cinema in Portuguese

  • Antonia (2007)
  • Elite Squad (2007, 2010)
  • Blindness (in English, based on Portuguese writer José Saramago’s novel Ensaio sobre a cegueira 2008)

Photo Credit: Ligia Bezerra, Ph.D.; place: Olinda, Pernambuco, Brazil

For more information, please, contact:

Dr. Ligia Bezerra
Assistant Professor of Portuguese
World Languages and Literature
Office: The Camille Olivia Hanks Cosby, Ed.D. Academic Center, 454
Telephone: 404 270 5545