Do People Speak Spanish in Brazil?

If you’re planning to visit or move to Brazil, one of the questions you might be asking is whether Spanish is spoken there. With Brazil being the largest country in South America, the cultural diversity can be overwhelming, and language is a significant factor to consider. In this article, we will dive into the world of Brazilian languages and explore the question, “Do they speak Spanish in Brazil?”

Do Brazilians Speak Spanish?

The simple answer is no, Spanish is not a widely spoken language in Brazil. The official language of Brazil is Portuguese, and it’s the language that the majority of the population speaks. Portuguese is also the primary language of instruction in schools and universities.

However, Brazil shares its borders with ten other countries, including Spanish-speaking nations such as Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay. Due to this geographic proximity, some Brazilians are exposed to Spanish and may speak it, particularly those who live in border regions or major cities that attract Spanish-speaking tourists.

What is the Spanish Proficiency Level in Brazil?

According to a survey conducted by the Instituto Cervantes in 2019, Brazil ranks 12th in the world in terms of the number of Spanish learners. The study found that approximately 8.3 million people in Brazil are currently studying Spanish, with an additional 500,000 people learning the language on their own.

While this number may seem impressive, it’s important to note that the majority of these Spanish learners are still not fluent in the language. The same study found that only 5.1% of the Brazilian population has an advanced or proficient level of Spanish, with the majority falling under the beginner or intermediate level.

It’s worth noting that Brazil’s Spanish proficiency level varies by region, with those living closer to the Spanish-speaking countries exhibiting a higher level of proficiency. According to the same study, residents of the southern region, which shares borders with Argentina and Uruguay, have the highest proficiency level in Spanish.

What is the Official Language of Brazil?

As previously mentioned, the official language of Brazil is Portuguese. The country’s history and culture have played a significant role in shaping the Portuguese language spoken in Brazil. The language was introduced to the country during the colonization period in the 16th century, and it has since evolved to incorporate local dialects and idioms. Today, Brazilian Portuguese is considered a distinct dialect of Portuguese, with its own unique features and pronunciation.

LanguageOfficial StatusSpeakers
PortugueseOfficialOver 200 million
SpanishNot OfficialAbout 460,000
EnglishNot OfficialAbout 6.5 million
FrenchNot OfficialAbout 1.5 million

How Has the Spanish Level Progressed Over the Years in Brazil?

The Spanish language has had a complicated relationship with Brazil throughout history. While there have been periods of strong cultural exchange and influence between Brazil and Spanish-speaking countries, the use of Spanish in Brazil has never been widespread.

However, in recent years, there has been a significant increase in the number of Spanish learners in Brazil. According to the Instituto Cervantes, the number of Spanish learners in Brazil has grown by 15% over the past decade. This growth can be attributed to various factors, including increased economic and cultural ties between Brazil and other Spanish-speaking countries, as well as the perceived career benefits of being bilingual.

Is Spanish Taught in Schools in Brazil?

While Portuguese is the primary language of instruction in schools and universities, Spanish is also taught as a foreign language in many institutions. According to data from the Brazilian Ministry of Education, Spanish is the second most commonly taught foreign language in Brazilian schools, after English.

However, the level of Spanish education can vary significantly depending on the institution. Some schools may offer only basic Spanish courses, while others may have

more advanced programs. It’s also worth noting that not all schools in Brazil offer Spanish language education, particularly those in more remote regions.

Can You Get By Speaking Only Spanish in Brazil?

While it’s possible to find Spanish speakers in Brazil, particularly in major cities and border regions, it’s not recommended to rely solely on Spanish to get by in Brazil. Portuguese is the primary language spoken in the country, and not all Brazilians are proficient in Spanish. In fact, attempting to speak Spanish with someone who only speaks Portuguese can be seen as disrespectful or ignorant.

That being said, if you do speak Spanish and are traveling to Brazil, it’s always helpful to have some basic Portuguese phrases under your belt to make communication easier. Additionally, if you plan on staying in Brazil for an extended period, it’s highly recommended to learn Portuguese to fully immerse yourself in the local culture and make the most of your experience.


In conclusion, while Spanish is not widely spoken in Brazil, there is still a significant number of Spanish learners in the country. Brazil’s proximity to Spanish-speaking nations and increased cultural and economic ties have contributed to the growth of Spanish education in Brazil. However, Portuguese remains the primary language of instruction and communication in the country. If you’re planning on visiting or moving to Brazil, it’s recommended to learn Portuguese to fully immerse yourself in the local culture and make the most of your experience.