The popularity of Spanish as a foreign language continues to grow in Brazil, the only Portuguese-speaking nation on a continent dominated by Spanish. Brazil shares a border with seven Spanish-speaking countries, and it conducts a substantial amount of trade with countries where Spanish is spoken (1/4 of exports and 1/5 of imports).
A significant number of non-Brazilian Spanish speakers, estimated at about 1 million people, call the nation home, mostly as the result of immigration from surrounding countries. Sephardic Jews – who speak both Ladino and Spanish – settled in Brazil and now compose a small portion of the country’s Spanish-speaking peoples.
With an eye toward more fully integrating Brazil with its Spanish-speaking neighbors and partners in the South American trade bloc Mercosur, the Brazilian Congress passed an education bill in 2005 requiring all secondary schools to offer Spanish as a second language. This legislation spurred an increase in resources dedicated to Spanish, and the number of Brazilian students studying español has increased from one million to five million in a period of just five years. A recent agreement between Spain’s Cervantes Institute, an organization devoted to promoting the Spanish language worldwide, and the Brazilian Ministry of Education provides for the training of 26,000 Spanish teachers to manage the increased demand sparked by the 2005 bill.