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The Breakdown

Maybe you were taken with the legend and adventures of explorers like Vasco da Gama and Ferdinand Magellan. Perhaps it began when the philosophical writings of Baruch Spinoza set you off on an intellectual bender. Or maybe you are drawn in by the alluring moves performed in Capoeira. Whatever the reason, you are taken with all things (and countries speaking) Portuguese and thus should consider this as a possible course of study.

As a Portuguese major, you’ll certainly have your fair share of classes focusing on conversation, composition and grammar. Fortunately, studying a language at the collegiate level goes far beyond those brick and mortar lessons. Indeed, you will be exposed to the culture, art and history of a number of Portuguese-speaking countries. You’ll be able to study everything from the films of Walter Salles to the literature of José Saramago (in the original Portuguese of course). Perhaps most exciting, you will likely have the opportunity to study abroad. And there’s no better way to learn a language than total immersion!

Should you decide to study Portuguese, you’ll need the patience and the fortitude required to achieve proficiency (not to mention fluency) in a foreign language. It also helps to have a good ear for accents and an appreciation for the nuances of grammar. Moreover, when studying another culture, it’s best to maintain an open mind. Finally, we recommend practicing rolling your “Rs” whenever you get the chance.

Nuts and Bolts

Don’t fret; Portuguese majors don’t spend all of their time conjugating verbs. While grammar is certainly a part and parcel for the department, you’ll enroll in a variety classes designed to address all aspects of Portuguese culture and history. Courses might include: Advanced Elementary Portuguese, Portuguese Composition and Conversation, Studies in Luso-Brazilian Language and Literature, Topics in Portuguese Linguistics, Cultural Expressions of Brazil, The Art of Portugal, Teaching Portuguese as a Foreign Language, Gender and Society in Brazilian Cinema, Seminar in Lusophone African Literatures and Cultures, and Nineteenth Century Portuguese Literature.

Decisions, Decisions

Portuguese majors love to learn about different countries and cultures, from languages to literature and all topics in between. Therefore, they might also think about studying French, Spanish, Italian, German, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, English, Hebrew, art history, international business, political science, East Asian studies, international relations, Slavic studies, Latin American studies, African studies and anthropology.

What's Next

You might not believe it but as a Portuguese major you’ll be uniquely positioned. Indeed, the writing and critical thinking skills you’ll hone coupled with the international savvy acquired through studying another culture make you quite marketable. And while teaching and translation are common, noble and attainable positions, you will discover that you are not limited to those two professions. Certainly, many graduates find positions with Portuguese and Latin American-owned companies involved in a variety of different industries. Others might seek employment in international education or with study abroad companies. A handful of Portuguese majors also land jobs with NGOs, doing aid work within Portuguese-speaking countries (or Portuguese-speaking populations) around the globe.The foreign service is another attractive route as is international business. Lastly, the tourism and hotel industries are popular, as they allow for a high degree of interaction with international clients.


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Don Munce