SOAS University of London

SOAS Language Centre

Portuguese at SOAS Language Centre

Portuguese, like Spanish, French and Italian, is a descendant of the Latin introduced into various parts of Europe in Roman times. Contrary to popular belief, it is not fully comprehensible to speakers of Spanish, although there is a higher degree of intelligibility between Portuguese and Spanish than between Portuguese and French or Italian. Portuguese is a relatively young language by comparison to its linguistic relatives and was only officially recognised in 1290.

Portuguese was one of the first of the modern European languages to be taken outside of its European homeland, courtesy of the maritime voyages of exploration that began, early in the fifteenth century, with the western coastline of Africa, and culminated in Vasco da Gama’s discovery of the sea route to India in 1498. Due to the maritime prowess of its speakers, Portuguese established itself in three continents: Africa, Asia and South America (Brazil).

Since the late fifteenth century there have been, and to this day there continue to be, speakers of Portuguese in Africa, Asia and South America. Whilst it is well-known that the national language of Brazil is Portuguese, it tends to be less widely-known that it is an official language in five sovereign African states (Cape Verde; Guinea-Bissau; São Tomé and Príncipe; Angola; Mozambique) as well as three Asian territories (Goa, Macau and East Timor - the latter being an independent nation). 

Although the greatest number of speakers of Portuguese is to be found in Brazil, which accounts for an estimated 200 million out of 250 million worldwide,  it is European Portuguese that represents the ‘standard’ promoted in the Lusophone (that is, Portuguese-speaking) countries of Africa and which accounts for the dialect inherited by Lusophone communities in Asia. Accordingly, SOAS Language Centre offers tuition in European Portuguese.

SOAS Language Centre offers the following for Portuguese: