In his last blog Connection Rio’s sponsored athlete Lee Wright briefly touched on Portuguese and it’s use here in Rio de Janeiro. Currently, both houses are located in Barra da Tijuca, one of Rio’s most fancy neighbourhoods.
This blog was written by Peter, Connection Rio house manager. He’ll be blogging weekly on life and training BJJ in Rio de Janeiro.
However, it is not one of the main touristy areas, which means most stores and restaurants don’t have English speaking personnel. Some people find this to be slightly frustrating, but it is important to remain respectful. After all, you are visiting their country.
In Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon you would probably get by on just English. In Barra, I strongly advice you to pick up a few basics. Ordering food and understanding the BJJ classes does not take very long, but will make your life a lot easier.
If you plan to stay for a longer period of time, learning Portuguese would definitely be a good idea. Not only do Brazilians appreciate it a lot when you try, it also opens up the city for you, as Carioca’s will more readily share their “secret” spots.
If you want to learn Portuguese, there are a few options. Personally, I would not advise Rosetta Stone (or similar programs) because it is too easy to slack off and stop doing the classes. Ultimately, I feel it does not offer the same immersion a real life course would. At the moment, my girlfriend is taking classes at Casa do Caminho Language Centre in Ipanema.
She speaks highly off the classes and I have seen the improvements in her Portuguese even after just 3 weeks. On top of that, the fee you pay helps support the orphans at Casa do Caminho.