“It’s part of the day-to-day of the growing middle class to have English as an activity,” says Rone Costa, the manager for development for Cambridge ESOL Examinations in Brazil, which tests and certifies students’ English proficiency.
Brazil already has some 6,215 franchises of more than 70 language schools with names like Wizard, Yes!, Wise Up, and Cultura Inglesa, according to the Brazilian Franchising Association. And that number doesn’t include private teachers who give individual courses and small group lessons across the country.
Their market is large: About 4 of 5 Brazilians in the middle class, which accounts for more than half of the country, do not speak any foreign language, according to 2010 research by the Brazilian Institute of Public Opinion and Statistics. That's approximately 100 million Brazilians.
And for those who can't afford private courses, the government is putting new attention on English learning. In 2009, after Brazil won the bid to host the Olympics, it began to require that public schools in Rio de Janeiro teach English to all children between ages 6 and 8 in a program called Criança Global (Global Child).
Brazil could host hundreds of thousands of tourists and engineers in coming years. Some 700,000 jobs will be created in the tourism industry between 2011 and the 2014 World Cup, according to the Ministry of Tourism. As multinationals keep tabs on the energy and infrastructure sectors, foreigners are increasingly doing business in Brazil, with many even relocating.
And as Brazil gets more press as an emerging economy member of the so-called "BRICS," it wants to remain competitive as a major world player. A push is under way for authors to translate works to English and to send Brazilian students abroad through government-sponsored programs.