Sao Paulo - Post Report Question and Answers

How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

In my opinion, it is absolutely necessary. Most of your apartment building staff do not speak any English which makes it difficult to communicate when there are questions/concerns. Also, in our building ALL posted communications are in Portuguese-that has been very difficult to manage during Covid lockdowns/restrictions. - May 2021

Portuguese is essential. There are local tutors and classes available, even through apps. Your experience will be much richer with good language skills. Portuguese required for simple tasks like getting a taxi and picking up delivery to traveling anywhere outside the city. - Apr 2021

You need Portuguese for almost everything, ESPECIALLY out of Sao Paulo. Upper class Paulistanos will speak varying levels of English. It's surprising for such a huge/international city. - Aug 2019

Portuguese is a MUST. Even non-working spouses will need to have at least beginner-level knowledge. English is rarely spoken by apartment managers, taxis or store and restaurant staff. - Nov 2017

It's helpful to know Portuguese since most Brazilians don't speak English. But even if you don't know the language Brazilians are very friendly and very patient and like foreigners. You can fumble your way through anything. - Apr 2017

Needed. Vast majority of Paulistas do not speak English. - Apr 2017

Lots. It is difficult to live if you don't know some Portuguese. - Jan 2017

You can "get-by" with English in tourist areas. You need Portuguese to indulge in the conversation and culture. - Jan 2017

Very few people in Sao Paulo speak English. You need basic Portuguese to get around. - Aug 2015

A LOT. No one speaks English. - Aug 2013

You really need to know Portuguese to get around day to day in a pleasant manner. Yes, you can go shopping for groceries and just nod your head if needed, but that's about it. I took a short online course before arriving (I would recommend more if you have the time) and hired a private tutor when we got to Brazil. I would go out everyday and just force myself to use new words. You have to know at least a few simple phrases to communicate your needs. Only some professionals know English. I delivered our baby at Albert Einstein and was grateful for the Portuguese I did know to communicate with the nurses---and even some doctors. - Dec 2012

You need to speak at least a basic level of Portuguese to get around. Not too many people speak English. - Jan 2012

Helps a lot--definitely learn this as it will make your stay so much better - Jan 2012

Important. Store employees and most cafe employees do not know English. - Jan 2012

A lot. Sao Paulo isn't as bad as Rio (where despite its ubertourist status, it seems practically no one speaks English), and usually people speak something. But definitely to live here you want to know more than good morning and thank you. - Oct 2008

Lots. Spanish helps, but you'll need to know Portuguese to have meaningful communication with people. - Aug 2008

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