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Raising the standard – Portuguese as everyone understands it

The languages taught at Wits Language School are all based on the most widely recognised “standard dialect”. In other words, regional dialects and creoles are not taught. This policy applies to Portuguese in particular as we receive many queries about the differences between ‘Mozambican Portuguese’ and ‘Portuguese from Portugal’.

When you need to do business or research in a foreign country, you need to speak the official language of that country. In many international organisations, such as the African Union and the SADC, Portuguese is one of the main languages spoken.

Portuguese is the 6th most commonly spoken language in the world - more than 230 million people speak Portuguese around the globe. Portuguese is the official language of Portugal, Angola, Brasil, Cabo Verde, Guiné-Bissau, Moçambique and São Tomé e Príncipe (all spelt in Portuguese). It is also used extensively in Macau, Goa and Timor Leste.
Many think that the Portuguese language spoken in Brazil is “different” to the one spoken in Portugal. Some even think that it is a different dialect. This is not the case. The language spoken in both these countries is the same, albeit with a different pronunciation. In much the same way, English spoken in the USA, UK, South Africa and other countries is the same language, although it is often spoken with varying pronunciations and has some fairly minor differences in vocabulary from region to region.

In Cape Verde, St. Tomé e Príncipe, Guinea-Bissau and East Timor however, there exists a number of people who speak Portuguese Creole even though the official language is still standard Portuguese. These dialects are used in different contexts. If, for example, you want to study Cesária Évora’s music (Cesária is a famous Cape Verdian singer), you would need to study the Portuguese Creole spoken on the islands. Cesária Évora sang in various languages but many of her lyrics are in Portuguese Creole. On the other hand, if you need to do business or research on these islands, you need to be able to communicate in standard Portuguese since this is the official language.

The study of creole languages and dialects is required for the exploration of local culture. However, for business or daily communication while travelling around these countries, it is essential that you are able to communicate in that country’s official language – the standard dialect, and that is the dialect taught at Wits Language School.

Travel, work, culture, food, friends – so many reasons to learn a new language.