Portugal To Renew Focus on Teaching Portuguese to Expats

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Published on 16 February, 2024 • Last updated on 16 February, 2024

By Portugal Homes

Portugal To Renew Focus on Teaching Portuguese to Expats

Portugal’s governmental agency for immigration and border control, Agência para Integração, Migração e Asilo (AIMA – Agency for Integration, Migration and Asylum), has launched today, the 16th of February of 2024, its Plano Estratégico para a Aprendizagem do Português (Strategic Plan to Learning Portuguese as a Foreign Language).

Portugal Is Pushing for Integration

This Strategic Plan is mainly targeted at expat and immigrant communities living in Portugal, who do not have Portuguese as their native language, and who are especially struggling to learn the language.

In an interview given to Lusa, one of Portugal’s most respected news outlets, AIMA’s president, Luís Goes Pinheiro, reminded that despite the agency’s main concern is, for the time being, addressing the backlog inherited from the former immigration and border control agency (SEF - Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras), it is not disregarding the learning of Portuguese language. In fact, the launch of this new Strategic Plan reinforces the agency’s commitment to a more integrated Portuguese society.

It bears to keep in mind that Portugal has recently reached an all-time high of foreign residents living in the country, and it currently depends on expats to heavily contribute to the social security system.  

The launch of this plan coincides with recent remarks made by Ana Catarina Mendes, Deputy Minister and of Parliamentary Affairs, who, in a separate interview to Lusa, stated the following about the Strategic Plan: “It is clear that the migration movements are different today from what they were 20 or 30 years ago, which means there is a need to create a bridge that eliminates the gaps, and the only bridge that will eliminate the gaps is the bridge that is the Portuguese language (...)”

The Strategic Plan to Learning Portuguese as a Foreign Language

Linguistic differences may impose a barrier against the full social, civic, and professional integration of expats in the Portuguese landscape. Understanding this, AIMA sought to gather many opinions to develop the Strategic Plan, especially from public interest entities to create a plan to promote and foster the learning of the Portuguese language. In total, AIMA met with about 80 institutions to craft this plan.

“We have managed to mobilise a vast set of public administration entities in a document which binds all parties for the next 4 years, with a review scheduled within the next 2 years,” Mr. Goes Pinheiro said, revealing the country’s deep commitment to teaching the Portuguese language to its foreign resident population. 

Now, the Plan is available for Public Consultation, inviting Portuguese citizens to comment and give feedback on its structure and objectives. According to Mr. Goes Pinheiro, this is especially important, as the main purpose of the Consultation is “to elevate the knowledge and mastery of the Portuguese language.”

With AIMA’s objective of ensuring that learning the Portuguese language is within reach to all expats and immigrants, regardless of age, the Plan is currently presenting an ample set of 38 policies, organised alongside 5 strategic pillars, and executable across 58 activities.  

Some of the Strategic Plan’s highlights include the possibility to participate in online classes, available through e-learning modules, the possibility of self-diagnosing one’s level of Portuguese fluency and using digital tools without the need to physically participate in classes.

Learning the Portuguese Language in 2024

There are no doubts English is currently the world’s de facto language. It is the world’s most spoken language, spoken natively by many people from countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, India, among many others, and spoken as a second language by millions more people.  

Portugal is no different. English is spoken widely in the country, especially in the hotspot, larger areas of Lisbon, Porto, and the Algarve, especially with younger generations. Even so, learning the Portuguese language always facilitates a smooth and easier integration of foreign residents and expats into the local Portuguese communities.

This new Strategic Plan is Portugal’s most recent push to facilitate the learning of the Portuguese language. Currently, the country already allows Portuguese citizenship to be obtained without taking the official language exam, and instead letting foreign residents to learn at their own pace, and still be able to fully participate in Portuguese society.  

As the country further opens itself up to the world, inviting and drawing in countless expats, moving to Portugal becomes, time and time again, the best choice out there for second residency and citizenship, offering official means to do so with plenty of benefits.

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