Welcome to 2014. It's the year that the spotlight of the world will focus in on Brazil as we enter the final countdown to the FIFA World Cup in June and July. Many reports on issues such as the stadium construction have been far from positive, but as we all know, the media is rarely positive before any major sporting event - who can remember how quickly the London Olympic coverage turned from predicting a disaster to praising the British for the best Olympic games ever?
With the Rio de Janeiro Olympics scheduled for 2016 there is a period of global sporting events over the coming few years that will be projecting Brazil into the homes of billions all over the world. Naturally this may encourage a few people to consider visiting or even moving to Brazil - in search of the beach and caipirinha lifestyle.
But it's not so easy to move to Brazil. First there is quite a restrictive visa regime that prevents most foreigners from coming to work in Brazil unless married to a citizen, but secondly there is the language - Portuguese. It's not commonly taught in school in most English-speaking countries and is therefore quite a challenge for most gringos who want to work in Brazil.
Kevin Porter's 'Live in Brazil' blog is one of the best free sources of information on how to get a job in Brazil for those thinking of the move. Kevin also runs courses in Portuguese using what he calls the 'Portuguese Acceleration Blueprint 8' (PAB8) - a method of learning a new language by using it to do things you are interested in. It's an interesting approach that flies in the face of the more traditional 'book is on the table' language schools so I asked Kevin why he created the course:
"The PAB8 was created out of a personal journey to Portuguese fluency. Having tried so hard to learn Portuguese without any results, I quickly realised that the key to fluency isn't in grammar and vocabulary study, it's in unlocking our passions and adapting our environment. On the edge of giving up, I did exactly this and became fluent in under 6 months without a teacher...now I live to show others how to do the same!"
I can understand and support what Kevin is saying. My wife's native language is Portuguese and she learned both English and Italian by going to countries where those languages are spoken and then just doing things - meeting people, making friends, and getting a job. She never took a single English lesson and yet is now a published author - in English. Trying to use the language to play in a local football team or engage in banter in the pub is a lot more interesting than sitting in a classroom trying to remember how to use the past tense because you want to pass an exam.
In my own book about Brazil I focused on this dual problem for foreigners coming to live and work in Brazil. Even if you have the right to move to Brazil - perhaps you married a Brazilian national like me - then that just gives you the visa and residency status. It doesn't mean that you can easily get a job, because if you don't speak the local language then how can you work?
In my next blog, here on Huffington Post UK, I will feature an extract from 'Reality Check: Life in Brazil through the eyes of a foreigner' where I outline some of my own experiences trying to learn how to communicate with people in Brazil.