Why Brazilians Value Student Exchange Abroad So Much?

Brazilians are looking to study abroad and are now a great group to target when it comes to international student recruitment.

The younger population in the Latin American country consider that learning English is increasingly valuable for personal growth, and are willing to invest in their professional future.

They are headed to countries such as the United States, Canada and Ireland and the numbers are looking great for entrepreneurs who are searching for new international students for language programs.

The English language has a strong penetration in Brazil. It is present in advertising and business, in music and movie broadcasting, and the country has fast-growing tourism and trade links with the United States. Despite that, the overall levels of English proficiency are fairly low, as opposed to neighboring Argentina, for example.

While English proficiency has improved in Brazil over the last several years, other Latin American countries have improved more quickly. As of 2014, only about 5% of Brazilian nationals claimed to be able to speak the language. The group of English speakers is concentrated in the Atlantic South, where the megacities of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro are located. In the rest of the country, English speakers aren’t spread as evenly.

Even though over the past ten years the number of Brazilians studying abroad has gone up by as much as 600% as a result of a strong effort to internationalize higher education, strengthening the English language acquisition in the country has been a slow process.

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Online surveys conducted by the British Council and Brazilian companies provided a number of interesting findings, including the following:

  • 82% of respondents said they would learn English in order to improve their employment prospects.
  • 61% of respondents said that they have not learned English because it’s too expensive, but also because it’s too time-consuming.
  • 48% of respondents said they have learned English because it would improve their job prospects, but only 9% of them stated that the skill was actually necessary for their job.
  • There is a strong correlation between the level of education and English learning, as well as income level and English proficiency.
  • English is needed more in heavily internationalized industries such as finance and professional services, and less in more locally based industries
  • English is, in general, considered to be a luxury acquisition or an extracurricular activity, though younger people consider it valuable for personal growth.

Another research, carried by the Brazilian Educational and Language Travel Association (Belta), finds that a record-high of 302,000 Brazilian students went abroad in 2017. This represents a 23% increase compared to the previous years, and an overall growth of nearly 40% between 2015 and 2017.

Respondents reported an average spend of US$ 9,989 for 2017, a total of US$ 3 billion for the outbound market. This amount represents a higher demand for long-term programmes, also meaning that the profile of students is more mature and, in addition to language courses, they are also looking for higher education to match job opportunities.

There are some reasons behind this: a decline in scholarship funding, most notably the drop in the Science Without Borders support, means that the vast majority of students are currently entirely or partially self-funded. But the primary area of demand in Brazil is still language programmes, especially ones that incorporate temporary work opportunities, as well as summer and winter camps for juniors. The growing interest is due, in part, to some flexibility in the timing of tuition payments

To make the recruitment process in Brazil easier, it’s important to know a few facts about Brazilians who want to learn English and the reasons why an exchange program abroad would be attractive for them.

International Student Recruitment Facts for Brazil

Growing purchasing power

By 2012, more than half of Brazilians had entered the ranks of the middle class, which represents nearly 100 billion people. And since learning English is directly correlated with purchasing power and higher economic levels, Brazilians are the perfect group to target when it comes to international student recruitment. According to research carried out by Santander Trade, tourism and travel are currently one of the top 10 growing sectors in Brazil. It is worth noting that payment terms are an important factor when considering a purchase.

High internet penetration

Targeting Brazil through online marketing is easy and effective. Brazil leads Latin America with 20 million regular Internet users. Therefore, online advertising is comparable to OECD countries and seeks to target Internet users more subtly through email, hyperlinks, etc. Facebook is present and has a dominant position in the Brazilian market. Students who want to travel abroad to learn English are most definitely online, easily accessible and consuming information through these channels.

The American way of living

Brazilians are curious about the United States. The American culture is very present in Brazil. It has been broadcasted on TV and radio stations for decades and now, with the Internet being present in the everyday life, people have even more access to the American way of living. Brazilians are curious about American football, baseball, and all different cultural aspects. This also means that they want to see houses with white picket fences, see snow for the first time, take a trip to the Big Apple or drive through the heavy traffic of Los Angeles.

Experience other cultures

The ever-increasing prevalence of the Internet has a direct impact on our daily lives, and many Brazilians are curious about the rest of the world. But still, very few Brazilians spend any significant amount of time abroad. It is now more important than ever to have a good understanding of world affairs, especially as the world has become more interconnected. People need an intercultural exchange that goes beyond the screens. A travel program can help people move forward towards more cooperation and mutual understanding and goodwill.

English is mandatory for finding a good job

A good domain of the English language is well-regarded among Brazilian employers and are seen as a way to gain an edge in a competitive domestic job market. By having a good knowledge of the English language, an employee will have a greater capacity to perform different procedures. Mostly because there is a greater amount of material available on the Internet that can help increase the level of knowledge about a particular topic, which will have a noticeable impact on the activities that are carried out on the job. This can lead to a salary increase or even a promotion. An English programme abroad is seen as a career investment by both younger and more mature groups of people.

Personal development

Brazilians don’t usually leave their family homes until they are ready to get married. For them, an exchange programme is the chance to experience life outside of a certain comfort zone for the first time. Living abroad to learn a new language is also a way for students to achieve a new degree of personal development, assess their skills and qualities, consider their aims in life and set goals in order to realize and maximize their potential. They can enhance employability prospects, raise confidence and live a more fulfilling life.

Return on investment

Those who opt for Work and Travel programmes soon realize they have made an investment. While they learn English, they are able to practice it while working and making money to earn a living in a new country, while gaining new skills that look good on their resumé. The pay sometimes helps with the initial investment they made to travel in the first place. It’s a win-win situation.

But the United States isn’t the only destination that Brazilian students are searching for when it comes to learning English abroad. Because of the strengthening of the U.S. dollar and Euro against the Brazilian Real, there has been a shift towards Canada as a most-popular destination for Brazilian students who are learning English. This has been the case for the third year in a row. The U.S. is still in high demand, though, coming in second. Ireland has received a boost in recent years due to the increasing number of Brazilians choosing to study in the country, which the newspaper Irish Times described as “an unprecedented wave”. Here’s the full list:

The ten most popular study destinations for Brazilian students 2017

  1. Canada
  2. United States
  3. United Kingdom
  4. Australia
  5. Ireland
  6. New Zealand
  7. Malta
  8. South Africa
  9. Spain
  10. France

Source: Belta

Wherever you’re selling your international student exchange programme, Brazilian students are a group to keep an eye out for. The demand for English speakers in the country is on the rise and students are self-funding their education abroad with private money. What they are looking for the most is a favorable exchange rate, quality of life and good support for international students. Opportunities to study and work are also highly desirable. In Brazil, the tourism and travel sector is one that keeps on growing despite the latest economic setbacks, which is good news for travel agents and people investing in the business of cultural exchanges and English learning abroad.