Get your Por­tuguese ready...

7 Days in Dubai - - GLOBAL NEWS -

If English is the lan­guage of world com­merce, Brazil hasn’t got­ten the memo - only a small frac­tion of its 200 mil­lion peo­ple have a basic pro­fi­ciency in English.

Flu­ency is also rare for other lan­guages such as Ger­man, French and even Span­ish, de­spite Brazil be­ing bor­dered by seven Span­ish-speak­ing coun­tries.

Many of the hun­dreds of thou­sands of tourists ex­pected to de­scend on Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Olympic Games in a few weeks could fre­quently find them­selves in a lin­guis­tic mud­dle.

Van­der­clei Silva San­tos says he strug­gles to com­mu­ni­cate with for­eign tourists who stop at his drinks stand on Copaca­bana Beach, so he uses his fin­gers and toes to write prices and shapes in the sand.

Most of the time it works, but try­ing and funny mo­ments are com­mon, like the time a woman made chomp­ing ges­tures to ask where she might find fresh corn on the cob.

“Com­mu­ni­cat­ing is tough. We move our hips, we smile, which tourists like. We find a way,” said San­tos, 39.

At­tempt­ing over the last year to bridge the lan­guage gap for the games, Rio de Janeiro state, the Olympic Com­mit­tee and sev­eral com­pa­nies have of­fered in-per­son and on­line English cour­ses to ser­vice in­dus­try work­ers, Olympic vol­un­teers and po­lice - those most likely to come in con­tact with tourists.

Vini­cius Lum­mertz, pres­i­dent of Em­bratur, a gov­ern­ment agency that pro­motes Brazil over­seas, said Rio will be ready.

“A lack of English is a prob­lem, but try­ing to com­mu­ni­cate with Brazil­ians who only speak Por­tuguese be­comes a flavour,” said Lum­mertz. “Do you want a world that is ex­actly the same ev­ery­where?”

COUNTDOWN IS ON: The Rio Olympics start on Au­gust 5

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