There are only a few weeks to go until the FIFA World Cup gets underway and Brazil is getting ready to welcome thousands of football supporters, due to arrive in the country for what undoubtedly is the most hotly anticipated sporting event of the year. Many fans will be relying on local taxi services to get around the host cities and will speak little, if any, Portuguese. Keen to ensure that the language barrier does not become an issue, Brazilian taxi drivers are brushing up on their English language skills ahead of the big event.
As reported in an article by Rachel Feltman, published on the Quartz website, Braxilian taxi service 99 Taxis has partnered with the language platform Voxy to offer free English lessons to local taxi drivers via a special language app. Interestingly enough, those enrolled on the course start by learning vocabulary specific to their profession instead of the usual basics. The course is based on recordings of real-life interactions between tourists and English-speaking Brazilian taxi drivers.
It does make a lot of sense to offer language learners a programme tailored to their needs, in particular if they are looking to develop foreign language skills for professional reasons. The primary goal of language learning is gaining the ability to communicate with speakers of that particular language. Basic greetings and common pleasantries aside, it is a lot more practical to build up a vocabulary of words and expressions users are actually likely to use in everyday life, even if they are not the easiest or most obvious ones to learn.
Voxy has plans to expand its services by designing needs -based language apps for representatives of other professions. I think a dedicated app for doctors could be extremely useful. As for Brazilian taxi drivers making use of this service, they are gaining a skill that they will likely be able to put to good use long after the World Cup 2014 has come to an end. For Rio based drivers, it's great practice ahead of the Summer Olympics in 2016.
All of that does not mean of course that the visitors should expect everyone in Brazil to speak English. If you are heading over there soon to attend one of the games or simply to soak up the party atmosphere, why not pick up some handy words and expressions in the local lingo before your trip? Locals, including taxi drivers, are bound to be impressed. Boa viagem!