Portuguese enrollments have been on a continuous rise at universities in the United States. Due to this increase it is important that teachers and department administrators understand what the motivations of Portuguese students are. This study reports on the findings of a survey conducted with lower-level Portuguese students at Brigham Young University regarding their motivations to study the language and compares these motivations with those of students of French, German, Italian, and Spanish. In addition, the study reports on students' perspectives on Portuguese in contrast to their perspectives on these other four European languages. Other issues considered include Portuguese students' native and foreign language backgrounds, their motivation to further pursue the study of Portuguese in the future, and their interest in two different varieties of the language, Brazilian and European Portuguese. Results revealed that only for Portuguese students were career plans the main motivation to study the language. Most Portuguese students already spoke Spanish fluently, either as a native or foreign language, and were also greatly motivated by the similarity between the two languages. Many Portuguese students were interested in pursuing their language studies in the future. Students reported being very interested in Brazilian Portuguese, but minimally interested in the European variety. Portuguese students' perceptions of the language were for the most part more positive than their perceptions of French, German, Italian, and Spanish, whereas non-Portuguese students' perceptions of Portuguese were mostly less positive than their perceptions of these other four European languages. Based on Portuguese and non-Portuguese students' responses to the survey questions, the study gives recommendations to promote the study of Portuguese as a foreign language at the post-secondary level.



College and Department

Humanities; Spanish and Portuguese



Date Submitted


Document Type





foreign language teaching, less commonly taught languages, motivation, Portuguese