5 Brazilian Conversation Starters

Whether you’re planning on working in Brazil or your plan is simply getting a good tan on the beaches in São Paulo, you’ll find Brazilians to be extroverts quite fond of conversation.

As long as you’re friendly and have a good sense of humor, you can be assured that anyone from Brazil will be happy to talk with you, whether in English or Portuguese—in fact, it’s common in Brazil to jump right to personal topics without much preamble.  However, if you need icebreakers to get the ball rolling, here are a few ideas for conversation topics that any Brazilian will have a lot to say about.

1. Soccer.  Obviously.  The Brazilians are diehard fanatics of futebol, very proud of their victories in the sport and of the international soccer stars that have come from their country.  In light of the FIFA World Cup taking place in Brazil, it’s still a passionate issue for Brazilian consciousness.  Ask for thoughts on the demonstrations that arose before the games due to the amount of money the government spent on them while much of the country was in poverty.  Just don’t mention Argentina’s team, Brazil’s arch-nemesis in soccer, or compare them to Brazil in any way.

Photo by Marcello Casal Jr

Photo by Marcello Casal Jr

2. Dancing.  Given that its size takes up much of the continent of South America, Brazil has an incredibly diverse culture and is renowned for its many different dances.  The most widely known, samba, is a graceful partner dance influenced by tango and usually performed to a Bossa Nova rhythm.  Bolero is a smooth, romantic dance while forró is a bit more spicy and sensual, with Afro-European origins.  Capoeira is famous for its roots in the Brazilian slave trade, a martial art in disguise as a dance. Especially if you’re attending Carnival, be sure to chat up locals for tips and tricks about favorite dance moves.

3. Beaches.  It’s unthinkable that you’d travel to Brazil and not go to a single beach—Brazilian beaches are possibly the closest you’ll get to paradise.  Whether you’re into swimming, surfing, jogging, or just sunbathing, you’re sure to find a lot of common ground with anyone if you wax eloquent in praise of the Brazilian seaside.

Photo by Bjørn Christian Tørrissen

Photo by Bjørn Christian Tørrissen

4. Your Home Country.  Brazilians are very open-minded and curious about other cultures, so if you have first-hand experience living in Europe or the United States they would love to hear about it.  Feel free to talk about your experiences traveling in Brazil as well, but be tactful; Brazilians are allowed to criticize their nation, but nobody else is!

5. Economic Growth in Brazil.  Without a doubt Brazil has made great progress in recent years, with a growing GDP and increased consumer spending as well as investment, both domestic and foreign.  Against all predictions, Brazil evaded recession after 2013 and while there is still a lot of work to do regarding corruption, poverty, and the deficit, many are optimistic about the future.

Photo by Gabriel Rocha

Essentially, you can talk about nearly any topic just so long as you stay away from the problematic themes of government corruption, deforestation, and Argentina.  Boost your conversation skills even more by sending us an inquiry for Portuguese lessons, or take our free online Portuguese language level test.