Organisers of the Rio 2016 Olympics yesterday revealed plans to provide language training for more than a million people ahead of the event.
Brazil ranks behind many of its counterparts in the language learning stakes, comparative international studies show, and few people speak English outside major cities.
But with South America's first ever Olympiad looming, organisers said they had selected EF Education First as official supplier of language training services for the event.
The Swiss-headquartered company, founded in 1965, will deliver training to 110,000 Rio 2016 staff and another 900,000 people, comprising Olympic volunteers, contractors and Brazilian school children.
Organisers saluted what they termed the world's largest language training programme, featuring English and a variety of other languages, after renewing an association with the Olympics going back to the Seoul Games in 1988.
Carlos Arthur Nuzman, president of the Rio 2016 Organizing Committee, said the program would help "fulfil our common goal of creating a lasting legacy for language learning in Brazil.
"The skills (learned) will also benefit these individuals in their future lives and careers, providing a positive contribution to society well beyond 2016," Nuzman said.
After Brazil was awarded the Games in 2009 the Brazilian ministry of education said it wanted to prioritise English learning in schools.
But according to a recent EF study, the giant nation ranks just 38th worldwide in English language proficiency. – AFP, March 14, 2014.