Latin American, African and Asian immigrants working in Brazilian organizations: facing the language barrier

  • Antonio Carvalho Neto PPGA da PUC Minas
  • Fernanda Versiani Unihorizontes
  • Kelly Pellizari UFMT - Universidade Federal do Mato Grosso
  • Carolina Mota-Santos PPGA da PUC Minas
  • Gustavo Abreu PPGA da PUC Minas
Palavras-chave: South-to-South Immigration, Brazilian Labor Market, Language Barrier, Brazilian Co-Workers, Brazilian Managers


Since 2010 around half a million immigrants entered Brazil. This paper aims to describe their experience facing the Portuguese language barrier in the Brazilian labor market. Language here is understood as spoken, written and body language. The South-to-South approach here proposed differs from most of the literature, based mainly on studies South-to-North oriented. During six field visits the research group observed the arrival in Brazil, the hiring process and the experience of 34 immigrants from Haiti, Bolivia, Venezuela, Angola, Nigeria, Togo, Iraq and Yemen working within ten Brazilian firms that hired them. Besides the observation technique, these immigrants, social workers, employers and Brazilian co-workers were interviewed. The employers emphasized the immigrants` enthusiasm, willingness to learn and dedication to work. The immigrants said they were well received and emphasized the use of Google Translator, mimicry and drawings to communicate. The employers said they used these same creative ways to teach the work activities to the immigrants as well as placing the immigrant next to another Brazilian worker who performed the same set of tasks so that the immigrant would learn by looking. Few complaints about lack of patience of Brazilian co-workers and lack of dedication of the immigrants to learn Portuguese were registered.

Biografia do Autor

Antonio Carvalho Neto, PPGA da PUC Minas
Professor do PPGA da PUC Minas – Postgraduate Program in Management - Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, Brazil President Elect of IFSAM - International Federation of Scholarly Associations of Management
Fernanda Versiani, Unihorizontes

Professora do curso de Mestrado em Administração da Unihorizontes

Pós-Doutoranda em Administração pela Unihorizontes

Doutora em Administração pelo PPGA da PUC Minas

Kelly Pellizari, UFMT - Universidade Federal do Mato Grosso

Professora do departamento de Administração da UFMT - Universidade Federal do Mato Grosso

Doutora em Administração pelo PPGA da PUC Minas

Carolina Mota-Santos, PPGA da PUC Minas

Professora do PPGA da PUC Minas
Coordenadora do NERHURT - Núcleo de Estudos em Recursos Humanos e Relações de Trabalho do PPGA da PUC Minas

Gustavo Abreu, PPGA da PUC Minas
Doutorando no PPGA da PUC Minas