Salve Galera

Nico Ball here!

You may know me from Favela Jiu Jitsu or the BJJ Goons podcast, but what you probably don’t know is that I’ve been working in education for over 10 years.

I have a Master’s degree in Educational Psychology and I’ve worked extensively teaching Special Education, Spanish, and English as a Second Language (ESL). When I moved to Brazil in 2016, I didn’t speak ANY PORTUGUESE whatsoever. Yeah, I did speak Spanish, but that’s not the same thing! What did help me learn was creating an effective system to identify, learn, and use vocabulary that I needed to get through my day to day activities in Rio. 

My Story

In 2013, with virtually no experience in Jiu Jitsu, or the Portuguese language, I decided to move to Brazil. My friends thought I was crazy and my parents were terrified for me, but I was determined to go pro in MMA so I had to be better at jiu jitsu. In my mind the fastest and most efficient way to do that was to move to Rio. It took me three months and a lot of trial and error to become fluent in Portuguese.

Being able to communicate with Brazilians in their native language led to so many life changing experiences for me and has allowed me to connect personally and professionally with so many different people around the world. Now I want to share tips and tricks that helped me pick up Portuguese in just 3 months.

I know not everyone is going to be able to pick up and move to Brazil, but learning a new language is still a fun way to learn more about the culture. Portuguese for Jiu JItsu is perfect for athletes and instructors, whether you want to travel to Brazil or just to speak with some Brazilians at your local gym or competition.

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