Instituto Camões Centre
for Portuguese Language

Who we are

The Mission of Instituto Camões

The Instituto Camões (IC) is the Portuguese implementing agency for external cultural and educational policy. It operates under the responsibility of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs but has administrative autonomy. Its purpose is to promote Portuguese culture and language abroad. The Instituto Camões, with its current statue, dates from 1992, but its predecessor was created in 1928.
The IC’s main areas are: the promotion of Portuguese culture and the teaching of Portuguese culture and language at University level and the negotiation of Cultural Agreements with third-world countries in the areas of education, science, culture, sports, youth and media, in coordination with the competent Ministries.

The Promotion of Portuguese Language Abroad

The importance of teaching Portuguese in the world was felt in the late 1920’s. The first lectureships (Leitorados) were established at the Universities of Paris, London, Berlin, Rome and Santiago de Compostela. The strategy then was to teach and divulge the Portuguese language through what we call a Leitor – a teacher specialized in teaching Portuguese as a foreign language and a promoter of Portuguese culture. Currently they also have the responsibility of promoting the cultures of the Portuguese speaking countries. Portugal has thus chosen to establish a network of Leitorados and Chairs in foreign Universities with recognized scientific merit and covering five continents.
This basic principle has been maintained and the IC has never established - unlike the British Council, the Alliance Française of the Instituto Cervantes, autonomous teaching delegations.
But the strategy of the language and culture policy follows social, economic and technological changes. Portuguese has always been a language chosen by philologists, writers or lovers of Portuguese literature. Currently Portuguese is also chosen by future professionals in areas such as Medicine, Law, Economy, Political Science, Diplomacy, Journalism, Tourism, Agronomy, Architecture or Engineering.
While during decades we were only present in Faculties of Arts, we are now approached by Universities where languages are part of the curricula, constituting a professional added value for high officials in international organizations. A good example is the African Development Bank (ADB). Following the opening of a Leitorado in Tunis, we received 300 applications from ADB.
The IC teaches Portuguese to more than 30 000 students in 175 Higher Education Institutions, through Leitorados and Chairs. The IC pays or supports 200 teachers and awards 90 scholarships for Portuguese Culture and Language studies.

Language Teaching Abroad – Our Strategies

Our main strategies are:
To use the Universities as cultural stages, creating synergies between culture and language and reaching a young public, already interested in the Portuguese reality and also reaching others who may not be aware of the importance of this language.

The Promotion of Portuguese Culture

In this area, the Instituto Camões acts mainly as a facilitator. It has 15 Cultural Centres and four Regional Centres, established in 15 countries.
The Cultural Centres are located in the Portuguese speaking countries (7), in countries where there are large Portuguese Communities (e.g. France and Luxembourg), and where the Portuguese historical links and traditions are ancient and/ or where distance makes the effort necessary – Morocco, China, Japan and Thailand.
In the Far East, in the Cultural Centres in Beijing, Tokyo and Bangkok and in the Leitorados in China, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and South Korea, the IPOR (Portuguese Institute for the Far East) helps the IC in its functions for this geographic area. It is a private/public association, where we have a major share. It is based in Macao.

Dissemination of the Portuguese Culture – Objectives

Our main objectives are:

Cultural Agreements

One of the major competencies of the Instituto Camões is the coordination and negotiation of Cultural Agreements and their implementing Cultural Programmes.
In both cases, Cultural Agreements or Implementing Cooperation Cultural Programmes, the objective is to create practical and efficient international instruments, constituting the legal basis for supporting and stimulating the interchange and institutional cooperation between the signatory Governments and the involved entities. These Agreements and Programmes involve the areas of Culture, education, Science, Sport, Youth and Mass Media, which requires a permanent coordination and consultation with the ministries responsible for these areas.
These instruments are negotiated in Lisbon with the Embassies of the third-world countries, and/ or in these countries through our Embassies.

Centres for Portuguese Language

The Instituto Camões is present in 66 countries, where it established 28 Professorships (Chairs) and 53 Centres for Portuguese Language.
The Instituto Camões Centre for Portuguese Language in Oxford was established 2001. Its objective is the enhancement of the statute of the Portuguese Language through the development of Portuguese Studies. The current direction has worked in order to make available to the faculty and students of the University of Oxford with the means with which to deepen their knowledge in the area of Portuguese language, culture, history, politics and society, and of lusophony