Do Brazilian people understand English?
I know basic Portuguese. Would communication be an issue?
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I'm Brazilian. Only 24% of the Brazilians who lives in Brazil speaks English. It is and this a issue.
However Brazilians people usually help people a lot. They normally will try understand your. Doesn't matter with language do you speak. They will try help you specially the waiters, salesperson, taxi drivers.
I recommend to you learn some of basics words like:
That's a VERY general question.
That said, the short answer is: You'll have a hard time in Brazil if you only speak English.
Many middle class Brazilians understand basic English, and plenty working in the tourist industry understand some English, but you'll have a difficult time communicating when traveling in Brazil.
(I live in Brazil and speak some Portuguese.)