For those wanting to be officially certified in Brazilian Portuguese by the Brazilian Ministry of Education, you’ll need a CELPE-Bras certificate. Never heard of it? No worries, it’s not something everyone is aware of, neither abroad or within Brazil (from what I hear).
I’ve done some research on the matter and added the necessary links so I’ll post it all below.
It is the only official certificate that is recognized by the MEC (Brazilian Ministery of Education). The good news is it is offered not only in Brazil, but in many other countries. Here’s the list in PDF format. The bad news is, it’s pretty hard to reach the fourth and highest level, “superior” (only 9 Brazilians out of hundreds succeeded in the October test of 2008 PDF).
“The test can be taken in October or April, with registration available online in the two months prior to the test months (ie, Febuary or March & August or September).
As far as the test in general, well, the exam is in two parts on two days. The first day there is a 2.5 hour written exam, which may include video tape sequences or tape sequences.
The following day there is a 20 min. oral exam in front of two people.
There are four different levels of proficiency and most people fall into the first level initially, while only a select few make it to the highest level on their first try. It’s not uncommon to find other test-takers there who have already taken the test a few times in order to achieve higher levels.
If you are looking to get hired in Brazil, there are some companies that say they require it but most (including the companies that ‘require’ it) will see how good your Portuguese is upon interview.
There are some professions, like doctors, nurses and engineers, who need to be recognized by the local professional associations like CONSELHO REGIONAL DE MEDICINA, ENFERMARGEN or CREA.
Be prepared to write a redação (essay), interpret a given text, be prepared to listen to a tape in Portugese from Portugal or even in African-Portuguese slang. Or to watch a video tape and then have to answer questions in multiple choice or with your own words.
For the oral exam, it’s important to maintain a fluent conversation. In the beginning they’ll probably ask you some questions about yourself and what brought you to Brazil. Then the official part starts, you’ll get a photo or maybe a newspaper article to read and the you have to tell them something about the image or the article you read.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, just avoid repeating the same mistake several times, especially if they’ve corrected you the first time and the other important thing is to keep the conversation fluent. It’s not an interview where you answer questions, YOU have to talk for the most part and keep it going.” – Gringoes