Friday, February 27, 2015

Thanks to the #TheDress

I have been wanting to find a pretext to use the expression - THAT'S THE MILLION-DOLLAR QUESTION! Since I have been living in Brazil for 18 years now, I have always been haunted by trying to find an English equivalent for the expression "a pergunta que não quer calar". A perfect opp to kill two birds with one stone. BTW, what are some other "million-dollar questions" that haunt your imagination? Huffington Post says if you haven't heard or even felt compelled to take part in the highly enlightening, world-changing discussion, it is probably because you were in a bunker. I HAVE TO THANK THE MANUFACTURER OF MINE.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Revel to rebel or Rebel to revel

It's Carnival time yet again 
A time of absolute folly 
Folie for the French, folia is the Brazilian way 
To talk of five days of unrestrained joy 
In English there is a word that brilliantly describe 
What Carnival lovers do best 
They revel in the the national period of Carpe diem 
Or in simpler English - YOLO must be your life guide 
By unchaining yourself of concerns and oblihations 
You revel and rebel - to hell with life's problems! 
No need for dress code - forget the social mode 
A once in a lifetime chance to break the mold. 

But Carnival is not the only time to revel and rebel 
To revel is to find joy, to live to the full 
So why not... 
Revel in your strengths, rebel against your fears 
Revel in your family and friends, rebel against hate and disunity 
Revel in what you do, rebel against accomodation 
Revel in dreams come true, rebel against abandoned dreams 
Revel in our diversity, rebel against animosity 
Revel in others' success, rebel against spite and envy 
Revel the precious gift of life, rebel against all that threatens it.

What do you revel in and what do you rebel against?

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The 6 low moments of learning a language

The six low moments of learning a language

Your pronunciation will sound hilarious; you will mistranslate and use the language inappropriately.
During an English conversation exchange, a Mexican student translated the Spanish term for “manual labour” directly into the immortal sentence, “hand jobs are getting cheaper”. Moments later an American classmate tried to complain that she was hot. Unfortunately, estoy caliente means “I’m horny”, or “I’m sexually stimulated.”

You might participate in conversations that go faster than your brain
You understand what’s being said, and you want to join in – but by the time you formulate a sentence that sounds natural, the conversation has moved on.
The best way to get around this is to ask questions to show that you are following the conversation.

Talking on the phone for the first time
Remember that 10% of communication is verbal so understanding someone on the phone becomes more difficult, especially if in another language. So, it’s not a sin to ask for clarification or to rephrase what you understood or did not understand.
Listening seems an impossible task
 Sometimes we pretend to be listening to someone and end up saying “ok” in response to “Where are you staying?”, or “Ha, that’s so funny!” in response to “and then she passed away”.
The key is to make sure you actually listen instead of going into panic mode when you did not get that word. “What was that word? I know I’ve heard it somewhere, what was it WHAT WAS IT?!” You focus so much on the word and forget to follow the conversation.

You use an expression correctly and native speakers laugh
Believe me, you didn’t make a mistake. The fact that you use the language so naturally amazes the native speakers and hearing someone use their language so well is a pleasant surprise.

You find it hard to stay motivated.
There is so much to learn about another language – the grammar, the pronunciation and then the vocabulary: idiomatic expressions, slang, formal and informal words, etc. Covering requires persistence and awareness that it is a building process – brick by brick.

What do you see - a pile of bricks or a house?

Adapted from this motivating and frank blog post

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

What's the word?

What do these three sentences have in common?

  • The ex-president offered to broker the contract between the two companies.
  • For more information, consult your travel agent or insurance broker.
  • The communist party emerged as a power broker despite their loss of seven seats in the senate in the recent elections.

ANSWER: They all use the word broker. In language, the same word can be used in different ways and have different meanings.   

To be a proficient user of a language means is to know how to use a word in diverse contexts, often with diverse meanings. 

Here are some more examples. Do you know the missing words?

Word #2
We are unable to increase salaries in the current economic ..........
The ......... of opinion is slowly changing about the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.
President Bush suggested an international meeting at the White House next spring of scientific, economic and environmental officials to discuss responses to global ........ changes.


Word #3
This week we’ll be experiencing some unstable ...........
Long periods of exposure to the sun can .......... your face and skin.
It seems management is going to be able to .......... the corruption scandal. Nobody is going to jail or lose their jobs.


Word #4
It’s the peak of the holiday .........., so the roads will be busy.
Most parts of Brazil just have a dry or rainy .........
Have you seen the last ......... of Law and Order?


Word #5
The committee is going to ......... the department’s performance
I’m not interested in getting credits or a certificate for the course; I’m just going to .........
Government is planning an official ............ of transport services for irregularities.  


Find the answers below to the right.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Christmas dinners - in some countries

Christmas dinners from around the world

But, wait, don't go yet

Since we are talking about dinners, here is a sneak peek at what my fellow Trinis eat at Christmas time:

For more examples, go here.

What's on your plate for Christmas this year?

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Corruption around the world - how to move from perception to prevention?

Familiarizing myself with the work of Transparency International

Taken from the perspective of the impact it has on social order and economic growth, corruption is probably the most fatal plague we face.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Timelines are valuable verb tense tools


Everyone has thought of the possibility of being able to travel in time with the help of a time machine like the one in the classic Back to the Future. But talk about how going back in time will change the future requires thinking of the verb tenses we would need to do that.

Consider the following situation: 

What would be the right tense to talk about something that
Would have happened in the future of a past that was affected by something from the future?
Here is the gang from The Big Bang Theory putting the hypothesis to the test. What answer did they come up with?

Would grammarians like Scott Thornbury come up with the same final result? Here’s what Thornbury has to say about aspect, a key element in forming verb tenses

What, apart from grammar, do they learn from the tense test in the end? Have you learned anything else?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

If X then Y - a simple equation

This post is so easy, and as they say, a picture can speak a thousand words.

This time, we have a caption to help. 

 In other words, don't make things difficult for yourself or don't create a problem where there was none in the first place.

It's the language that shows us an equation we can use to express other ideas:

If not ............ then .....................

Here is an example, I am sure most of you can come up with some more creative ones:

If you're not happy with your job, then get a new one

There is another popular saying we use in English a lot that follows the same combination:

If you can't beat them, (then) join them. 

We can even alter it to 

If ..................... then ...................

If students are learning, then don't change the method.

Can you think of some other situations that can fit here? If you feel highly creative, then make a meme like the one above with this website. There is probably an expression that means the same idea in your own language. 

You can upload your images or choose from the ones they have available. The rest is a breeze. 

Here is one more for you: