Friday, October 2, 2009

It's in! Rio's got the nod!

It's now official and history now: Rio de Janeiro is the host city of the 2016 Olympics.

What good/bad will it bring?

What was the decisive factor - luck, natural beauty, lack of real competition, or excellent persuasive power?

I mean you have to face it: it has been a laudable effort on the country's olmpic committee to pull this off, seeing that Brazil is also going to be holding the 2014 ?World Cup.

Watch the video for more.

Lastly, take a look at the lyrics of huge Brazilian classic and an attempt to translate it to English.

Rising Intonation in questions - Chicago is out?

We use intonation to show many feelings e.g. disgust, anger, disappointment, and most of all, SURPRISE. Notice the reporter's stupor at the fact that Chicago had just been eliminated from the Olympic 2016 city bid:

Language note: To show his emotions, the reporter uses a simple resource.

Got it? He inverts the word order in questions, i.e. he asks the question like a statement with the sequence:

SUBJECT + Verb + Predicate

In questions we switch the subject and the verb; but, this video, the question is more than just a question.

Such is his surprise that he is almost in a state of self-denial (Chicago is out?)and in total dismay at the IOC's choice to focus on another city: Tokyo is still in?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Student expectations - too high or unrealistic?

How long is it going to take me to speak English fluently?

I've virtually lost count how many times students can ask me this question. The problem is they usually ask not only teachers but administrative staff with whom they come into contact first and in whose information they trust and believe.

Then they come into the classroom and ask the teachers the same question. The answer is normally quite different. To be honest, though, there is no right answer for two main reasons.

First of all, it is hard to truly quantify a student can learn in the space of a year or two: most language schools prognosticate that at the end of X years, student A will be at level Y. And there are countless examples of students having taken the same course and are at very distinct language proficiency levels.

Second, learning a language is an ongoing process. That means even studying five or six years, there is always something you can and will learn, IF you are willing to do just that. There is no end road to the process, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Think of language learning as a journey with new and enjoyable paths along the way, not as a race course with a finishing line.

To end, some advice to students to keep motivation high and disillusionment quasi null:

1. Set realistic goals about what you want to learn

2. Constantly check what you have learned and understand what you can do with the language

3. Know your part in the process: the language school you choose is important, the teacher is fundamental, but you are what you learn.