Saturday, 14 December 2013

Ever heard of...?

Ever heard of Chester?

This is a beautiful city in the Chesire county, home to more than 120.000 inhabitants. It was founded in the year 79 AD under the name Deva Victrix; it used to be a castrum, a Latin term for fortresses and other buildings constructed for military defence. After the Norman Conquest ( in 1066, the city was renamed after the Earl of Chester. The city is enclosed by Britain's most complete city walls (as lenghty as 3 km).

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Ever heard of...?

Ever heard of Finnmark?

Norway is a country with an amazingly beautiful set of landscapes, such as:

The ones here are to be found in Finnmark alone. Finnmark's a county  in the northeast extremes of Norway . Norway is divided in administrative regions called counties, fylker in Bokmål Norwegian - Norwegian official written language has two varieties, Bokmål and  Nynorsk (= new Norwegian).

If you're in Finnmark you ought to go to Finnmarksvidda, where you'll find Norway's largest mountain plateaus and the Sami people, or reindeer people, as they are also coined. These people may have been living in the Arctic region for thousands of years (according to archeological findings). Their lifestyle is actually very different to the traditional Norwegian lifestyle.

More information on Samis may be found here:

If you go to the king crab safari you get to see the colossal red king crab, a very appreciated monster, ooops, animal, whose flesh is very expensive and tasty. An adult will pay
NOK 990, that is, EUR 133.02 (as of March 10, 2013, 10:13).

As you can read in the article below, this cocky crab specimen can range two metres length between its claws and weigh up to 15 kilos. A snap of its claw is enough to remove a man's finger. (

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

And the term starts... a hooray for my fellow teachers!

Oh my, there we are: first week of classes. It's funny how things seem to be "unbedingt" hectic on this week, isn't it? Students in wrong groups, wrong class material, computer lags, missing audio tracks, a storm in São Paulo (which means: CHAOS, CHAOS, CHAOS), I mean... what else could go wrong?
There is something, indeed, that could go wrong and didn't: maybe I wouldn't be able to cope with all this! And you know what? These are problems which really WOULD get in the way of one's lessons, but they mostly just don't!
Alright, we might have to skip such and such exercise, we might have to apologise for technical problems, we might even have to kick books out of the classroom and start anew, pretend there were no guidelines whatsoever and just be creative... I normally start complaining when those things happen, but at the weekend I find myself having a nice Belgian beer with a coworker, as we tell each other about the mishaps we've had along the week. Among many other things, daily flukes make up that set of things that makes teaching a wonderful profession. We work so hard to predict and prepare, we focus on being ready for everything... but in the end, we get really jolly-trolly-happy when we succeed at addressing those unexpected issues!
Bravo, teachers of the world!!!

Monday, 4 February 2013

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

OMG, how come I haven't posted this yet? This is the best poem ever, written by the great monsieur Samuel Taylor Coleridge. I discovered the poem back in my teen days, a time when I would hear Iron Maiden's musical rendition of it until my ears bled.

I'll be working on two translations (one in European Portuguese and one in Brazilian Portuguese) of the poem as an academic assignment this year. I've got to post both the poem and Maiden's song here. The poem's a bit long, so I'm posting a teaser and a link to it. There you go:

How a Ship having passed the Line was driven by storms to the cold Country towards the South Pole; and how from thence she made her course to the tropical Latitude of the Great Pacific Ocean; and of the strange things that befell; and in what manner the Ancyent Marinere came back to his own Country.


It is an ancient Mariner,

And he stoppeth one of three.

'By thy long grey beard and glittering eye,

Now wherefore stopp'st thou me?

The Bridegroom's doors are opened wide,

And I am next of kin;

The guests are met, the feast is set:

May'st hear the merry din.'

He holds him with his skinny hand,

'There was a ship,' quoth he.

'Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!'

Eftsoons his hand dropt he.

He holds him with his glittering eye—

The Wedding-Guest stood still,

And listens like a three years' child:

The Mariner hath his will.

The Wedding-Guest sat on a stone:

He cannot choose but hear;

And thus spake on that ancient man,

The bright-eyed Mariner.

'The ship was cheered, the harbour cleared,

Merrily did we drop

Below the kirk, below the hill,

Below the lighthouse top.

The Sun came up upon the left,

Out of the sea came he!

And he shone bright, and on the right

Went down into the sea.

Higher and higher every day,

Till over the mast at noon—'

The Wedding-Guest here beat his breast,

For he heard the loud bassoon.

The bride hath paced into the hall,

Red as a rose is she;

Nodding their heads before her goes

The merry minstrelsy.

The Wedding-Guest he beat his breast,

Yet he cannot choose but hear;

And thus spake on that ancient man,

The bright-eyed Mariner.

And now the STORM-BLAST came, and he

Was tyrannous and strong:

He struck with his o'ertaking wings,

And chased us south along.

With sloping masts and dipping prow,

As who pursued with yell and blow

Still treads the shadow of his foe,

And forward bends his head,

The ship drove fast, loud roared the blast,

And southward aye we fled.

And now there came both mist and snow,

And it grew wondrous cold:

And ice, mast-high, came floating by,

As green as emerald.

And through the drifts the snowy clifts

Did send a dismal sheen:

Nor shapes of men nor beasts we ken—

The ice was all between.

The ice was here, the ice was there,

The ice was all around:

It cracked and growled, and roared and howled,

Like noises in a swound!

At length did cross an Albatross,

Thorough the fog it came;

As if it had been a Christian soul,

We hailed it in God's name.

It ate the food it ne'er had eat,

And round and round it flew.

The ice did split with a thunder-fit;

The helmsman steered us through!

And a good south wind sprung up behind;

The Albatross did follow,

And every day, for food or play,

Came to the mariner's hollo!

In mist or cloud, on mast or shroud,

It perched for vespers nine;

Whiles all the night, through fog-smoke white,

Glimmered the white Moon-shine.'

'God save thee, ancient Mariner!

From the fiends, that plague thee thus!—

Why look'st thou so?'—With my cross-bow

I shot the ALBATROSS.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

There is another sky - Emily Dickinson

There is another sky,
Ever serene and fair,
And there is another sunshine,
Though it be darkness there;
Never mind faded forests, Austin,
Never mind silent fields -
Here is a little forest,
Whose leaf is ever green;
Here is a brighter garden,
Where not a frost has been;
In its unfading flowers
I hear the bright bee hum:
Prithee, my brother,
Into my garden come!

Monday, 21 January 2013

Music and Fun

For those of you who thought classical music and operatic singing was boring - check out these guys having a blast!

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Tactless Woman

Catherine Tate showing that we should just keep our mouth shut at times...

Monday, 14 January 2013

Ever heard of...?

Ever heard of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch?
No, I'm not fooling round! This is the real, 58 characters-long name of a real place. It's a village in Wales, beautiful Wales. The name means: Saint Mary's Church in the hollow of white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and the Church of Saint Tysilio near the red cave.

If  you are also completely puzzled at the sight of this word and feel like stumbling over a myriad of rocks when trying to pronounce this colossal mingle of letters, check out this website and hear it being said (plus some guidance if you want to take up the challenge of saying it):

Have you had enough of it, a few minutes later? I'm sorry... Oh, are you done? You think this is piece of cake, huh? Well, then, why don't you try this town in Thailand? Let me know about your progress... ;)

Krungthepmahanakornamornratanakosinmahintarayutthayamahadilokphopnop- paratrajathaniburiromudomrajaniwesmahasatharnamornphimarnavatarnsathit-

 If you want more information on Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch (even though there doesn't seem to be so much to know about it), just go to Wikipedia, because it really is the best source of information about the city on Google as of 13/01/2013!

Saturday, 12 January 2013

The Translator

This is what happens when people pretend they speak languages they DON'T! Featuring one of my favorite British comedians, Catherine Tate.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Sex & Dating Terms

Hey there, English learners. This picture will certainly come in handy when you start seeing people in an English-speaking country. It shows the terms we use to describe relationships and the levels of commitment they represent. If you're not acquainted with those terms, it's a good idea to google them up before you decide to use them. Although this is a representation of America's dating terms, most of them are also valid if you're in Britain - you'll only have to add some other terms widely used there - I'll leave the research to you. Have fun!

Monday, 7 January 2013

A Bit of Wisdom

This is a text I got over the internet, you know, those chain mail things... but I found this one rather interesting and would really like to share it - wise words we all might heed.

Written by Regina Brett, 90 years old, of the Plain Dealer, Cleveland , Ohio .

"To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 42 lessons life taught me. It is the most 

requested column I've ever written.

My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short – enjoy it..

4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and family will. 

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don't have to win every argument. Stay true to yourself.

7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.

8. Save for retirement starting with your first pay check.

9. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

10. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.

11. It's OK to let your children see you cry.

12. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

13. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it...

14 Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

15. Get rid of anything that isn't useful. Clutter weighs you down in many ways.

16. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.

17. It's never too late to be happy. But it’s all up to you and no one else.

18. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.

19. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special 

occasion. Today is special.

20. Over prepare, then go with the flow.

21. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.

22. The most important sex organ is the brain.

23. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.

24. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will this matter?'

25. Always choose life.

26. Forgive but don’t forget. 

27. What other people think of you is none of your business. 

28. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

29. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

30. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does..

31. Believe in miracles.

32. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

33. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.

34. Your children get only one childhood.

35. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

36. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

37. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.

38. Envy is a waste of time. Accept what you already have not what you need.

39. The best is yet to come...

40. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

41. Yield.

42. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift."

Friday, 4 January 2013

On the relevance of grammar studies

Why is grammar so important? Well, the establishment of grammar is a process that occurs in late language consolidation stages, long after epilinguistic (= unconscious, intuitive) use of language and phonological  awareness have already taken place. Epilinguistic awareness is directly 'opposed' to metalinguistic awareness, which basically means 'know about what you (already) know', namely, turn language into an object we can talk about, reflect upon and be conscious of. In simple terms it means understanding the structures of language, how and when to use this or that, so on and so forth. This knowledge is important to ensure not only accurate (written) command of language, as many people think, but it also ensures that accurate communication will take place! Who's never heard things such as: 'I go to beach on January', when people start talking about their last holiday or their future plans? Here it seems like the person goes to the beach in January, every year, right? I'm not even minding the preposition, but not using Past of Future tense here generates a miscommunication. Knowing which verb tense or which preposition has to be used in a certain situation is highly important for us to convey our actual thoughts.

And so does grammar also create a sense of common identity for nations, tribes, communities or whatever group of people with a 'lingua franca', in establishing patterns of usage that are common to all of them and which are different from the patterns of their neighbour's language. It's one of the major factors that DO NOT allow for things like Portuñol (which is how we name a sort of mixed language, a mix of Portuguese and Spanish, in my country), in the sense that they define the language being used as either Portuguese or Spanish. Those factors are therefore very important in preserving national identities and grammar is one of them!

And by the way, I'm not saying I disfavour the birth of mixed languages, which is not my opinion AT ALL! I'm just saying it is important to preserve the original languages as well, for language is, in my opinion, a people's greatest heritage and its greatest emblem!