(EN) Is it worth learning foreign languages?

Posted on

Yes, most definitely yes.

If you learn a foreign language (or several!) you get access to much more information. There is information only available in specific languages. Take English, for example. Most people think “everyone knows English”, but that is not true. So, imagine how much information they are missing just on the internet… Ah, yes, but that’s why translation exists. True. However, you only translate some part of that information. On the other hand, google translate and translation tools like that one are only effective at a certain level (a basic level). Try to read a text about quantum physics translated by google…

Besides access to more information, you also unlock a door to another culture, which is the same as saying you unlock a door to another world. Languages are embedded in the culture of the places where they were born. So, you don’t just learn words, you learn a new perspective of the world. For instead, Eskimos have dozens of words for snow because distinguishing the different types of snow is a matter of survival. In Portugal, we barely have snow, so “neve” is good for any type of snow. Another strange example: when a woman is pregnant we say she is “grávida” in Portuguese and “embarazada” in Spanish. This Spanish word is very similar do “embaraçada” in Portuguese, which basically means “ashamed”. Weird, isn’t it?

This is the best one: you acquire or develop other important skills Check this article from Telegraph.
Studies have concluded that different languages sense time in different ways, which means that people with knowledge of different language have different senses of time. Confused? Read this article to make it clearer.
Other studies have concluded that brain actual changes for the better – this article will shed some light on it.

Lastly, the most obvious reason of all: being competent in more than one language gives you a great advantage in the labor market. We live in a globalized world and, like I said in point 1, not everyone knows English. Actually, rumor has it that English businesspeople are losing business opportunities because they don’t know a second language. People who are not English native-speakers can understand other people in the same situation when everyone is speaking (not so correct) English. But English native-speaker do not! If you don’t say the words in the correct way they fail to understand you because they don’t have that “foreign” perspective.
Besides, it suits very well if you speak the language of the people you are meeting with.

Are you still wondering if you should learn a new language?



(PT) “Sozinhos em Berlim” (filme): Resistir com palavras

Posted on Updated on

“Sozinhos em Berlim” (“Alone in Berlin” no original) é um filme baseado na obra de ficção de Hans Fallada entitulada “Morrer Sozinho em Berlim”. Por sua vez, esta obra foi baseada na ficha da Gestapo de Anna e Otto Hempel.

Anna e Otto Hempel eram dois alemães que viviam em Berlim quando começou a 2.ª Guerra Mundial. Ele era mecânico e ela doméstica. Nenhum tinha muita instrução escolar, mas sabiam ler e escrever. Após a morte do irmão de Anna (no filme, após a morte do filho de ambos) decidiram resistir ao regime nazi de uma forma muito simples. Sozinhos, escreveram mais de 250 postais com palavras anti-regime que espalharam pela cidade. Durante dois anos, cometeram esses atos de desobidiência até que foram apanhados e, após um julgamento, decapitados a 8 de abril de 1943.

Não se sabe se os postais tiveram algum tipo de efeito. Quase todos foram entregues à Gestaspo. Só 18 não o foram.

Alguns anos mais tarde, o regime soviético instalado em Berlim deciciu criar propaganda anti-fascista e contratou escritores para o fazer. Um desses escritores foi Hans Fallada que escreveu a obra mencionada.


“Olhar” | “To look”

Posted on

A língua inglesa tem muitas expressões sobre “olhar”, a língua portuguesa menos.
English language have many expressions related to “look”, the Portuguese language not so much.

Macmillan English Dictionary
Oxford English Dictionary

(EN) How to learn languages

Posted on Updated on

When you think of learning a foreign language, you think in enrolling a class in a language school. Since you are a beginner, you enrol in the first level – how exciting! First class: you get amazed about the things you are going to learn, and you start making plans to visit a country where people speak that language and imagine how brilliant you’re going to sound. Classes go on and your motivation goes off – it’s just too hard! After a couple of months you still don’t understand anything they’re saying and frustration starts to setting in.

Why does this happen? First: what you learn in classes are grammar rules, that is, how the language works. Second: the vocabulary you learn is based in fictional dialogues about how to introduce yourself, how to catch a train, and so on. Let’s face it: you know how to speak your language and, although you’ve learned the grammar rules in school, how many can you actual explain? And, do you really use dialogues like the ones you are learning?

Right. Studies have proven that the traditional method of learning a language is ineffective. Why they keep doing it, it’s a mystery. Of course that learning the grammar rules is important, no doubt. However, you also need to learn how to use the language, just like you learned how to use your own language when you were a child.

Some linguists think that all languages have the same basic rules (except some tribal languages, but let’s ignore that for now). You have NAMES (which tell you who or what) and VERBS (which tell you the action). And then, you have all the other words to give you CONTEXT and extra information. Even languages like Chinese have these components; the difference is that their system is based on sounds and drawings. When they want to say “the house [NAME] is [ACTION] on fire [CONTEXT]” they make a drawing with a house and some fire.

So, first thing is to spot the names and the verbs. I’m sure you’ve learned how to do this is school when learning your own language. Dictionaries here can be a great help. Once you identify the names and the verbs you understand half the sentence! Then, you need to understand the context. After that, it’s easier for you to understand the grammar rules and improve your language knowledge by paying attention on idioms and certain ways people use to say certain things.

Now, I’m going to give you some tips for you to start your journey:

  • Read children books and watch children cartoons. Native children are learning the language, so the books and the cartoons are made in a very simple and accessible way;
  • Switch your smartphone, your computer, etc., to the language you are learning. It’s going to be puzzling at the beginning, but you get used to it;
  • Listen to TV shows in the language you are learning to get used to the pronunciation – if you can watch it with subtitles you can associate the sounds to the words;
  • Read the news in the language you are learning on the Euronews website – you can read the text as the same time as you watch the video, you get the context, and you can compare it with the version in your own language.

    “Resultados” em inglês/into English

    Posted on

    “resultados” (PT) – (EN) “results”
    . que foi causado por algo; that it was caused by something: This book was a result of 25 years of research.
    . das eleições ou de um jogo; from elections or a game: the election results, the football results
    . de um exame académico; from an academic exam
    . de testes ou experiências; from tests or experiments
    . sucesso; sucess: The project is beginning to show results.

    “resultados” (PT) – (EN) “outcomes”
    O efeito de uma ação ou evento; the effect of an action or event
    We are waiting to hear the final outcome of the negotiations.

    Diferença entre “result” e “outcome”; Difference between “result” and “outcome”
    “Result” é o efeito direto de algo (isto aconteceu então isto aconteceu) enquanto “outcome” é o efeito de um processo (isto aconteceu porque foi o fim desta ação). “Result” is the direct effect of something else (this happened than this happened) while “outcome” is the effect of a process (this happened because it was the end of this action).

    “resultados” (PT) – (EN) “findings”
    Usa-se quando se fala das descorbertas de uma investigação. It is said about the information discovered by means of research.


    “Investigação” (PT) – (EN) “Research” / “Investigation”

    “Investigação” pode ser traduzido por “investigation” ou por “research”. “Research” significa um estudo dedicado sobre um assunto com o fim de descobrir algo. Pode ser uma investigação académica, como um doutoramento, ou uma investigação científica, como as investigações em laboratório ou nas empresas. “Investigation” usa-se em contextos policiais.
    “Investigação” can be translated by “investigation” or “research”. “Research means a dedicated study about a subject aimed to found something. It could be an academic research, like a doctor’s degree, or a scientific research, like the research in labs or in companies. “Investigation” is a term used in police contexts.

    (EN) “Darkest Hour” (film): The power of words

    Posted on

    The film “Darkest Hour” shows us how Winston Churchill became Prime-Minister and how he faced his first dilemma as such: to start peace negotiations with Germany or fight it until the Victory was reached (or die trying). The situation was far from easy. British army was on the verge of total annihilation and, at the time, the German army was apparently unbeatable. All seemed lost and hopeless. Except that Churchill was a great wordsmith. It was the power of his words that galvanized a whole nation (a frighten nation) and led them to resist and then fight the mighty German army.

    We can see this film as a complement of other films about World War II. The directors didn’t intended to do so, but if you watch enough films on this topic you start to have a very good idea about what really happened. Here are some examples, related with references in “Darkest Hour”:

  • The “Dynamo Operation” is portrayed in the film “Dunkirk”.
  • The King we see talking with Churchill is King George VI, father of Queen Elizabeth II – he’s portrayed in the film “The King’s Speech” [by watching it you can understand the issue of Wallis Simpson and the slight stutter of the King].
  • “Suite Française” is a film that portrays the flight of people from Paris upon the invasion of the German army [it’s based on a book written almost in real time by a well-known Jewish writer, Irène Némirovsky, who died in a concentration camp and couldn’t finished it].

    Other films on this topic that may interest you:

  • “Saving Private Ryan”: shows a little of what the Normadie Landings were like, the turning point of the war and the beginning of the end for the German army.
  • “Enemy at the Gates”: shows a little of what the Battle of Stalingrad was like.
  • “Fury”: shows the war under the perspective of the tanks.
  • “Downfall”: portrays the last 12 days of Hitler (it’s a German film).
  • “Valkyrie”: portrays one of the major assassination attemps against Hitler, which failed, by high patents of the German army.
  • “The Monuments Men”: portrays how a group of men recover art stolen by the Nazis.
  • “The Imitation Game”: shows how the apparently unbreakable German code Enigma was broken, which helped to win the war.
  • “Their Finest”: tells the story of a group of scriptwriters during the London Blitz.
    There are many more films, especially related with the Holocaust. Here’s a list from Wikipedia.