Monday, January 29, 2007

Things I miss about England #78: Can Openers and Cork Screws.
I've yet to find a standard can opener with a twisty knob or a Cork Screw with those helpful handles. Brazilian varieties of these household tools are minimalistic to say the least and involve a lot of huffing and puffing from whoever wants to get the good stuff out.

Things I love about Brazil #45:
Amusing uses of English. Brazilians seem to have a flexible grasp of languages; the main aim for them is communication not accuracy. When translating signs or notices into English there's about a 90 to 95% accuracy rate where a native Ingles could easily understand the gist and meaning of what has been written even if the sentences are not grammatically perfect.

However, sometimes, it all goes a bit pear-shaped. While in Rio over Christmas we found several examples of these translation "near misses". One restaurant had on the menu an option for: 'Tupical Disk'. Rather than risk ordering something that
sounded like the name of a heavy metal Rock outfit or a Landrover part we stayed away. Later we deciphered this must have stood for Tropical Dish. Our hotel invited men to use the 'Dismissable Razors'. I've never used razors that have agreed to be dismissed before, but I assumed these were much the same as the disposable variety.

Anyway, for Christmas my Mother-in-law gave me some clothes made by the Brazilian brand 'Sandpiper'. Their slogan loses something in translation (see above). In Portuguese this would make perfect sense - 'uma pessoa simples' is seen to be somebody down to earth, straightforward, open and honest. In English the meaning is somewhat different... I can only hope my Mother-in-law was referring to the Portuguese understanding when she purchased my gift! For more examples of amusing uses of English abroad visit

Saturday, January 27, 2007

And back in the real world... Sorry to all you avid readers that the blog has not been updated as regularly as the twice a week I´ve been aiming for in the past. Definitley back on now as CELTA has finished for all intents and purposes. Final assignment in and marked and no more teaching practice. Now the real thing: teaching English... classes start in about 10 days time!

(For any English Teachers out there - never try to teach Brazilians the Present Perfect Simple. It has no equivelent in Portuguese and they will haul you over the coals for it. I discovered this first hand yesterday in a class I was teaching!)

Nelson well. Ol´"Golden Boy" (as he has recently been christened by some Brazilian relatives) is doing just fine after his fever and stomach bug last week. More teeth are coming through but apart from that he is in tip top form and continues to be a very energetic and happy little boy. Thanks for praying.

Things I miss about England #16: Fresh Milk. Just UHT out of packets for us here and Nido (or Nongo if you´re Mev) powdered variety...
Things I love about Brazil #81: Warm evenings. Walking in the sea breeze in just shorts, a t-shirt and sandals. Doesn't sound like Scarborough in January does it?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Nelson not well. Just a quick note to let you all know Nelsinho had a pretty bad fever this week. He seems to be on the mend... please pray for a full recovery for the little dude.

As from today I'm starting a New Years list of things I miss about England versus things I love about Brazil called ENGLAND v BRAZIL and here is the first one.

Things I miss about England #44: Pint Glasses. Brazil being hot you'd think they'd like BIG cups to put lots of water in. Not so. Juice or water and even beer comes served in petite recipticles only barely bigger than shot glasses. Where is the good old fashioned pint-a-lager I ask you? "We don't like our beer left out too long - it gets warm so fast" was the reply from Rachel's Uncle on this topic. Small glasses mean you can keep your liquids in the fridge rather than in your glass, it seems... but all the same when you fancy a swift one there's nothing quite like a full pint I say.

Things I love about Brazil #73: Hammocks. Brazilians know how to relax and fix hammocks to everything to provide optimum opportunities for lounging. We have one in our house pinned up between two walls. Nelsinho loves it! Ideally, hammocks should be placed near the fridge, under shade, overlooking a quiet beach.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Helta sCELTA. Into week 2 of CELTA. Everyone is exhausted trying to keep up with the work load and compete for least hours slept last night awards... but it seems to be going well. A few interesting cultural differences in how people learn. Brazilians have been taught their language in very structured ways involving grammar tables and charts, unlike us Brits. They seem to rattle off English grammar like there is no tomorrow... It is true, however, that Brazilians display a greater range of emotions when they learn. When things are going well they are over the moon. When not (and most of them seem to be in blind panic on CELTA most of the time) they are extremely melancholic, and refuse to see the "bigger" picture. For some of them the stakes are high - their careers, even their present jobs, depend on them getting this certificate.

How to drive your wife to distraction. I'm sure the Bible talks about not driving your wife nuts, but if you fancy a larf have a go at practicing teaching English when at home. For example, Rach asks: "Please put the plates on the table". Mev and I repeat ad nauseam our check questions: "PLEASE put the plates on the TABLE. Please put the PLATES on the table. Put the knives on the table? Noooooo. Eat the plates? Nooooo. Put the plates on the floor? Nooooo. Please put the plates on the table" etc. etc.

Arsenal. Just thought I'd mention it, but Arsenal have beaten Liverpool 3 times this season scoring a total of 12 goals. I got to watch the FA Cup game on ESPN here... what a goal by Henry! Just couldn't resist mentioning it really.

Friday, January 05, 2007

CELTA. 3 days into English Teacher Training. Exhausted. 15 others on the course including Mev (freshly arrived from UK midnight before the course started), a Swedish backpacker, a Canadian Lawyer and several Brazilians.

Nelsinho. N has grown in stature has a young man in the last week. He is sleeping through the night at last. His Mum is suddenly much brighter, happier and awake. His first tooth has come through. And Nelson is sitting up without assistance to play with his toes... and, at night, when I check on him, I swear he is pretending to sleep while he works on his PhD.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Christ the Redeemer statue in pictures. From the top clockwise - Bob's Burgers, a Brazilian chain of fast food restaurants has an imaginative wall design in their Rio Airport branch; the Jesus statue reflected in my sister-in-law's sunglasses; the real deal; the real deal being constructed in the late 1920s; "holding" the Jesus statue.

Feliz Ano Novo 2007. Brazilians really know how to celebrate the coming in of the New Year. We had a small gathering at our house and at midnight went out onto the balcony to watch fireworks on the beaches. Despite all the noise, music and general banter in the house Nelsinho slept through it all. When I went out for a walk with him at 5.30am the beach was teeming with people of all ages playing football, volleyball and still enjoying the party having not gone to bed. There will be some sore heads this evening.