Maluko's blog

Monday, May 15, 2006

Foreign languages, identity and intercultural competence (bis)

Hi! I’m very glad that you took some time to check my post and that it inspired you. I read some very interesting ideas here and I have many things to say to each one of you, but I know it wouldn’t be that nice to read a whole article about the same subject again so I’ll try and be short.
In some points I agree with some and disagree with others, however the most important is that you should always try your hardest to learn new languages. Imagine each language as a door. In your future, having more doors will mean more options. When you need (and you are going to need), having more options will only bring you more possibilities to win and make the right decision.So be smart, open as much doors as you can before you get claustrophobic!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Foreign languages, identity and intercultural competence

Let me introduce myself: I’m a young boy who lives in Brazil and studies at an international school which aims at creating an intercultural connection between my home country and France. That’s why my mother tongue is Portuguese (my country’s official language) and I speak French, English and Spanish. I also suffer influences from Arabic and Hebrew because of my origins and religion.

My mother is also a Brazilian and studied at the same school as I do. So she speaks the four languages I mention besides Italian, since she got curious and followed courses in Italian. My father was born in Lebanon, studied in an international school and moved to Brazil so he speaks: Arabic, French, English, Spanish and Portuguese. As you can see, the whole family is polyglot. There’s a reason for that. Both my mother and my father have related people all around the world. The common family language is French, and the minority who can’t speak it, understands English. So knowing four languages helps me a lot in keeping in touch with the rest of the family.

That’s not the only reason why people learn other languages. Foreign languages are very useful in several areas; for instance, for business connections, intercultural exchanges or tourism. That’s the reason why learning foreign languages should be fostered all around the world. In our school, we have the opportunity to experience a very peculiar type of situation: we live in Brazil, speak Portuguese but we learn everything in French. In addition to this, at secondary school, we have the luck of learning three more languages: English, Spanish/German and Latin (optional).

Thanks to that, I’m able to affirm that speaking foreign languages gives you a better status. For example: girls think it is “so cute” the fact that you speak “French, the language of love”. In fact, if you don’t speak a second language, you are a step behind and the lack of languages will bring you issues, like when you try to find a job. The most frequent language learned is English since it has become the lingua franca of international communication both in the real and virtual world. We currently see young people saying: “quantos scraps você tem” (which means: how many scraps do you have?), or a kind of Portenglish: “vou downlodar essa música essa noite no meu pc” (I’ll download this song tonight on my pc).

Although English is very important in our lives, the language that represents me will always be Portuguese. I believe you can only really express yourself in your mother tongue. The sonority of the words changes already their meaning. Even if you speak perfectly another language, you will never say exactly the same thing in two different languages.

I try to be always open-minded in relation to other cultures. However, I think it would be impossible for me to learn German. Only by listening to it, it reminds me of the holocaust and genocide practiced during World War II. Besides this one, there’s no other language I’d be adverse to.

As a conclusion, I’d say that, together with some other factors, languages play an important role in the formation and expression of an individual’s personal identity.

Monday, November 07, 2005

43places!

Recently, our English teacher showed us an interesting website, 43places.com, in which you can post and read what people have to say about everywhere in the world.
After join it, I began by seeing pictures people posted from places I've already been, like Cannes, and letting my opinions ("worth visiting").
Then I chose Cayman Island to tell how my trip to this marvoulous place was: a cruise in the Caribbean!
Finally and "visited" some places I've always wanted to go, like LA!

I totaly recomend you to take a look on this website.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Disarmament Referendum in Brazil

Today, six days before the referendum to ban guns' trade, Alberto and I will analyze three articles about this polemic topic. Thanks.
First, we read the objective article "Tough clash ahead in Brazil referendum to ban guns" by Andrei Khalip from washingtonpost.com. Followed by "Historic Decision: Disarmament Statute Passed in Congress" from iansa.org, a biased article for the prohibition of guns' trade. And finally, "Rare drop in gun deaths in Brazil" By Steve Kingstone is an objective article from bbc.co.uk, showing both sides of the corner.

Here are the arguments exposed by the articles and their authors:

Arguments in favor of the prohibition:
- Brazil has the highest number of gun deaths in the world, with 36,091 people shot and killed last year, according to government figures.
- Human rights groups endorse the government-proposed ban.
- Representatives of these NGOs welcomed the provision on the referendum, saying they believe it will spark a national debate, promoting awareness that will help implement and enforce the new law.
- The minimum age to purchase firearms will go up from 21 to 25, in a country where young males are killed by firearms at a rate four times higher than that of the general population.
- In Rio de Janeiro, the gun death rate among young people reaches 239 per 100,000 residents, twenty times higher than the rate in the United States or 2,000 times higher than in Japan.
- The first mobilization brought together 50,000 people to march for the Disarmament Statute in Rio de Janeiro.
- The combination of popular demonstrations, an intense and spontaneous campaign against armed violence by the main media outlets, and the shocking 40,000 people were killed by guns last year alone – led 82% of Brazilians, to support the Disarmament Statute according to a recent poll by Instituto Sensus.
- Last year 36,000 people were killed by guns.
- There are more gun deaths in Brazil than in any other country, and since the early 1990s the annual number of fatalities has risen grimly.
- Until last year 36,000 people were killed with firearms. That is still a shocking 99 deaths per day.

Arguments against the prohibition:
- The country could be made defenseless against any Nazi-like tyranny – Equal to Nazi Germany's decision to ban guns for civilians in 1938.
- The vice president and defense minister, Jose Alencar, says the ban would encourage criminals.
- It would be a threat to democracy.
- Some groups acknowledge the prohibition of legal gun sales would not reduce the arsenals held by dreaded drug gangs and other criminals.
- Almost 60 percent of an estimated 17 million guns in Brazil were obtained illegally, said the human and social rights group Viva Rio.
- This vote doesn't disarm the criminals.
- Police, judges, firefighters and security firms will be able to buy guns for private and official use.
- Brazil's gun control laws, which were tightened in December 2003, are already very strict. They require psychological and gun-handling tests, a clean criminal record and high registration fees that are too costly for many Brazilians.
- Last year 36,000 people were killed by guns - a drop of 8% from 2003, according to the health ministry.
- That is until last year when 36,000 people were killed with firearms. That is still a shocking 99 deaths per day, but less than in 2003.



As we can see, both sides have solid arguments and it is up to the population to make the right decision. If the "Yes" wins, it could set a precedent for campaigns in other countries. Otherwise, Brazilian gun industry tends to develop itself.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Looking back

Eight months of class have passed. Sometimes we don't realize how time runs. So let's use this post to remember everything that has already been done on the blog.

When we started this unlike activity, we had no idea of what was waiting for us. At first, we used the blog as a support to the activities we did in class. For example, while we were analyzing stereotypes texts about stereotypes, we posted some reflections about them in the blog. This is a very good idea since when we went to Henry Moore's exhibition here in São Paulo, we had already collected some information about him and his life.
But, the real intention of this activity is that the students become more aware of the world around there, opening there minds, visiting other people blog's (from all around the world) and communicate with them.
So, without noticing, we began a different kind of post. Comments about the site Dekita (like "Native Teachers or Non-native Teachers?"), etc..
Finally, we are now starting something really singular: correspond with people from the other side of the globe!

As a conclusion, this unusual experience brought all the students new knowledge and expanded their frontiers. However, we cannot forget that computer and Internet have to be used with responsibility and moderation.

Monday, August 22, 2005

"The Way we Work"

In "A day at the job kiosk", Joe Fiorito shows how difficult it is to find a job due to the unemployment. In a certain point, he tells the story of a foreigner who didn't find a work at the "job computers". I was touched by the way he's son's sadness is shown with all the children's innocence and purity.

"Your own space: working from home" is Heather Finley's statement about having an office at your own place. She talks about the good and bad things of it. In my opinion, it is good because as she said, it is relaxing.

Comments "Working on "work""

Thank you all for your comments.
Gabriel, we all know that there are not only businessmen and students, but also people who work with there bodies and strength, like manual workers.
Mrs. Dieu, it all depends on you hehehe. That's why people always say that you have to do what you like. That way, work will not only be an obligation (thinking only on the "payday") but also something nice.
Caroline, think in "form" as "create".
Thank you.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Working on "work" (brainstorming)

As every other words, "work" has many meanings and connotations. For me, this term is connected to:
Job, effort, physical effort, effort of the mind, team, obligation and pleasure.
In thesaurus, I found some words I relate to the concept:
Labor, assignment, endeavor, industry, production, business, activity, contract, duty, employment, manufacture, occupation, office, responsibility, vocation, achievement, function, accomplish, execute, control, create, direct, perform, progress, crew, personnel, ability, achieve, accomplish, complete, compromise, elaborate, form, result, satisfy, succeed.