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Carnival & Stereotypes
18-02-2016

February! Time for Brazilian people put on their shiniest carnival costumes and dance samba all week long, right? Right. For some of us. Stereotype is the result of believing that everybody in a particular group share the same characteristic/habit. This is such common practice that we do it without even noticing. Stereotypes have become a […]

Carnival & Stereotypes

by Vinicius Alves

February! Time for Brazilian people put on their shiniest carnival costumes and dance samba all week long, right? Right. For some of us.

Stereotype is the result of believing that everybody in a particular group share the same characteristic/habit. This is such common practice that we do it without even noticing. Stereotypes have become a standard feature of many jokes to a degree that we often do not notice how offensive it can be.

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We often complain about foreigners thinking that every Brazilian person likes carnival, soccer, and caipirinha. However, do we pay attention to other international stereotypes we reinforce? Just because you are a Brazilian woman, that does not mean you have a sculptural body that you enjoy exposing with tiny bikinis. Just because a person is Asian, that does not mean that he is a martial art master. Muslims are not terrorists, Canadians are not submissive, Irish people are not alcoholics, Germans are not violent, the list goes on and on…

Learning English gives you the ability to speak to the whole world. That is an ability that packs-in great responsibilities. Being able to communicate is not the only thing to learn before getting in touch with other cultures. Do not use English as a tool to expose your shallow stereotyped opinion about someone’s culture. Use English as the key that gives you the opportunity to learn about many other cultures in a sensible manner.

Tags: culture / Stereotype /


About Vinicius Alves


Which is Which: Connotation vs Denotation
28-08-2015

Novice English learners usually try to relate the meaning of new words to their equivalent in Portuguese, but sometimes the definition of some words are confusing even in their own native language.  Connotation and denotation are examples of such problem. They are similar words used to describe related topics. Connotation is the meaning of a word which depends […]

Which is Which: Connotation vs Denotation

by Vinicius Alves

Novice English learners usually try to relate the meaning of new words to their equivalent in Portuguese, but sometimes the definition of some words are confusing even in their own native language.  Connotation and denotation are examples of such problem. They are similar words used to describe related topics.

Connotation is the meaning of a word which depends directly on context. The way people interpret a word depends on their own cultural background or personal references. On the other hand, denotation is the standard meaning of a word, the one you will find in a dictionary.  A little example to make it easier to understand: the word cheap. Its denotation implies that something does not cost much, as in “That watch is cheap”. However, depending on the context, its connotation implies that something is of bad quality, as in “That watch looks cheap”.

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One simple way to avoid such misunderstanding would be to use the word inexpensive instead. Being proficient in English is not only a matter of knowing the meaning of a large number of words, but also being able to identify contexts in order to communicate in a successful way. Can you think of other examples?

Tags: connotation / Denotation / english tip / vocabulary /


About Vinicius Alves


Verbalizing nouns
22-05-2015

How making use of nouns as verbs is a reality.

Verbalizing nouns

by Vinicius Alves

Languages change. The thousands different editions of dictionaries are not just a matter of releasing a better-looking cover every now and then. This is not something exclusive to the English language either. If we go back in time to analyze Brazilian Portuguese, we can notice the evolution of our equivalent to the subject pronoun ‘you’ (Vossa mercê > Vossamecê > Voismecê > Você). Such evolution process happens even more often with English being a universal language, exposed to many different cultures. One of such phenomena is what we call verbalization.

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Verbalization is the process of using nouns as verbs, either in oral or written form. As many other changes that occur in the English language, this happens in order to make things easier, more practical in our daily basis. For example, when talking to your friends and you can’t remember the name of a famous actor, would you rather say “Look for this information on Google” or simply “Google it”? If you have something important to share with someone, would you prefer “sending them a text message” or “texting them”? You can skateboard in the park, you can access a website, you can medal in a competition, you can friend someone on Facebook, and so on…

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This type of change creates a negative chain of reaction, making the language poor, according to some people. However, it is important to remember that all the big changes cause a strange effect when it is still something new. What would you say if someone told you 15 years ago that people would use cameras on their portable phones to take pictures of their own food?

Tags: english tip / nouns / verbs /


About Vinicius Alves


Apps to Gamify Your English Practice
04-05-2015

When you feel a little unmotivated to practice English, gamification, the concept of implementing elements of games into non-game contexts, might be the answer to give a boost to your language learning. Here are two very good examples of gamified practice in free apps for Android and iOS. Duolinguo has several lessons involving English practice to improve your […]

Apps to Gamify Your English Practice

by Vinicius Alves

When you feel a little unmotivated to practice English, gamification, the concept of implementing elements of games into non-game contexts, might be the answer to give a boost to your language learning. Here are two very good examples of gamified practice in free apps for Android and iOS.

Duolinguo has several lessons involving English practice to improve your vocabulary. There are levels with specific kinds of vocabulary, as well as other language areas.

Keep practicing everyday!

If you want to go even further into pronunciation practice, Pronunroid is the perfect fit for you.  In this app there are different categories related to the Phonetics of English. You may try to guess a word by its phonetic transcription or the pronunciation of some to challenge yourself.

Extra points if you can guess this word!

The words change according to your results. Words which you tend to make a mistake, come back to haunt you every now and then.

The way in which gamification is used in both apps might give a boost to your motivation to practice English in a fun and relaxed way. Enjoy the apps and try to beat your own scores.

Tags: app / english tip / Gamification / mlearning / Mobile / pronunciation /


About Vinicius Alves