Learning Portuguese with @MindSnacks

I lived in Brazil for 5 months in 1994 (whilst another World Cup was on, and when Ayrton Senna died). Although I spent most of my time speaking English (for the benefit of the kids I was working with), I wanted to learn some Portuguese, most of which I gained from Linkword. I went back through Brazil as part of my ‘Round the World’ trip in 2008 – and seemed to have forgotten most of it, though my pronunciation is still pretty good (better than my French (GCSE Grade A!)… so on Friday I finally had another go at some of the software that’s on my iPad – and found myself drawn into the gamification of language learning with Mindsnacks:


I am keen to go to Brazil again (I have family there), and it does seem to be a growing economy, so starting again at the beginning (£2.99 for 50 lessons).

I am now on Level 16, having ‘mastered’ 152 words after 8/50 lessons… So, so far – numbers (to 101), days of the week, colours, seasons, months, relations, body parts, house, and now onto basic phrases…


Brazilian MOOCs

I spent 5 months in Brazil in my Gap Year, and again on another trip round-the-world (yes, I know, I’m very fortunate!), and I keep saying that I’m going to have another go at learning Portuguese… so keeping an eye on what’s going on in Brazil!


As only 2 per cent of the 200 million inhabitants of Latin America’s Lusophone-majority nation speak fluent English, most Mooc resources have been inaccessible to the bulk of the population, said Veduca founder Carlos Souza.

Veduca has had 3 million visits and has secured investments from Macmillan Digital Education and other investors totalling $1.3 million (£789,000).

Read full story.


Brazilian Universities on the Up!

I have a serious soft-spot for Brazil – having lived there for around 6 months, and had a return visit since – so really interested to see this story about the rise of Brazilian Universities:

The University of São Paulo is the top-ranked Latin American institution in the 2012-13 Times Higher EducationWorld University Rankings, at 158, and it is the oldest university in Brazil. Its leafy campus in the city is so huge that staff move between buildings in cars, while its students – some of whom would not look out of place in London’s trendy Hoxton neighbourhood – are known for keeping fit by criss-crossing the site on foot. Boasting four university hospitals and four on-site museums, the institution manages to achieve cultural dominance in a city of 11 million people, and it is set to expand even further. Some 11,500 students graduate from the University of São Paulo each year and, like other public higher education institutions in Brazil, it charges no tuition fees.

The university owes much of its might to its enormous budget. Most public universities in Brazil (typically the country’s oldest and most research-focused institutions) are managed by the federal government, but the University of São Paulo receives its funding directly from the state of São Paulo, the wealthiest region in Brazil. It is not the only institution to benefit from this arrangement: in a set-up enshrined in the state’s constitution, three of its universities receive a guaranteed 10 per cent of the state’s tax revenues each year between them. Up to 90 per cent of the funding distributed by the São Paulo Research Foundation, FAPESP, also typically goes to academics and students at these institutions via grants and scholarships. The foundation itself receives another 1 per cent of state tax revenues to spend on research, innovation and education – the equivalent of about £350 million a year.

Read full story – and maybe I want to pick up on my Portugues – or is it all about science?!!


Brazil, 1994

I spent February to June 1994 in Brazil, staying with a family distantly related to me, who were supported by the Good Shepherd Trust, a charity which has now disbanded. Andrew and Gaynor’s work involved arranging international adoptions, whilst Andrew was also involved in running a Christian book distribution organisation. They were also responsible for a couple of homes in São Paulo (which are being run by another charity) run for children taken directly off the streets, where they were cared for whilst new parents were found. I spent quite a bit of time in these homes, helping to look after the children (first time I’ve changed a nappy, and I’m not in a hurry to do it again!), but spent most of my time looking after the children that Andrew and Gaynor had adopted, getting up at about 6.15am, but having most of the afternoons to myself, time which I largely spent wandering around Mogi das Cruzes, trying to learn some Portuguese! I also spent a week in Rio de Janeiro with my Mum’s cousin, and a week near the Mato Grosso, with a couple I met on the plane. I was in Brazil when Aryton Senna died, in fact walking past the Interlagos race circuit the day he died. It was as if Royalty had died!

Here are some photos of my defining moments, experiences and impressions of Brazil!

drbexl's Brazil 1994 photoset drbexl’s Brazil 1994 photoset

It was a very challenging time in my life, as I had never been away from home before (aside from Guide camps 1/2 hour’s drive from home), had never flown before, didn’t know the language, didn’t know what I was letting myself in for, etc. The first two weeks were a nightmare, and I very much wanted to go home, but I persevered and after it got past the halfway point it was much easier! It certainly made going away to university much easier.



PADI Open Water Diver

More information to come on how I gained my PADI Open Water Diver certification. I have dived in the following places:

Haven’t dived since early 2008… I’m missing it!