Posts Tagged ‘Language Learning’

Living in Brazil

by admin

Rio de Janeiro

Being host to the fast approaching 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics has opened Brazil’s gems up to the world. From its booming economy, to its diverse landscape of rainforests and picturesque beaches, to its beautiful and welcoming people, Brazil is coming to the forefront as the destination everyone wants to relocate to. Before you dive in, you are going to need to learn the intricacies of the country and how to navigate the culture:

1. Learn Portuguese
Like many of us, your plan to live in Brazil is a few months away and you do not know what ‘bom dia’ means. Even though English might be prevalent in the larger cities like Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, it will be beneficial to you to know how to speak the local language if you want to make lasting relationships.
Many people are overwhelmed with all of the Portuguese language resources available online. Focusing on the right technique and program will allow you to hold your own in a conversation within a few months. You will be a step ahead if you already know some Spanish, as many of the words are similar (with slighty different pronunciations). The following resources will show you how to ‘hack’ your language learning and internalize the most Portuguese in the least amount of time:

  • – Comprehensive reviews and strategies for learning Portuguese. Everything you need to get started on your Portuguese journey can be found on this site.
  • – One of my previous posts on the best method for tackling a new language.
  • – The premise of learning guru Tim Ferris’s strategy for accelerated language learning is to learn the most used words and phrases first.

2. Jobs
Now that you have your sabbatical planned, how are you going to pay for it? Especially with the cost of living in Rio and São Paulo rivaling Manhattan. To sustain your lifestyle, many ideas for jobs can be found in my previous articleon working from anywhere.
If you are planning on staying for a long period of time or finding a job locally, you are going to face some difficult hurdles. You have a few options for gaining entry and staying in the country:

  • Tourist Visa – everyone in the USA must obtain one to be able to enter Brazil, though it only allows you to stay in Brazil a maximum of 180 days a year.
  • Business Visa – this is difficult to obtain. You must first get hired by a Brazilian company and have them provide a formal invitation, which is needed to present to a Brazilian Consulate. A long line is always waiting for approval and you must prove that your skills go above and beyond what any other Brazilian could do. This process can also take months to find out if you are approved or not.
  • Investor Visa – this is perhaps the easiest way to obtain a long term visa, but you need to start a Brazilian company and have $75k USD to invest in it. See this article on the blog for more info on obtaining this.

Note that the Tourist and Business Visas can be obtained through a Brazilian Consulate in the USA. You can use a site like to obtain through the mail.

3. Culture
People are much more family and relationship oriented in Brazil than the USA. Knowing the right people will help you get anything done much faster and minimize frustrastions, especially in a business sense. Socialising and spending time with each other are a must to build trust and succeed in business.
Brazilians also tend to live at a slower, relaxed pace. Punctuality is not always common, which can frustrate someone from a high speed, New York City lifestyle. Do not ever try to rush a business dealing.
Even though it is against the law, differences in class (mostly related to economic differences and skin color) are still prevalent. Darker ethnicities tend to be disadvantaged.
Although culture tends to be informal, Brazilians are very fashion oriented. Make sure you dress smart and conservatively in any gathering you are invited to.
The culture is very diverse as well. It is not uncommon to see a mixture of different races in a relationship.

4. Where to live
With many diverse and interesting cities to choose from, you should do your research and make a couple of visits before settling down in any given location. Here are a few of the more popular destinations:

  • Salvador – has great nightlife, bars, restaurants, arts, and shopping centers. Average yearly tempurature is 80 degrees Farenheit. Known as Brazil’s happiness capital.
  • Rio de Janeiro – most well known city in Brazil. Beautiful beaches, modern infrastructure, great nightlife and restaurants, and site of the 2016 Olympics. Average yearly tempurature is around 80 degrees Farenheit. It does have a high cost of living.
  • São Paulo – huge city and center of all business in Brazil. It is also the richest and most populous city in the country. High cost of living and high traffic. Known for music, theatre, museums, car racing, sports, and varied ethnic cuisine.
  • Fortaleza – located in the North East and know for its energy and excitement. Well know for its nightlife, carnivals, comedians, cuisine, music festivals, and 16 miles of urban beaches.
  • Florianópolis – amazing beaches, nightlife, weather, low crime rate, and smaller city. Very young and vibrant, with a focus on sports and eco-oriented activities.
  • Macapa – located in Northern Brazil and surrounded by the Amazon and its tributaries. Known for its great food (fish and different types of fruit).

Best Language Learning System For Everyone

by admin

Language Learning

Being able to learn and hold a conversation in a new language can seem like a daunting task to anyone. When you think back to the years spent learning a foreign language in high school and college, you realize you’re lucky you can remember more than five words. I spent four years in high school learning Spanish, and then added another two years in college. Think I could turn on the Spanish channel and tell everyone what was going on? Hardly. A year after classes ended, I couldn’t remember anything. This wasn’t because I didn’t try in these classes, or that I wasn’t good at retaining information. The educational system for foreign languages in schools is flawed. The books weren’t geared towards someone becoming a foreign conversationalist. And a teacher is only as good as the materials being used. After doing a lot of research a few years ago, I came across a system to best develop my foreign language skills. I adapted this system to use the best resources available. The result – I was able to achieve conversational fluency in two languages (Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese) in only a few months of studying each. This system is comprised of the four factors, which determine the speed you’ll achieve fluency in the desired language:

1. Category – Languages are grouped into one of three categories, which are determined by how close they are to the English language. Before picking a language to learn, finding out the category it is in will give you an idea on how hard it will be to learn. Languages in Category 1 take much less time to learn than those in Category 3, which have major grammar and vocab differences from English.
Category I: Languages closely related to English – Spanish, French, Italian, and Portuguese.
Category II: Languages with significant linguistic and/or cultural differences from English – Greek, Russian, Polish, and Turkish.
Category III: Languages which are exceptionally difficult for native English speakers – Arabic, Japanese, Korean and Chinese.

2. Method – This is where the learning system is flawed in high schools and colleges (a lot of them anyways). Teachers can only be as good as their methods and materials. You can become fairly fluent in a manner of a few months if you’re choosing the right subset of material to learn. Teachers try to get us to learn a plethora of vocab and grammar we will never need to use. This is why I like the Pimsleur Approach so much.  The Pimsleur Approach uses memorization techniques with question and answer prompts to keep you involved in the lesson and help you retain what you learn. The program uses 2500 of the most common words to teach you the most useful conversational phrases in the desired language. Ask yourself what you’re going to spend your time doing with this language. If you’re going to use it to try to pick up girls or to just get around comfortably, learn the words and phrases that mirror the ones you would use in English.
Here are a few other great methods:
Rosetta Stone – is a software program using a full media immersion approach that gives the user a variety of options to use. The software is fairly expensive but is excellent and available in an impressive variety of languages.
– Traveling and living in the country – nothing is as good as totally immersing yourself in another country and forcing yourself to learn everything about the language.
My Happy Planet – This site connects language learners around the world and allows you to practice foreign languages with native speakers.  You can also check out Livemocha and eduFire.

3. Level of Interest – Even if you select and use the best language learning methods out there, if you don’t adhere to them with repeated study, you’ll never retain anything. If you’re not very interested or you don’t have any motivation in learning, you’re out of luck. It’s not hard to find motivation – you can impress that foreign girl you always had a crush on, find that international dream job, or get the most out of your travel experiences. I like to listen to at least one lesson of the Pimsleur Approach on a daily basis to keep the momentum going.

4. Productivity – Now, if you’ve decided on the language you want to learn, found what you thought is the best teaching method, and are very excited to learn the language, you have to keep reevaluating whether or not you’re achieving your goal in a decent amount of time. If your goal is to become conversationally fluent in Japanese, Russian, and Arabic in a couple of years, it’s not going to happen no matter what method you use, or how excited you are to learn. If you’re trying to learn Spanish for an engineering job, but the method you’re using caters to those who are going on vacation, you probably aren’t getting the best bang for your buck with the amount of time you’re investing.