Back to the blogland
It is fantastic to be back to the blogland. I was the student blogger last January. But some technical problems occuried in that occasion and I was unable to publish entries during many days. Now I am taking the opportunity to write again.
As I told you before is amazing to be back. The anxiety is as large as the first time. But it is different because now I know how things work. Anyway, I hope to have your help during this month.
Before continue I want to thank Professor Helen Mehta and I am sorry for any failure. And I would say to Teacher Rachel Wicaksono I am ready to start to work. And thank to Dima Kostenko (from BBC) and to the BBC LE staff.
For those who did not follow the BBC student blog during January, I will introduce myself again. My name is Marcos Martins Santos. I have 32 years-old and I live in Fortaleza, the capital of the State of Ceará in Brazil. I am economist and I am studying Transportation Engineering. Currently I work as independent consultant.
If you want to know more about me, visit:
I want to finish this entry with a question. In recent months the world has been affected by a strong financial crisis. This crisis has had an impact on the lives of many people. What do you think about this crisis? Were you directly affected? How?
The Free Dictionary is a helpful online dictionary.
posted on Thursday, 02 April 2009 | comment on this post
I want to thank you for comment the last post. In fact, as James Wu said, everyone is being affected by financial crisis because we live in a society where nations, companies and people are more and more interconnected as the time pass by. And, in some way, we all are affected by what happens with a nation. So imagine the current crisis that has affected the most powerful and richest countries.
At the personal level, Teacher Rachel mentioned that she now pays less for the money that she took borrowed from the bank to pay her house. Or, in other words, the interest rates are falling in her country. For the other side, she told that she has to dispend more to buy food, clothes, etc (these things are becoming more and more expensive, in a process of inflation).
Mohammed Jihad Hesham wrote about his country, Egypt. There are people losing their jobs and some pharmaceutical companies went to bankruptcy. Henry Jeong, from South Korea, is afraid that the world enters in a 'vicious cycle' with companies cancelling investments and dismissing more and more employees. In other words, he is afraid that starts a process of depression of the world economy (I'm afraid too, Henry).
Here in Brazil we are suffering the effects of the crisis, too. Since last October employees have been fired, companies have postponed investments and, like other countries the interest rates are going down. But let's see the difference: here in Brazil the current basic interest rate is 11.25% per year. In England, the interest rate is 0.5% per year (Brazil is recognized as the country with higher interest rates in the world). The Brazilian government is conducting efforts to reduce the impact of the crisis in the Brazilian economy as many countries in the world.
But the efforts must be coordinated. So, last week The Group of Twenty (G20) met in London to discuss ways to recover the world economy. Again, the nations are more and more interconnected so governments have to work together to won the current crisis. I personally hope that the world economy back to grow soon.
Changing the subject, Rachel asked me about the use of articles. For me, choose the right article when writing or speaking English is a hard task. Sometimes I just prefer to omit its use. But I do not have any authority to talk about a reform of the English Language. I can talk about the recent orthographic reform of the Portuguese Language. I heard an interesting comment about this: in an orthographic reform, the people who propose the points to be changed considers the most common mistakes that they incurred when they were learning the language.
As an English learner, there are two others subjects that I think I must to improve: (1) direct and indirect speech and (2) the use of phrasal verbs. Could you help me, Rachel?
To the readers of the blog, I have another question: do you read books in English? What do you recommend?
Again, thank you everyone for the comments.
See you soon!
posted on Monday, 06 April 2009 | comment on this post
In the last post I asked you about books and I received some indications (thank you!). I’ll try to read them all. The first book that I started to read in English language was “The Notebook” by Nicholas Spark. The language was not difficult, but I have to tell you that the book was boring and I could not read it until the end.
Recently I read “London Bridges” wrote by James Patterson. This book tells the story of Alex Cross, and it is just amazing. When I finished reading that book I became sad. It was like a vicious. I need that book.
Now I’m reading “A Simple Plan”, by Scott B. Smith. It is an interesting suspense book. The lecture is a bit more complicated than the “London Bridges”. The story is less interesting, but is a nice book.
I should tell you that I donīt think that my English is good enough to read a book and get profit of the reading. It was worst when I read the first book. But as the journey starts with one step, read a book starts in the first page. We have to be patient to read a book in a foreign language. Sometimes I thought that I will not complete the task. And when I have to stop the reading for search a word in a dictionary or when I can’t understand a phrase or expression, it makes me crazy! It is frustrating.
But In the middle of the book, I think that the basic set of words and expressions to understand the story is “well-definite”. I mean, words and expressions regularly used by the author became part of my vocabulary. Then, the reading became easier. And when I finish a book I feel great because the work is done. And, if the book is really good, I feel great in double.
Some colleagues wrote in their comments “my English is not so good like yours” (believe me, my English is not so good) or like Thienloi said “basically, these guys like me don't have enough patient to keep reading completely one book or one long story or any kind of them”. I donīt have patient, too. But the wish of finish a job is greater. When you decide to read a book wrote in the original language, you decided to go a step forward in your skills. It means that you have tough tasks ahead. It is not easy, but “no pain, no gain”. And, as I tell you before, my English is not so good.
A suggestion to BBC LE English: why donīt you open “discussion groups” about books? The readers of this post maybe could help giving suggestions.
Daria asked me about popular books in Brazil. We have good authors here. But I will tell you my favorites wrote by Brazilians and wrote by foreign authors:
1. Chronicle of the murdered house (Lúcio Cardoso – Brazil)
2. Brida (Paulo Coelho - Brazil)
3. Dom Casmurro (Machado de Assis – Brazil)
4. Tent of miracles (Jorge Amado – Brazil)
5. Rebellion in the blackland (Euclides da Cunha – Brazil)
Foreigners (I read the books bellow in Portuguese)
1. One hundred years of solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez – Colombia)
2. The name of the rose (Italia – Umberto Eco)
3. The Da Vinci code (Dan Brown – USA)
4. The Tycoons (Charles R. Morris – USA)
5. The old man and the sea (Ernst Hemingway - USA)
Teacher Rachel asked me about the way that the youth and the older people speak here in Brazil. Well, as in Great Britain, youths use slang to communicate to each other. And when they meet someone unknown, an adult, an elderly, or someone as a teacher or any authority, they speak formally. And this is the way that we can separate the ways of the people express here: formal or informal. However, there is an interesting phenomena occurring here: the older people are becoming youth. In other words, the adults and elderly people are using more and more slangs to become closer of the youths. And, as on Brazilian TV is plenty of young people (and TV has to talk the language of its public), it influences the way of the adults express their selves. Maybe in a near future the formal language will be used just in formal occasions, and not as a way to separate groups with different ages.
See you soon.
posted on Thursday, 09 April 2009 | comment on this post
Back from work
I’m sorry for the last days. I had to work hard. Now the work is done and I can return to write here. Unhappiness, I could not travel at Easter because I was working. My girlfriend went to her parent’s house, so I stayed alone at home – working like a mad man!
Easter is an important holiday here (the most important for Christians). Some traditional celebration occurred. It is common here to have plays with actors representing the crucifixion of Christ and His death at Calvary.
Here in Brazil the holiday was last Friday. Monday was not a holiday. The Good Friday is a day dedicated to fast and meditation. Some bakers gave breads for the poor. My grandmother (her name was Josefa and it is an honor to me remember her while writing these lines) usually cooked food and gave it to the poor and to friends.
But Brazil is a large country. People from different places of the came here and leave their ways to celebrate the Easter. I was watching TV when I saw a celebration in a cemetery. In another small town in Brazilian Northeast a group of men practiced the self-flagellation. They beat in their backs with ropes that had pieces of metals on it. They said that the self-flagellation was nothing comparing with the Passion of the Christ. It was unbelievable.
I know that other religions have other kind of celebrations. I’m curious to know more about the Hindus, Jews, Muslims, and Buddhists… Can someone tell us more about important dates and celebrations in those religions?
Well, I want to thank to Rachel for the explanations about multi-word verbs and all tips about its use. It is really helpful and, for me, you showed it in a different and interesting way. The suggestion to learn phrases is a good idea. However, I made some confusion using a multi-word verb. And when I speak, I can choose use a multi-word verb. When I read a book, an article or, worst, when I speak with someone, I can’t choose the way that the interlocutor speaks. I agree that the multi-word verbs give a different dynamic to a conversation or a text. But sometimes it seems redundant (like “please sit down” and “please sit”).
I have to tell you, Rachel, that I dislike the picture of the cake. Let me explain. I was working and I had to finish a report. When I finished I immediately opened the Teacher Blog and I saw that picture. I was starving and thougth with myself that I can not eat a piece of that cake... I could feel the taste of it in my mouth… I have to confess it was one of the most frustrating experience reading a blog :-).
Itīs 11:30 p.m. here. I’m really tired and Iīm going to bed. But tomorrow I will reply the comments.
I’ll see you!
posted on Wednesday, 15 April 2009 | comment on this post
I was reading about online books and at Paulo Coelhos's Blog you can buy or download free e-books in different languages.
I hope you enjoy it.
posted on Thursday, 16 April 2009 | comment on this post
What I study, what I do
This weekend I went to a city named Sobral, the city that my girlfriend lives. Itīs located about 220km from Fortaleza. Unhappiness, I passed the entire weekend sick. I was with fever and headache. All my body was hurting. My girlfriend took care of me and I’m feeling well now (I think she will be a good physician - she studies medicine).
First of all, Rachel, I read the last two posts and it is amazing the way that you talked about direct and indirect speech. These topics became clearer to me after your explanation. I can't wait to read the next post about verbs tenses. I don't know if it is possible, but could you give me some more examples of reporting verbs? I’m particularly interested about two-word reporting verbs (e.g. pointed out).
I wanted to reply all comments, but there is a lot. I’ll comment today about the comment of Mahjabeen from Pakistan and I’ll talk some more about my job.
Mahjabeen asked me what “transportation engineering” is and how it is related to economics.
Well, Mahjabeen, as economist I’m concerned about the social use of scarce resources and its most efficient use. A scarce resource can be petroleum, water, sits in a train, the space for cars in a street. A scarce resource has that name because you cannot use it infinitely. Efficient use can be understood as the use that gives to the society the higher level of welfare. Commonly, welfare is measured in terms of income. As higher the income levels of a nation as higher its quality of life. I high development level means that I country has a high capacity to produce goods and services. Then, how is it related with transportation engineering?
As I told you I worked civil in an engineering company (in fact, in a company that works with construction, waste management, etc), in a bank and in a railway (after starts study transportation engineering) before working as independent consultant.
The job I liked less was as banking. Banks play an important role in a society. However, here in Brazil the bankers are worried just with their selves in a higher level than in the rest of the world. Someone told that I banker is someone that gives you an umbrella in a sunny day and takes it back from you when starts to rain. Here in Brazil it is more truth than in the rest of the world. I felt like working for nothing. Of course, they paid me for my job but I could not see the social benefits of my work. Before, I worked in a construction company and every day I could see the social results of my efforts. My job contributed to build ports, airports, roads, bridges, water supply systems, etc. Working in a bank, theoretically, you can contribute with those activities financing companies. But it almost never happens here (or, when it happens, is in a small scale – and in general it happens for the middle of a state-owned bank, not for a private bank).
I was unhappy as banking and I wanted to work with “infrastructure”. But what is it?
The Free Dictionary defines infrastructure as “the basic facilities, services, and installations needed for the functioning of a community or society, such as transportation and communications systems, water and power lines, and public institutions including schools, post offices, and prisons.”
All those things (the basic facilities) can contribute for a nation to produce more goods and services, and more efficiently. The development of the infrastructure of a nation is a basic step to bring development for a nation. Imagine your lives, in your homes. You have water, sanitation, electricity, gas, telephone, and internet. Every day you go to your job to the college by bus, train or driving your car and you use public infrastructure (paved roads, rail lines, etc). Maybe your country needs to buy petroleum from other countries and it travels in cargo ships that use ports to load and unload the petroleum. Maybe one day you decide visit Fortaleza, Brazil, so you should take a plane and came here. We should guarantee that you staying here can be as good as it gets. So, you have to guarantee you clean water, communication with your family and access to our best beaches and touristic places.
Developing infrastructure a government or a company can offer you basic services, fundamental to our lives and to develop business in a country. It is a good way to generate jobs, too. And I wanted to contribute with the development of the infrastructure of my country. How?
There is no specific field in the city I live to study infrastructure economics. But one day I was in a conversation with a professor, and he suggested me to look for the course of Transportation Engineering at Universidade Federal do Ceará (UFC), the same that I had studied.
Transportation Engineering is a field of the engineering that works with everything related to transport. It means that they work with bridges, ports, airports, cars, bus, trains; the spatial location of residences, schools, colleges; and the things that must be transported from one place to another (people and goods). Where I study, the course to obtain the Masters’ Degree in Transportation Engineering is divided in two major fields: (1) infrastructure and (2) planning.
The ones that study the planning of a transport system (Iīm included in this group) are concerned to comprehend standards of travel from one place to another. Or, why some kinds of travels are made (by people or by goods) and what influences these movements. You go everyday to school. But what school? Is there any school near your home? Why donīt you go to another school? How do you go to your job? By car? By train? By bus and train? Do you walk from your home to the supermarket? The United Kingdom buys petroleum from other countries. What countries are those? Brazil buys components to made computers from China, South Korea, and Malaysia. Why Brazil doesnīt buy these components from other countries? Why the petroleum that United Kingdom buys is transported in a cargo ship and why the components that Brazil bought from other countries travels in airplane? To plan a transport system you have to answer many questions – more than I asked before. And the economists have the ability to answer some of these questions. But other professionals are required to help to plan a transport system: architects, engineers, geographers, statisticians, sociologists, etc.
For the other side, the major field infrastructure is concerned to project roads, railways, etc. They are concerned to made travels easier. At UFC they have focuses different kinds of pavement. For example, they have good results with a kind of asphalt that is made from recycled tires of automobiles. They have other good results using an oil from cashew nut as substitute to some toxic products required to made some kind of pavements. And chemical engineers, system analysts, statisticians, and other professional are required, too.
As independent consultant, I use the technical background that I learned studying economics and transportation engineering to evaluate investments in infrastructure. In general, I help to choose the one that cost less or the one that has the higher social benefit. I had worked with projects in transport (new roads), logistics, sanitation, and with touristic infrastructure. I donīt have a routine. Every job is a new job and has its own challenges. Sometimes I have to work for long hours, days and nights, to finish a job. And the work is not done when I finish an analysis. The work just ends when the project is in the construction phase.
Before the end of this post, I want to share with you a personal victory. When I started to blog in January I had to look for words at the dictionary, grammar rules and new ways to write better. It was a hard job. I’m not writing as well as I could, but I’m sure that I’m writing better. To write this post, I did not use grammar and I just look at the dictionary to define the word infrastructure. I’m trying to do the things by myself. I feel more confident, but I'm sure I made more mistakes. Now, I want your help (again). Where are my mistakes? What phrases I could write better?
Thank you everyone for the comments, thank you Teacher Rachel and thanks BBC!
posted on Monday, 20 April 2009 | comment on this post
I want to say I'm sorry for not write last days. I was sick, then, I gathered a lot of work. Now I'm working days and night to put everything in order.
I'm sad because I could not write everything that I wanted. Anyway, it was nice to be a blogger for a month.
I want to say thank you to Dima, Rachel and to all BBC LE Sttaf.
And welcome Mohammed and good luck for you.
To my new friends, I want to say that you can find me on Facebook or Orkut.
It was good to be with you...
Good luck to everyone and I'm sorry again.
posted on Thursday, 30 April 2009 | comment on this post
Me........in brief !
Hello every body,
I'm very glad to be with you as the student blogger of this month, and hope I won't be a disappoint for you.
Now I want to introduce my self to you in a few words.
My name is Mohammed Jihad, call me "Jihad" if you wish, from Egypt. I live in Giza ,not far from Cairo, and ,by the way, the Pyramids and Sphinx can be reached by driving for two minuits from my house. I am 23 years old and work as a pharmacist in my family pharmacy. Actually, my job gives me the chance to deal with people and interact with public and that influenced me and my points of view extinsively as ,hopefully, you will see in my comming enteries.
That's all ! Yeah.... because there is no more interesting details about my self to tell !
Before ending this entery, I want to say "thank you" to my friend Marcos and hope you have enjoyed this experience. Also, I am over the moon that Mrs Rachel will be the teacher blogger for this month, and I promise I will not let you down.
Have a nice weekend.
posted on Thursday, 30 April 2009 | comment on this post