Tag Archives: ESL

Practical verbs: 12/12

The world is connecting more, but also avoiding to interact. People speak from different contexts, and while it might feel great sharing some of your burdens and frustrations, as well as what makes you feel good, proud, understood or relieved when you find a strong match, it’s still over the phone, screen to screen. The workplace is changing. In 2020, a crisis hit us in the public health sector and everyone was affected. Now we have stuff to rethink, consider the challenges and do some planning. But when we look at what language can offer us in terms of international cooperation, personal gain and professional growth, we also look at society evolving, seeing the other, helping out those in need, sharing narratives that might be forgotten, meeting the people who grasp the dimension of things we think, feel, project and hope for. The hard part is that we’re not always going to find the right way to express what we really want to say, describe something accurately, whether it’s a personal experience or the facts we learned about a place or people we might know, the solutions we read about on an article or maybe comment on what we like about a movie, a song, any sort of thing we set out to do — do you like carrots? My grandma used to make a cake with chocolate on top, it’s a family recipe. Misunderstandings are common, and we’re constantly meeting halfway through the bridge, eventually reaching the other side. And the other side feels different. We wanna look back, and maybe go back; but are we gonna have company? What if you went there and you didn’t like the reception? What if you said something that they couldn’t accept, and how are you going to explain, if you don’t even know enough words for it, besides the particular way to pronounce them? Here’s a few situations:

“I promise this won’t happen again”

We’re easily distracted. Sometimes, when we lose sight of what we need to do, for lack of perspective or motivation, we go on a different path and it’s hard to come back to what we’re supposed to be doing. It happens in relationships, and that’s something everyone can relate to, but also at work, at home, or with stuff we tell ourselves we won’t do again because they’re harmful. My dad has diabetes, so I can’t bring stuff from the bakery and eat in front of him, especially if I don’t wash the dishes later. I sleep after midnight and I’m not feeling my best at 7am when I should be ready to start the job in high spirits with a loud and warm good morning greeting, but I’ll roll up in bed and get up on the third alarm, take too long in the shower and even longer waiting for transport. I’ll tell her I’ll make dinner, but keep on looking at social media and then the market is closed so we can’t cook anything other than pasta. It’s important to say you’re sorry, but we need to explain and promise for good that it won’t happen again. It does. But then we find a way to compensate for it.

“I swear I didn’t mean it like that”

You’ve been friends for years. You want someone to listen to a song that means a lot to you, or maybe you didn’t really like it but you think it sounds like the stuff they would enjoy. You send a message saying they need more of that in their life. Then they reply with another one saying it’s the vibe they’re in right now. Conversation goes on and they say something about the style you’re more into. Oh, right, your dream is to be a pop star. You say fuck off. They take it personally, but you’re the one who’s being teased or maybe trolled hard. But it’s normal. You’re friends. Now a couple is eating dinner out. She wants to order some grilled potatoes, you’re going with a burger. Mall stuff. You come back to where you’re sitting with the order, and the thing’s filled with bacon. You gotta send it back, cause you didn’t notice — she doesn’t eat that. But later she says you never pay attention to her and it’s all about you every time. It gets to you. You wanted to have a nice night out instead of being stuck in the apartment. But you were distracted, it was a long day. So you say, I do pay attention to you, if I didn’t I’d be screwed. Who crossed a line? They’d probably say they didn’t mean it, and go back to normal. But these things build up, so it’s important to measure your words and be kind.

“I don’t believe everything they say”

We consume media every day from different sources, and it’s getting harder to find the content we trust the most in a crowded social feed and a constantly changing influence economy. There’s a lot of people talking about how media makes choices to generate clicks and shares, but it’s happening with regular people and now we’re on the phase of elaborating strategies to use the platforms to have visibility and then manage our digital lives in a variety of ways, which isn’t easy when we’re interested in a variety of subjects. Sometimes you may feel like you’re talking to yourself; other times, something small takes bigger proportions. It’s not about who’s famous or not, it’s about what matters to discuss — but people have different voices and narratives, so making sense of what the real story is telling isn’t very easy, which is why we still rely on traditional media. But more importantly, sometimes you meet someone who doesn’t seem to have the best intentions. From spam links to direct messages promising you easy money, to new people who tell you they wanna date you or an ad promising you to teach you the fundamentals of the last thing you googled, we should take some time to think whether or not we want to spend time thinking about why they’re interacting with us. But people can choose to buy, to interact and to believe in whatever they think is a good, accurate representation of what they see for themselves, the people around them and the future.

***

We rephrase our thoughts a lot. Sometimes we don’t know how to say something because we have a language issue; other times, it’s an emotional issue. Relationships abroad have many limitations, but a ton of benefits. Understanding the world around us is a required skill for any future we can think of, but we don’t necessarily need to search for all the answers, and sometimes a short conversation fixes things, even if it’s just for a while. What’s important is we can still explain what we really think and acknowledge that sometimes we make mistakes, but we’re people, who evolve and who have a natural tendency for cooperation so we can grow and develop better conditions to live in a world that can welcome any kind of cultural background and way of life.

Practical verbs: 10/12

Advertising has experimented with languages, not only written and spoken, but visual and musical, for a long time. It tries to capture the essential and translate it into engagement, with a product or service, in their case; but in an age where everybody has shifted from the consumer mindset to start creating, some of those choices are being made by us and how we want to be represented. Companies listen (more than we’d like to), track and make decisions to reach a target audience; people search, scroll and then fall into an occasional error of judgment. Here’s a few sentences to navigate that context:

“You should think before you buy”

A friend used to say I should think less and live more. While her argument was actually on point, I don’t wanna talk about whatever she really thought about my personality: I take a long time to organize all the things that run through my head when I’m actually interested in a topic, and most of the time it’s a big confusion of references, even when it’s a formal situation. But specifically, when we buy stuff, we tend to make a choice based on immediate reward — or at least we go with short term decision making rather than long term. For example, I wanted a new phone. I knew how much I could spend, and I went for the cheaper models that came with a recent operating system. I found out the most recent ones were actually more expensive than I thought, but then it occurred to me that some brands are more popular than others. In the end, I chose a brand I had decided not to buy again, but that’s because I needed a new phone as quick as possible, and the delivery for the other brand I found online was going to take too long. So I went with convenience instead of personal choice, but seriously, who lives without a phone these days? Maybe buying something reflects who we really are, but I don’t wanna go that far. It’s probably more interesting to discuss how we choose to spend our time dedicating ourselves to what we want to improve, but money tends to make that easier. If people suddenly told you to think before you DM, maybe more relationships would be saved; but that’s a bad metaphor, and maybe some of them wouldn’t even start. Also, you don’t buy relationships. I’m not funny.

“You gotta learn how to sell”

Recently, I read something that said Twitter is a list of reasons for companies not to hire you. Maybe they split the people who wanna work from the people who wanna date online, but regardless of what people think about the process, you have to put an effort to look like the best version of yourself. Of course, that’s what my generation was picking up on, cause now authenticity has a lot to do with sense of humor, which means you’re more likely to nail that job interview if you know the jokes of the week on social media. But people who talk too much about social media are annoying, and we should all learn to look around at products and services for sale, instead of people. That’s what happened to some of us: we became what we share. But there’s a lot more happening around you than the media, traditional or social, can make you see — and while some of it seems irrelevant, a cashier doesn’t spend the whole day looking at Twitter. It’s one product after another. Replace that with a different job and you’ll realize it’s important to look around so you understand the world. But we don’t have to, right now. Like the stuff we buy, it’s good to think about wants and needs, but if you’re on the other side, you start to look at it differently.

“You should think before you hit send”

People have different expectations in relation to language. Language in use: what can be used, what should be used, but also words and even topics to avoid in certain situations. As conversation takes new forms and starts to look a different way, talk also changes to reflect some of the experiences we have with the visual, immediate, complex. People learn stuff with memes. They also share stuff about their mood with a picture of their face or a sunset, coffee or a book, bikinis, beer, screenshots, video edits and songs all in one place. When you send, it could be more private; when you share, it’s another identitary relation. People talk about soft skills: being an effective communicator and a good listener merge into being short when you have a message to share. But conversation isn’t dead: we want it more than ever — and the categories, though this isn’t a word to be used by everyone, are there for us to pick, but with a certain level of scrutiny.

“I can’t read all the comments”

Scrolling has become part of people’s lives, but it’s not just because the older generation spends less time online that we’re going to assume they don’t understand something we set out to do, what’s important for us or in general. If you don’t have time to go to the market, someone else can do it for you. If I need to focus on a project and I can’t have a lot of conversations while I’m working on it, I’ll need some organization and maybe I’ll count on my surrounding context to cooperate. Living by yourself means you have to clean, cook, buy stuff, do laundry, organize, pick up clothes and also work, if that’s the case. Depending on the job, you’ll find that we never do anything on our own. But that brings about many other discussions — how much you get paid, for example. A person with lots of followers can’t read everything people post because there’s too many interactions; a person with few followers may be looking for the right people to connect with, but maybe commenting might be good and even more effective than simply posting, except when you talk to yourself all the time.

***

People make reference to things we might not understand, and it’s on us to look stuff up. We learn something new every day, but sometimes, we choose to skip on one thing and the next day it’s harder to catch up. That’s completely fine. The context for each of us changes, though some of that stays the same cause we’re the same. But when we see language and start using it, we change as well. How we choose to expose our thoughts is what matters most: people don’t have the context, and if we want them to, we have to be clear, and sometimes, short — otherwise, they’re likely to go on to the next thing. But everybody should have their voice heard, regardless of how they talk, what language they speak or what they believe in: conversation starts, depending on each case, when we try to express what we really think and how we see the world. We just need to be careful of how the words match the actions, and of course, avoid confrontation if we don’t want the same treatment.

Image: Pexels

Practical verbs: 8/12

A lot of people have learned to speak a second language so they could explore the world, different cultures and ways of living, read people writing from another perspective, watch, listen, learn but also meet some people. I don’t like the feeling that I’m repeating myself, but it’s true that the internet provided more opportunity or at least changed the scope of possibility to a wider and more diverse bunch of stuff we can enjoy: from traditional to independent media, voices multiplied and experiences amounted, but now we’re facing the challenge to organize the multitudes of content everyone shares online and at the same time acknowledge that the people who created it feel a certain way about it. As generations look at different experiences and tastes, the conversations are also different and the expectations vary. YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, but also iFunny, Discord, Twitch, and places like Omegle. I know everyone has a particular experience, and these are not definitive examples of how people see the web and interact with it, but it’s a whole lot of stuff. Messaging apps alone can tell a story that parents are probably not aware of; groups chats and key people to follow can give you a context not a lot of people see, and you’re wondering how different you are from the rest. That happens at home but also around the globe, and connecting with someone for a day can be both frustrating or liberating, while long lasting friendships and relationships make us think about everything else that surrounds us, which includes the stuff we like and share, the stuff we read, buy and watch — which is terrifying for some, obvious to many. How am I going to introduce myself and talk about the way I see things, what happened before I met you, stuff I’ve been through or what I need to focus on right now so maybe you can help me achieve my goals? How can I contribute to a job well done in the future or right now, if the expectations get higher and higher, but my productivity and inspiration have a limit I don’t fully understand and I need someone to give me a push? I’ll try to contextualize some of these issues below.

“I wonder what I could’ve done differently”

It’s never too late to start something new, but what you do now is gonna stay on the internet unless you choose to delete everything — which might not solve the problem, and older people have not been through the exact same experience. With people sharing conversations, pictures and details about their life and relationships, it’s hard to tell when they change their minds about something they shared, but some people think it’s actually easier. Companies are saying the most important thing for them is not going digital, but being digital. How does that translate into good paying jobs, with what kinds of roles and benefits? When you’re preparing for life in a future workplace or doing your part remotely, how do your personal and professional relationships merge? Do you think your privacy is more important than thinking about how you spend your time and what you choose to say? Regardless of the specifics, we all have a number of things we didn’t know in the past, that could only be improved once we got to a point where we could look back and point out where we’d make changes, so the key is to be able to do some self evaluation and stick with the stuff that makes you feel good but also benefits those around you, though that might be more complicated in a super connected world.

“People send me a lot of messages”

The teenage and adult experiences on the web have a lot of differences, but interacting with things we don’t want has always been part of our lives. If I don’t want to visit the new shop they were showing me on a pamphlet on the street, I also don’t wanna watch the sponsored ad before the video I clicked, and we learned to live with that, though sometimes these little things can add a lot in our lives. But sometimes, it’s a little annoying or inappropriate. You could say the experience is different based on a number of things: gender, race, education, position, views; but when you get a message you don’t want, fortunately, it’s easy to reject it — ignoring, blocking or saying you don’t like what you’re getting. What’s harder to understand is how groups of people choose to spread a message you don’t like and how to stop it from gaining strength, but that involves other factors that we might never have a definitive answer on how to handle: if you were on the other side, you might feel like your voice was being silenced; but just in case we’re talking about inappropriate stuff on your private messages, I’m sure you’ll realize you have to stop them eventually.

“When you mess up, the right thing to do is to apologize”

Not a lot of people understand why they’re doing something that’s bad, for others or for themselves. People have different experiences and views, which is important to emphasize; but learning with your mistakes doesn’t always have to translate into cutting someone from your life so you can start fresh with another group of friends, another job, another relationship. If you mess up, try to have a conversation about it and tell the people who matter that you made a mistake, an error of judgment, acted silly, was childish or immature, weren’t thinking straight, didn’t mean what you said. These conversations help you grow, and growing together is lifting each other up so you don’t have to feel bad everytime you feel like you’re not being listened to or you aren’t doing enough: people care, what you do matters, but you need the right way to communicate. Of course, sometimes we make mistakes that aren’t about arriving late at work or typing out the wrong e-mail, but maybe saying something that could offend people as a joke, hurting someone’s feelings with a comment about their looks, personality or opinions. We need to keep improving the message, and that means reassessing the way we express ourselves and working it out with the people who care, as well as looking to the ones who are not part of your inner circle and trying to speak to them in a way that will make you more likely to be accepted.

“If I see that kind of stuff, I report it”

Some of the stuff we see is just bad. But there’s always a way to bring content down or at least make people correct what they’re saying, whether it’s fake news or hateful discourse, a spam account or an offensive message from a real person. Again, people can ignore, but some choose to talk about it; they can block, but also report and, in some cases, expose so other people can explain why that content is bad. But it’s important to remember that moderators do the best they can, with the tools available, to make the experience on the web the best for the people who use these platforms. Before social media, when something bad happened in the neighborhood, people wrote to the newspapers and magazines to talk about it; services and companies have a channel to receive feedback from people, and though some of the comments are not helpful or fair, they make changes on how they present themselves based on how people respond. The same happens on the web.

***

To end on a good note, sharing experiences online can be beautiful, if the right person is listening. To be able to connect with someone who brings you peace and comfort when you were least expecting it, right when you needed it, whether it’s someone who listens to your problems or tries to help you more actively with suggestions and incentives, is probably what the whole idea of connecting people is all about. What we should remember is our lives are not exclusively digital, and though we want to make a good impression, actions speak louder than words — and pictures or videos. Hopefully, everyone can find people who want to know who we are based on more than just one thing, and if they choose to be in our lives for good, it’s the start of a path you’ll walk together, with lots of great experiences ahead.

Educação e o fator psicossocial: rebeldia e a imperfeição de modelos

Os sistemas de informação transformaram a ideia de relevância em todo o histórico complexo do desenvolvimento da mídia. Nativos digitais provavelmente pensariam: “ok, o VHS é obsoleto, mas como eu nunca conseguiria administrar uma locadora, é melhor ficar quieto”. Mas esse não é o ponto: ninguém aprende o que é obsoleto (a palavra) até pegar um bom texto pra analisar, o que pode ou não ser uma tarefa de sala de aula. Ninguém aprende princípios de administração aos 13 anos de idade, mas com certeza têm conta no Instagram. No entanto, nada dura pra sempre, e talvez precisemos conversar sobre o TikTok e o YouTube Kids, mas sem aquele papo de direitos autorais, sem grandes ideologias do conteúdo agradável, e principalmente, sem sugestões automatizadas de grandes influenciadores. Talvez. A quem cabe essa tarefa: pais, escola, sociedade ou a própria mídia?

É evidente que são apenas exemplos. Ao que tudo indica, ninguém sugere aplicativos por acaso, e são muitos. Se um adulto escolhe se inscrever em uma lista de email, isso garante que leia artigos todos os dias, forme suas opiniões com parcimônia e atentividade, além de assimilar dados fundamentais e compartilhar o que merece destaque? Apontará erros, identificará tendências além das discursivas, e lidará com as consequências — cada vez menos transparentes? Não importa, para tantos. Sua página tem números. Seus leitores foram superiores à média histórica, passaram os concorrentes. Mas hoje se pensa em conteúdo orgânico, não somente em visualizações — na verdade, apesar de todos os montantes das campanhas publicitárias, sempre foi assim.

Adolescentes convivem com a publicidade no espaço privado. Esse é o grande problema moral do século, mas é inconveniente apontar anúncios capitalistas como uma deficiência abominável. Afinal, todos sabemos que o “influencer” só precisa falar que tá com fome pra receber comida de graça, não é mesmo? Muito bem: todo aluno só precisa dizer que não entendeu para que o professor cumpra um papel mais digno que seguir o plano de aula. Isso não tem absolutamente nada a ver com publicidade, mas hoje se paga por aulas online (além do acesso e também pelo dispositivo). As escolas, com espantosas exceções, podem proporcionar acesso livre à internet e equipamento, mas isso é uma discussão bem antiga — e que falhou miseravelmente, não só no Brasil. Dados do INEP, TIC Educação e do CGI revelam um gravíssimo problema de constatação das dificuldades além da gestão: enquanto 95% das escolas, ao que é divulgado, possuem acesso à rede, as conexões são lentas (fala-se em 1Mbps) e 55% do acesso é feito em laboratórios de informática, por sua vez usados por apenas 30% dos professores — e convém lembrar: não se fala da frequência nem do conteúdo, muito menos se propõem modelos de atividades. Ou seja: a tal da revolução digital só funciona para as grandes empresas. Não existe, na moderna e exigente BNCC, menção de exemplos de conteúdos online. Mas sabemos: a realidade se molda, cada vez mais, pelos hábitos digitais. Quem ganha, e como podemos abordar o assunto do ponto de vista pedagógico, sociocultural, sem falar da grana?

A reflexão pode partir do princípio de que a escola forma pessoas para o exercício da cidadania. No mundo lá fora, uma vez cumpridas as obrigações curriculares e superadas as barreiras e os desafios da ordem social, o que define sua atuação é o trabalho. Naturalmente, existe competição. Mas não estamos inseridos no globalismo? Não sabemos que a ideia de conectar pessoas vai além dos interesses, mesclando também preocupações, princípios, fins e meios? Sugiro uma reflexão filosófica e propositiva do britânico Bertrand Russell, que escreve (pense nisso depois) em 1932: “a crença na livre competição foi usada por empregadores como argumento contra o sindicalismo, o que ainda ocorre nas partes mais atrasadas da América. Mas a competição entre capitalistas diminuiu de maneira gradual. A tendência é que toda uma indústria se combine nacionalmente, de forma que a competição passou a se dar sobretudo entre nações, com uma diminuição da competição entre as diversas empresas dentro de uma nação”. E aí, cedo demais pra falar sobre o plano americano de parceria com a sueca Ericsson e a finlandesa Nokia para contrapor a tecnologia 5G da chinesa Huawei, ou nada a ver?

O fato é que essa ideia de competitividade é a essência do livre mercado. Mas faltam psicólogos pra explicar como isso afeta a todos (eu, você, filhos que você tem ou pretende ter, mas talvez nem tanto a sua avó, e que Deus a tenha se for o caso). Não sabemos muito bem como os mais velhos lidavam com o mundo, mas alguns deles lidaram muito mal: tivemos duas Guerras Mundiais no século passado, e muito sangue derramado nos anteriores. Fala-se com benevolência e algum nível de empolgação sobre uma “guerra da informação”, mas sempre esquecem de mencionar que ninguém dá a mínima pra nova atualização do Windows, e talvez muito mais pra originalidade de uma letra de rap. Claro, isso incomoda; mas voltamos à questão dos papeis (da família, da escola, da sociedade, das mídias). Nas redes sociais, fica claro que há um excesso, apesar dos filtros (um ponto que, pessoalmente, não me sinto preparado pra discutir em detalhe); mas será que o que assimilamos de fato contribui positivamente para nossa formação, como pessoas, e não números estatísticos do sistema educacional ou potenciais consumidores? O que pode ser feito pra que essa formação traga novas formas de encarar os desafios que o mundo enfrenta, e nós com ele? E lá vem o cara de novo: “há uma tendência perigosa — em todos os países da Europa Ocidental, mas não nas Américas do Norte e do Sul — a infligir aos jovens uma educação tão excessiva que danifica a imaginação, o intelecto e até mesmo a saúde física.” Eu me sinto inclinado a comentar a questão da identidade e da comunicação, pois não falo espanhol, francês ou alemão, mas sei que o búlgaro, o tcheco e o polonês também não. Ou seja: se quisermos ter chance em nos entender, é melhor partir do princípio que o inglês é uma língua que cumpre um papel social. É claro, o Google Translate também, mas acho que é sempre bom ser realista…

E o que eu quero fazer com a minha habilidade de comunicar minhas ideias, sentimentos e percepções de mundo? A princípio, melhorar essas habilidades — mas do que e com quem você fala? Não ter essas habilidades é um gigantesco entrave, e contribui para um isolamento que pode evoluir para ideias radicais de nacionalismo, por vezes aliadas a uma política que sempre pode ser discutida, mas isso não é uma garantia, se é que me entendem. Talvez o pensador britânico possa ser interpretado num sentido mais metafórico: “o homem cuja língua é cerceada por leis ou tabus contra a liberdade de expressão, cuja pena é cerceada pela censura, cujos amores são cerceados por uma ética que considera o ciúme melhor que o afeto, cuja infância foi aprisionada em um código de boas maneiras e cuja juventude foi talhada em uma ortodoxia cruel, sentirá, contra o mundo que o tolhe, a mesma raiva da criança cujos braços e pernas são imobilizados.”

Mas será que essa, digamos, paralisia não se dá no sentido que acompanhamos (creio eu) na proposta do socialismo democrático, que aponta como única solução uma grande mudança estrutural que vem de baixo pra cima? Qual seria o modelo, para além da linguagem, que por si só já traria discussões para uma década — e seria, apesar da relevância, abandonada assim que surgisse a grande inovação tecnológica que cumpriria, supostamente, a função de unir o compromisso social com a urgência dos mercados? Não se tem resposta, mas depositamos nossa expectativa nas lideranças, não somente as de cargos oficiais, que fique claro. O que precisa ser discutido não é o conceito de liderança ou a legitimidade dos títulos, mas sim, defendo, o que torna possível apontar os caminhos, conhecendo os fatores em jogo. No fim, é isso: tome boas decisões, a todo momento. Mas errar é humano, e robôs não podem ser juízes, apesar de o princípio lógico parecer falho para pessoas, sem exagero, idiotas. Ninguém é perfeito, mas a sociedade exige — não apenas boas decisões, mas contribuições diversas, o que inclui, apesar de parecer pouco importante para alguns setores, a produção artística. Freud explica (em 1930): “apenas através da influência de indivíduos exemplares que as massas reconheçam como seus líderes é que elas podem ser movidas ao trabalho e às renúncias de que depende a continuidade da cultura. Tudo anda bem se esses líderes forem pessoas dotadas de uma compreensão superior acerca das necessidades da vida e tenham se resolvido a dominar seus próprios desejos impulsionais. Mas há o risco de que, para não perder sua influência, façam mais concessões à massa do que esta a eles, e por isso parece necessário que disponham de poder que lhes permita ser independente dela”.

É legal não esquecer que o maluco era alemão. Mas de qualquer forma, não acho que a cultura tenha um efeito negativo, à medida que as tradições pedem mudança e o sentimento coletivo, tantas vezes resultante em situações de negação dos privilégios das minorias (a aversão ao poder, mas também à concessão de direitos básicos, por quem o detém) mova uma grande máquina de manutenção do famoso status quo e legitime uma renúncia à satisfação dos impulsos, e devo dizer que não tenho conhecimentos profundos sobre o pensamento lacaniano; mas falamos de cultura digital, e alguns pontos da nossa história não parecem estar bem esclarecidos. Mas apesar do pedantismo inevitável (costumo falar com muito menos autoridade que isso, e tenho plena consciência do quão facilmente ela pode ser contestada e mesmo ridicularizada por uma esperança distante de passar boa impressão, além da prática do autor), penso que é importante voltar à questão educacional. Em 1990, o Estatuto da Criança e do Adolescente define: “é dever da família, da comunidade, da sociedade em geral e do Poder Público assegurar, com absoluta prioridade, a efetivação dos direitos referentes à vida, à saúde, à alimentação, ao esporte, ao lazer, à profissionalização, à cultura, à dignidade, ao respeito, à liberdade e à convivência familiar e comunitária”. Artigo Quarto, procura lá (sou apenas um blogueiro desempregado). Mas veja bem: desde quando a Lei é cumprida? Se fosse, isso não precisaria ter sido proposto dois anos após a Constituição Federal: alguém percebeu que faltou alguma coisa, sabe? Pense no problema em propor soluções para a era digital: só nas violações aos itens respeito e dignidade, já teria muita gente na cadeia; mas tem também o lazer. E sabe quem cuida disso? A publicidade. Querem discutir o item profissionalização, ou querem a minha história pessoal sobre o aplicativo Facebook Workplace?

Nem sempre a rebeldia se justifica. Mas só você pode chegar a essa conclusão, se o ponto é ter um aprendizado efetivo e edificador. Entre crises de sentimentos coletivos, combatividade sem propósito maior, escassez de recursos e ideias, marginalização socioeconômica e trilhões imaginários circulando entre os homens selecionados pela rede Bloomberg, a mais sincera contribuição que eu posso trazer para o debate, sabendo que vou ser contestado sem perdão, é o quanto eu acredito na maneira de pensar do tal do britânico: “a competição é negativa não só como fato educacional mas também como ideal a ser apresentado aos jovens. O mundo não precisa de competição, mas de organização e cooperação; toda crença na utilidade da competição se tornou um anacronismo. Mesmo se a competição fosse útil, não é, em si, admirável, já que as emoções às quais está relacionada são as de hostilidade e implacabilidade.”

Reality checks: what’s foreign and what do we do with it?

When TV first came out, I reckon it wasn’t a passing matter to the electronics engineers of the last century. We’re not here to discuss percentages. People just can’t be aware of how the products we consume every day are actually sketched, studied, analyzed, discussed, remodelled, sent for tests, deeply scrutinized, crowd levelled, reintroduced, mapped in perspective, reinvented, sent out to the general public and oh yeah, turned into massive profit. Keep your comments to yourself, or rather, read this again and make sure you have an example. I’m waiting. The electronics engineers would be hungry, if they weren’t dead.

Here’s the thing: creation and its myths are definitely a relevant question, but practical life has no privileges. You can only learn how to cook and clean, but you don’t Google where your detergent was made. You just buy it. And hate washing dishes, but enjoy the fact that buying detergent is not the end of your aspirations, with a huge investment that would prioritize every single thing you’ll ever be able to do. And this is not classroom level exercise, this is life.

The classroom is a space for fun.

The classroom is a space for laughs.

The classroom is a space for memories.

Life teaches us fun moments are necessary.

Life teaches us nothing should be taken seriously all the time.

Life teaches us that it has a beginning and the inevitable end.

But how many people are talking about the beginnings? When you meet the foreign, do you look at yourself a different way or do you hire a third party to manage your embarrassment, your estrangement, your incompetence, your false expectations, your maximum capacity for being overwhelmed, your doubt, your fear, your curiosity, your desires, your subconsciousness, your conflict, your identity, your feelings and opinions? The big question is when that happens, and ELT professionals know this, but a handful has the time to write it down.

Foreign is everything we don’t recognize as part of our easy, tired references in daily life and through our history, but part of what we wish we had, what we wish we could do or say, what we wish we understood. Foreign is different. Foreign is cool, despite the critics. Foreign, these days, is barely a solid concept, with interest, influence and relevance for content production in its twists and turns.

Fast forward to 2019. We have, indeed, connected people. This blog was seen in Nigeria, Hong Kong, Romania, not just the UK and the US. Yes, just a click. No, I don’t know who clicked it. What’s the role of the teacher if we’re not even looking at language? What can I learn before I teach? And more importantly: who needs a communication skill?

Hashtags are the third party; likes are minimum wage.

Should we raise the minimum wage and write hashtags on our signs in the next public protest? And just in case, are we still 100% vulnerable to rubber bullets and tear gas?

Maybe learning English isn’t in the priority list of the Brazilian person. If I could buy beer, I’d be drinking alone way more than I care to admit. With change money. But still numb. Is this professional? I’d say hell yeah, but they would profile me.

How can we learn and realize a small fraction of what we’re attempting to do is close to the making of a product that could transform the entire world, so maybe we should be taking it more seriously in case the odds come to our favor, whatever the circumstances are at the moment we wake up to a more competitive nature of things?

The greatest competition, in case you’re an enthusiast, isn’t for language proficiency. But just for the record, here’s what Reddit and Wiki users put together, with a good public service eye and a lot of patience:

Prevalence of the English language in the world. Multiple sources (wiki).

Throwing information right at people’s faces isn’t the way, but in case you didn’t know, English classes are people closing their eyes and coming back when it’s over.

To what?

We know that South America has Portuguese and Spanish prevalence in linguistic terms; we don’t have a lot of people looking for the more deeply rooted cultural shifts and sentiments around it, and the brighter, more socially clarified minds would point out contact with English could mean, at a given rate, acceptance of English traditions, rules and norms, in a general sense, though we should care to look at the specifics, especially in times of change in trade. But here’s how South America is doing, according to student recruitment agency ICEF Monitor:

Proficiency in South and Central America, according to ICEF.

“Damn you, hermanos!” Said an incredibly misguided asshole.

There’s not much to think about: Brazilian language standards are low, and we have to change them. Obviously or not, here a curtain is closed and we sit to discuss with the education professionals we have around the country, but there are no curtains since Facebook.

Now let’s take a look at what happens when we put our focus in the geographically limited area that corresponds to the fifth biggest country in the world. We wanna talk about Education, not necessarily your ability to say words like “girl” and “thin” without feeling stupid, and let’s put aside the argument that the more you learn, the more you wanna show off. You might be shocked to realize that detergent talk isn’t the biggest metaphor. Here’s how the country is doing when we look at higher education:

Distribution of people with higher education degrees according to state. Source Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE, 2010)

Bad news: blue is the sea, and we’re drifting. São Paulo, the richest state in the country, ranks best; but that’s just proportional: the rate of people who get a college diploma is, in the most developed state, at under 12%. Correct. In case you studied deeply a subject of your choice (legend goes you can make your own choices) and chose English, you’d be somewhere under the Common European Framework of Reference standard, which I suspect is Mount Everest, but the kids are really excited to try climbing it up with no protection.

You study to beat statistics. There are others. We could talk about many things we’re doing right, try to balance what we’ve done wrong and show people we’ve changed; but in terms of cultural awareness, we have a long way to go.

Thinking about this, I thought a course for beginners would make significant change (thankfully, I’m not alone), and it started like this:

First class for E101

Questions?

Yes, a lot of questions, actually. (Edit: The first being what the stats are 9 years later.)

I’m not just speaking to teachers. This is a wake up call.

We’re behind, and if you choose to spend your time watching this video, you have to realize it’s an investment. What I spent doing it was literally under R$100,00 for a monthy internet fee.

So I wanna ask the private English schools, and a few companies who haven’t sent out a transparency report: how stupid do you think we are? Skills are changing, and teaching professionals should be treated accordingly. But you can’t expect me to say what I think about your car when I’ve never taken a driving lesson, and sure as hell we’re not competing to see who has the best one.

Image Credit: Yinka Shonibare