header

27 Jun 2014

We're off to Bournemouth!

Summer has arrived and with it so has our annual Bournemouth programme. Excursions, friends, beach and fun, not forgetting the ultimate goal: learning English!

As every summer the Easy Languages team is preparing for the weekly trip fro Brussels to Bournemouth. Our group leaders accompany the young Belgian, French and Dutch students, meeting up with Italian, Spanish and German students along the way. An exciting and very fun mixture!

We have already spoken about our junior programmes in Bournemouth and our school, the host families etc. As you can read here. But this time, I am going to speak a bit more about our Group Leaders, those kind souls who give up the traditional summer holiday just to go to Bournemouth to make sure all these students have a great time!





Morgane is French and works at our office in Brussels. She speaks French, English and conversational Spanish.

She is a Bournemouth veteran and after working with Easy Languages for three years she is one of our Language programme experts. 









David is one of the latest arrivals at Easy Languages, you can read more about him here. Nevertheless, he has won the hearts of our Spanish clients (as those who have been lucky enough to speak with him will tell you!)


This is not his first time in the UK, so he is the perfect guide for the students who don't want to miss out on the trip to London. 

He speaks Spanish, English and watch out his French skills are getting very good!




 
Kim our favourite Dutch Group Leader. She arrived relatively recently at Easy Languages and you can read more information about her here. She is another hardcore traveller and has lived in the USA, Sweden and she is now with us in Brussels. Her next stop.....only Russia!

She speaks Dutch, English and conversational Chinese and Swedish.







 
 Déborah our colleague from the Paris office, knows what its like to spend a summer or two in Bournemouth as she has already spent several weeks in charge of groups. 

She speaks French, English and Chinese. While she is still studying, this does not stop her from spending her summers with us - She loves Bournemouth!






 
 Ann-Catherine has worked for Easy Languages the longest, and on top of that she worked for more than 10 years at our school in Bournemouth - she truly is the expert. You will definitely have a few weeks of fun if you are travelling with our colleague from the Paris office. 

Of Flemish origin, she speaks French, Dutch, English and Spanish









Abi is the only English Group Leader, so she has the home field advantage! She speaks English, French and conversational Spanish

She can tell you all about the real British customs and traditions and lend a helping hand if you have any doubts. 







 
Damien is just as French as he is Dutch - it depends on his mood (or maybe which football match is on). He is the perfect example of a hard working, fun entrepreneur. 

He speaks Dutch, French, English and conversational Spanish







 
 Kai is one of the latest arrivals, but she has already spent some time in Bournemouth during the Easter holidays.

She works for the French market in Belgium, however as well as French she speaks English, Japanese and conversational Spanish.







 

Annabelle is French and head of communications here in our office in Brussels. 

She is also a language and travel expert, she speaks English and French. You will have great fun playing laser tag, her favourite activity, as well as beach games and even the bus ride!





 

Blanca arrived at Easy Languages over a year ago and this is her second summer in Bournemouth. 

She speaks Spanish, English and has some great newly acquired French skills. She said the best thing about going as a Group Leader is that you get to establish your roles quickly, hers was the "funny aunt".





 
 Cristina is another Easy Languages veteran for the Spanish market. She speaks Spanish, English, French and conversational Italian.

She is quite a restless character so she is probably our best travelled colleague, which will be very helpful for all of our students. 







 
Mathilde is literally the life of the party. Trust me when I say that if you go with her, you will have nothing but fun!

She speaks French, English and conversational Spanish and German.

Although she has not been with us for a very long time, she is one of the hardest workers in the office and is never without a smile.





 
Raffaele is one of the newest members to our team here at Easy Languages. He is half Belgian and half Italian and is quite the linguist speaking Italian, French, English, Spanish and conversational Dutch

He is another well-travelled colleague after having spent three months volunteering in Ecuador!






 
Lucia is our other newest recruit. She is Belgian with a little bit of Italian mixed in there too. She speaks French, English and Italian
 
She has travelled around Oceania, visiting New Zealand, Australia and China. 









Last but certainly not least is Julie, the person who makes this programme possible (who will be attending in the last few weeks to make sure that everything runs smoothly from Brussels). 

She is from Belgium and speaks French, English and some Italian and Spanish






So here they are our wonderful Group Leaders - although not the whole Easy Languages team can attend. If you or your children are thinking how to spend the summer, think no more: Summer camp in Bournemouth - 14-19 year olds.

17 Jun 2014

Stimulate your senses in Brazil

Being the largest country in South America, there is obviously a tremendous amount of things to do and see here, all while practising your Portuguese of course!

You may already know of some of the more famous sights to see in Brazil, but here is a brief selection of activities for you to be doing while visiting this great South American country, especially useful if you do not have much time there.


Sight


We all know that Brazil has a very diverse history, stretching from its Indigenous roots, through the colonial period up to the independent and modernised Brazil that we know today. Brazil's numerous landmarks reflect not only this but also their culture, and they truely are a sight to behold!

Source:novatravelclinic.com
Obviously, the best known landmark is Christ the Redeemer (Cristo Redentor), which sits atop the Corcovado mountain and is now one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. Another site not to be missed in Rio de Janeiro is the Escadaria Selarón, a set of 250 steps in the Lapa/Santa Teresa neighbourhoods of Rio. Among others, the Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Congonhas (UNESCO site), Olinda and Sugarloaf Mountain are definitely worth visiting.



Sound


For most people the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of Brazil (and especially Rio) is, of course, Carnaval. This event takes place in February before Lent begins, although it usually runs for about a week, there are many that go on for a lot longer. The first Carnaval is said to have taken place in 1641 when John IV of Portugal was crowned. The name supposedly comes from the fact that people would give up meat/poultry for lent, hence Carnelevare - to remove meat.

Source: wikipedia.org
The main aspects of this event take Afro-Brazilian vibes, rhythmic sounds, over-the-top costumes and of course Samba. The Rio Carnaval is without a doubt the most famous of all the Carnavals. It includes performances from all of the big Samba schools in the Sambadrome and street carnaval bands, or Bandas. There are various different Samba styles at the Rio Carnaval, the Samba-enredo, Samba de bloco and Marchinha. It is for good reason that it has been called "The greatest show on Earth".




 Smell

 

This sense would normally be a tricky one, however luckily for us Brazil is home to the Amazon. The Amazon river is one of the longest in the world, second only to the Nile, and the rainforest is the largest on the planet, covering 5,500,000 km², 60% of which is in Brazil. It is the largest and most biodiverse tract of tropical rainforest, being home to around 16,000 species of tree alone.

Source: coverpassion.com
Being the largest country in South America, it has a massive ecosystem and very varied topography with locations such as Igauçu Falls, Fernando de Noronha and Pantanal. There is a general consensus that it has the highest number of terristrial vertibrates and invertibrates, it has the highest primate diversity, highest number of mammals and a very high number of endangered species.

 

Taste


Brazil ranks in the top 10 of the world's best restaurants, with São Paulo's restaurant D.O.M (Deo Optimus Maximus) coming in at number 7. The restaurant's creator tests different possible ingredients from the Amazon, bringing Indigenous foodstuffs across the boarder to the cosmipolitan cities. The cities do offer a wide range of cuisines from other countries, particularly sushi due to the large number of Japanese inhabitants.
D.O.M restaurant - Source: www.pedrokok.com.br

Brazil, home of the açaí, has the largest fruit selection in the world - unsurprisingly thanks to the Amazon. Some typical food includes Feijoada (stew of beans, beef and pork), coffee (the world's largest producer), Cachaça (a distilled spirit made from sugarcane), rice & beans, Salgadinhos (similar to Tapas).






Touch


We couldn't make a list of what to do in Brazil without mentioning at least one beach, and what could be better than the feeling of warm sand in between your toes while strolling across one of Brazil's beautiful tropical beaches.

Ipanema beach - Source: travelfeatured.com
There are thousands of beaches to choose from, whether you prefer a quieter more secluded one or one of the more famous ones such as Copacabana or Ipanema (3rd on Travel Channel's list of best beaches), you will definitely find what you are looking for. Brazil has over 7,000 miles of coastline and offers year-round sunshine. While travelling the coast you will find pristine beaches, tropical forests, rocky coasts, lively beach towns and quiet fishing villages, there really is something for everyone.




Don't forget, our schools in Brazil would love to meet you, so don't hesitate to contact us for more information!

11 Jun 2014

Brazil, football's capital

Tomorrow the first match of the FIFA World Cup will commence and with it the football fanatics, lovers and critics will all have more than enough reason to put their differences aside and make the most of the upcoming month. 

Source: www.sportskeeda.com

The combination of the World Cup's popularity, the dedication of its fans and Brazil's vibrant and eccentric culture is truly going to make for a dynamic and exciting month, and competition, hence why we chose Brazil as our destination of the month this June. 

The World Cup


This competition, which has taken place uninterruptedly every four years since 1930 (with the exceptions of 1942 and 1946 due to the second world war), is the most important tournament in men's football. It is also one of the most popular and recognised competitions, probably because of the excitement surrounding this sport, but also due to the amount of money involved, not just in sporting terms but also the professional players. 

Every 4 years, the 32 national teams that qualify from the 200 odd teams that apply to enter this competition, compete in different locations. Due to repeated boycotts by European and South American confederations following World War II, rotation between Europe and South America was established, being the longest tradition. Although this rotation was removed ahead of the 2018 elections. 




Football, created in England, was rarely seen outside of the British Isles, it was in 1872 that the first international match between England and Scotland was held. However the first time that it was played over seas was in the 1900 Paris Olympics, although it was only a demonstration sport and medals were not awarded. Four years later the famous FIFA (International Federation of Association Football) was established and in 1908 football was declared an official sport

 Brazil


Fifa chose South America to host the 2014 World Cup, for which Brazil and Columbia put forward nominations. Columbia however subsequently withdrew, leaving Brazil as the only candidate and thus the host for the 2014 World Cup, as in 1950. 

As on other occasions, the celebration of this competition on a global level represents an important opportunity to showcase the selected country. Brazil, which was already in the middle of developments, has seen and undergone significant changes in many aspects, both in the economy and daily lives of its inhabitants, due to the 2014 world cup and 2016 Rio Olympics.  


The 12 stadiums of the Brazilian world cup. Source: Wikipedia


Brazil is an extremely large country and it has had its problems throughout the preparation stages of these two large sporting events, although in any case, everything seems to have arrived on time and is ready to kick-start this great social and sporting event.


The Competition


We may not all know how this competition works, but we more or less know that there are groups, and the feared and dreaded quarter finals, so at least we're not starting from scratch. 

As you can imagine, during this decade of celebrating the World Cup, the systems that have been used to validate the competition have seen many variations. For starters, there are the qualifying rounds, which decide which teams will attend the world cup. 

Once these teams are known, they are randomly put into groups. Each group consists of four teams and they must meet the following criteria: the strongest team will be the top seed and is there to ensure that two teams from the same confederation do not meet in the first round. After all members of the group have played each other, the two top scoring teams from the group will progress. Following this are the knock-out rounds, quarter finals, semi finals and of course the final. 

As for the teams and possible winners, as you can imagine, the betting odds are exploding, but to see how the competition progresses and see who will take home the title we will have to wait until June 13th. 


Original by: Blanca Díaz Blanco

6 Jun 2014

Our schools in Brazil

Brazil, the largest Lusophone country in the world and the largest country in South America. Each city has something slightly different on offer, ranging from the cosmopolitan, modern cities towards the south to the more colonial cities towards the north. In spite of these contrasts it is certain that all of these cities and states offer exciting cultural experiences giving insight into the South American way of life.

Portuguese, or Língua Portuguesa, is a romance language with 210-215 million native speakers worldwide, making it the 6th most spoken language globally and the 3rd most spoken European language. After English, it is alongside Spanish the fastest growing European language and according to UNESCO it has the highest potential for growth as an international language. Currently, Portuguese is the official language in Portugal, Brazil, Mozambique, Angola, Cape Verde, Acores, Guinea-Bissau, São Tomé and Príncipe. 


Our Schools in Brazil


We offer Portuguese language schools in two destinations in Brazil: Maceió and São Paulo.


Ponta Verde. Source: www.skyscrapercity.com
This city is the capital of the state of Alagoas, in the North East of Brazil. It is a very safe and modern city which is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Latin America - the lagoons attract tourists from all over the world. It has a tropical climate with an average temperature of 25°C and, in spite of it's beach-town reputation, it has a very lively cultural scene, particularly during the carnival season in February. The school is located in the Ponta Verde area, a modern residential district of the city, just a few minutes walk from the beach and restaurants.  




Jardim Paulista district
This city has the greatest number of Portuguese speakers in the world, not surprising when it is the largest city in South America. São Paulo is a major city for Brazilian industries and finance sectors, with many headquarters for the country's international companies situated here. It can be an intimidating place, however if you like big cities, you will definitely not be disappointed with the lively and dynamic atmosphere that this city offers. The school is located in the Jardim Paulista area, which is near to the financial district of São Paulo. The rest of the city is easily accessible by public transport near to the school. 


Programmes:

Both of these schools offer group and individual lessons. Students can choose from Intensive or Super-intensive group lessons (20 or 30 lessons per week respectively). Individual lessons offer Intensive, Super-Intensive or Business Portuguese (20, 50 or 30 lessons per week respectively). 

Accommodation is offered with Brazilian host families with a single room and half-board all of whom are located relatively near to the schools. If students would prefer a bit more independence there is the option of selecting an apartment or hotel

The school organises activities and excursions to complement the language lessons and introduce the Brazilian culture. Activities can include evenings at the theatre, Brazilian restaurants, visits to the beach or even festivals. Every two weeks the school arranges excursions to places such as Marechal Deodoro, S.Francisco River, Penedo and Murici forest. 




Total Immersion

You can also choose a city in Brazil as a part of our total immersion programme. This is one of our most effective programmes as you live with your own personal tutor in their home, maximising the contact time with the target language. In addition to this, this programme is completely flexible as students can tailor the lessons so that they can practise the skills and topics that they want to work on. The accommodation for this programme is at your teacher's home, in a single room with full-board


Students can opt for the straight language programme and choose from 10, 15, 20 or 25 lessons per week. Additionally there is the choice of the Language & Activity programme where students can take either 10 or 15 lessons per week combined with 5 or 10 hours of activities. The activities can be organised on arrival with the teacher, depending on your hobbies and local facilities. 


Source: gate7.lt



Interested in one of these courses? Do not hesitate to contact us and we will be happy to send you more information about our availabilities. 

3 Jun 2014

Next stop Brazil!

Brazil, officially known as the Federative Republic of Brazil (República Federativa do Brasil), is famous for its glamorous beaches, eccentric carnivals and the vivacity of the locals.

Some of you may be surprised at the number of languages and destinations that we offer, this is why we try to offer you varied destinations each month, and this month is no different as we go further afield to Brazil. Portuguese is often in the shadow of French and Spanish as a second language, however with around 215 million native speakers (making it the 6th most spoken language globally and third most spoken European language) we feel it deserves more recognition as a language.


Source: www.colourbox.com


Brazil is the largest country in South and Latin America. As well as being the fifth largest country, it is also the largest lusophone country in the world. Brazil occupies 47% of the South American continent, bordering all South American countries with the exception of Ecuador and Chile. Brazil's varied landscape, which includes cities, beaches, mountain ranges and rainforests, attracts many tourists every year. While Brazil's natural assets remain the most popular among tourists, more and more come to experience the culture of Brazil's cities, in particular Rio and its famous carnival.

A Brief History


Brazil was claimed for the Portuguese empire in 1500 and colonisation effectively begun in 1534. However, the country suffered through much unrest with the indigenous tribes fighting amongst themselves and against the Portuguese. While exports remained unstable, the gold rush in the 1690's saw a huge number of new settlers arriving from Portugal and Portuguese colonies. The early 19th Century saw the Portuguese Royal court move to Brazil and the establishment of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves. Subsequently Brazil won their war of Independence and Portugal declared Brazil independent in 1822 and the military coup of 1889 saw the monarchy finally overthrown and the establishment of the early Republic.

However, throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, Brazil was marked by many coup d'etat as the country was subject to many dictatorial powers and military regimes. The late twentieth century saw democracy making a come back with Brasilia instated as the official capital and Cardoso's successful Plano Real (1980) improving Brazil's economic situation. The peaceful transition of Cardoso to da Silva as President saw the arrival of political stability in Brazil. The current President, Rousseff, was elected in 2011 and is Brazil's first female president. 




What to see

Being such a big country it is hard to see everything that it has to offer, especially as each city and state has so many attractions and a slightly different atmosphere then the others. That being said, here are a few of the top cities.

Source: www.royalcaribbean.com
  • São Paulo: Home to 11,316,149 people, this is the largest city in Brazil and the capital of the state of São Paulo, located on the South East coast. It is known for its skyscrapers, lively cultural scene and its gastronomy.Top sites include: Ibirapuera park, mercado municipal, zoological park, Paulista avenue, Praça de sé, Pátio de colégio, Museu do Ipiranga and Catedral da Sé.


Source: en.wikipedia.org
  • Parati (Paraty): Located on the Costa Verde and home to 36,000 people, Parati is in the South Eastern state of Rio de Janeiro. It is a historic, colonial city that attracts many tourists with its varied landscape juxtaposing mountains and coastline. You may recognise this city as Isle Esme from the film Twilight. 







Source: www.recifetours.com
  • Recife: Known as the "Venice of Brazil", Recife is the capital of Pernambuco state in North Eastern Brazil. It is the fifth largest city in the country and a major port. Notable sites to see are: Mercado de São José, Forte Cinco Pontes, Pátio de São Pedro, Praça de República, Recife Antigo and Olinda






Source: www.manaus.info
  • Manaus: The capital city of the state of Amazonas in Northern Brazil. Otherwise known as the gateway to the Amazon or the Heart of the Amazon. The opportunity to see the wildlife and take part in river cruises and stay in jungle lodges attracts huge numbers of tourists every year. You will also see the 'Meeting of Waters' here where the Rio Negro and Solimões river meet in a stark contrast of colour. 




Source: thingstodo.viator.com
  • Rio de Janeiro: The capital of the state of Rio de Janeiro and the second largest city in Brazil with 6.3 million inhabitants. It is one of the most visited cities in the Southern hemisphere. Its popular attractions include: Carnival, the natural settings, Christ the Redeemer, Bossa Nova, Copacobana, Sugarloaf mountain + cable car and the Biblioteca Nacional. Rio welcomes the most tourists per year of any South American city. 


Beaches


We cannot discuss Brazil without mentioning its sublime beaches, so here are some of the better and lesser known beaches that stretch across the Brazilian coastline. 

Fernando do Noronha, source: cruisingoutpost.com
  • Alter do Chao - Pará
  • Fernando de Noronha
  • Praia do Toque - Alagoas
  • Arpoador - Rio de Janeiro 
  • Copacabana - Rio de Janerio
  • Lagoinha do heste - Florianópolis
  • Lopes Mendes - Ilha Grande, Rio State. 





Brazil truly has so much to offer, especially if you choose to take one of our language courses. What is certain, is that this is a country that definitely will leave an impression on you!