Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
United States Education The Internet

Brazilian Kids Learning English By Video Chatting With Elderly Americans 147

Posted by samzenpus
from the back-in-my-day dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Tim Nudd writes that it's the perfect match: Young Brazilians want to learn English. Elderly Americans living in retirement homes just want someone to talk to. Why not connect them? The advertising company FCB Brazil did just that with its 'Speaking Exchange' project for CNA language schools where young Brazilians and older Americans connect via Web chats, and they not only begin to share a language—they develop relationships that enrich both sides culturally and emotionally. 'The goal of the Speaking Exchange project is to transform lives,' says Luciana Fortuna. 'Our students have the opportunity to practice English with people who are willing to listen. During the chat sessions, the students discuss ideas and information from their lives in Brazil with the American senior citizens, many of whom have never had contact with anyone from Brazil before.' The pilot project was implemented at a CNA school in Liberdade, Brazil, and the Windsor Park Retirement Community in Chicago. The conversations are recorded and uploaded as private YouTube videos for the teachers to evaluate the students' development. 'The idea is simple and it's a win-win proposition for both the students and the American senior citizens. It's exciting to see their reactions and contentment. It truly benefits both sides,' says Joanna Monteiro."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Brazilian Kids Learning English By Video Chatting With Elderly Americans

Comments Filter:
  • This scheme is a great success that is transforming the Brazilian culture. The first videos are already up on [youtube.com].
  • by AxeTheMax (1163705) on Monday May 12, 2014 @02:29AM (#46977149)
    Never mind English, there are lots of paths to learning it in most countries. Not so the other way. How about a scheme for those of us who want to learn some other, relatively minor language, where it is difficult to even find basic texts outside its native country?
    • by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Monday May 12, 2014 @02:48AM (#46977207) Homepage

      How about a scheme for those of us who want to learn some other, relatively minor language, where it is difficult to even find basic texts outside its native country

      There are thousands of languages in the world, many not committed to writing, so there are a lot of "minor" languages for which one would have trouble finding texts. But what is the likelihood of you being interested in languages so "minor"? For languages large enough for people in other countries to hear of them, there's a good change that you can find texts on the internet if you simply look harder.

      For example, I am a linguist working with minority languages of Russia, namely Mari, Chuvash, Tatar and Udmurt, and even when I started learning these languages a decade ago, there were already abundant internet resources: lots of bloggers, provincial newspapers, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has a Tatar service with long articles on their website. Text has always been easy to get, but the last five years have seen a rise in the availability of audio/video materials. State television is now regularly uploading broadcasts to YouTube, and independent media occasionally posts videos.

      Plus, linguists have been one of the scholarly communities most dedicated to supporting pirate ebook sites. If you know where to look, you can find scanned and uploaded readers for nearly any documented language.

      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by erroneus (253617)

        Language is the encoding and structure of the mind. It is no mystery why certain groups consistently yield the best civilization while others yield human robots and others a great deal less.

        Language is culture and it is thinking and it is belief. Some languages simply need to die for the betterment of humanity. I can't speak to these languages you have been learning, but I can speak to the advancement of some languages which better humanity. The Chinese have known this for a very long time. It is still

        • by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Monday May 12, 2014 @03:33AM (#46977345) Homepage

          Whatevs, bro. Maybe someday you'll pick up a popular introduction to linguistics and stop spouting pseudoscience.

          The Chinese know this? Looking at the Chinese language over the three millennia of its attestation, it has undergone continual change (and even passed through three different typological categorizations) in spite of the continuity of "Chinese civilization". If anything, they are a counterexample to your thinking. Peoples succeed or fail regardless of what languages they speak.

          • by erroneus (253617) on Monday May 12, 2014 @09:38AM (#46978581) Homepage

            People succeeding and failing regardless of the language they speak? Are you seriously making that statement?

            The most successful people are those that speak the lingua franca. (Yes, I know exactly what that means and where the term came from.) The Chinese are not a counter-example. When the Chinese became more unified, they did so through language unification and even simplification. The language has become very efficient. And English? Well, it's the lingua franca for now despite how bad it's getting.

            I seriously don't know why I have been modded as flamebait. What have I said that's not true? It's far from pseudoscience when there have been many studies on the connection between language and intelligence which lead to this general understanding. It may be simplistic to say, but highly illustrative to the point, but languages that do not include a zero in their counting systems understandably have weaker math skills. That should come as no surprise to anyone. But as language and standards and styles of usage go, it's not hard to see where things break down and fail.

            People are amazingly quick to bash, but amazingly reluctant to to offer up anything substantive to counter. (And once again, in case I wasn't clear, there is no 3000 year old Chinese language. Mandarin, in its current form doesn't go back that far. The oldest standard goes back what? Just over 600 years or so? So if you think you are right, please try again.

            • by CRCulver (715279)

              The Chinese are not a counter-example. When the Chinese became more unified, they did so through language unification and even simplification.

              Chinese language unification involved the spread of a lingua franca, but the country continues to have regional languages. Bilingualism is the norm for most of the world. People are entirely capable of speaking their regional language and another language. So your hopes of language death are simply unnecessary.

              It's far from pseudoscience when there have been many stu

              • by erroneus (253617)

                Let's keep the topic of languages to LIVING languages? Your haughty and detailed discussion of Chinese language origins is hardly relevant to present language facts and features. Let's talk about "original English" which bears almost no resemblance to currently spoken standard English as long as we're talking about useless tangents of discussion. Dead languages simply don't count where the affect language has on the structure of the mind and the intelligence which results from it.

                • by CRCulver (715279)

                  This background is entirely relevant to your claim above. You say that languages affect the direction of a society, the building of a civilization. Such changes don't happen overnight, they take generations. The Chinese language has changed in measurable ways over those generations. So which particular version of the Chinese language has the magical key to success?

                  Furthermore, as human languages consist of a limited number of possible features, anything found in the Chinese language since its earliest attes

                  • by erroneus (253617)

                    Looking back... looking back... nope. I never asserted languages affect the direction of society and the building of civilization. What I said was a bit different in that the language framework of people's minds have everything to do with their success in a larger world. As cultures grow and develop, the outlook on the world has everything to with with the language they think in. "Why are Germans smarter"? It's a simple question given similar educational materials and plans.

                    Language does, however, have

                    • by CRCulver (715279)

                      Amazing behavioral differences are observed...

                      Speaking as one working in this field, you would do better to get some training in the field so that you can understand how to filter the wheat from the chaff in these studies, many of which are taken up in the mass media and made out to seem more than they really are. As I said, the strong form of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis (and you definitely are pointing to the strong form in your presumptions) is UNIVERSALLY dismissed by linguistics after decades and decade

            • by CRCulver (715279)

              When the Chinese became more unified, they did so through language unification and even simplification.

              Oh, and then is just godawful, you obvious have no concept of typology or cyclical change. For one, the Chinese language has not become "more simple", inasmuch as languages don't ever become "more complex" or "more simple" in the way that the general public thinks.

              However, in the case of Chinese, most of the America general public would assume that Chinese has grown more complex. Due to contact with Mongo

        • Are you talking about programming languages?

        • I think that the question isn't "which" language you know, but "how many" you know. The more languages you know, the more perspectives of the world you can see. Each language, like you mentioned, has encapsulated their cultures and belief systems. This language does shape the users of the languages, and the users also shape their ever-evolving language.

          That being said, it doesn't make one language objectively "better" than another -- it just means that one language has a different focus than another. Sure,

      • I'm jealous. I which I had a talent for languages and/or time to learn them. You have access to so much more insight than I do. Keep on keepin' on.

      • I did say 'relatively minor'. I'm thinking of an Indian language with about 50m speakers and a written history as long as English. The culture of India being as it is, everything you can find is geared to learning English. Yes, there are TV shows and all sorts of stuff on Youtube, but I was thinking about reasonably sophisticated learning material. Still, if the main market is oddities like me who are mainly interested in understanding some 300 year old poetry, I suppose we have to work for it.
      • by Reziac (43301) *

        [plaintively] ...a scanned and uploaded copy of all four books of Using Latin...??

    • If I had someone to practice with, sign language would be an interesting one to learn over Skype, provided you had decent cinematography on each end.

      Perhaps genetic therapies and the ubiquity of cochlear implants will obviate the need but I have meet a lot of elderly people who are too proud to admit they're losing their hearing and won't get their ears tested for an aid.

      They say retirement care is a rapidly growing industry for a rapidly ageing western world...

      (My father went deaf as a youth and required h

      • by CRCulver (715279)

        Note that in the case of Brazilian kids learning English from American old people, it is the young people learning a language. The old people are only getting social contact from this, not learning Portuguese. While there will always be unusually motivated people who manage to take up a foreign language in old age, in the main one cannot expect elderly Americans to start doing so. Sign language is challenging even for younger generations who have already passed the age at which languages can be acquired nat

        • Language is only one thing being learned here - the elderly, if they bother to listen, will learn much about contemporary Brazilian culture.

          For what it's worth, there are programs for retirees to learn languages - through seniors organisations such as U3A. One mightn't get as fluent as a teenager learning a language but it is possible.

          Anyway, I'm 40 and if I started now, I'd be fluent in sign language by the time I'm in a home at age 90 :)

      • by Abstrackt (609015)

        If I had someone to practice with, sign language would be an interesting one to learn over Skype, provided you had decent cinematography on each end.

        If you're looking for someone to learn sign language from I'd recommend visiting Conversation Exchange [conversationexchange.com], Verbling [verbling.com] or Italki [italki.com]. Since it's a constructed language you can become reasonably proficient in a few weeks. I taught myself to finger spell over an afternoon and could carry on an intermediate level conversation after about two weeks.

        My father in law is one of those "too proud" people with regards to his hearing and having him in the house is an exercise in frustration. He doesn't have the radio too loud,

    • by jez9999 (618189)

      Never mind English, there are lots of paths to learning it in most countries. Not so the other way. How about a scheme for those of us who want to learn some other, relatively minor language, where it is difficult to even find basic texts outside its native country?

      LiveMocha used to be good until Rosetta Stone bought them out and ruined it. :-(

    • Never mind English, there are lots of paths to learning it in most countries. Not so the other way.

      Yes there are. College courses and immersion programs about. Not having a way to learn a foreign language while living in a developed country == first world problem.

      How about a scheme for those of us who want to learn some other, relatively minor language, where it is difficult to even find basic texts outside its native country?

      The scheme involves become a linguist and travel abroad. For such things, there are no easy-to-get, get-lean-or-rich-by-taking-a-pill schemes.

    • by legojenn (462946)

      I wouldn't mind chatting with some old person in Portuguese. It might even push my vocabulary to over 100 words.

  • This scheme is a great success that is transforming the Brazilian culture. The first videos are already up on youtube [youtube.com].
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Yeah, let's teach the children that it's a good idea to videochat with older strangers on the internet, what could possibly go wrong?

    • by hnangelo (1098127)
      They are not young children, they are late teenagers.
    • I hope that the project goes as plan. However, nothing is perfect in this world and I have already foreseen a few situations when things may go wrong. I do not wish it to happen, but it is very likely because there could be a bad apple in any thing we involve. One very likely to happen situation is the younger in Brazil would ask the elder here to send him/her money. Once the elder send money from the sympathy/empathy, the younger would take advantage of that and keeps asking. Then other younger may start

      • by pocopop (1752410)
        I agree with parkinglot777. I had terrible ordeals as my father was in his 70's and early 80's, having Internet access but not the acumen to differentiate the scams from the legit offers. I wish the project leaders the best, and I know nothing of the details of the project, but I hope they have put groundrules in places (forbidden topics), that there is some vetting of applicants, and that there is some monitoring of the conversations to insure they don't go too far astray. I really do think it's a good id
      • Well I haven't read the article, but have a few comments to make:
        • CNA is a private english school, as such they are not exactly cheap. So, save a really bad apple, nobody there should be in need of money. Provided this is discussed with the elderly, this shouldn't be an issue. Not a greater one than the elderly's grand children asking money to their grandparents behind their parents backs.
        • It is stated that the conversations are recorded and evaluated by teachers. That would also work for avoiding most of
        • CNA is a private English school, as such they are not exactly cheap. So, save a really bad apple, nobody there should be in need of money.

          Expensive school is not equal to no bad apples. Your assumption does not work here. Why? May I ask you who pay for the kids to go to school? Also who make the decision for them to go there? If the kids have done their own research themselves and pay for their own way, I am sure they would not need to ask for money because they should know the value of money and the quality of education they are getting (or they would not pay to go to that school). Sadly, I have never seen a kid like that even though there m

          • I agree with everything you said. As I said, provided the elderly are warned there will be no one whose life would depend on their money because its a private school and so on, the problem would be similar to the elderly's grand children asking money behind their parents backs.
    • "what could possibly go wrong?"
      Yeah, it might interfere with molestation by family members.

  • by kaendesmut (2318424) on Monday May 12, 2014 @02:49AM (#46977209)
    Sorry, i don't want to be pedantic on this but really upsets me when people say "Americans", it's wrong in so many ways that worries me a lot for the kind of education that US kids have. For example, it would be awful if you refer to a french and a portuguese in this way: "Portuguese kids and Elderly Europeans". As far as i know, Brazil is still an American country.
    • by erroneus (253617)

      Get used to it. The word which means "oriental" (east asian?) has become "asian" to the exclusion of all others who live and die in "asia." To say "United States of America" is simply inconvenient. Most of the world has accepted that to refer to America is to refer to the nation known as the United States of America. Any other means of expression which may be more accurate is simply too inconvenient. It does appear to strip all other American nations of their "Americanity" but that doesn't seem to harm

      • Seppo [wikipedia.org] is a perfectly cromulent demonym. :)
    • 'estadounidense' doesn't exist in English.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Spy Handler (822350)

      Does nation of Brasil have the word "America" in its official name?

      How about Canada? Mexico? Guatemala? Let's go down the list and see.

      • by jittles (1613415) on Monday May 12, 2014 @10:50AM (#46979187)

        Does nation of Brasil have the word "America" in its official name?

        How about Canada? Mexico? Guatemala? Let's go down the list and see.

        Except that the America in the name of the USA refers to its location. Everyone in North and South America is an American. Because, as per your logic, they live on a continent with America in its official name. When I travel abroad and people ask me where I am from, I tell them I am from the United States. I do not tell them that I am an American because that narrows it down to 35 countries.

      • From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States [wikipedia.org]:

        Demonym: American

        QED

      • by houghi (78078)

        Perhaps we are confused, because Jay Leno says he is Italian and Jennifer Aniston is supposedly Greek and we all know how bad the USofA-ians are with geography.

        We just want to know if THEY are sure where they come from and by the number of flags they show, they apparently need to be reminded where they are.

    • Meta-pedant (Score:2, Funny)

      by TapeCutter (624760)

      Sorry, i don't want to be pedantic on this but really upsets me when people say "Americans", it's wrong in so many ways that worries me a lot for the kind of education that US kids have.

      No problem, I'll do it for you, sans-apology.

      First up "i" should be uppercase, even my spiel chucker knows that.
      Second, depending on where and when you were born/educated there are between 5 and 7 continents. [wikipedia.org] There's also a reductionist 4 name convention for academics that's based on contiguous land masses (ie: each continent is an island).

      The meta-pedant is as follows:
      1. There is no such continent called "America" in English speaking nations.
      2. Slashdot is published in English.
      3. "America" i

      • by jabuzz (182671)

        I was born and grew up in ENGLAND, and let me tell you there was such a notion as a continent called "America". So I don't know where your English speaking nations are, but they are decidedly not in England.

        Though to be balanced we do have a notion of North and South America, but I doubt anyone would question either usage, and certainly not when I was growing up.

        • by gsslay (807818)

          Well your ENGLAND based education appears to have been confused. Are you sure you're able to speak for the entire nation?

          The Americas have always been two continents; North and South, for as long as the concept of continents and the name America has applied.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            The Americas have always been two continents; North and South, for as long as the concept of continents and the name America has applied.

            Well, that is shockingly ignorant of you to say.

            The term America precedes the existence of the USA by over 270 years. In Waldssemuller's map [wikipedia.org] the label "America" is well entrenched in the South American part of the generally unexplored territory (hint: third row, first column, near the top), and there was a reason for that (hint: first row, third column, right at the top: the guy who charted the South American coast but never visited North America). Even in much more modern maps [tinyurl.com] that do include most of the t

      • I wonder if he also gets confused when people say "United States." Are they talking about the United States of America, or the United Mexican States? I can never tell!

      • You think so? - What's the problem? ALL Portuguese are European, NOT all Europeans are Portuguese, right?

        Not all Portuguese are europeans.... there are still portugueses that were born in the African colonies. Just saying though, carry on. :-P

    • it would be awful if you refer to a french and a portuguese in this way: "Portuguese kids and Elderly Europeans"

      What is wrong with that if those kids are specifically from Portugal, whereas the elderly people are from all over Europe?

    • by oodaloop (1229816)
      We here in America call ourselves Americans and call our country America. Do you think we should instead call ourselves what other countries think we should be called? Would you like that? Hey, you call yourself X, but we call you Y, and you're wrong so you change everything in your country and you're stupid for not consulting us first.
    • by Ogive17 (691899)
      To out pedantic you - they should use 'North American' or 'South American' if they want.

      Everyone in the world refers those of us who live in the USA as 'Americans'. Maybe you can buy some time to speak at the UN to propose a global change.
      • Everyone in the world refers those of us who live in the USA as 'Americans'.

        Except those who call them Yankees, or something considerably ruder.

        • by Ogive17 (691899)
          I was in Japan when a group of school kids approached me. They had to ask an English speaking foreigner some questions as part of their school assignment.

          When they asked me where I was from, I responded "United States". They had no clue what that was. After a few moments of awkward silence, my wife said "America" and instantly they understood.

          We call ourselves Americans because United Stateians is rediculous.
    • by nblender (741424)

      yeah; whatever... I live in america but I'm Canadian; not American. It's well accepted that 'Americans' refers to those who live in the USA.

  • Finally.... a real use for the internet.
  • Wonderful!
    This service has even been certified : http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-x__K... [blogspot.com]

  • Vocês crianças saia do meu gramado!
    (You kids get off my lawn!)
  • by gsslay (807818) on Monday May 12, 2014 @08:01AM (#46978013)

    Can't be bothered conversing with the old folks? Fed up with their tales of the old days and embarrassing folksy casual racism?

    Problem solved! Get a developing nation child to talk with them instead, so you can get on with your busy life. All the advantages of cheap labor without the annoyance of immigration!

    • Yay Internet!

    • by bmo (77928)

      Because the Internet (or Fidonet, WWIVnet, or USENET) was never used as a means of world-wide cultural exchange before this. Or that home-bound "elderly Americans (or older/and/or/disabled people in other countries)" haven't been using amateur radio to keep in touch or rag chew with other people in other countries and collect QSL cards for decades before that.

      Your post itself is stereotyping and deserves a "flamebait" mod instead of "interesting."

      --
      BMO

      • by CRCulver (715279)

        As a former ham, I thought that ham radio sucked as a form of language exchange. Even the ragchewers just found ways to have longer conversations about nothing but the gear they use. Besides, the FCC regs require one to steer clear of politics or profanity. All in all, when using a foreign language and DXing with people in other countries, you can get exposure to and practice only a very limited slice of that language.

      • by gsslay (807818)

        I'm mystified to the point you think your making.

        I was commenting on how elderly Americans needed to have an arranged service with foreign nationals in order to get a conversation. They can't get casual chat with family, friends or neighbors closer to home, because they're not interested. Instead it's being farmed out to complete strangers who get something else out of it. I think that's kind of sad.

        What this has to do with prior methods of communication escapes me.

  • Is it because they used youtube? Because internet based language exchange programs have been going on - at least in southeast Asia - for quite a while now.
    • by cusco (717999)

      I at least found this interesting because of the choice of US correspondents. Most senior citizens in the US haven't even met a Brazilian before, much less attempted to carry on a conversation with them. I think it's a wonderful idea.

  • Language exchange is one of the most obvious uses of videoconference over the Internet; it's been done ever since broadband (basically anything faster than dial-up) Internet access was widely available, with plenty of sites devoted to that purpose.

    Is it news because it's about elderly Americans and young Brazilians? This is more like an unabashed slashvertisement.

  • Why can't I stop figuring Grampa Simpson?
  • I think I remember a Ted talk where a PC connected to the internet was just "appeared" in a hole in the wall in a small village and with no instruction the locals could use it to browse the web and skype (or similar) to british retiree volunteers. They quickly picked up a range of skills entirely self guided including a knowledge of english. I think it might have been this one [ted.com]
  • When I was first learning Spanish, I had a very hard time understanding some older people. To me, they sounded like they had cotton in their mouths. I assume the elderly often sound like that to foreign-speakers trying to learn another language. I'm not trying to bash the elderly -- but they do have a unique way of sounding that language students may find challenging. Still, if you can make out their words, you can probably understand just about anyone.
  • Horrors, hell, and damnation! Are they paying those senior citizens for their labor? I thought not! They have effectively outsourced Brazilian language teachers with unpaid labor from the US!!

  • John Herbert [wikipedia.org], of Spooner Street, Quahog

If you had better tools, you could more effectively demonstrate your total incompetence.

Working...