Those of you who have followed The Learning English Video project from the beginning stages, may remember that we started filming in Cambridge during September 2008. Due to the fact that this will be the final film in the series (China and Brazil will be available very soon!) we have decided to go back to England and do something extra in Cambridge.
The theme of this particular film will be homestay, where students live with a host for a short time in order to make the most of their language learning experience. Before I travel to Cambridge, I would like to find out if you have had an experience with homestay in the past! If not, perhaps you know somebody else who has? If so, please provide a short description of your experience in a comment below.
If you have not had such an experience before, but think it might be an interesting idea, I would also like to hear from you!
- What do you think could be the benefits of homestay and why do you think it is so popular?
- If you could do a homestay anywhere in the world to improve your English, where would you go and why?
Are there any questions you would like me to ask homestay students in Cambridge?
I will be updating this blog regularly and look forward to reading your comments soon!
Conversations in Spain
The latest film in The Learning English Video Project series is set to be released later this month! ‘Conversations in Spain’ is a 17-minute documentary style film that explores English learning techniques and methods in Madrid and Granada, two very different cities in Spain.
The finished production will be available to watch for free on EnglishClub.com both with and without subtitles. Versions will also be available for direct download and will be accompanied by free teaching materials, also provided by EnglishClub.com. ‘Conversations in Spain’ is due to be released towards the end of November so keep checking this website for more details.
I began working on the film with my assistant director Joel Carr back in September 2008, when we shot most of the footage. This particular chapter of the project has a very unique feel in that it has been constructed to suit learners who may have problems with listening in particular. As the title suggests, the film focuses on three central conversations that detail various questions and answers about learning English on the European continent. I have been working with Josef Essberger, founder of EnglishClub.com, and Matt Errey, producer of ESL board-game ‘Word Up’, in crafting a film that offers learners the chance to absorb entire conversations with a learner of English, a teacher of English and the director of a language school.
Each of the films from The Learning English Project has its own style and design. ‘Conversations in Spain’ is an attempt at allowing learners to gain an insight into conversational flow that they might not have otherwise had access to. The conversations have been very carefully selected in that they not only provide a chance for learners to practice their listening, but they may also offer new ideas, tips and information about learning English in different parts of the world. As always, the film is stitched together with footage from the location settings, which are very beautiful places indeed. ‘Conversations in Spain’ also features music by electronic composer Tom Carr, who also wrote pieces for ‘Stories from Morocco’ and ‘Lessons from Romania’.
The Learning English Video Project is is proving to be popular all over the world, with ‘Stories from Morocco’, ‘Lessons from Romania’ and ‘Tales from America’ accumulating over 30,000 online views and an average of one hundred downloads a day since the films were released earlier this year. Throughout August and September 2009, Joel and I worked on two more films for the series; one in China and one in Brazil. I am currently editing the Chinese chapter that was filmed in both Shanghai and Xiamen. This film looks at how English is being used for a specific purpose on the Asian continent. I also hope to have more information on this film later on in the month. To see regular blog updates from the film production, simply click on the ‘China’ link on the ‘Director’s Blog’ section of the site.
I would personally like to thank everybody who regularly contributes to EnglishClub.com for all your support and advice throughout the project and I hope that you will continue to express your interest with what we have in store for you over the next few months.
Daniel Emmerson (Director – The Learning English Video Project)
Our last few hours in Sao Paulo!
We packed up our belongings and said goodbye to some friends at the hostel before making our way towards Avenue Paulista in the pouring rain. It was first thing in the morning and the streets that led to the Clinicas metro station were extremely busy. The rain got so heavy that Joel and I had to take shelter under the roof of a small cafe… the manager soon came outside and asked us where we were from. Upon informing the bubbly gent that we hailed from England, he immediately began singing Elvis songs (!?). Before long, all three of us were standing in the pouring rain singing ‘Can’t help falling in love’!
We took the metro to Consolação and shot back and forth, up and down Avenue Paulista in an attempt to capture the frantic Monday morning rush. This proved a challenge due to the unrelenting rain, but still we were able to get some good shots of the avenue and round of the Brazil video blog (this will be available to watch soon!).
The real estate on Avenue Paulista is expected to be the second most expensive in South America!
We returned back to our hostel with enough time for a cup of coffee and a delicious slice of chocolate cake before making our way to Guarulhos Airport. The taxi journey from Vila Madalena to the airport marked the end of another production spree for The Learning English Video Project. However, there is still a huge amount of work to be done in crafting the experience into two new films for the series… I really can not wait to share our findings with you in video form!
I have since returned to Poland, where I am working on detailed reports on Shanghai and Sao Paulo. I will then get to work on video blogs from each city before I set about editing the rest of the series.
Keep checking the blog for more updates, pictures, videos, information and questions!
Stay in touch!
Today was our final ‘full day’ in Brazil! Tomorrow we shall head to the airport at 15:00 and say farewell to South America for the time being. It has been a phenomenal experience to say the least and I am so excited about working on both the Shanghai and Sao Paulo films in order to share what I have learned about the English language while travelling across these two drastically diverse continents.
Due to last night being our final Saturday in Sao Paulo, Joel and I joined a group of people from Rio De Janeiro at a Samba nightclub. I shall divulge more information as to what occured in my Sao Paulo write-up later this month… However, evening soon turned into morning and we did not start filming until mid-day on this, our final afternoon in Sao Paulo!
After a quick breakfast at one of the local cafes in Pinheiro, we took a taxi to Ibirapuera Park with a German architect we had met at our hostel. She proved to be a great help in that she knew the park well and was able to show Joel and I the best places for filming the various activities that were taking place. We stayed in the park until the sun went down, filming everything from kite flying to skate boarding as the Brazilian’s made the most of their free time by relaxing in the summer warmth.
Drummers outside Ibirapuera Park
Filming at the Ibirapuera Auditorium
We managed to get some more great footage from the park that I feel well and truly reflects the (surprisingly) relaxing ambiance of Sao Paulo on a Sunday. To contrast today’s shoot, Joel and I will head to Avenue Paulista tomorrow in order to capture some of the frantic Monday morning rush at one of the busiest business districts in the city!
All the best,
The Butantan Institute is a biomedical research centre in Sao Paulo. It is well known in South America for the development and production of various vaccines against a multitude of infectious diseases. The institute has been around since 1901 and is perhaps most famous for it’s collection of 54,000 serpents! Joel and I had discussesd the possibility of filming at the institute with some other guests at our hostel and they decided to come along with us. Anna from Russia and Evelyn from Mexico joined The Learning English Video Project as we made our way across the city in order to try and get some additional footage for the project at the Butantan Institute.
Even though both Joel and myself are at a massive advantage in that English is our first language, we still feel it necessary to try and learn other languages as well. Anna is fluent in Spanish, so we also spent a great deal of time speaking in Evelyn’s mother tongue. As an English teacher, I find it helpful to be able to speak foreign languages as it becomes easier to find out how and why students from different countries make different mistakes… I also find that learning foreign languages not only enables you to communicate with more people from around the world, but you begin to think differently about the way people behave and the way they perceive their surroundings. Due to the fact that Joel, Anna, Evelyn and myself were all foreigners to Brazil, this led to an extremely interesting debate about the importance of English as a dominating language in the world, even though it not the widest spoken.
We walked around the Butantan Institute all morning; filming at the microbiology department and serpent compound before retiring from the sun with cans of cold Guaraná Antarctica. We managed to get some excellent footage at one of Brazil’s largest biomedical research centres and bonded with our new friends on the way.
After leaving the institute, we took a taxi back to Vila Madalena and headed towards one of the Saturday markets. Amidst an array of designer materials, classic Bossa nova vinyl, cracked antiques and lemon couscous, I shot some footage of tourists and locals haggling over everything from pink latex gloves to cold coconut milk. It was a frantic afternoon in the Brazilian sunshine and an excellent opportunity to continue filming additional footage for the project.
Daniel and Evelyn – Filming at Benedito Calixto Flea Market
We woke up early and had breakfast at the hostel, the idea was to drink as much coffee as possible in order to remain alert while filming in the city centre of Sao Paulo. Both Joel and I had been warned that this would not be an easy thing to achieve due to the amount of crime in the area, but we were both determined to get some footage of Sao Paulo Cathedral. We walked from Vila Madalena through the busy streets up to Clinicas metro station where we bought our tickets and submerged into the depths of the underground.
As with any major city in the world, the tube was busy; we were pressed together tightly as the underground train propelled us towards the city centre. After arriving at Subprefeitura da Sé, we began to make our way to ground level. Masses of people surrounded us but we felt no initial concern as to our well being; having filmed at many busy locations around the world before, Joel and I were both confident that the warnings we had received from the local people we had met were perhaps exaggerated a little. Upon embracing the daylight and being slightly taken back by the beauty of the cathedral, I reached for my tripod. Within seconds of me taking it from my bag, we were surrounded. A group of men advanced on us right outside the metro station and we had to make a run for it. I felt torn between my desire to capture the action on film and the need for me to keep my camera! We made it about thirty metres across the square when we found ourselves witnesses to a mugging; an angry man had a pick pocket pinned up against a wall and was demanding his wallet back. We ran in the opposite direction, taking cover in a fast food restaurant called ‘Giraffes’.
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It is easy to underestimate the size of a city. Even when you have spent the last few days trecking around, it is still sometimes easy to think the city is a a lot smaller than it actually is, just because certain things appear more familiar. Today we decided to walk from Vila Madalena to Escola Lourenço Castanho and it took us about an hour and half to do so. We were able to shoot as we strolled, capturing some footage of one of the busiest streets in the city. However, time was of the essence and we had to run to Escola Lourenço Castanho in order to get there for break time.
The school runs on a similar programme to most in the UK in that there is a scheduled 15 minute break in the morning. The only difference with this school is that everybody accumilates in the central outdoor concorse to discuss their lessons while listening to the rock music that pours from huge speakers all around the room. We were able to film some of the students we interviewed last week as they spoke to their peers and conversed in English. It certainly made a change from what we filmed at Juan Uribe School, but it turns out some of the students at Lourenço Castanho had studied there when they were younger.
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Juan Uribe is a school in Sao Paulo where children aged 2 to 13 acquire English through playing games, storytelling, puppeteering and creative projects. The school is also unique in that the students talk about how they perceive their own processes in acquiring the language. Joel and I spent the day filming at the school, which allowed us to interview both the students and the staff about the importance of learning English from such a young age. We were also lucky enough to be able to interview a parent who had been sending her child to the school from the age of 1 year and 10 months. The child had already acquired an excellent grasp of English and was continuing to progress during her time at the school.
Choosing to enrol children on English courses at such a young age must have pluses as well as minuses in terms of the learner’s education and this is what I was able to explore while filming at the school.
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Joel and I returned to Sao Paulo on Monday evening and set about planning the rest of our time in this fascinating city. A lot of time was spent thinking about how we can go about documenting the vastness of Sao Paulo without simply gathering footage of skyscrapers and traffic jams. The central problem with our plan was that 90% of the people we have met here advised us to exercise extreme caution when walking in Sao Paulo. Joel and I have both been told on numerous occasions by local people that filming in the city centre and even on the outskirts is a serious ´no no´, particularly as we are a crew of two and stand out as tourists. I am not sure as to how we are going to go about filming in Sao Paulo but I always value the opinions of the local people…
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Learning English Video Project hits Baleia Beach!
Since we had interviewed her brother in Shanghai, Delane kindly offered for The Learning English Video Project crew to travel just north of Sao Paulo and spend the Brazilian Independence Holiday with her family at their beach house. Delane picked Joel and me up from Vila Madelena at 07:30. She had told us to stay inside the gates of our hostel as it may not have been safe to wait outside, which seemed a little strange at the time, but we were keen to meet her and to see what the Brazilian coast line has to offer. We were then given a quick tour of the city before we met with Delane´s parents at their apartment in the centre of Sao Paulo; they were keen on making us feel welcome in their home city and practicing their English at the same time.
The journey from Sao Paulo to Baleia Beach took about two and a half hours. During that time, we got very well acquainted with the family and the versatile Brazilian countryside; from the sweeping grandeur of expensive apartment blocks, to the awkwardly balanced favelas shooting up plush green hillsides.
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