Sao Paulo day 12

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!


Sao Paulo day 11

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 occurred 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,


Sao Paulo day 10

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

Sao Paulo day 9

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’.


Sao Paulo day 8

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 accumulates 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.


Sao Paulo day 7

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.


Sao Paulo day 6

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…


Sao Paulo days 3, 4, 5

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.


Sao Paulo day 2

I woke up at 6:00 a.m. after a ten hour sleep. The time difference from Shanghai meant that my body was telling me it was time to go to sleep but the receptionist at the hostel was telling me that it was time for breakfast. I have just decided to go with the flow and stay awake for as long as possible. We only have one opportunity to film here in Brazil and so after recharging our body batteries this once, we can not afford to do this again.

Like Shanghai, Sao Paulo is a huge city. Vila Madalena, the area in which we are staying, is full of Bohemian culture and boasts scores of art galleries and graffiti areas. I was hoping that today we would be able to shoot some of the surrounding area but the rain was unrelenting. I ended up taking a few shots from inside the hostel but the sky was extremely dark and sinister looking! (more…)

Sao Paulo update

I am sorry to say that I have missed a few days on the blog post but hope to be able to update a little later. We are currently staying at a beach house on the Brazilian coast with Denis’ family. Joel and I met Denis for the first time in Shanghai when we interviewed him for The Learning English Video Project. Denis is from Sao Paulo, and when he learned that we were coming here to film, he contacted his family and they met us for the first time yesterday morning. We are just about to set up some interviews with our ‘host family’ and find out about the importance of young children learning English in Sao Paulo!

The fact that we are living with the family of a gentleman we met while filming in China is a wild coincidence and further proof that the world is only as big as you make it!

All the best,


Sao Paulo day 1 (part 2)

After arriving in Leitao and getting settled in, Joel and I made our way to the first school that we will be working with. I am particularly keen on getting some information on how and why Brazilian parents are eager for their children to learn English at a young age. We are therefore collaborating with Juan Uribe at his school for young learners in Sao Paulo. Juan has over 100 students between the ages of 2 and 13 at his school and we will be interviewing his staff and some of the students parents next week to find out more about how the younger generation are learning English here.

We met some of the teachers at the school, most of whom are from Sao Paulo, and then with Juan himself. Everybody seems extremely enthusiastic about The Learning English Video Project and so we made arrangements to set up some interviews next week.

Joel and I decided to walk back to our hostel, which took us about an hour. Sao Paulo is supposedly a bigger place than Shanghai in terms of population, but it seems to be a lot more laid back. No sooner were we back at the hostel than it began to rain extremely heavily… so much so that we were stuck in our lodgings for the remainder of the evening – a great opportunity to catch up on some sleep after our journey.

Tomorrow we will visit a private school in the city centre before taking in a taste of the Brazilian bohemian culture we have been promised here in Sampa! This is certainly going to be an exciting finale to the trip – be sure to keep checking for more updates!

Best Wishes,


Sao Paulo day 1 (part 1)


We have just arrived in Sao Paulo! I have only been here for a couple of hours and I already feel at home… everything is so vibrant and full of colour – I will report back with our adventures from day one a little later. Thanks again for all your positive comments!

Does anybody have any stories from Brazil?

Best wishes,