My blog

B2, Blog, story, travel tips

My first impressions of Sao Paulo 

I landed in Sao Paulo at 9:30pm, by 10:15pm I was ordering an Uber. By 10:20 I was waiting for my Uber. By 11pm I was still waiting for an Uber.
Here’s how the conversation between the Uber driver and I went.

As you can see, I didn’t want to cancel. It’s the person who doesn’t want the service the one who should cancel, right? But he kept saying that he wasn’t able to do it and that there was no fee for me if I did it. Of course there’s a fee! I’ve canceled before and been charged a penalty for it. We kept playing this game for 15 minutes, I even thought about having dinner at the airport to kill time until he canceled… But he never did, I had to cancel.


Then I got another Uber… Or so I’d thought until he asked “which neighborhood are you going to?”. Wait a second, didn’t the first driver ask the same question? Don’t they know where they’re taking you before they accept the ride? A thought crossed my mind, maybe the neighborhood I’m going to is dangerous, that’s why nobody wants to take me there. I decided not to reply-I didn’t want to risk losing this ride too-so I waited. Fortunately, my driver arrived.

We drove past a park full of tents. Are they camping? What’s going on here? A man on bear foot emerged from one of the tents, he was scruffy and looked like he hadn’t had a shower in a long time. They weren’t camping, they were living in the tents. A few blocks away I saw the not so lucky people who didn’t have tents and were sleeping on mattresses on the street. Who would have thought, there is also a social status in the homeless community. The high class homeless people own a mattress, a tent and some even enjoy luxuries like stoves, radios and pillows! The middle class only own a mattress, sometimes a shopping cart and the poor ones don’t even own shoes and sleep on the floor.


Our driver took us to our apartment, which we booked through Airbnb, and my first thought was “I’m going to get robbed in this neighborhood”. Shady people everywhere! The receptionist of the complex didn’t let us in right away. He was asking questions through the intercom and we don’t speak a word of Portuguese “no falo Portuguese, do you speak English? Spanish?” . Deep down I was praying to different gods that he open the door soon. There was a shady individual  scanning us as we waited by the gate with our luggage. I was ready to put my hands up and say “please take everything, don’t hurt us”. Later that night my husband confessed he was having similar thoughts, even though he looked calm at the time. He did a great job pretending!


There was a buzz and the door opened. We walked in and waited for the second door to open. Yes, there’s a second door that only opens when the first door closes. I loved the security measures! I was relieved, only for a second before I came to the realization that there’s only this kind of security in a place where it’s needed.
Well, this is my first impression. I am sure I have a lot to explore to have an objective opinion about Sao Paulo.

B1, Blog

My older friends

People often hang out with people their same age, that makes sense since people your generation tend to have similar interests, but since I can remember I’ve always had friends who are older than me.

When I was in my 20’s I befriended a lovely lady, who was first friends with my parents. Sol was in her 50’s and somehow we hit it off and became friends. One day I was using the title “usted” (in English “you”), which we use in Spanish to address people who are older than you to show respect and the next day I was using “tu” (also “you”), which we use with friends and people our age. She used to sell make-up and I became her client, then somewhere along the way we started texting and we even went shopping for clothes together once when we lived in Lima. She moved to New Jersey and we lost touch for a few years but reconnected recently and I’m so happy we did.

This year I befriended two adorable guys who are at least 30 years older than me. Bertran and Gaytan were my neighbors in Playa del Carmen, where I was staying for a couple of months earlier this year. I would see them on the rooftop sunbathing or having what I thought were healthy smoothies (I found out later they were smoothies with rum haha). Once we got talking at the pool and I found them to be very sweet and easy-going and after I realized that we had a lot in common—like our desire to travel the world, living like nomads and not making plans for the following day—it only felt right to have them home for dinner. I’m not a great cook but did my best to cook ají de gallina (a Peruvian typical dish) for them. They brought wine and had a nice chat, we got to know them better and they also offered to cook dinner for us! Our relationship is not like the kind of small-talk interaction you have with a regular neighbor you bump into at the supermarket, it’s rather a let’s-get-together-in-Portugal-to-celebrate-our-anniversary kind of friendship. My two lovely brand-new friends and I got along so well that they invited my husband and I to meet in a different country, Portugal, where they were going to be celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. It’s a pity we won’t be able to go but I’m sure we’ll find the way to meet again.

Well today I just wanted to share that with you. Have you tried befriending people older than you? If not, you might me missing out!

In this blog you’ll find both, stories and learning materials. You have just read a story and can check out similar ones below.

About us

Let’s get to know each other!

Teacher – Digital nomad

Hello, I’m Ayleen!

I’m the founder and content creator of WeSpeak Idiomas. I’ve been teaching English for about 14 years and am now a digital nomad teaching around the world with my team of teachers. My main motivation is to create original and personalized materials for you to use in class, discussing real-life situations rather than using English from a textbook.

What I do

✔️ English/Spanish Teacher

✔️ Teacher trainer

✔️ Content creator (learning materials)

✔️ Digital nomad

Where I’ve worked

WESPEAK IDIOMAS (2018-now)

IDIOMAS CATOLICA
(2015 – 2018)

ICPNA
(2010 – 2014)

B1, B2, writing

How to write a good body paragraph

When we write essays we need:

  1. An introductory paragraph
  2. One or two body paragraphs
  3. A concluding paragraph

Body paragraphs are like the meat in a sandwich. The introductory paragraph is the top bun of a sandwich, it provides direction for the paragraph. The body paragraphs support statements, provide details and mirror the meat and ingredients within the sandwich. A concluding paragraph summarizes or ties up the content within the paragraph in the same way the bottom bun holds the sandwich together.

Main idea

Each body paragraph should focus on a single main idea or controlling idea. Each main idea is a subtopic of your thesis, which means they should be mentioned in your introductory paragraph.

Components of a body paragraph

Transitions

How do we make a smooth transition? Well, one of my favorite ways of making transitions is by highlighting a point that I previously made in my writing. Doing this helps the reader make connections between already known knowledge to new information.

Example:

Even though the advantages of being a digital nomad outnumber the disadvantages, there are also a number of disadvantages you might want to consider before decided to travel the world while working remotely.

In this example, I am telling the reader that the information that follows is about the disadvantages of being a digital nomad. I use the connector even though in the sentence “Even though the advantages of being a digital nomad outnumber the disadvantages,…” to make a smooth transition between my previous paragraph (about the pros) and the new paragraph (about the cons of being a digital nomad).

Topic sentences

Your topic sentence identifies the main point of each paragraph. A topic sentence is usually a declarative sentence. Ask yourself this question before you write it: What point am I trying to make in this paragraph? For instance, Am I going to talk about the advantages or disadvantages of something? I am going to compare or contrast information? Your answer is your topic sentence.

Remember this: Sometimes we assume that the topic sentence is the first sentence in a paragraph, but that’s not necessarily the case, our topic sentence may come after a transitional sentence. Just remember that each topic sentence is always connected to your main thesis, so if you can successfully identify the thesis statement (which is in the introductory paragraph), you won’t have any problems finding the topic sentence.

Watch this video where our WeSpeak students identify the topic sentence in two different paragraphs.

Evidence

How can you back up your claim? Easy, with evidence. That is facts, testimonials, statistics, quotations, or real-life examples to prove your point to your reader.

Even though the advantages of being a digital nomad outnumber the disadvantages, there are also a number of disadvantages you might want to consider before decided to traveling the world while working remotely. Sometimes moving from one city to another constantly can prevent you from building friendships. In 2019 I spent four months island hopping in Thailand and never stayed longer than 20 days on a single island. I found it incredibly hard to connect with people and make friends and that’s coming from a highly sociable individual! It was impossible to make plans far ahead because by the time my potential new friend and I agreed on what to do, I was already making plans to move to my next destination.

In the previous paragraph I mentioned a real-life example to prove my point to my reader. You might be associating evidence with statistics, since they usually show more objectivity. However, it is also be objective to write about your life. In my paragraph I explained how even with my effective social skills, it was impossible to build friendships due to the fact that I was always on the move. The fact that I am a social butterfly makes this information believable.

I hope this blog post was useful to help you improve your writing by identifying and using the different components of a body paragraph.

Final tip: Always remember make smooth transitions, the list of transitional phrases below can help you achieve this!

advice

Por qué Duolingo NO funciona

Duolingo no funciona para aprender a hablar inglés fluidamente. Muchos alumnos que empiezan a llevar mi programa de inglés con clases en vivo me preguntan ¿Por qué no he logrado hablar inglés después de practicar meses con Duolingo? No aprenden por muchos motivos, pero en éste artículo me enfocaré en dos principales razones: la falta de contextualización y la falta de retroalimentación. En la primera parte te explicaré cómo Duolingo carece de contextualización y de qué manera trabaja con vocabulario y en la segunda ejemplificaré cómo carece de retroalimentación y listaré las razones por las que el feedback es vital para el aprendizaje del inglés.

Falta de contextualización

En aplicaciones como Duolingo sólo aprendemos palabras o frases sin mucho contexto. Podemos llegar a ganar un repertorio amplio de frases o preguntas que no podemos conectar de forma lógica en una conversación para comunicarnos en el idioma meta. Es cierto que Duolingo ofrece un vocabulario extenso incluso en temas básicos, sin embargo, prioriza el aprendizaje de léxico en vez de las funciones comunicativas. La funciones comunicativas son el uso que se le da a ciertas expresiones y formas gramaticales de un idioma para responder con propiedad a situaciones particulares como saludar a alguien, hacer una sugerencia, pedir direcciones, ofrecer una disculpa, brindar información, dar un cumplido, etc.

En lo personal, a mi me gusta mucho practicar un idioma con funciones comunicativas en conversaciones del día a día porque nos permiten ponernos en un contexto. Todas las preguntas y respuestas de esa conversación giran en torno a un tema, entonces aprendemos qué decir en dadas circunstancias, es decir, en el futuro podemos aplicar lo aprendido cuando se nos presenta la oportunidad de hablar en inglés en una circunstancia parecida. Por ejemplo, si vamos a aprender vocabulario sobre enfermedades, más útil que saber treinta y cinco nombres de enfermedades es saber en qué contexto se presentan esas palabras. Cuando te encuentras con un amigo en la calle y le preguntas cómo está y él te responde “no muy bien, tengo dolor de espalda”, ¿cómo continúas esa conversación? tener un vocabulario extenso sobre enfermedades no te ayudará de nada en esta situación, necesitas una “función comunicativa”. En este caso es mucho más útil saber como ser empático en inglés con una persona que está pasando por una dolencia o un momento difícil, necesitas aprender a decir “hay que pena”, “espero que te mejores pronto”, en inglés I’m sorry to hear that or I hope you get better soon o saber cómo dar una sugerencia “¿Por qué no visitas a mi quiropráctico?” Why don’t you see my chiropractor? Ésas son funciones comunicativas, algo que Duolingo y aplicaciones similares no incluyen en su sistema.

Falta de retroalimentación

La segunda razón-y no menos importante razón-por la que Duolingo no funciona es la carencia de retroalimentación, más conocida como “feedback”. Un profesor en vivo te acompaña en tiempo real, un docente especializado en la enseñanza de una segunda lengua creará el ambiente ideal para desarrollar tu producción oral en clase y te brindará retroalimentación inmediata. Sin duda la tecnología ha avanzado mucho y hoy en día encontramos aplicaciones que nos permiten grabar nuestra voz y compararla con la pronunciación de un nativo hablante. No obstante, incluso las aplicaciones que te permiten grabar tu voz y compararla con una computadora, no pueden ayudarte a corregir errores de pronunciación o decirte como debes poner la lengua para producir cierto sonido.

¿Entonces, no vale la pena usar Duolingo? Sí, vale la pena, pero no como herramienta principal para aprender un idioma sino más bien como una herramienta “adicional”. De hecho yo recomiendo su uso para repasar vocabulario pero si lo usas como única fuente de aprendizaje, es bastante limitante. Si quieres aprender inglés-o cualquier otro idioma-y hablarlo fluidamente, considera llevar clases con un “humano” que pueda brindarte contexto y corregir tus errores de forma inmediata, en otras palabras, un docente especializado en el aprendizaje de una segunda lengua. Aunque no puedas hacerlo de forma regular, o no cuentes con los recursos económicos para contratar a un profesor particular de forma diaria, por lo menos trata de hacerlo una vez por semana para que puedas tener una experiencia de inglés real donde apliques lo aprendido en estas aplicaciones.

Espero que éste artículo te haya servido de ayuda si aún estás indeciso sobre cómo proceder en tu proceso de aprendizaje del inglés. Aprovecho esta oportunidad para invitarte a una clase en vivo gratuita para que pruebes la metodología con nosotros, en WeSpeak Idiomas y tengas una idea de cómo trabajamos.

Clase gratis

Si deseas probar nuestra metodología solicita una clase gratuita.

A2, B1, pronunciation, Recorded class

Pronunciation of irregular verbs

It’s easy to learn the simple past and past participle form of regular verbs in English. Learning irregular verbs, however, is no easy task!

But why? Well, irregular verbs are not formed with -ed endings, the simple past and past participle forms usually have different endings. Some examples are the verbs: break-broke-broken or begin-began-begun.

In this video you will learn how to pronounce them all!

Step 1: Watch the video

Listen and repeat after me, write down the verbs that are difficult for you to pronounce.

Step 2: Do the exercises

B1, B2, grammar, Recorded class

Comparisons with as…as

If you’re a basic English learner, you must already know how to make comparisons using -er or more, sentences like “Brazil is bigger than Peru” or “Accommodation in Mexico city is more expensive than in Playa del Carmen”. That’s a basic way of expressing comparisons. In this video, however, I’ll teach you a different way, using as…as.

Step 1: Watch the video

Step 2: Do the exercises

vocabulary

Kitchen verbs

How many kitchen verbs do you know? Go over this presentation and test your knowledge!

Step 1: Study with the flashcards

Read the definitions aloud and look at the pictures.

Step 2: Download the flashcards

Click on the download button to download the flashcards in PDF format. Go over them again next week and test how many you can remember.

Kitchen verbs

A1, Recorded live class, vocabulary

Instructions at the doctor’s office

What are the doctor’s instructions when you have a check-up? Today one of our basic students, Rodrigo, will help you learn some new vocabulary used at the doctor’s office.

Step 1: Watch the video

Step 2: Do the exercises

B1, B2, vocabulary

Science verbs

How many science verbs do you know in English? Learn new science vocabulary by following two simple steps.

Step 1: Watch the video

While you watch listen and repeat after me. I recommend taking notes of each new word to practice spelling. In this video you will learn 19 science verbs in English.

Step 2: Do the exercises

Now is time to test your knowledge. Do this 10-question quiz and see how much you’ve learned. How many did you get right?

Try going back to this quiz in a week or so to see how many words you remember. When I was an English student I would go back to the content I’d learned in the past and test myself again and that’s how I memorized vocabulary. It worked for me, try it and see if it works for you too!