24 abril, 2014

The Princess Diaries

Postado por Camila Rafaela Felippi às 4/24/2014 02:27:00 PM 8 comentários
The books tell the story of Mia Thermopolis, a younger student. She lives with her mother and with her cat Fat Louie. Her best friend is Lilly and Mia loves her brother Michael (but nobody knows). She always writes in her diary (that’s why the title). Sometimes she tells what happened in her day, what homework she has, what she has to study (like Algebra) and what she dreams. What Mia didn’t know was the true about her father’s family: the royalty. Mia, indeed, isn’t a simple student, she is a princess! She is the princess of Genovia! It really changes her life. Her grandmother trained her to be a good princess, teaching good habits, etiquette, way of walking/dressing and she changed her haircut. It was a secret, but one day everybody already knew and Mia started to be famous in the entire world, mainly in her city. During the book Mia and Lilly has some problems and Mia makes a new friend: Tina. Mia, in the middle of one of the books, is girlfriend of a boy she doesn’t love. She only likes him as a friend… After she discovers that Michael also loves her and she broke with the boy. On the end of the year (and in the other book) she travels to Genovia and she doesn't talk to Michael for some months. At the end she meets him and Lilly, they had a good day and they’re very happy.

Mia before (student)                     Mia after (princess)    
Anyway, I read the first four books. In total there are ten books. I bought the fifth, but the post office is having problems with delay. I couldn’t stand my curiosity and I watched the movies (two). Now I'm confused! In the first, tells the story of the tree first books: even when Michael and Mia are together. Until this ok! But, in the second everything changes! Some years have passed... At first Mia is on the plane reading her diary and she thinks "Now Michael and me are good friends." And finally, we don’t hear about "Michael" in the rest of the film. HOW? I really don’t know. 
Mia would be crowned queen, but there was one problem: she had to be married. And she, herself, said: "How will I get married if I never fell in love"? NEVER? AND MICHAEL? WHERE IS MICHAEL? The production of the film, literally, deleted Michael. (Maybe) Do they have problems with the actor? 
Nicholas, Mia and Andrew
Her grandma says that's how the Princepessa’s world works: with arranged marriage. Mia thinks it's ridiculous, but if she doesn’t marry, her family wouldn’t be of royalty anymore and it’s a very big tradition. In honor of his father (he died of cancer) she decides to meet some princes. Lilly surprises her coming to Genovia. Together, they pick through all potential husbands. Mia chooses Andrew Jacoby and they decide to get marry (everything because of the royalty, for him too). But Mia is falling in love for Lord Nicholas: the second in line to win the crown of Genovia (after Mia). The biggest problem is Nicholas’s uncle wants Mia isn’t crowned and he becomes an enemy. Nicholas fights with his uncle and says he doesn’t want to destroy Mia (he loves her) and not "run down" anyone to achieve his dreams. At the end, Mia doesn’t marry Andrew. She makes a speech saying that the law shouldn’t compel the princesses get married to be queens. The parliament agrees and Mia becomes the queen. After, Mia and Nicholas get together.
A scene of the first film (Mia and Michael)
After the disappearance of Michael on the movie I read some spoilers of the book. In the blogs I've visited nobody mentions Nicholas. Mia won’t get with Michael in the end of the book anyway. But this is a big mess! She will get with a third boy, from what I understand. I think the filmmakers invented Nicholas for people like more the movie, because I think if Mia gets with a third boy who appears only in the later books (and he isn’t Nicholas), for me, it will ruin all the books. I don’t know where Meg Cabot was thinking... But I still need to read all the books to write about my possible revolt. I just wanted to read this collection because is the genre of fairy tales, with a happy ending. Can Mia have a happy ending without Michael? I think no.

22 abril, 2014

What is a foreign language worth?

Postado por Camila Rafaela Felippi às 4/22/2014 09:32:00 AM 7 comentários
JOHNSON is a fan of the Freakonomics books and columns. But this week’s podcast makes me wonder if the team of Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt aren’t overstretching themselves a bit. “Is learning a foreign language really worth it?”, asks the headline. A reader writes: My oldest daughter is a college freshman, and not only have I paid for her to study Spanish for the last four or more years — they even do it in grade school now! — but her college is requiring her to study EVEN MORE! What on earth is going on? How did it ever get this far? … Or to put it in economics terms, where is the ROI?
To sum up the podcast’s answers, there are pros and cons to language-learning. The pros are that working in a foreign language can make people make better decisions (research Johnson covered here) and that bilingualism helps with executive function in children and dementia in older people (covered here). The cons: one study finds that the earnings bonus for an American who learns a foreign language is just 2%. If you make $30,000 a year, sniffs Mr Dubner, that’s just $600.
But for the sake of provocation, Mr Dubner seems to have low-balled this. He should know the power of lifetime earnings and compound interest. First, instead of $30,000, assume a university graduate, who in America is likelier to use a foreign language than someone without university. The average starting salary is almost $45,000. Imagine that our graduate saves her “language bonus”. Compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe (a statement dubiously attributed to Einstein, but nonetheless worth committing to memory). Assuming just a 1% real salary increase per year and a 2% average real return over 40 years, a 2% language bonus turns into an extra $67,000 (at 2014 value) in your retirement account. Not bad for a few years of “où est la plume de ma tante?”
Second, Albert Saiz, the MIT economist who calculated the 2% premium, found quite different premiums for different languages: just 1.5% for Spanish, 2.3% for French and 3.8% for German. This translates into big differences in the language account: your Spanish is worth $51,000, but French, $77,000, and German, $128,000. Humans are famously bad at weighting the future against the present, but if you dangled even a post-dated $128,000 cheque in front of the average 14-year-old, Goethe and Schiller would be hotter than Facebook.

Why do the languages offer such different returns? It has nothing to do with the inherent qualities of Spanish, of course. The obvious answer is the interplay of supply and demand. This chart reckons that Spanish-speakers account for a bit more of world GDP than German-speakers do. But an important factor is economic openness. Germany is a trade powerhouse, so its language will be more economically valuable for an outsider than the language of a relatively more closed economy.
But in American context (the one Mr Saiz studied), the more important factor is probably supply, not demand, of speakers of a given language. Non-Latino Americans might study Spanish because they hear and see so much of it spoken in their country. But that might be the best reason not to study the language, from a purely economic point of view. A non-native learner of Spanish will have a hard time competing with a fluent native bilingual for a job requiring both languages. Indeed, Mr Saiz found worse returns for Spanish study in states with a larger share of Hispanics. Better to learn a language in high demand, but short supply—one reason, no doubt, ambitious American parents are steering their children towards Mandarin. The drop-off in recent years in the American study of German might be another reason for young people to hit the Bücher.
And studies like Mr Saiz’s can only work with the economy the researchers have at hand to study. But of course changes in educational structures can have dynamic effects on entire economies. A list of the richest countries in the world is dominated by open, trade-driven economies. Oil economies aside, the top 10 includes countries where trilingualism is typical, like Luxembourg, Switzerland and Singapore, and small countries like the Scandinavian ones, where English knowledge is excellent.
There are of course many reasons that such countries are rich. But a willingness to learn about export markets, and their languages, is a plausible candidate. One study, led by James Foreman-Peck of Cardiff Business School, has estimated that lack of foreign-language proficiency in Britain costs the economy £48 billion ($80 billion), or 3.5% of GDP, each year. Even if that number is high, the cost of assuming that foreign customers will learn your language, and never bothering to learn theirs, is certainly a lot greater than zero. So if Mr Saiz had run his language-premium study against a parallel-universe America, in which the last half-century had been a golden age of language-learning, he might have found a bigger foreign-language bonus (and a bigger GDP pie to divide) in that more open and export-oriented fantasy America. And of course greater investment in foreign-language teaching would have other dynamic effects: more and better teachers and materials, plus a cultural premium on multilingualism, means more people will actually master a language, rather than wasting several years never getting past la plume de ma tante, as happens in Britain and America.
To be sure, everything has an opportunity cost. An hour spent learning French is an hour spent not learning something else. But it isn’t hard to think of school subjects that provide less return—economically, anyway—than a foreign language. What is the return on investment for history, literature or art? Of course schools are intended to do more than create little GDP-producing machines. (And there are also great non-economic benefits to learning a foreign language.) But if it is GDP you’re after, the world isn’t learning English as fast as some people think. One optimistic estimate is that half the world’s people might speak English by 2050. That leaves billions who will not, and billions of others who remain happier (and more willing to spend money) in their own language.

Source: The Economist

04 abril, 2014

Denmark's boy

Postado por Camila Rafaela Felippi às 4/04/2014 09:23:00 AM 9 comentários
Did you remember I told you I attended a lecture by a foreign? So, I'll tell you about it...

The speaker's name is Albert Olson Brinecker, he is 16 years old and he lives in Copenhagen, Denmark. Now he is in Brazil as an exchange student in a German citty called Pomerode (near Blumenau, a German citty too). Albert told us about his citty. Copenhagen is so beautiful! The city stretches across parts of the island of Amager and also contains the enclave of Frederiksberg, a municipality in it's own right. Copenhagen is an originally Viking fishing village!
"From the 8th to the 10th century, the Danes, as well as Norwegians and Swedes, were known as Vikings. They colonised, raided, and traded in all parts of Europe. Viking explorers first discovered Iceland by accident in the 9th century, on the way towards the Faroe Islands and eventually came across "Vinland" (Land of wine), also known today as Newfoundland, a province in Canada. The Danish Vikings were most active in the British Isles and Western Europe. They conquered and settled parts of England (known as the Danelaw) under King Sweyn Forkbeard in 1013, Ireland, and France where they founded Normandy
More Anglo-Saxon pence of this period have been found in Denmark than in England" (source). Copenhagen became the capital of Denmark in the 15th century. It's the cultural, economic and governamental centre of Denmark and one of the major financial centres of Northern Europe with the Copenhagem Stock Exchange. The city has a Royal Danish Family and his government is socialist, part of European Union. Albert also spoke about food and drink! The Danish beer is called Vikings ("drink until die"). To eat they usually have: glazed potatoes, red cabbage, pork roast and brown gravy. It's the classic Danish dish. 
It's good to learn about other places this way! I hope my class can go to a lot of lectures this year!

P.s.: Today is my mom's birthday! Tonight I'm going back to my city, Ascurra. I'll buy an arrangement of beautiful flowers for her!