Friday, November 15, 2013

An In-Depth Interview With Eduardo Campos

Marina Silva and Eduardo Campos
The Economist has published an extensive interview with Eduardo Campos, governor of Pernambuco and leader of the PSB, the Brazilian Socialist Party. Mr. Campos recently joined forces with former Senator Marina Silva, whose Sustainability Network party failed to get enough signatures in order to be certified for the 2014 elections. 

As of now, there has not been a decision about which of the two, Mr. Campos or Ms. Silva, will be the party's candidate for President. Instead, a party platform will be developed first. 

Ms. Silva typically polls much better against incumbent Dilma Rousseff than does Mr. Campos.

The interview helps to clarify the often confusing alphabet soup of Brazilian political parties, as well as letting the reader get to know Mr. Campos and the positions he supports. 

Recent Poll: Dilma Recovers Her Lead

After suffering a steep decline in her approval rating and support for re-election after last summer's protests, Dilma's numbers are showing significant improvement.

According to an article in the NYTimes, her November approval rating is a very solid 58.8%, up slightly from September, when it was 58%.

The article cites Dilma's program to bring foreign doctors to help improve access to health care, her public works projects, and improvements in public transport as some of the reasons for her improved standing among voters. 

Here's how her electoral prospects look right now:

"If the elections were held today, Rousseff of the Workers' Party would win 43.5 percent of the votes against 19.3 percent for her closest likely candidate, Aecio Neves of the main opposition party PSDB, and 9.5 percent for Eduardo Campos, the little known but popular governor of northern Pernambuco state.

If Rousseff ran against her biggest potential threat, former environment minister Silva, her advantage would drop to 40.6 percent versus 22.6 percent. Silva, who won 20 million votes in a presidential bid in 2010, last month joined Campos' PSB party to keep alive a possible run after electoral authorities barred her from registering her party."

But the article goes on to caution that Brazilian poll results are not considered to  be very meaningful until the onset of TV ads, which won't begin until 3 months before the election.

The poll showed that crime and violence in Brazil are major issues driving voter concerns, with 90% reporting that they are "very worried" about these problems. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Speed-talking Professora: You Will Not Be Bored

Professora Motta makes a point and adjusts her hair
Yesterday, I wrote about a set of free video lessons dealing with Brazilian Portuguese grammar and usage, taught by Professora Céu Marques.

As it turns out, this is just the tip of the iceberg, and "Concurso Virtual" offers many other courses taught by a variety of teachers.

I sampled several of them, and even if you're not interested in the subject matter, it's a great chance to practice your Portuguese listening skills.

Professora Rafaela Motta will really give you a run for your money. She talks extremely quickly, slowing down only when she wants to emphasize a specific point. I found it somewhat more difficult to keep up with her than with Professora Marques, and besides the speedy delivery, Professora Motta uses her hands almost non-stop as she speaks. In between her "OKs?" and "Bellezas," she covers quite a bit of ground, and while much of it (as with Professora Marques) is fairly basic, it's a good review for anyone learning Brazilian Portuguese. (Note: in this particular lecture, the video freezes around the 6:00 mark, so you have to fast forward until it sorts itself out again). 

All of this makes for an entertaining virtual class. And with Professora Motta, there is never a dull moment, let alone a moment of silence. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Free Course On Portuguese Grammar

There's a free video course, consisting of 26 lessons covering all kinds of topics in Brazilian Portuguese grammar and usage. The course is called "Português Em Questão," and while it seems to have been designed for native speakers, it's accessible to non-native learners as well. 

So far, I've only watched the introductory lesson (very short) and part of the first lesson, which is about 20 minutes long. 

You can access the course by "liking" it on Facebook. Once you have clicked on "Like," you'll see the first couple of lessons. You can also register (for free) to view the rest of the lessons. The only information required to register is your name, an email address, and a password.

The teacher, Céu Marques, is dynamic and the lessons move fast. The teacher speaks rapidly, but even with my rudimentary Portuguese, I am able to follow her. For one thing, she slows down when she's explaining something, and she uses visual aids throughout the lessons. 

This is definitely worth a look for anyone who has reached an intermediate level in their Portuguese studies. 

The videos are also available on YouTube. Here is the first lesson.