Lost in translation: do interpreter apps work?


They are going to remove language barriers forever. Or so it has been claimed.

Google recently released a real-time translator, while Microsoft-owned Skype is beta-testing its own.

Both firms make grand claims about their services, while other smaller rivals offer alternatives, but the question remains: do they actually work?

I took a selection of apps to Bilbao in the Spanish Basque Country to find out, testing them by completing tasks set for me by colleagues on the BBC’s tech desk.

The first job was to find the northern city’s Guggenheim museum and ask what was its most valuable work of art.

Getting to the museum was not a challenge; another Google app saw to that. The problem was getting my question across.

read more…

Travel: How we quit our jobs to travel: The cubicle dwellers


Sitting across from each other at dinner after a bad day at work, a bottle of wine sitting between us, my husband Pete and I would take turns growling about our bosses, our lengthy to-do lists and our overflowing inboxes – each gripe emblematic of a deeper discontent. “This is it!” we’d say, shaking our fists at the ceiling. “We’re dumping everything to go travel the world!”

But the next day our bosses would apologise, we’d delegate some of our work or receive a scarce bit of praise. This isn’t so bad, we’d agree, and dig back into a life that, while rage-worthy at times, wasn’t awful.

Until suddenly in 2007, it was.

The year started with promise. I had just traded one high-prestige job for another, and both Pete and I were earning six-figure salaries in Calgary’s hot job market – he was a financial controller and I was negotiating and managing large service contracts in the oil and gas industry. We had all the usual markers of success: a large house in the suburbs, foreign cars and enviable wardrobes. We paid for it with long hours spent between grey cubicle walls, and any leftover energy we could muster went into trying to conceive a child. All the persistent doubts we harboured about our lifestyle were mitigated by our healthy paychecks.

read more…

IELTS Reading strategies: True, False, Not Given


Oh no! My IELTS test is coming, and I am not prepared! Sound familiar? In this video I will give you tips on how to do well on one of the hardest parts of the IELTS. I will explain a specific type of question you may find in the Reading module of the IELTS: True, False, or Not Given. After watching this class, you can try to do some practice questions. After all, practice makes perfect.

Domínio de inglês é problema também para classe ‘A’


Fala inglês fluentemente quem tem dinheiro para pagar um curso particular ou para estudar fora do país, certo? Errado.

Uma pesquisa que consultou aleatoriamente pessoas que moram em cidades como São Paulo, Recife, Belo Horizonte, Fortaleza e outros grandes centros do país mostrou que, dos entrevistados, seis em cada dez pessoas das classes A e B não compreendem outro idioma além do português. Entre os entrevistados da classe C, o índice sobe um pouco: oito em cada dez entrevistados só entendem o português.

read more…