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Unit 2.
English - a Language of the World


Reading for Discussion

47. Read the dialogue, listen to it carefully, 7, and say what Anna finds most difficult in learning English.

Are You Happy with the Way You Are Taught English?

Interviewer: Anna, I know you have been learning English for almost five years and you are planning to become an interpreter. What do you feel about learning grammar? Do you think your teacher spends too much or too little time on it?

Anna: Of course, you must learn grammar in any language. After all, you cant build a house without foundations. But thats all we do at school grammar, grammar and more grammar, for half an hour four times a week! We have too many drills.

Int.: So grammar is important, but not too much of it. But should it be taught in isolation?

Anna: No. You need to practise grammar together with vocabulary. Its not good when you learn new words but dont have much practice using them with the grammar youve learnt.

Int.: With vocabulary is it better to learn a few words at a time and practise them, rather than a lot of words by heart?

Anna: Practice helps you to memorize the words. Also I remember words better if they are related to my interests. I have no problem learning words connected with my hobby which is animals and wildlife.

Int.: One of the problems for learners of English is phrasal verbs to get on, to get along with and so on, and, of course, idioms. Is it a problem for you? Have you learnt enough to cope with idioms?

Anna: Theyre very difficult. And you have to keep yourself up-to-date with them too. For example, when I first came to England, I used the idiom Its raining cats and dogs very proudly, and everyone laughed at me because its so old-fashioned and the average English person doesnt use that expression.

Int.: So, make sure the idioms you learnt are up-to-date. Now, how about pronunciation? A lot of students find that hard.

Anna: English intonation is awful! I mean, I think its the most difficult part of pronunciation because if you get it wrong, people think youre rude. Intonation is far more difficult than learning to pronounce words correctly. Its important to learn both formal and informal English how to ask for information, how to be polite. Let me give you an example. My English teacher phoned me yesterday asking about something he wanted to know, and I just said no. Then, when I thought about it afterwards, I realized that I had sounded rude. I should have said1 Im afraid I dont know or something like that. Learning social English is very useful, take writing letters in English for example.

Int.: What advice would you give to people who are just beginning to learn English?

Anna: I find reading very helpful I read books, newspapers, magazines and other periodicals. I try to guess the meaning of words I dont know from their context. This helps me to read more quickly. But I also look up words in the dictionary and make a note of the most useful ones.

Int.: How about listening to pop music?

Anna: Yes that can be useful, I was a bit disappointed actually, because some songs have such silly words, though the music is lovely. Listening to the radio and watching videos and educational TV programmes in English help me too. Especially listening to the news. I was very proud when I realized that I could easily get the idea of what I was listening to.

Int.: As I can see, learning a language isnt as simple as all that. You can learn rules for grammar and pronunciation and also for vocabulary, but the most difficult feature of any language is perhaps learning the elements for which there are no written rules for example social English. This means learning about expected ways of behaviour, knowing what sort of English to use in different situations, formal or informal, and how to understand what is said, all that is so easy and natural in your mother tongue.

1 I should have said

48. Imagine that you are Anna and answer these questions:

  • Is it necessary to learn grammar?
  • Should one practise grammar and vocabulary together or in isolation?
  • Which is better: to practise using new words or learn them by heart?
  • Are idioms easy to learn?
  • Why is it important to keep yourself up-to-date with idioms?
  • Why is it important to use the right intonation when you talk to people?
  • Why is it useful to try to guess the meaning of words from the context?
  • What can one do to learn to understand spoken English?
  • What is the most difficult feature of learning a language?
  • What does social English mean?

    49. A. Match the phrases in English and Russian, find and read out the sentences with them in the dialogue.

    1. what do you feel about ...?
    2. to get (have) an/the idea of sth (how to do sth)
    3. to find sth hard
    4. Im afraid, I dont know
    5. far more difficult
    6. I have no problem learning words
    7. to make a note of sth
    8. to do/to get sth wrong
    9. to keep yourself up-to-date with idioms
    10. to ask for information
    11. a few words at a time
    12. to make sure
    13. to cope with

    b) -,
    d) ,
    e) -
    h) -
    j) ...?
    ) -
    l) -
    m) ,

    B. Express the same idea using the phrases above.

    1. What does Anna think about learning grammar?
    2. Anna thinks that learning idioms is not easy.
    3. Anna finds learning idioms much more difficult than learning words.
    4. Anna knows the way how to learn grammar.
    5. Anna finds it easy to learn words connected with her interests.
    6. It is important not to use old-fashioned idioms.
    7. If you make a mistake in intonation, people may think youre rude.
    8. Its important to know how to find things out.
    9. It's much more polite to say Im sorry, I dont know than just I dont know.
    10. Some people find it useful to write down words to memorize them.
    11. Its good to know that you can easily understand what you are listening to.
    12. Be sure to do your homework before five oclock.
    13. I am sure he can do the job well.

    50. Look through the text again and say what Anna thinks about:

    1. learning grammar;
    2. learning vocabulary (words and idioms);
    3. learning pronunciation;
    4. reading;
    5. learning social English;
    6. listening to pop music, the radio, watching videos and educational TV programmes

    51. Imagine that Annas interviewer is asking you the same questions about learning English. Answer them and explain your points of view.

    52. A. Listen to the text Laugh, Please, 8, and say which of the two is right.

    1. The writer found giving lectures (more difficult/easier) than writing books.
    2. Last year he was invited to give a lecture to (Chinese/Japanese) students.
    3. Most of his listeners (could/couldnt) understand spoken English.
    4. The writer spoke to the students through (an interpreter/another lecturer).
    5. The writer told the listeners a (sad/amusing) story.
    6. The interpreter made his story very (long/short).
    7. The students (laughed/didnt laugh) afterwards.
    8. The interpreter (told/didnt tell) the writers story in Japanese.

    B. Answer the questions below.

    1. Why did the writer ask the interpreter to translate his lecture for him?
    2. Why was the writer surprised?
    3. Why did the students laugh?

    C. Tell the story to your friends.




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