An impressive English lesson
1 If I am the only parent who still corrects his child's English, then perhaps my son isright. To him, I am a tedious oddity: a father he is obliged to listen to and aman absorbed in the rules of grammar, which my son seems allergic to.
2 I think I got serious about this only recently when I ran into one of my former students,fresh from an excursion to Europe. "How was it?" I asked, full of earnest anticipation.
3 She nodded three or four times, searched the heavens for the right words, andthen exclaimed, "It was, like, whoa!"
4 And that was it. The civilization of Greece and the glory ofRoman architecture were captured in a condensed non-statement. My student's "whoa!"was exceeded only by my head-shaking distress.
5 There are many different stories about the downturn in the proper use of English. Surelystudents should be able to distinguish between their/there/they're orthe distinctive difference between complimentary and complementary. They unfairly bearthe bulk of the
criticism for these knowledge deficits because there is a sense that theyshould know better.
6 Students are not dumb, but they are being misled everywhere they look and listen. Forexample, signs in grocery stores point them to the stationary, even though theactual stationery items — pads, albums and notebooks — are not nailed down. Friendsand loved ones often proclaim they've just ate when, in fact, they've just eaten. Therefore,it doesn't make any sense to criticize our students.
7 Blame for the scandal of this language deficit should be thrust upon our schools, whichshould be setting high standards of English language proficiency. Instead, they only teacha little grammar and even less advanced vocabulary. Moreover, the younger teachersthemselves evidently have little knowledge of these vital structures of language becausethey also went without exposure to them. Schools fail to adequately teach the essentialframework of language, accurate grammar and proper vocabulary, while they should takethe responsibility of pushing the young onto the path of competent communication.
8 Since grammar is boring to most of the young students, I think that it must be handleddelicately, step by step. The chance came when one day I was driving with my son. As weset out on our trip, he noticed a bird in jerky flight and said, "It's flying so unsteady." Icarefully asked, "My son, how is the bird flying?" "What's wrong? Did I say anythingincorrectly?" He got lost. "Great! You said incorrectly instead of incorrect. We use adverbsto describe verbs. Therefore, it's flying so unsteadily but not so unsteady."
9 Curious about my correction, he asked me what an adverb was. Slowly, I said, "It's aword that tells you something about a verb." It led to his asking me what a verb was. Iexplained, "Verbs are action words; for example, Dad drives the truck. Drive is the verbbecause it's the thing Dad is doing."
1 0 He became attracted to the idea of action words, so we listed
a few more: fly, swim,dive, run. Then, out of his own curiosity, he asked me if other words had names for theiruse and functions. This led to a discussion of nouns, adjectives, and articles. Within thespan of a 1 0-minute drive, he had learned from scratch to the major parts of speech in asentence. It was painless learning and great fun!
11 Perhaps, language should be looked upon as a road map and
a valuable possession:often study the road map (check grammar) and tune up the car engine(adjust vocabulary). Learning grammar and a good vocabulary is just like driving with aroad map in a
1 2 The road map provides the framework and guidance you need for your trip, but it won'ttell you exactly what trees or flowers you will see, what kind of people you will encounter,or what types of feelings you will be experiencing on your journey. Here, the vocabularymakes the journey's true colors come alive! A good vocabulary enables you to enjoywhatever you see as you drive along. Equipped with grammar and a good vocabulary, youhave flexibility and excellent control. While the road map guides your journey to yourdestination, an excellent vehicle helps you to fully enjoy all of the sights, sounds andexperiences along the way.
1 3 Effective, precise, and beneficial communication depends upon grammar and a goodvocabulary, the two essential assets for students, but they are not being taught in schools.
1 4 Just this morning, my son and I were eating breakfast when I attempted to add milk tomy tea. "Dad," he said, "If I were you, I wouldn't do that. It's sour."
1 5 "Oh my!" I said, swelling with pride toward my son, "That's a grammatically perfectsentence. You used were instead of was."
1 6 "I know, I know," he said with a long agreeable sigh. "It's the subjunctive mood."
1 7 I was, like, whoa!
5 关于正确使用英语能力下降的问题，有许多不同的故事。学生的确本应该能够区分诸如their/there/they're 之间的不同，或区别complimentary 跟complementary 之间显而易见的差异。由于这些知识缺陷，他们承受着大部分不该承受的批评和指责，因为舆论认为他们应该学得更好。
6 学生并不笨，他们只是被周围所看到和听到的语言误导了。举例来说，杂货店的指示牌会把他们引向stationary（静止处），虽然便笺本、相册、和笔记本等真正的stationery（文具用品）并没有被钉在那儿。朋友和亲人常宣称They've just ate。实际上，他们应该说They've just eaten。因此，批评学生不合乎情理。
8 因为语法对大多数年轻学生而言枯燥且乏味，所以我觉得讲授语法得一步一步、注重技巧地进行。有一天机会来了。我跟儿子开车外出。我们出发时，他看到一只小鸟飞得很不稳，就说：“它飞的不稳。”（It's flying so unsteady.）我小心翼翼地问：“儿子，鸟怎么飞?”“有问题吗？我说得不对吗？（Did I say anything incorrectly?）”他一头雾水。“太好了，你说的是incorrectly 而不是incorrect。我们用副词来描述动词。所以，要用unsteadily 来描述鸟飞，而不是unsteady。”
9 他对我的纠正很好奇，就问我什么是副词。我慢慢解释道：“副词是用来修饰动词的词。” 这又导致了他询问我什么是动词。我解释说：“动词是表示行为的词，例如：爸爸开卡车。‘开’是动词，因为它是爸爸在做的事。”
1 0 他开始对表示行为的词产生兴趣，所以我们又罗列了几个动词：“飞行”、“游泳”、“跳水”、“跑步”。然后，他又好奇地问我，其他的词有没有说明它们的用法和功能的名称。这就引发了我们对名词、形容词和冠词的讨论。在短短十分钟的驾驶时间内，他从对语法一无
1 2 路线图为你的旅行提供所需的基本路线和路途指南，可是它不会告诉你一路上你究竟会看见什么树或什么花，你会遇见什么样的人，或会有什么样的感受。这里，词汇会使你的旅途变得五彩缤纷、栩栩如生。大量的词汇让你享受到开车途中所见的点点滴滴。借助语法和丰富的词汇，你就有了灵活性，掌控自如。路线图会把你带到目的地，而一台好车却能让你完全陶醉于旅途的所有景色、声音及经历之中。
1 3 对学生来说，有效、准确且富有成效的沟通技能取决于语法和词汇这两大有利条件，可是学校并没有教他们这些。
1 4 就在今天早上，我跟儿子吃早饭时，我想把牛奶加入我的茶里。“爸爸，” 他说，“如果我是你的话，我不会这样做。牛奶会变酸。（If I were you, I wouldn't do that. It's sour.）”
1 5 “哦，上帝！” 我满怀着无比的骄傲说道，“这是一句语法完全正确的句子。你用了were而不是was。”
1 6 “我知道，我知道，”他愉悦地舒了口气，“这是虚拟语气！”
1 7 这下轮到我“哇！”了。
The humanities: Out of date?
1 When the going gets tough, the tough take accounting. When the job market worsens,many students calculate they can't major in English or history. They have to studysomething that boosts their prospects of landing a job.
2 The data show that as students have increasingly shouldered the ever-rising cost oftuition, they have defected from the study of the humanities and toward applied scienceand "hard" skills that they bet will lead to employment. In other words, a college educationis more and more seen as a means for economic betterment rather than a means forhuman betterment. This is a trend that is likely to persist and even accelerate.
3 Over the next few years, as labor markets struggle, the humanities will probablycontinue their long slide in succession. There
already has been a nearly 50 percentdecline in the portion of liberal arts majors over the past generation, and it is logical tothink that the trend is bound to continue or even accelerate. Once the dominant pillars ofuniversity life, the humanities now play little roles when students take their collegetours. These days, labs are more vivid and compelling than libraries.
4 Here, please allow me to stand up for and promote the true value that the humanitiesadd to people's lives. Since ancient times, people have speculated about the mystery ofthose inner forces that drive some people to greatness and others to self-destruction. Thisinner drive has been called many things over the centuries. The famouspsychologist, Sigmund Freud, called it the "unconscious mind" or, more familiarly,"instinct".
5 From the beginning of time, this inner aspect of our being, this drive that can beconstructive or destructive, has captured our imagination. The stories of this amazingstruggle have formed the basis of cultures the world over. Historians, architects,
authors,philosophers and artists have captured the words, images and meanings of this innerstruggle in the form of story, music, myth,
painting, architecture, sculpture, landscape andtraditions. These men and women developed artistic "languages" that help us understandthese aspirations and also educate generations. This fertile body of work from ancienttimes, the very foundation of civilization, forms the basis of study of the humanities.
6 Studying the humanities improves our ability to read and write. No matter what we do inlife, we will have a huge advantage if we can read complex ideas and understand theirmeaning. We will have a bright career if we are the person in the office who can write aclear and elegant analysis of those ideas!
7 Studying the humanities makes us familiar with the language of emotion and thecreative process. In an information economy, many people have the ability to produce auseful product such as a new MP3 player. Yet, very few people have the ability to create aspectacular brand: the iPod. Most importantly, studying the humanities invests us withgreat insight and self-awareness, there by releasing our creative energy and talent in apositive and constructive manner.
8 Perhaps the best argument in favor of the humanities is the scope of possibilities thatare widely open to us. Did you know that
James Cameron, world-famous director of themovie, Titanic, graduated with a degree in the humanities? So did Sally Ride, the firstwoman in space. So did actors Bruce Lee, Gwyneth Paltrow, Renee Zellweger and MattDamon. Dr. Harold Varmus, who won a Nobel Prize for Medicine, studied thehumanities. Even Michael Eisner, Chairman of the Disney Company, majored in thehumanities. Famous people who studied the humanities make a long list indeed. It's easyto see that the humanities can prepare us for many different careers and jobs wecan undertake, whether medicine, business, science or entertainment. If we study onlymathematics, it's likely we will be a candidate only for jobs as a mathematician. If weinclude studying the humanities, we can make breakthroughs on many barriers and arelimited only by our effort and imagination.
9 Of course, nowadays, if we study the humanities alone, we are liable to miss manyopportunities. Each one of us needs to become as technically and professionally skilledas possible to help meet the needs of modern life. In fact, increasingly a pairing oftechnical knowledge and inner insight is seen as the ideal in the establishment of acareer. If I were the Dean of Admissions at a medical school and
two people applied to ourschool, both having the required basic scientific courses, one a philosophy major and theother solely a
pre-med student, the philosophy applicant would be chosen.
1 0 In summary, the humanities help to create well-rounded human beings with insight andunderstanding of the passions, hopes and dreams common to all humanity. Thehumanities, the ancient timeless reservoir of knowledge, teach us to see things differentlyand broaden our horizons. They are as useful and relevant in our modern age as theyhave always been. Doesn't it make sense to spend some time in the company of thehumanities, our outstanding and remarkable treasure of knowledge? Who knows howfamous YOU might become!
7 学习人文学科会让我们熟悉表达情感的语言及进行创造的过程。在信息经济中，很多人都有能力创造出一个如新的MP3 播放器那样的有用产品。然而，仅有很少的人具有能力创造出一个如iPod 那样的精彩品牌。最重要的是，学习人文学科使我们具有伟大的洞察力和自我意识，从而以积极和建设性的方式来发挥我们的创造力和才艺。
1 0 总之，人文学科帮助造就全面发展的人，这些人具有洞察力，并理解全人类共有的激情、希望和理想。人文学科，这个古老、永恒的知识储蓄库，教我们如何以不同的方式看待事物，同时也拓宽我们的视野。在现代社会中，人文学科一如既往地同生活息息相关，也发挥着重要作用。我们在学习中花一些时间与人文学科——我们杰出、非凡的知识宝藏——相伴，这难道不是明智的吗？谁知道你将来会变得多有名气呢！
Spend or save — The student's dilemma
1 Do you feel as confused and manipulated as I do with this question, "Should I spend orshould I save?" I think that the messages we get from our environment seemto defy common sense and contradict each other. The government tells us to spend orwe'll never get out of the recession. At the same time, they tell us that unless we savemore, our country is in grave danger. Banks offer higher interest rates so we increasesavings. Then the same banks send us credit card offers so we can spend more.
2 Here's another familiar example: If we don't pay our credit card bill on time, we getdemanding, nasty emails from the credit card company saying something like: "Yourfailure to pay is unacceptable. Pay immediately or you'll be in trouble!" Then, as soon aswe pay, we get a follow-up email in a charming tone telling us how valuable a customerwe are and encouraging us to resume spending. Which depiction is correct: a failingconsumer in trouble or a valued customer? The gap between these two messages isenormous.
3 The paradox is that every day we get two sets of messages at odds with eachother. One is the "permissive" perspective, "Buy, spend, get it now. You need this!" Theother we could call an "upright"
message, which urges us, "Work hard andsave. Suspend your desires. Avoid luxuries. Control your appetite for more than you trulyneed." This message comes to us from many sources: from school, from parents, evenfrom political figures referring to "traditional values". Hard work, family loyalty, and thecapacity to postpone desires are core American values that have made our country great.
4 But the opposite message, advertising's permissive message, is inescapable. Thoughsometimes disguised, the messages are everywhere we look: on TV, in movies on printedmedia and road signs, in stores, and on busses, trains and subways. Advertisementsinvade our daily lives. We are constantly surrounded by the message to spend, spend,spend. Someone recently said, "The only time you can escape advertising is when you'rein your bed asleep!"
5 It's been calculated that by the age of 1 8, the average American will have seen 600,000ads; by the age of 40, the total is almost one million. Each advertisement is doingits utmost to influence our diverse buying decisions, from the breakfast cereal we eat towhich cruise line we will use for our vacation. There is no shortage
of ideas and things tobuy! Now, of course, we don't remember exactly what the products were, but the essentialmessage is cemented into our consciousness, "It's good to satisfy your desires. Youshould have what you want. You deserve the best. So, you should buy it — now!" Afamous advertisement said it perfectly, "I love me. I'm a good friend to myself. I do whatmakes me feel good. I derive pleasure from nice things and feel nourished by them. Iused to put things off. Not anymore. Today I'll buy new ski equipment, look atnew compact cars, and buy that camera I've always wanted. I live my dreams today, nottomorrow."
6 What happens as we take in these contradictory but explicit messages? What are thepsychological and social consequences of this campaign to control our spendinghabits? On one hand, we want more things because we want to satisfy our materialappetite. Most of us derive pleasure from treating ourselves. On the other hand, a littlevoice inside us echoes those upright messages: "Watch out, take stock of your life, don'tlet your attention get scattered. Postpone your desires. Don't fall into debt.Wait! Retain control over your own life. It will make you stronger."