As we are at the start of the course, this seems a good moment to offer some advice on how to make the task of learning English easier.
Some Strategies for Learning English
Learning English is by no means easy. It takes great diligence and prolonged effort.
Nevertheless, while you cannot expect to gain a good command of English without sustained hard work, there are various helpful learning strategies you can employ to make the task easier. Here are some of them.
1. Do not treat all new words in exactly the same way. Have you
ever complained about your memory because you find it simply impossible
to memorize all the new words you are learning? But, in fact, it is not your memory that is at fault. If you cram your head with too many new words at a time, some of them are bound to be crowded out. What you need to do is to deal with new words in different ways according to how frequently they occur in everyday use. While active words demand
constant practice and useful words must be committed to memory, words
that do not often occur in everyday situations require just a nodding
acquaintance. You will find concentrating on active and useful words the most effective route to enlarging your vocabulary.
2. Watch out for idiomatic ways of saying things. Have you ever wondered why we say, "I am interested in English", but "I am good at French"? And have you ever asked yourself why native English speakers say, "learn the news or secret", but "learn of someone's success or arrival"? These are all examples of idiomatic usage. In learning English, you must pay attention not only to the meaning of a word, but also to
the way native speakers use it in their daily lives.
趣”是“I'm interested in English”,而说“我精于法语”则是“I'm good at French”?你可曾问过自己,为什么以英语为母语的人说“获悉消息或秘密”是“learn the news or secret”,而“获悉某
人的成功或到来”却是“learn of someone's success or arrival”?这些
3. Listen to English every day. Listening to English on a regular basis will not only improve your ear, but will also help you build your speaking skills. In addition to language tapes especially prepared for
your course, you can also listen to English radio broadcasts, watch English TV, and see English movies. The first time you listen to a taped conversation or passage in English, you may not be able to catch a great deal. Try to get its general meaning first and listen to it over and over again. You will find that with each repetition you will get something more.
4. Seize opportunities to speak. It is true that there are few situations at school where you have to communicate in English, but you can seek out opportunities to practice speaking the language. Talking with your classmates, for example, can be an easy and enjoyable way to get some practice. Also try to find native speakers on your campus and feel free to talk with them. Perhaps the easiest way to practice speaking is to rehearse aloud, since this can be done at any time, in any place, and without a partner. For instance, you can look at pictures or objects around you and try to describe them in detail. You can also rehearse everyday situations. After you have made a purchase in a shop or finished a meal in a restaurant and paid the check, pretend that all this happened in an English-speaking country and try to act it out in English.
5. Read widely. It is important to read widely because in our learning environment, reading is the main and most reliable source of lan
guage input. When you choose reading materials, look for things
that you find interesting, that you can understand without relying too much on a dictionary. A page a day is a good way to start. As you go on, you will find that you can do more pages a day and handle materials at a higher level of difficulty.
6. Write regularly. Writing is a good way to practice what you already know. Apart from compositions assigned by your teacher, you may find your own reasons for writing. A pen pal provides good motivation; you will learn a lot by trying to communicate with someone who shares your interests, but comes from a different culture. Other ways to write regularly include keeping a diary, writing a short story and summarizing the daily news.
Language learning is a process of accumulation. It pays to absorb as much as you can from reading and listening and then try to put what you have learned into practice through speaking and writing.
At sixty-five Francis Chichester set out to sail single-handed round the world. This is the story of that adventure.
Sailing Round the World
Before he sailed round the world single-handed, Francis Chichester had already surprised his friends several times. He had tried to fly round the world but failed. That was in 1931.
The years passed. He gave up flying and began sailing. He enjoyed it greatly. Chichester was already 58 years old when he won the first solo transatlantic sailing race. His old dream of going round the world came back, but this time he would sail. His friends and doctors did not
think he could do it, as he had lung cancer. But Chichester was determined to carry out his plan. In August, 1966, at the age of nearly sixty-five, an age when many men retire, he began the greatest voyage of his life. Soon, he was away in his new 16-metre boat, Gipsy Moth.
Chichester followed the route of the great nineteenth century clipper ships. But the clippers had had plenty of crew. Chichester did
it all by himself, even after the main steering device had been damaged by gales. Chichester covered 14,100 miles before stopping in Sydney, Australia. This was more than twice the distance anyone had previously sailed alone.
He arrived in Australia on 12 December, just 107 days out from England. He received a warm welcome from the Australians and from his family who had flown there to meet him. On shore, Chichester could not
walk without help. Everybody said the same thing: he had done enough; he must not go any further. But he did not listen.
After resting in Sydney for a few weeks, Chichester set off once more in spite of his friends' attempts to dissuade him. The second half of his voyage was by far the more dangerous part, during which he sailed round the treacherous Cape Horn.
On 29 January he left Australia. The next night, the blackest he
had ever known, the sea became so rough that the boat almost turned over. Food, clothes, and broken glass were all mixed together. Fortunately,
the damage to the boat was not too serious. Chichester calmly got into bed and went to sleep. When he woke up, the sea had become calm again. Still, he could not help thinking that if anything should happen, the nearest person he could contact by radio, unless there was a ship nearby, would be on an island 885 miles away.
After succeeding in sailing round Cape Horn, Chichester sent the following radio message to
London: "I feel as if I had wakened from a nightmare. Wild horses could not drag me down to Cape Horn and that sinister Southern Ocean again."
Just before 9 o'clock on Sunday evening 28 May, 1967, he arrived back in England, where a quarter of a million people were waiting to welcome him. Queen Elizabeth II knighted him with the very sword that Queen Elizabeth I had used almost 400 years earlier to knight Sir Francis Drake after he had sailed round the world for the first time. The whole voyage from England and back had covered 28,500 miles. It had taken him nine months, of which the sailing time was 226 days. He had done what he wanted to accomplish.
Like many other adventurers, Chichester had experienced fear and conquered it. In doing so, he had undoubtedly learnt something about himself. Moreover, in the modern age when human beings depend so much on machines, he had given men throughout the world new pride.
They say that blood is thicker than water, that our relatives are more important to us than others. Everyone was so kind to the old lady on her birthday. Surely her daughter would make an even bigger effort to please her?
It was the old lady's birthday.
She got up early to be ready for the post. From the second floor
flat she could see the
postman when he came down the street, and the little boy from the ground floor brought up her letters on the rare occasions when anything came.
Today she was sure there would be something. Myra wouldn't forget her mother's birthday, even if she seldom wrote at other times. Of
course Myra was busy. Her husband had been made Mayor, and Myra herself had got a medal for her work for the aged.
The old lady was proud of Myra, but Enid was the daughter she loved. Enid had never married, but had seemed content to live with her mother, and teach in a primary school round the corner.
One evening, however, Enid said, "I've arranged for Mrs. Morrison
to look after you for a few days, Mother. Tomorrow I have to go into hospital –just a minor operation. I'll soon be home."
In the morning she went, but never came back –she died on the operating table. Myra came to the funeral, and in her efficient way arranged for Mrs. Morrison to come in and light the fire and give the old lady her breakfast.
Two years ago that was, and since then Myra had been to see her mother three times, but her husband never.
The old lady was eighty today. She had put on her best dress. Perhaps –perhaps Myra might come. After all, eighty was a special birthday, another decade lived or endured just as you chose to look at it.
Even if Myra did not come, she would send a present. The old lady was sure of that. Two spots of colour brightened her cheeks. She was excited –like a child. She would enjoy her day.
Yesterday Mrs. Morrison had given the flat an extra clean, and today she had brought a card and a bunch of marigolds when she came to do the breakfast. Mrs. Grant downstairs had made a cake, and in the afternoon she was going down there to tea. The little boy, Johnnie, had been up with a packet of mints, and said he wouldn't go out to play
until the post had come.
"I guess you'll get lots and lots of presents," he said. "I did
last week when I was six. "
What would she like? A pair of slippers perhaps. Or a new cardigan.
A cardigan would be lovely. Blue's such a pretty colour. Jim had always liked her in blue. Or a table lamp. Or a book, a travel book, with pictures, or a little clock, with clear black numbers. So many lovely things.
She stood by the window, watching. The postman turned round the corner on his bicycle. Her heart beat fast. Johnnie had seen him too and ran to the gate.
Then clatter, clatter up the stairs. Johnnie knocked at her door.
"Granny, granny," he shouted, "I've got your post."
He gave her four envelopes. Three were unsealed cards from old friends. The fourth was sealed, in Myra's writing. The old lady felt a pang of disappointment.
"No parcel, Johnnie?"
Maybe the parcel was too large to come by letter post. That was it. It would come later by parcel post. She must be patient.
Almost reluctantly she tore the envelope open. Folded in the card was a piece of paper. Written on the card was a message under the printed Happy Birthday –Buy yourself something nice with the cheque, Myra and Harold.
The cheque fluttered to the floor like a bird with a broken wing. Slowly the old lady stooped to pick it up. Her present, her lovely present. With trembling fingers she tore it into little bits.
Many people in the United States spend most of their free time watching television. Certainly, there are many worthwhile programs on television, including news, educational programs for children, programs on current social problems, plays, movies, concerts, and so on. Nevertheless,
perhaps people should not be spending so much of their time in
front of the TV. Mr. Mayer imagines what we might do if we were forced to find other activities.
Turning Off TV: A Quiet Hour Robert Mayer
I would like to propose that for sixty to ninety minutes each evening, right after the early evening news, all television broadcasting in the United States be prohibited by law.
Let us take a serious, reasonable look at what the results might be if such a proposal were accepted. Families might use the time for a real family hour. Without the distraction of TV, they might sit around together after dinner and actually talk to one another. It is well known that many of our problems –everything, in fact, from the generation gap to the high divorce rate to some forms of mental illness –are caused at least in part by failure to communicate. We do not tell each other what is disturbing us. The result is emotional difficulty of one kind or another. By using the quiet family hour to discuss our problems, we might get to know each other better, and to like each other better.
On evenings when such talk is unnecessary, families could rediscover more active pastimes. Freed from TV, forced to find their own activities, they might take a ride together to watch the sunset. Or they might take a walk together (remember feet?) and see the neighborhood with fresh, new eyes.
With free time and no TV, children and adults might rediscover reading. There is more entertainment in a good book than in a month of typical TV programming. Educators report that the generation growing up with television can barely write an English sentence, even at the
college level. Writing is often learned from reading. A more
literate new generation could be a product of the quiet hour.
A different form of reading might also be done, as it was in the past: reading aloud. Few pastimes bring a family closer together than gathering around and listening to mother or father read a good story. The quiet hour could become the story hour. When the quiet hour ends, the TV networks might even be forced to come up with better shows in order to get us back from our newly discovered activities.
At first glance, the idea of an hour without TV seems radical. What will parents do without the electronic baby-sitter? How will we spend the time? But it is not radical at all. It has been only twenty-five years since television came to control American free time. Those of us thirty-five and older can remember childhoods without television, spent partly with radio –which at least involved the listener's
imagination –but also with reading, learning, talking, playing games, inventing new activities. It wasn't that difficult. Honest. The truth is we had a ball.
Have you ever dreamed of becoming a writer, only to be put off by fears that you lacked the ability? If so, then reading Linda Stafford's story will have you reaching for your pen with renewed hope.
I Never Write Right Linda Stafford
When I was 15, I announced to my English class that I was going to write and illustrate my own books. Half of the students nearly fell out of their chairs laughing.
"Don't be silly. Only geniuses can become writers," the English teacher said. "And you are getting a D this semester."
I was so embarrassed that I burst into tears. That night I wrote a short, sad poem about broken dreams and mailed it to the Capper's Weekly.
To my astonishment they published it, and sent me two dollars. I was a published and paid writer! I showed my teacher and fellow students. They laughed.
"Just plain dumb luck," the teacher said.
I'd tasted success. I'd sold the first thing I'd ever written. That was more than any of them had done, and if it was "just plain dumb luck," that was fine with me.
During the next two years I sold dozens of poems, letters, jokes and recipes. By the time I graduated from high school (with a C-minus average), I had scrapbooks filled with my published work. I never mentioned my writing to my teachers, friends or my family again. They were dream killers. And if people must choose between their friends and dreams, they must always choose the latter.