Learning about English
Part Ⅰ Pre-reading activities
Part Ⅱ Text A
Part Ⅲ Text B
Part Ⅳ Post-reading activities
Listen to the passage carefully and then think over
the following questions:
1. What is the passage about?
2. What’s your impression of the English language?
3. Can you give one or two examples to illustrate
the messiness of the English language?
4. Can you guess what the texts in this unit are
going to be about?
Look at these following pairs and try to master the
usages of them:
a wise guy / a wise man overlook / oversee
burn up / burn down go off / go on
when stars are out / when lights are out
wind up a watch / wind up a speech
a slim chance / a fat chance
fill in a form / fill out a form
The Glorious Messiness of
Churchill became Britain’s Prime Minister
and Minister of Defense in 1940, and was
reelected as Prime Minister in 1951. His
radio speeches during World WarⅡgave
the British people a strong determination
to win the war.
“I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.”
Julius Caesar (100-44BC)
He is the best-known of all the ancient Roman leaders, and
the first to land in Britain with an army in 55 and 54 BC
respectively, although Britain did not become part of the
Roman empire until nearly a hundred years later.
William Caxton (c.1422-1491)
He set up the first printing firm in Britain. He printed his
first book in 1474. By printing books in English, Caxton had
a strong influence on the spelling and development of the
language. Many of the books he published were French
stories which he translated himself.
Otto Jesperson (1860-1943)
Danish philologist, grammarian, and educationist. He
promoted the use of the “direct method” in language
teaching with the publication of his theoretical work How to
Teach a Foreign Language (1904). Other books include his
seven-volume Modern English Grammar (1909)
A member of people from Scandinavia who attacked parts of
northern and western Europe, including Britain and Ireland
in the 8th to 11th centuries. In Britain, they were also known
as Norsemen. They were feared as violent and cruel, but
they were also noted for their skills in building ships and as
Any of the people from Normandy in northern France who
settled in England after their leader William defeated the
English King at the battle of Hastings in 1066. The Normans
took control of the country, a process known as the Norman
Conquest. The language of government became first Latin,
and then Norman French, and this caused many new words
to be added to the existing English language.
1. massive: large in scale, amount, or degree
Examples: The ancient temple’s massive stone
pillars had begun to crumble.
The scale of the problem is so massive that it
will require all our resources to deal with it.
2. snack: a small meal
Examples: I usually have a snack of hamburger
and a glass of coke at lunchtime.
The children in the kindergarten have a
midmorning snack of milk and biscuits.
(1) cause errors to appear in
The academy ruled that such foreign expressions were
not permitted, as they corrupted the language.
Has Japanese been corrupted by the introduction of
These jargons merely corrupt your good English.
(2) cause to act dishonestly in return for personal gains
We believe film of violence would corrupt young
To our great surprise, the former mayor turned out to have
been corrupted by the desire for money and power.
To gain more profits, the businessman tried every means
to corrupt the officials in the local government.
4. ban: forbid (sth.) officially (used in the pattern: ban sth.;
ban sb. from sth./doing sth.)
Scientists from many countries called on the international
community to created an international convention to ban
human cloning as soon as possible.
Tom was banned from driving for six months after being
caught speeding again.
n. ban (followed by on)
The government is considering a total ban on cigarette
The ban on underground nuclear tests is a vital step
(1) make or design (sth. that has not existed before);
James Watt invented the steam engine.
Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone.
(2) give (a name, reason, etc. that doesn’t exist or is not
All the characters in the novel are invented.
Standing still in the teacher’s office, the boy tried to invent
a plausible excuse for his absence from class.
Cf.: invent, discover
If somebody invents something, they are the first person to
think of it or make it.
Walter Hunt and Elias Hone invented the sewing machine.
If somebody discovers something, they find out about
something which exists but which was not previously
The planet Pluto was discovered in 1930.
6. fascinating: of great interest or attraction
The story of his adventures in the Arctic was fascinating
to listen to.
It is fascinating to imagine what might have happened if
the US had not declared war against Japan in World
(1) the quality of allowing other people to say and do as
they like, even if you don’t agree or approve of it
(followed by of/for)
School teachers have to have a great deal of tolerance in
order to deal with difficult children.
I think tolerance between students is extremely necessary
since they live and study together.
(2) the ability to hear sth. painful or unpleasant (followed
Human beings have limited tolerance of noise.
The patient had no tolerance for pain.
(1) sth. you must have in order to live properly or do sth.
Water is a basic necessity of life.
A lot of people would consider a TV as more of a
necessity than a luxury item.
The workers’ wages were so low that they hardly had
enough money to buy the bare necessity of life.
(2) circumstances that force one to do sth.; the state of
being necessary; the need for sth. (followed by of/for)
There is absolutely no necessity for you to be involved in
The reached an agreement on the necessity of educational
9. arouse: provoke (a particular feeling or attitude)
These educational toys give children a feeling of self
worth by arousing their interest in challenging tasks.
The man’s strange behavior aroused the policeman’s
10. surrender: give in (followed by to )
Examples: After several weeks of severe attacks,
Afghanistan’s Taliban forces surrendered to the North
After the bombs fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the
We’ll never surrender to terrorism despite the terrorist
11. virtually: for the most part, almost
It’s virtually impossible to tell the imitation from the
It has been raining virtually non-stop for the past several
12. invade: enter with armed forces
In July 1937 the Japanese army invaded China.
The Germans invaded Poland in 1939, leading to the
start of World WarⅡ.
13.mystery: sth. that people can’t, or have not been able to
understand or explain
The politician’s sudden death remains a mystery to us all.
How Egyptian pyramids were built still remains a mystery.
No one has ever been able to explain the mystery of the
14. resemble: be like or similar to
I’d say he resembles his mother more than his father.
In his childhood, Stevie Wonder loved music and would
pound spoons or forks on any surface that resemble a
15. systematic: done according to a system
Our professor not only imparts knowledge to us, but also
teaches us how to read books in a systematic way.
The staff made a systematic check to make sure that no
name had been omitted from the register.
16. descend: come down (from a source), go down (followed
These ideas descend from those of the ancient
The Japanese are thought to be descended from tribes
from the north of China.
(1) cause to be, set up
The school was established in 1905 by an Italian
The bank helps people wanting to establish their
(2) place or settle sb./oneself in a position, an office, etc.
(used in the pattern: establish sb./oneself as)
She established her fame as an actress.
18.drift: move or go somewhere in a slow casual way
Jimmy spent the year drifting around Europe.
As rural factories shed labor, people drift towards the city.
The football match was over, and the crowds drifted
away from the stadium.
19.climate: (an area or region with) a regular pattern of
Brought up in the south of China, she wouldn't't’t enjoy
living in such a cold climate.
Due to the greenhouse effect, changes in the earth’s
climate have taken place.
20.addition: a person or thing added (followed by to )
The baby is a welcome addition to the Smith family.
The young professor will be a most valuable addition to
21.conquer: take possession and controlled of (a country,
city, etc.) by force; defeat
Afghanistan’s Northern Alliance conquered Kabul a
She has conquered the hearts of many men.
The Spanish once conquered most of South America.
22.royal: of a king or queen, or other members of their
family, and things relating to them
The new born baby was welcome not only by the
Japanese royal family but by the country at large.
The royal wedding drew large crowds from across the
23.alternative: one of two or more possibilities (followed by
Check out the alternatives before deciding whether to go
to a nearby college.
What was the alternative to going home?
24.modify: change slightly
The school authorities plan to modify the school
The computer programmers tried to modify the design of
the software to make it suitable for commercial
(1) make rich or richer
That once coastal village has been enriched by the profits
The development of oil fields enriched many Arabian
It is important to enrich the soil prior to planting.
Travel enriches people’s lives.
26.classic: a work of art recognized as having lasting value
Both Tom Jones and Wuthering Heights are classics.
His manual on botany has become a classic among
27.source: a place from which sth. comes or is obtained
Tourism, which is a major source of income for the city,
has been serious affected by the terrorist attacks.
The source of the anthrax outbreak in the USA remained
28.fortunately: by good luck
Fortunately, my friend survived the car accident.
Fortunately a life guard noticed that the woman was
drowning and she was rescued.
I had forgotten my key, but fortunately the door wasn’t
29.strictly speaking: if one uses words, applies rules, etc. in
their exact sense
He’s not strictly speaking an artist; he is more of a
Strictly speaking she was not qualified for the job. But
we employed her because of he honesty.
30.to a (very real, certain, etc.) extent: to the degree
I agree with him to some extent but there are still some
areas of sharp disagreement between us.
31.out of control: no longer able to be controlled
The fire was out of control by the time the second fire
There was nothing they could do about it. The situation
was out of control.
32. put into practice:
Having delayed several times, we must put this plan into
They weren't’t allowed to put into practice in their daily
lives the teachings they received.
33.strike out: start being independent; start doing want one
wants to do in life
After working for his father for about ten years, he
decided to strike out on his own.
34.pass (sth.) on to (sb.): hand or give (sth.) to (sb.)
When you have finished reading the novel, please pass it
on to Laura.
The King passed on much of his fortune to the princess.
Parts Paragraphs Main Ideas
Massive borrowing from other languages
1 1-3 is a major feature of the English language.
Tells about the history of the English
2 4 -16 language from the Indo-European parent
language to modern English.
Tolerance, love of freedom, and respect for
the rights of others—these qualities in the
3 17-19 English-speaking people explain the
richness of their language.
Text Organization: back
The introduction of the Indo-European language---the parent
language of English
Germanic tribes came to settle in Britain and brought Anglo-Saxon
The Christian religion enriched English with words from Greek and
13 The Vikings from Scandinavia came with words from Old Norse
14 The Norman Conquest--- French influence
The European Renaissance and the printing press brought many
15 new words from Greek and Latin
The American revolution--- the emergence of a new variety---
16 American English
The Role of English in the
Melvyn A. Hasman
1. status: (high) social position
Example: Women have very little status in many
2. exceed: go beyond in quantity, degree, etc.
Examples: The price will not exceed 100 pounds.
Their success exceeded all expectations.
3. trend: general tendency or direction
Example: The trend of prices is still upwards.
4. crude: not refined
Example: His paintings are rather crude.
5. contribute to: help to cause
Example: The chairman encourages everyone to
contribute to the discussion.
6. give way to: yield to
Example: One should not give way to difficulties.
7. integrate: make into a whole
Example: The buildings are well integrated.
8. unique: being the only one of its kind
Example: She is the unique person to do this job.
9. authority: power to give orders and makes others to obey
Example: The leader must be a person of authority.
10. to name a few: to give just a few examples
Example: Mammal is any of the class of animals that
give birth to live offspring and feed them on
milk, to name a few, cat, dog, and sheep, etc..
11. aspect: an element or side of a situation or idea
Example: We should look at every aspect of the problem.
12. predict: declare or tell in advance
Example: The earthquake had been predicted several
13. genuine: real, not fake or artificial
Example: This is a genuine pearl.
14. in transition: in the course of changing into another state
Example: His attitude is in transition.
15. rid oneself of: free oneself from
Example: Many students want to rid themselves of heavy
16. shift: change or move from one position or direction to
Example: The wind shifted from east to north.
17. substantial: large in amount; considerable
Example: Her contribution to the discussion is
18. economic: of an economy or economics
Example: It is not always economic for buses to run on
19. professional: of or belonging to a profession
Example: The doctor was accused of professional
20. dominate: have control of or a very strong influence on
Example: He has authority, but he doesn't try to
Text Organization back
Parts Paragraphs Main Ideas
The globe spread of English over the past
1 1-4 40years has been remarkable.
There are three factors contribute to this
2 4 -16 spread of English.
The future of the English language is
3 17-19 unpredictable.
1. Try to draw a picture or a chart of the development of the
English language. (Keys)
2. Translation practice
1. Language practice
2. Comprehension check
Development of English back
the parent language
Anglo-Saxon words Greek and Latin words
by Germanic tribes
by Christian religion
by Vikings French words by
Printing press European Renaissance
Br. English Am. English
Translate the following passage into English, using the words and
phrases given below:
mystery descend enrich pass on to
tolerance independent source out of control
Though how the English language come into existence
remains a mystery, linguists/language scientists now tend
to believe that English and most other European
languages have descended from a common source: the
Indo-European parent language. English was first spoken
by the Anglo-Saxons who invaded England in the fifth
century. They passed onto us the basic vocabulary of
English. In its over 15 centuries of development, English
has borrowed from other languages massively, and such
borrowing has greatly enriched its vocabulary.
As settlers, landed in America and established the United
States as an independent nation, a new variety was added to
the English language: American English. Though some
people worry that the language is running out of control,
many native speakers of English take pride in the tolerance
of their language.
Use the proper form of the following words or
phrases to fill in the blanks.
give way to substantial in transition
professional economic authority
crude shift unique
rid oneself of predict integrate
aspect genuine to name a few
dominate trend status
had contributed to exceeding
1. If you think I will ______your threats, you are mistaken.
2. Everybody thinks that it will be a very close race and no
one dare to _______ its outcome.
3.We should be thankful to Emily for he______contribution
to our project.
4. Daniel found it difficult to ______himself into a society
whose culture was completely different fro his own.
5. The Chinese economy is still _______from a planned to a
6. Lighting is a vitally important ______of filmmaking.
7. It’s the sort of ad that is intended to appeal to teachers,
lawyer, doctors and other______.
8 . The handbag is worth the money. It is made of
9. The government’s policies have led us into the fastest
______growth for years.
10. “Quite a number of students gave excellent answers to
my last question. David Smith, Jane Anderson, Edward
Newman, ______,” said the professor in his comments
on our performance in the exam.
11. The new professor is a leading ______on the history of
12. Gone are the days when superpowers could ______the
13. “No admittance” was painted in such ____ letters on the
door that anyone would see right away the painter was a
14. The ______at the moment is towards a more natural and
less made-up look.
15. The government’s economic policy is to ______the
emphasis from primary industry to tertiary industry.
16. In his closing remarks, the chairman expressed thanks to
all those whose work ______the success of the
17. As many as 100 species of fish, some of them ______to
these waters, may have been affected by the pollution.
18. Richard got two tickets for ______speed limits within
one week. He really has to take care.
19. It’s not impossible to ______ this bad habit, but it will
take a lot of effort.
20. Many sociologists have called our attention to the
______of women in the rural areas.
1. give way to 2. predict 3. substantial
4. integrate 5. in transition 6. aspect
7. professional 8. genuine 9. economic
10.to name a few 11. authority 12. dominate
13. crude 14. trend 15. shift
16. had contributed to 17. unique 18.exceeding
19. rid yourself of 20. status
Choose the best answer for each of the following:
1.How many people are learning English across the
a. 5% of the world population.
b.10% of the world population.
c. 20% of the world population.
d.50% of the world population.
2.The leading language for scientific purpose in the
3.Written English is becoming more informal due to
the influence of ______.
d.the growing number of English speakers
4. English is unique in______.
a. is alphabet
b. the simplicity of its grammar
c. its informality
d. its wide range of sources
5.The writer points out that the different
varieties of English______.
a. make communication difficult
b. allow the language to adapt to local
c. are not equally acceptable
d. require a central authority to set standards
6.The middle section of the essay, paragraphs 11-
17, could best be subtitled______.
a. The growth of English
b. The forces behind the spread of English
c. English past and present
d. The future of English