sábado, 5 de octubre de 2013

Reading test: How many hours does it take to be fluent in English?

This school year we are starting off a new section in the blog which focuses on reading. Every other Saturday, we will be publishing reading comprehension and vocabulary activities on an online article. This way we intend to come full circle in the activities My That's English! offers students, especially those at an intermediate level and those who have to sit an official exam like the EOI exam, by providing activities in the four skills through (mainly) internet-based material.

I came across today's article, How many hours does it take to be fluent in English?, through Patrick McMahon and his excellent English for University.

Before you read the article, think about these questions.
Do you consider yourself to be fluent in English?
What is the best course of action to become fluent in a foreign language?
How long does it take to speak good English?

Now you can read the article and find out about the answer to questions two and three above. You might come across some vocabulary difficulties, just ignore them the first time you read the article.

Reading comprehension

Say whether these statements are true (T), false (F) or the information is not given (NG), according to the article.
1 The majority of immigrants in the UK don’t speak English well.
2  It might take 360 hours to achieve citizenship in the UK.
3  Immigrants who don’t speak English won’t be allowed to ask for benefits.
4 One week is enough to learn very basic conversational English.
5  How fast you learn a language changes from one person to another.
6 Immersion is the only essential factor for immigrants to learn the language well.
7 Having a very good command of a foreign language is not always possible.

The article, How many hours does it take to be fluent in English?, is quite lengthy, so we've taken some sentences out of it to work on vocabulary:

In sentences 1-5, find the verbs with these meanings:
a) establish residence; b) learn; c) reduce; d) run away from; e) throw forcefully.
In sentences 6-10, trying to explain the words in red in your own words.
  1. But even with classes, it can be a long process to pick up the language.
  2. But many of the people who attend courses are visiting students rather than people settling in the UK. 
  3. School plunges them into the new language.
  4. Every (UK) government has been trying to bring it down (it=the number of hours necessary to move up a level).
  5. Thura (...) fled Burma for political reasons and arrived in the UK in 2009.
  6. George Osborne said (...) that welfare claimants who don't speak English will have their benefits cut
  7. It will vary from illiteracy to degree level.
  8. ...and have a large bearing on how they can learn in the classroom.
  9. ...exposure to hearing English is crucial.
  10. ...immigrants arriving on a spouse's visa are not eligible for free English classes.
Learning eight, ten or twelve vocabulary items whenever we do a reading activity is a sensible target we can set ourselves, as long as we know how to fully use the new vocabulary, revise it and use it regularly and know how to pronounce it. Remember that howjsay is an invaluable online pronunciation dictionary that can help you with pronunciation issues.

After reading the article, how do you view your own English language learning?
What should you do more of that you don't?
How can we get immersed in the language we are learning without living in the country?

The son of your English friend is coming to your country to study a year of his degree within the Erasmus project. Write an email to your friend giving him/her some advice for their child on how to best learn your language in the area where you live. Write around 170 words.

For how to write a letter of advice you can visit on this blog: Writing workshop 22

1NM 2F 3F 4F 5T 6F 7T
a) settle b) pick up c) bring down d) flee (flee-fled-fled) e) plunge
6 claimant: someone who claims (asks for) a benefit or right
7 illiteracy: not being able to read and/or write
8 bearing: influence
9 exposure: the condition of being exposed to something, ie, have direct contact with something
10 spouse: your husband or wife