Task 1.1 Say whether the sentences below are true or not true in your country:
• Children start learning the three Rs from the age of about six.
• The academic year begins in September.
• Most undergraduates take five or six years to finish their degrees, and many drop out of university.
• University lecturers and professors are badly paid.
• Children at elementary school are usually required to wear a uniform.
• More than two-thirds of students in tertiary education are women.
• Schoolchildren are allowed to smoke during breaks.
• Many postgraduates go abroad to study.
• Secondary school students can do vocational courses as well as courses in academic subjects.
• People celebrate graduation day by jumping into fountains.
• There are skills shortages in many areas, so older people are being encouraged to go back to college and do refresher courses.
• Lectures are often attended by more than 500 students.
• More and more people are doing online language courses.
1.2 Correct the sentences that are not true, then, in pairs, compare and discuss your answers.
1.3 Which of the things in Task 1.1 would you like to see changed in your country?
1.4 Think of three other things about the education system in your country that you would like to change. Compare answers with other students.
Task 2.1 Study the table with some names that are used to describe the different types of education in Britain.
pre-school (2-5 years old)
mostly play with some early learning
basic reading, writing arithmetic, art, etc.
comprehensive school or grammar school
wide range of subjects in arts and sciences and technical areas
college or polytechnic or university
degrees/diplomas in specialised academic areas
2.2 Fill in the gaps in this life story of a British woman.
At 5, Nelly Dawes went straight to … school, because there were very few … schools for younger children in those days. When she was ready to go on to secondary school, she passed an exam and so got into her local … school. Nowadays her own children don't do that exam, since most children go to a … school. She left school at 16 and did not go on to … education, but she goes to … once a week to learn French. She would like to take up her education again more seriously, if she could get a … or scholarship from the government. Her ambition is to go to a … and become a school-teacher.
2.3 The education system in the USA is a bit different from in the UK. What do the following terms mean in the US education system?
Kindergarten elementary school junior high high-school college graduate school
2.4 Make a table for the various stages and types of education in your country, like the table above. How does it compare with the UK system? Is it possible to find satisfactory English translations for all the different aspects of education in your country?
Task 3.1 Put the words in the box into the correct column below. Some words can go in more than one column.
do take sit study pass make follow
3.2 Read the following text and fill in the gaps using verbs from the task above. Try to use each verb at least once.
In secondary schools in England, students have to … 10 different subjects until they are 16, and these must include English and maths. After that they specialise, and from age 16 to 18 they usually … a maximum of four or five subjects. Sometimes timetabling problems in the school mean that not all the students are able to … the course of their choice. In their final year they … the final school exams, which are known as A-levels.
If students want to … a particular subject at university, they must normally have … the same subject, or a related one, at A-level. It's very difficult to go to university unless you have … A-level exams with good grades. However, it is always possible to … the exam again to get a better grade. Although in the majority of courses, students … just one exam at the end of the course, many new courses involve modules where the student … smaller tests and builds up credits. These are popular with students because they are less stressful.
Task 4.1 What life skills should you learn at school? Discuss these questions in groups: a) Were you taught many practical skills at school, or was the focus mainly on academic subjects?
b) How many of the things below did you learn? Which do you think would have been most useful?
• DIY and woodwork
• Drug and alcohol awareness
• First aid
• Foreign languages
• How to work in a team
• Managing your finances
• Note-taking and study skills
• Personal organisation
• Racism awareness
• Sex education
4.2 Nine people were asked 'Are there any practical skills that you wish you'd been taught at school?' Listen to their answers, and answer the questions.
a) Which topics from the exercise above are mentioned? Number them in the order you hear them.
b) Which person had no complaints about his/her education? Why?
c) What reasons did the other people give? Whose comments do you most identify with?
4.3 Now listen to a radio interview with William Atkinson, the head teacher of Phoenix High School in London, in which he discusses the life skills that they try to teach in his school.
a) Underline the skills from Exercise 4.1 that he mentions.
b) Why does he think they are important?
4.4 Listen again. Correct the statements that are not true about William Atkinson's school.
a) In their daily assemblies, pupils are encouraged to give their opinions about the organisation and management of the school.
b) The school council is made up of parents who are elected to represent each class.
c) The best lessons for learning how to work in a team are drama and religious education.
d) At the school, they believe that the ability to work in a team is one of the key life skills of the future.
e) The teachers always warn pupils against social evils like drugs, alcohol, racism, etc.
f) The school sometimes brings in ex-criminals and ex-drug addicts to tell pupils about their experiences.
4.5 Discuss in groups.
Are policies like those described by William Atkinson common in schools in your country? What do you think of his ideas?
Task 5.1 Read the following newspaper article.
Government withdraws funding for gifted children
THE MINISTER of Education today announced that funding would no longer be available for schools for children of exceptional intellectual ability. 'We feel that priority should be given to disadvantaged children, rather than to those who are likely to succeed in any case,' he said. Jane Harries, Head Teacher one of the affected schools, said, 'It is a tragic decision, children cannot realise their full potential without the challenge and support we provide; they are our country's future and we can’t afford to let them down."
5.2 Do you agree with the point of view of the Minister of Education or the Head Teacher? Give your reasons.
Task 6.1 Complete the dialogues with these words and expressions:
second language bilingual strong accent mother-tongue native speaker
1. So, Sandy, what language do you speak in Hong Kong?
- Well, of course, Chinese is my …, but for almost everyone, English is spoken as a …
2. So, Sven, you've been learning English for ten years. That's a long time.
- I suppose it is, but I want to keep learning until I can hold a conversation like a …
3. Where did you learn to speak such good Spanish, Mary?
- Well my dad's Spanish and I went to school in Madrid until I was nine so I'm basically …
4. I find it very difficult to understand Maggie when she speaks quickly.
- Well, she comes from Liverpool and she's got quite a … I'm sure you'll get used to it.
6.2 Use the correct form of these verbs to complete the text below:
When I first started learning English ten years ago, I could hardly … a word - 'hello,' 'goodbye', 'thank you' was just about it! I went to classes two evenings a week and I was surprised at how quickly I … progress. During the course we learned lots of vocabulary and … grammar rules. The thing I enjoyed most was being able to … speaking with the other students in my class.
After two years I went to England to a language school. It was in Cambridge. I … a three-week course at a very good school and I stayed with a local family. It was a fantastic experience and I … a lot of new language from speaking with my host family and with other students from all over the world. I really … my pronunciation as well. When I got back to Spain, I was so much more confident. I could actually .... a conversation with my teacher in English.
6.3 Now complete these whole expressions from the text. The first one has been done for you.
I could hardly say a word.
I made …
We studied …
I enjoyed being able to … speaking with the other students.
I did … at a language school.
I picked up …
I really improved my …
I could actually hold …
Task 7.1 Excluding native speakers, around one billion people worldwide speak English.
How many people in your country speak one or more foreign languages? At what age do children in your country start learning a foreign language?
Read this article and explain in English the meaning of the italicized words and expressions:
Let’s take leave of French
One topic is rarely mentioned in all the talk of improving standards in our schools: the almost complete failure of foreign-language teaching. Despite the compulsory teaching of French in secondary schools, our ability to speak it is minimal.
Take any random sample of the population, and barely half of them will be able to say more than a few words. Those who can speak more than this probably owe their skills not to school, but to other experience or training.
As a French graduate who has taught for more than twenty-five years in state schools as well as independent schools, I believe I have some idea of why the failure is so total. Apart from the faults already diagnosed in the education system as a whole — such as child-centred learning, the 'discovery' method, and the low expectations by teachers of pupils - there have been several serious errors which have a direct effect on language teaching.
The first is the removal from the curriculum of the thorough teaching of English grammar. Pupils now do not know a verb from a noun, the subject of a sentence from its object, or the difference between the past, present, or future.
Another important error is mixed-ability teaching, or teaching in ability groups so wide that the most able pupils are held back and are bored while the least able are lost and equally bored. Strangely enough, few head teachers seem to be in favour of mixed-ability school football teams or choirs.
Progress depends on memory, and pupils start to forget immediately they stop having regular lessons. This is why many people who attended French lessons at school, even those who got good grades, have forgotten it a few years later. Because they never need it, they do not practise it.
Most American schools have accepted what is inevitable and withdrawn modern languages, even Spanish, from the curriculum. Perhaps it is time for Britain to do the same, and stop wasting resources on a subject which few pupils want or need.
7.2 Match these teaching methods from the article with the most suitable definition:
a child-centred learning b mixed-ability teaching с the 'discovery' method
1. pupils of different learning capacity are taught together
2. pupils are not taught, but are given the opportunity to find out things for themselves
3. the focus of learning is on the pupil, not the teacher
7.3 Answer the following questions:
1. Why is the writer against teaching foreign languages in British schools?
2. What serious errors does he think are responsible for the failure of language teaching?
3. Do you agree with the author? Explain your answer.
Task 8.1 Cross out the verb which does not collocate:
I do I make I take I sit I pass I fail an exam
8.2 Complete the dialogue with the correct form of these verbs:
re-sit pass fail revise
A: Hi Таrа, I'm so happy. I … all my exams. I even got a grade A in English!
B: I didn't do too badly, but I … biology. That means I'll have to … it next term.
A: Oh no, I'm so sorry. You spent ages on biology, didn't you? What happened?
В : Well, I guess I just didn't … hard enough. Perhaps I'll set it next time.
8.3 Discuss the following questions:
1. Are you the sort of person who loves or hates exams? How do they make you feel?
2. What's the most difficult exam you have ever taken? Why?
3. Have you got any 'exam horror stories' (times when you or one of your friends missed exams, were ill during exams, etc.). What happened?
8.4 Read the list in the box and tick the things you should do when preparing for an exam, and write a cross next to the things you should avoid. In groups, discuss which things you personally do/ don't do when you are revising for exams. Do you have any other useful advice?
draw up a revision timetable and stick to it
set yourself tough goals for your revision each day
meet a friend and study together
spend a lot of time with your friends moaning about your exams
get easily distracted
only study for about thirty minutes at a time
take regular breaks
give up your social life during the weeks before the exams
stay up late studying the night before the exam
arrive at least an hour before the exam starts
compare what you've revised with other students just before the exam
8.5 Match the following phrases with their definitions:
To sail through an exam
to gear yourself up for exams
to stretch your legs
to hinder your performance
to wind down
the trickier (questions)
to tackle a question
to pace yourself
to retake an exam
to make it difficult for someone to do something
to go for a walk, especially after sitting for a long time
to make a determined effort to do something difficult
to succeed very easily in a difficult challenge
to rest or relax after a lot of hard work or excitement
to do an exam again
to do something at a controlled, steady speed
to prepare yourself for something you have to do
difficult, complicated, needing great care to do well
8.6 Read the following article
HOW TO PASS EXAMS
There is a technique just sailing through, so make sure you don't just count good luck.
It's that time of year again when students across the country are gearing themselves up for exams. If you feel you've left your revision too late, don't despair. Follow our guide and start today.
Before you start
• Get organised: draw up a revision timetable of topics to cover. Stick to it and let friends and family know that you are serious, so they don’t interrupt your studies.
• If you find it difficult to concentrate, don't study at home where you will be easily distracted; go to your library instead.
• If motivation is a problem, arrange to meet a friend and study together. But don't let it turn into an excuse for a social chat or a moaning session!
• Remember what you are studying for. Why do you need these exams? Keeping your long-term goal in mind will help maintain your motivation.
• Go with your body clock: if you're slow in the morning, use that time to do some background reading. Do the weightier work in the afternoon.
• Don't study for more than thirty to forty minutes at a time. Take regular breaks to get enough fresh air and stretch your legs.
• Don't study too late, especially the night before your exam. Tiredness will hinder your performance the next day. Always make sure you wind down before you go to bed.
• It's important to maintain a happy, positive frame of mind, so don't let revising take over your whole life.
• Eat well; have a proper meal rather than snacks snatched at your desk. Give yourself something to look forward to after a day's studying: meet friends for a drink, or relax in a warm bath.
On the day
• Allow plenty of time to get to the exam, but don't arrive too early or you'll sit around getting nervous.
• Resist the temptation to compare what you've revised with other students while waiting.
• Do read the paper thoroughly before starting. It's time well spent. It's very easy to misunderstand simple instructions when you're under a lot of pressure.
• On multiple-choice exam papers, go through and do all the easy questions first then go back to the beginning and try the trickier ones.
• On essay papers, tackle the questions you feel happiest about first, so you can build up your confidence.
• Work out how much time you have for each question and pace yourself accordingly. You have nothing to gain from finishing early.
• Always keep things in proportion. The worst thing that can happen is that you'll fail. If necessary, you can usually retake an exam.
8.7 Now mark each piece of advice as follows:
a really useful piece of advice
good advice, but hard to follow in practice
true, but pretty obvious
I don't agree. Bad advice!
8.8 Compare answers in pairs. Which do you think is the best piece of advice?
Task 9.1 Use these verbs:
passed graduated sat got doing applied
and these other words to complete the text:
nursery college degree primary secondary university
When I was very young I went to a playgroup and then a … school. When I was five, I started at the local … school. School is compulsory in Britain for everybody between five and sixteen years old, but in lots of other countries children don't start until they are seven.
My primary school was mixed, but when I was eleven, I went to an all-boys … school. My favourite subjects were maths and English. After five years at secondary school, I decided to go to sixth form … In my last year in the sixth form I … exams in four subjects - maths, physics, chemistry, and geography. I … them all and … A grades in maths and physics.
I … for a place at … to study astronomy. It was a three-year … course. I … with first class honours. I thought about … a postgraduate degree, but decided it was time to get a job and earn some money.
9.2 Use these verbs to complete the text below:
stayed on applied got in do left
When I got to 16, some of my friends … school to get jobs, but most… I wanted to … sociology, but it wasn't possible at my school, so I … to the local technical college. There were over fifty applicants for only twenty places, so I was really pleased when I… I really enjoyed the course.
9.3 Do the same with this text:
results college entry course degree prospectus diploma high
I had wanted to be a doctor but the … requirements to study medicine at university are very … and my exam … weren't good enough, so I got the … from my local … to see what alternatives there were. In the end, I got onto a … in business administration. I got a … , but I still sometimes wish I'd been able to go to university and get a …
Task 10. Complete this text about paying for higher education with these words:
part-time fees loan
expenses grant accommodation
Going to university is expensive. First, there's the tuition … Then there are all the books you need. Then, if you live away from home, you have to pay for your … The university halls of residence are not cheap. Then you have all your other living … A few students get a …, but most have to take out a student … from the bank, which can take years to pay off! Most students have to do a … job in order to survive.
Task 11.1 Use these words to complete the text about a student's week:
reading lectures presentation term seminar notes tutor handout
1. I've got two … this morning and then I need to go to the library to do some background … before tomorrow.
2. On Wednesday I've got to give a short … at my English …
3. I can't go to my history lecture on Thursday morning. I'll ask Jeff to pick up an extra copy of the … and I can borrow his lecture ...
4. Professor Barnes is the only lecturer who gives handouts and his reading … really save me a lot of time.
5. Later in the week, I've got to see my … to decide what … I'm going to do next ...
11.2 Use these words to complete the sentences:
placement academic drop out
qualifications assignment tutorial
specialise vocational qualify
1. The … year begins in September and runs to the end of June.
2. So, what are you doing this weekend? - I'll probably be at home finishing the … I have to hand in on Monday.
3. Hi Mark, where have you been? I haven't seen you for ages.
- I've been away doing a work … in an insurance company for the last four months.
4. The more … you have, the more chance you have of finding a better job.
5. I wish I had done something more useful than philosophy - something more … like nursing or hotel management.
6. Next year I have to decide which area of medicine I want to … in.
7. Dr Hurst seems very remote in her lectures but when you have a … with her, she's really friendly and helpful.
8. Mandy doesn't seem very happy at the moment. Is she finding the course difficult?
- Yes, I think she's going to … and get a job.
9. What will this course … you to do?
11.3 Use these words in the situations below:
1. It's your last … at university, isn't it?
- Yes, I've already done my oral, so now I've got to submit four pieces of … The … is next Friday. Then I've got to do a 10,000-word … and hand it in by the end of May. Then I can relax.
2. Hi Susie, I haven't seen you around much recently.
> No, I've been at home … most nights. I've got my … next month. I can't wait till it's all over. Can you believe it, we don't get our ... until the end of July?
3. Overall, the exams weren't too bad but the American history … was really difficult.
4. It's my … ceremony next week. I think my parents are looking forward to it more than I am. I don't think they realise being a … doesn't guarantee you a job like it used to.
Task 12.1 Before you read the article discuss these questions.
1. How important is it for you to get high-level educational qualifications?
2. What would the effect be on you and on your friends and family if you failed your next examination?
THE STARS WHO DID THEIR OWN THING
The results of this year's summer exams are due out next week. They will almost certainly result in misery for many and happiness for a few. It seems likely that these results will cause more problems than they solve. On the one hand, if you did well, then you might find there are fewer places available in higher education; on the other hand, if you did poorly, news reports of a general trend towards better results nationwide will hardly make you jump for joy. In times of high unemployment, many people work hard for exams to give themselves a better chance of getting a good job. But there are people who have made it to the top without being born with a silver spoon in their mouth and without getting A grades in their exams. We talked to a number of personalities about their success.
Caitlin Moran, who is 18, is a journalist with a regular column in the Times newspaper. She is also the presenter of the Channel 4 TV programme, Naked City. Caitlin was brought up on a council housing estate and claims to have only one certificate - and that is in swimming. 'University? My higher education was pubs and music. I only spent two weeks in the sixth form of my local grammar school and then left because I had already made my mind up to be a writer and broadcaster. I wasn't discouraged by the education system, I just knew what I wanted from the word go.'
Bernie Grant is 49 and is a Member of Parliament. He did very well in his О level exams at school and went on to get 3 A levels, but left university after two years. 'It was growing up in the Caribbean that made me confident. There are contests for everything there, from how loud your stereo sound system would go to your academic ability. I did pretty well in most of these. On balance I don't see any problem with competitive exams. It's good practice for kids who are going out into the wider world.'
Barrie К Sharpe, who is a 33-year-old fashion designer, comes originally from London's East End and now works in Soho. He says he is not sure what his qualifications are. 'Higher Education in my field would be a complete waste of time. If someone asked me in a job interview how many subject exams I'd passed, I'd say ten without any hesitation. I mean no-one's going to check up on you, are they?'
Des'ree, the 24-year-old pop star, took 5 A level subjects. 'My mother wanted me to do a degree in journalism, but after I passed my A levels, I had to sit her down and explain that I knew in my heart what I wanted to do. Although I'm not sure that my A levels prepared me for the world of the music business, I still feel education has to be taken seriously.'
John Fashanu, the 29-year-old footballer, TV presenter and businessman, didn't get any O levels. He describes himself as 'working class'. 'Kids from the middle and upper classes just don't have the same hunger. On the football pitch or in business, the kids with degrees are usually too self-centred. Exams are just exams and at the end of the day the best education you can get is at the university of life. For example, when I am importing coffee, I don't need to be a mathematical genius or have a degree in Business Studies to get it right, do I?'
12.2 Answer the following questions:
1. What kind of 'higher education' do you think Caitlin Moran got from 'pubs and music'?
2. What problems do some people associate with competitive exams?
3. What does John Fashanu mean by 'Exams are just exams'? Do you agree?
12.3 Think of successful people you know who were horn with a silver spoon in their mouth. How do you feel about these people? Do you know anyone who has been a success because of an education at the university of life?
Task 13.1 What do you think about these methods of learning? Do you have any experience of them? Which of the following features do you associate with a) a traditional approach to education b) a more 'progressive' approach?
• rote learning
• choice of subjects
• questioning ideas
• written examinations
• continuous assessment
• individual assignments
• collaborative activities
• mixed-ability classes
• fixed curriculum
Which have been features of schools you have attended?
13.2 Read the text and explain in English the meaning of the italicized words and expressions.
I left school and university with my head packed full of knowledge; enough of it, anyway, to pass all the examinations that were put in my path. As a well-educated man I rather expected my work to be a piece of cake, something at which my intellect would allow me to excel without undue effort. It came as something of a shock, therefore, to encounter the world outside for the first time, and to realize that I was woefully ill-equipped, not only for the necessary business of earning a living, but, more importantly, for coping with all the new decisions which came my way, in both life and work. My first employers put it rather well: 'You have a well-trained but empty mind,' they told me, 'which we will now try to fill with something useful, but don't imagine that you will be of any real value to us for the first ten years.' I was fortunate to have lighted upon an employer prepared to invest so much time in what was, in effect, my real education and I shall always feel guilty that I left them when the ten years were up.
A well-trained mind is not to be sneezed at, but I was soon to discover that my mind had been trained to deal with closed problems, whereas most of what I now had to deal with were open-ended problems. 'What is the cost of sales?' is a closed problem, one with a right or a wrong answer. 'What should we do about it?' is an open problem, one with any number of possible answers, and I had no experience of taking this type of decision. Knowing the right answer to a question, I came to realize, was not the same as making a difference to a situation, which was what I was supposed to be paid for. Worst of all, the real open-ended question — 'What is all this in aid of?' was beginning to nudge at my mind.
I had been educated in an individualist culture. My scores were mine. No one else came into it, except as competitors in some imagined race. I was on my own in the learning game at school and university. Not so in my work, I soon realized. Being an individual star would not help me there if it was in a failing group. Our destinies were linked, which meant that my co-workers were now colleagues, not competitors. Teams were something I had encountered on the sports field, not in the classroom. They were in the box marked 'fun' in my mind, not the ones marked 'work' or even 'life'. My new challenge, I discovered, was to merge these three boxes. I had discovered, rather later than most, the necessity of others. It was the start of my real education.
So you're a university graduate are you?' said my new Sales Manager. 'In classics, is it? I don't think that is going to impress our Chinese salesmen! How do you propose to win their respect since you will be in charge of some of them very shortly?' Another open-ended problem! I had never before been thrust among people very different from me, with different values and assumptions about the way the world worked, or should work. I had not even met anyone more than two years older, except for relatives and teachers. Cultural exploration was a process unknown to me, and I was not accustomed to being regarded as stupid and ignorant, which I undoubtedly was, in all the things that mattered in their world.
My education, I decided then, had been positively disabling. So much of the content of what I had learned was irrelevant, while the process of learning it had cultivated a set of attitudes and behaviours which were directly opposed to what seemed to be needed in real life. Although I had studied philosophy I hadn't applied it to myself. I had assumed that the point of life was obvious: to get on, get rich, get a wife and get a family. It was beginning to be clear that life wasn't as simple as that. What I believed in, what I thought was worth working for, and with whom, these things were becoming important. So was my worry about what I personally could contribute that might not only earn me money but also make contribution somewhere.
It would be nice to think that this sort of experience could not happen now, that our schools, today, prepare people better for life and for the work which is so crucial to a satisfactory life. But I doubt it. The subjects may appear to be a little more relevant, but we are still left to learn about work at work, and about life by living it. That will always be true, but we could, I believe, do more to make sure that the process of education had more in common with the processes of living and working as they are today, so that the shock of reality is less cruel.
13.3 Continue the following sentences:
1. When the writer left university, he expected to succeed by...
2. The writer feels he treated his first employers badly because he did not…
3. The writer found that he needed to re-evaluate his approach at work because he…
4. The writer realised that he lacked understanding of other cultures when he...
5. The writer feels that nowadays…
13.4 Answer the following questions:
1. What was the writer’s main conclusion about his education?
2. How do you think the writer’s education could have prepared him more effectively for his working life?
13.5 Using information from the text, discuss whether and to what extent the following suggestions would have helped him. Give reasons for your decisions.
more vocational or practical subjects (give examples)
compulsory involvement in competitive team sports
school trips and exchange visits to other countries
more cross-cultural projects
work experience placements
Task 14. Turn to??? and find out whether you are the perfect student.
Task 15. Answer the following questions:
Do you like studying? Why/ why not?
Should schoolchildren wear uniform?
Should secondary education be compulsory? Give reasons for your answers.
Did you like your school? Can you say that your schooldays were the best in your life?
Do you remember your favourite teacher? Why did you like him/ her?
Are you in favour or against specialist schools? Why?
Did you have to take the unified national examination? Was it difficult? Would you prefer a more traditional format?
Why do people go to universities? Should the state provide free higher education to everybody?
What influenced your choice of university?
Do you like your university life?
Task 16. Work in groups. Choose one or more of these statements, and prepare to discuss it with your group.
1. In life, experience and ability are more important than qualifications.
2. Being successful depends more on who you know than on what you know.
3. Going to university is about doing things for yourself and finding out who you are.
4. The most successful people in life are not always the best educated.