For warning When Polly left home that morning, the city was already covered in a grey mist. At lunch, the radio forecast that the mist would become a thick fog in the afternoon. At f
our o’clock, Polly left home and stepped out into the fog. She wondered if the buses would still be running. No buses to King Street Once out in the street, she walked quickly towards her usual stop. “How far are you going?” the bus conductor asked her before he took her fare. “King Street,” said Polly. “Sorry, Miss,” replied the man, “the truth is that it is too foggy for the bus to run that far. Take the underground to Green Park. The weather might be better there and you might be able to get a taxi. A tall man As Polly observed the passengers on the train, she had a feeling that she was being watched by a tall man in a dark overcoat. At last the train arrived at Green Park station. While the rest of the passengers were getting out, she glanced at the faces around her. The tall man was nowhere to be seen. Foot steps When Polly got to the train entrance, it was empty. Outside, wherever she looked the fog lay like a thick, grey cloud. There was no one in sight. Polly set off towards Park Street. As she walked along the narrow street, she heard the sound of footsteps approaching, but by the time she reached the corner of the street, the footsteps were gone. Suddenly Polly felt a rough hand brush her cheek, and she heard a man’s voice in her ear saying “sorry.” The man moved away. She could feel her heart beating with fear. The helpful stranger Then she heard the sound again----soft footsteps behind her. A minute before, she had wished for someone to come along. Now she wanted to run, but fear held her still. The footsteps seemed close now. Then a man’s voice came out of the darkness. “Is anybody there?” Polly hesitated. At last she answered, “Hello, I think I am lost.” A few seconds later, a hand reached out and grasped her arm. Polly found herself staring up at the face of an old man with a beard. “Maybe I can help you. Which road do you want?” he asked. “I live at 86 King Street,” Polly replied. “Just take my hand,” said the man. “Come with me. You will be all right.” He took Polly’s hand. “Watch out for the step here.”
In his other hand the man carried a stick. Polly heard it hit the step. “I can remember some terrible fogs, but maybe that was before your time. I can ’t see your face, but you sound young. How old are you?” “Just twenty,” answered Polly. “Ah, twenty! A nice age to be. I was young once. Now we are at th crossroads. Turn left here.” “I am quite lost now. Are you sure you know the way? ” Polly was beginning to feel frightened again. “Of course. You really shouldn’t feel anxious.” He held her hand more firmly. The grateful helper “Here we are. King Street.” He stopped. “Thank you so much for coming to my aid,” said Polly in relief. “Would you like to come in and rest for a while?” “It’s very nice of you,” said the man, “but I’ll be off. There may be more people lost today, and I’d like to help them. You see, a fog this bad is rare. It gives me the chance to pay back the help that people give me when it is sunny. A blind person like me can’t get across the road without help, except a fog like this.” (Adapted from Fog and Other Stories, Oxford Progressive English Readers@ Oxford University Press 1992.)
English and its history
All through history, people from many different countries and cultures have lived together in Britain. The English language is made up of the grammar and vocabulary these people brought to Britain. That is why English has so many difficult rules that confuse people. Old English Old English is very different from the English we speak nowadays. In fact, we would not be able to understand it if we heard it today. Before the middle of the 5th century, people in Britain all spoke a language called Celtic. Then two Germanic groups from the European mainland----the Angles and the Saxons----occupied Britain. Old English consisted of a mixture of their languages. (Both the English language and the English people are named after the Angles; the word Angle was spelt Engle in old English.) Aside from place names such as London, very few Celtic words became part of Old English. At the end of the 9th century, the Vikings, people from Northern European countries such as Denmark and Norway, began to move to Britain. They brought with them their languages, which also mixed with Old English. By the 10th century, Old English had become the official language of England. When we speak English today, we sometimes feel puzzled about which words or phrases to use. This is because English has many words and phrases from different languages, but with similar meanings. For example, the word sick came from a word once used by the Angles and the Saxons, while ill came from a word once used by the Norwegians. Middle English Middle English is the name given to the English used from around the 12th to the 15th centuries. Many things played a part in the development of this new type of English. The most important contribution was from the Normans, a French-speaking people who defeated England and took control of the country in 1066. However, the Norman Conquest did not affect English as much as the Angles and the Saxon’s victory about 600 years earlier, which led to Old English replacing Celtic. Even though the Normans spoke French for the entire 250 years when they ruled England, French did not replace English as the first language. On the other hand, the English language did borrow many words from French. This resulted in even more words with similar meanings, such as answer (from Old English) and reply (from Old French). It is interesting to learn how the words for animals and meat developed. After the Norman Conquest, many English people worked as servants who raised animals. Therefore, the words we use for most animals raised for food, such as cow, sheep and pig, came from Old English. However, the words for the meat of these animals, which was served to the Normans, came from Old French: beef, mutton, pork and bacon. Old French made other contributions to Middle English as well. In Old English, the Germanic way of making words plural was used. For example, they said housen instead of houses, and shoen instead of shoes. After the Normans took control, they began using the French way of making plurals, adding an –s to house and shoe. Only a few words kept their Germanic plural forms, such as man/men and child/children.
After the Norman Conquest, high-class people spoke French while common people spoke English. However, by the latter half of the 14th century, English had come into widespread use among all classes in England. In 1399, Henry IV became King of England. His mother tongue was English, and he used English for all official events. Modern English Modern English appeared during the Renaissance in the 16th century. Because of this, Modern English includes many Latin and Greek words. Pronunciation also went through huge changes during this period. Of course, this was not the end of the changes in the English language. The question of whether English will keep on changing in the future is easy to answer. It is certain that this process will continue, and people will keep inventing new words and new ways of saying things.
Day 1, 15 July I feel lucky to have won a place on this trip. We are in Italy now, and tomorrow we are visiting Pompeii. Next week we are flying to China, and going to Loulan, which is known as China’s Pompeii in the desert. Both Pompeii and Loulan became lost civilizations long ago. Day 2, 16 July This morning we attended a lecture about Pompeii. The city was founded in the 8th century BC. In 89 BC, the Romans took over Pompeii. It then became a rich and busy city. Near the city was a volcano. On 24 August AD 79, the volcano erupted and lava, ash and rocks poured out of it onto the surrounding countryside. It continued to erupt for the next two days. Many people were buried alive, and so was the city. How unfortunate! Day 3, 17 July Today I saw the ancient Roman city of Pompeii as it was 2,000 years ago. How amazing! The city was forgotten for many years until the 18th century when a farmer discovered a stone with writing on it. People started to dig in the area for treasure, which caused much damage. Thus, in 1860, the area was put under government protection so it could be preserved and studied. When I walked around the city, I way streets just as they had been, with stepping stones along the road so you did not have to step in the mud on rainy days! I saw several houses which were decorated with wall paintings. I also saw the people who had been buried alive. It turns out that after the ash covered the people who failed to flee the city, their bodies nearly completely broke down and disappeared, leaving empty spaces in the ash. Years later, researchers were able to use these empty spaces to produce true-to-life figures of the people who had died in the disaster. You can see them today in Pompeii, in the same places where the people fell. The volcano is still there, but looks very quiet now. It is hard to imagine how this peaceful volcano destroyed the whole city! Day 10, 24 July Finally, we arrived in Loulan after several days of traveling. This commercial city was busy and wealthy about 2,000 years ago. It was a stopping point on the famous Silk Road between the East and the West. It is believed to have been gradually covered over by sandstorms from AD 200 to AD 400. I am so excited to be here! Day 11, 25 July A scholar from the local cultural institute, Professor Zhang, told us that around the year 1990 the European explorer Sven Hedin discovered the ruins of the Loulan Kingdom. Sven found the remains of buildings buried beneath the sand, together with a lot of treasures, including coins, painted pots, material such as silk, documents and wall paintings. When we went to the city, we saw the city walls, palaces, temples, workshops and towers. We found the ruins most interesting. There was an ancient
water system that ran through the middle of the city. The desert was once a green land with huge trees, but they were cut down and that resulted in the city being buried by sand----what a pity.
Nowadays, we can find advertisements almost wherever we go. We are so used to them that we often do not even realize how many we see and hear in a day. I did some research on advertisements, and have some very important information to share with you. What is an advertisement? An advertisement uses words and pictures to persuade people to buy a product or service, or to believe in an idea. Newspapers, magazines, the Internet, radio and television are the most common places to find them. There are two main types of advertisements----commercial advertisements and public service advertisements (PSAs). A commercial advertisement is one which someone has paid for to advertise a product or service. PSAs are often run for free, and are meant to educate people about health, safety, or any other problem that affects public welfare. Does an advertisement tell people the complete truth? There are laws to protect people from advertisements that cheat people. However, we still must be aware of the skilful methods used in ads to try and sell us things. Even if an ad does not lie, it does not mean it is altogether innocent. One toothpaste ad declares, “Bright-Teeth fights bad breath!” This statement tries to fool you into assuming that the toothpaste cures bad breath, yet it does not say that! All it says is that it fights it, and that is not the same thing at all. One grocery tells customers, “You are proud of your cooking, so shouldn’t you buy the very freshest food?” This ad is very clever, because it tells customers they are good cooks. However, it never says that this grocery has the freshest food! The grocery just hopes that when you read the ad, you will feel pleased with the nice comment, remember the words “freshest food”, and make a mental connection with the food in the grocery. We must not fall for this kind of trick! Public service advertisements Not all ads play tricks on us though. PSAs use some of the same methods, like attractive pictures and clever language, but they are made to serve the public. PSAs aim to teach us and help us lead better lives. Our government understands this and has been using PSAs to educate people for many years. China began a nationwide public service advertising campaign in 1996, and since then various types of PSAs have appeared around the country. You have probably seen or heard some of them yourself, such as, “Yes to life, no to drugs” and “Knowledge changes life”. These ads dealt with widespread social concerns. There are also PSAs that encourage people to support public service projects, such as Project Hope. Its motto is “Project Hope---educating every child”. There are even PSAs to teach us how to live healthy lives. One of these is, “when you smoke cigarettes, you are slowly killing yourself.” All of these ads are meant to benefit the public, and you can often learn a lot by following the advice they give. Finally, I wish to tell you this: think about why you should do the things the ad suggests, or buy the product or service the ad promotes. When it comes to advertisements, we must all use our intelligence and not be a slave to them!
The Olympic Games
Good afternoon, students and teachers. As a member of the International Olympic Committee, I am delighted to have been invited to your school to talk to you about the history and significance of the Olympic Games. I’ll share some interesting facts and stories with you, and then we’ll have time for questions. Do you know when the ancient Olympic Games began? It was in the year 776 BC. They were held at Olympia in Greece every four years, for almost 12 centuries, until AD 394. Some of the sports from the ancient Olympics are still seen today, such as the long jump, wrestling and running. At the ancient Olympics, by tradition the athletes were all men and they had to compete wearing no clothes. Single women were allowed to take part in their own competition, at a separate festival in honor of Hera, the wife of the Greek god Zeus. Today, both male and female athletes from around the world can take part, no matter what nation they come from. The contemporary Olympics were first held in 1896, in Athens. It was a Frenchman, Pierrre de Coubertin, who brought the Olympics back to life. He dreamt that the Olympics would make it possible for people of all countries to live side by side in peace. Now people all over the world are helping to realize this dream. Among them are many well-known athletes. Did you know that perhaps the most famous boxers of all time first came to public attention during the 1960s Rome Olympics? He won the gold medal for the USA, under his birth name Cassius Clay. Afterwards, this young man went on to win the World Heavyweight Boxing Championship in 1964 and later changed the name to the one we all know, Muhammad Ali. He returned to the Olympic Games in Atlanta in 1996 to light the Olympic flame at the opening ceremony. Another sports star I would like to mention is Michael Jordan. Everyone knows of his success in the NBA, but do you know that he helped the USA basketball team win the gold medal at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics? Jordan also returned to the Olympics after many years, but unlike Muhammad Ali, he was still competing for medals. At the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, Jordan won his second Olympic gold medal as a member of the so-called “Dream Team”. Chinese athletes have also made important contributions to the Olympic Games. At the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, the People’s Republic of China returned to the Olympics after 32 years’ absence. I am sure the whole of China must have felt proud when Xu haifeng won the first gold medal for his country. Deng Yaping, who won four gold medals in 1992 and 1996, is perhaps the greatest female table tennis player the world has ever seen. At the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, Liu Xiang excited people all over Asia when he became the first Asian to win the gold medal in the men’s 110-metre hurdles. The Chinese led the way at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, winning 51 gold medals. For the first time in history, the Chinese women’s gymnastics team won the gold medal. However, the athlete that some people remember most was Zhang Ning, a former badminton champion. At the age of 33, she was much older than the other players. Yet she hung on to win the gold medal in the final match.
These are some of the Olympic athletes who have brought joy to people across the world with their attempts to push the boundaries of human achievement. We are looking forward to seeing more of them in future Olympic Games. Join me in wishing the Olympic Movement a successful future to match its past glory. Thank you. Now, are there any questions?
Not just watching a film…
RealCine----virtual reality for everyone This presentation will give you some information about RealCine: how it works, why it is better than a film, and how it can be used in other ways. The RealCine experience will amaze you, and you will agree that this is an extraordinary technology that deserves to be developed further. The technology behind RealCine is virtual reality (VR). Unlike a film where a passive audience watches and hears what is happening on a screen, RealCine puts you into the action and connects with your senses of sight, hearing, smell and touch in a active way. Imagine that a VR user “goes” sightseeing in the Himalayas. Not only will he or she feel every step of climbing Mount Qomolangma, but the user will also experience the cold, smells, sights and sounds of the surrounding environment; he or she will enjoy a feeling of happiness and a sense of achievement upon reaching the top. RealCine works by making the users feel that they are really in a new world----a world that does not exist except in a computer program. To achieve this, special VR headsets are designed to allow the users to see in 3-D and hear the sound all around them. The movements of the headset indicate the direction in which the user wants to go. The user also wears special gloves so he or she can “touch” the people and objects that he or she sees. To add to the virtual world of RealCine, the headsets even have small openings that give out smells to match the environment. Both the headsets and the gloves are connected to a computer network in the VR studio. In scientific studies it has been shown that VR can be a good treatment for people who have social problems. In one case, a teenager who was afraid of talking and playing with his schoolmates was treated with VR. In one world created by Realcine, he became the captain of the Brazilian football team and scored the winning goal in a World Cup final. This encouraged him to become more confident around others. An argument has been put forward that some users will be disappointed by RealCine because VR is not real. However, with VR we are able to do things that could never be achieved in real life. For example, with the aid of RealCine, a seventyyear-old grandfather recently took a trip to Africa. In reality, he is disabled and can no longer walk, but he was able to see and touch a lion while still in the convenience of the VR studio. Besides this, VR can be used to practice skills in a secure environment that otherwise would be quite dangerous. For example, firefighters could use RealCine to train safely, without the risk of getting injured in a burning building. It could be used in class as well. Teachers could bring history alive by placing students in an ancient town, or they could teach biology by allowing students to experience the world as a whale or squirrel. Finally, RealCine provides fantastic technology for urban planning. Engineers can enter the design of a neighborhood into a computer, and then use VR to “walk” around the neighborhood, see how it looks and make changes before construction is carried out. This kind of urban planning is in the long term, cheaper and more
practical, compared with the way most urban planning is done today. I recommend the government use this technology in the future planning of this city.