Listening Activity No. 1
In large cities, for instance, London, and crowded places such as airports and stations, there is the risk of theft. We do not want you to suffer the distress of losing important documents and valuables as soon as you step onto British soil, so here are some important do’s and don’ts:
Don’t carry more cash than you need for daily expenses. If you stay at a hotel, do ask the manager to keep large sums of cash, documents and valuables in the hotel safe and give you a receipt for them. This is a free service. If cash is stolen, it is very unlikely to be recovered. Do keep separately a note of the serial numbers on your traveler’s cheques, so if they are lost you can inform your bank. Do take particular care of bank and credit cards.
Do carry wallets and purses in an inside pocket or a handbag. Don’t ever leave a bag unattended and make sure it is securely fastened when you are carrying it. Do carry jewelry and valuable such as cameras, radios, and typewriters on you or with you and keep a note of any serial numbers.
Do take special care of your passport, travel tickets and other important documents; documents are at risk particularly at airports and stations where it is obvious that most people will be carrying them. Do make a note and keep it in a safe place of the number of your passport, its date and place of issue. This makes replacement easier if you are unlucky enough to lose it.
If you don’t want to carry heavy luggage around with you, you can leave it in a luggage office at most large stations and pick it up later. Keep the receipt so that you can reclaim your luggage. Check the opening hours, or you may find your luggage locked away when you need it again.
If you lose any of your luggage in transit, take this up immediately with the officials of the airline or shipping line, but don’t worry too much: ninety-eight per cent is found within three days. If you lose anything, go first to the Lost Property Office at the airport or station, as it may have been found and handed in. If you lose your luggage in the street, or suspect it has been stolen rather than gone astray, find the nearest policeman who will advise you what to do.
Listening Activity No. 2
Good afternoon and welcome to the session on Britain. This afternoon, I would like to provide some useful information for you about travelling around Britain.
Britain has over 700 Tourist Information Centres. You will find them at major ports, airports, stations, historic landmarks and towns and holiday centres, so just look out for this sign
that says Tourist Information. The staff will be able to answer your holiday queries, as well as provide essential maps, guides and brochures. Tourist Information Centres at major ports and airports in London and addresses of British tourist authority European offices are all listed on the Tourist Information Centres.
Now, lefs talk about the telephone in Britain. You know, Britain is well supplied with public telephones. Street kiosks take lOp coins. In city centres, mainline railway stations, airports and central London Underground stations, payphones and cardphones are in operation. For the latter, small plastic phonecards are used and these come in 10, 20, 40, 100 and 200 units and can be bought at post offices, news kiosks, station bars and shops where the green and white Cardphone sign is displayed. When using the different public telephone systems, make sure you read the dialing instructions carefully.
Now, let’s see the banks in Britain. There are 24-hour banks at London’s two main airports. One is Heathrow and the other is Gatwick. Otherwise, banks are normally open from 9:30 to 15:30 hours Monday to Friday. Barclays Bank and National Westminster Bank offer a Saturday morning service at some of their branches. National Girobanks has forty-two Bureaux de Change located in post offices throughout the country in main tourist areas. Opening hours are 9:00 to 17:30 weekdays, 9:00 to 12:30 Saturday mornings. One exception to this is the Trafalgar Square Office whose opening hours are 8:00 to 20:00 weekdays and Saturdays, and 10:00 to 17:00 on Sundays.
The Bureau de Change services are available to overseas visitors. Visitors can change their money there. You can also change money at Bureaux de Change, large hotels, department stores and travel agents. Be sure to check in advance the rate of exchange and the commission charged, as these vary considerably.
Wherever possible you are advised to use a bank or Bureau de Change, which conforms to the BTA Code of Conduct. In most cases this is indicated by display of the code.
Listening Activity No. 3
Now let’s turn to shopping which may interest you more.
In general, shops open at 9:00 in the morning and close at 5:30 in the afternoon. In country towns and quieter suburbs, smaller shops close for an hour at lunchtime, and once a week there tends to be an early closing day when most shops shut during the afternoon. Many cities have a late night once a week when shops stay open until approximately 8:00 in the evening.
You should ensure that anything you bring into the country, such as travelling irons, heated rollers, hairdryers and electric shavers, can be used on the standard British voltage which is 240V AC, 50HZ. Many hotels will, on request, be able to supply adapters for electric shavers.
When you travel, you may want to send postcards home. Stamps can be bought at post offices throughout Britain. They are open from 9:00 am to 5:30 pm Monday to Friday, and until 12:30 pm on Saturday. Stamps can also be bought at Postal Centre stamp dispensers at large stores and major tourist attractions. For posting letters, you don’t have to go far before finding a red-painted letterbox. Alternatively, use the letterboxes at post offices.
You may ask how much to tip in hotels and how much is for a taxi.
There are no fixed rules or tariffs about this, and the following is intended only as a guide to customary practice. Most hotel bills include a service charge, usually 10-12 per cent, but in some larger hotels, 15 per cent. Where a service charge is not included, it is customary to divide 10-15 per cent of the bill among the staff who have given good service. In restaurants, if a service charge is not included in the bill, then 10-15 per cent is usually left for the waiter. For porters we usually give 30p to 50p per suitcase. For taxis 10 to 15 per cent of the fare. Hairdressers, 2 pounds according to how much work they have done, plus 50p to the assistant who washed your hair.
If you drive in Britain, you should remember to drive on the left and overtake on the right. The wearing of seat belts is compulsory for the driver and front seat passengers.
Listening Activity No. 4
Chris: Hi there, Alison. How are you getting on with your tutorial paper?
Alison: Oh, I haven’t finished yet. Chris, could you tell me how Parliament makes new laws? This may help for my tutorial next week.
Chris: OK. Fd be glad to help. You know, new laws can start in either the House of Lords or the House of Commons. They are usually proposed by the Government although they may be proposed by ordinary members. A law which is being proposed is called a “bill” until it is passed; then it becomes an “act” of Parliament.
Alison: I see. What is the procedure that a “bill” has to go through?
Chris: The bill first of all goes through its First Reading as we call it. This just means that the title of the bill is announced and a time is set for it to be discussed.
Alison: Yes, and then what is the next stage?
Chris: And the bill will go through the Second Reading which is really the Debate stage. The bill may be rejected at this stage. If it is an important bill, this may cause the Government to resign. On the other hand, it may be passed, or there may be no vote.
Alison: If the bill is passed, what will happen?
Chris: If the bill is passed, it goes on to the Committee stage where a small group of members meet and discuss it in detail.
Alison: Do all the members have to attend the meeting?
Chris: It depends. For certain important bills the whole House can turn itself into a committee which means that the detailed discussion is carried on by all the members. When the committee has finished its work, it reports the bill with all the changes that have been
made to the House. The bill is discussed again at this stage and more changes can be made. This is called the Report stage.
Alison: And then the bill becomes an “act” of Parliament?
Chris: No, the Report stage is not the last stage. The bill is taken for its Third Reading which is a debate, just like the Second Reading. A vote is taken and the bill is either passed or rejected. If it is passed, it goes to the other House, not the one it was started in. So if the bill started in the House of Commons, it would go at this point to the House of Lords. Alison: I see. The bill has to pass by both Houses no matter which House proposes the bill.
Chris: Yes. When both Houses have passed the bill, it goes to the Queen for the Royal Assent. A bill may not become law until the Royal Assent has been given, but this does not mean that the Queen decides on what will become law and what will not. It is understood that the Queen will always accept bills which both Houses have passed. When the Queen gives her assent, the bill becomes an act, and everyone that it affects must obey the new law.
Alison: I see. Thank you for all that information.
Listening Activity No. 5
The English policeman has several nicknames but the most frequently used are “copper” and “bobby”. The first name comes from the verb “to cop” which is also a slang, meaning “to take” or “to capture”，and the second comes from the first name of Sir Robert Peel，the nineteenth-century politician, who was the founder of the police force as we know it today. An early nickname for the policeman was “peeler”，but this one has died out.
Whatever we may call them, the general opinion of the police seems to be a favourable one: except, of course, among the criminal part of the community where the police are given more derogatory nicknames which originated in America, such as “fuzz” or “pig”. Visitors to England seem nearly always to be very impressed by the English police. It has, in fact, become a standing joke that the visitor to Britain, when asked for his views of the country, will always say, at some point or other, “I think your policemen are wonderful.”
Well, the British bobby may not always be wonderful but he is usually a very friendly and helpful sort of character. A music hall song of some years ago was called, “If You Want to Know the Time, Ask a Policeman.” Nowadays, most people own watches but they still seem to find plenty of other questions to ask the policemen. In London, the policemen spend so much of their time directing visitors about the city that one wonders how they ever find time to do anything else.
Two things are immediately noticeable to the stranger when he sees an English policeman for the first time. The first is that he does not carry a pistol and the second is that he wears a very distinctive type of headgear, the policeman’s helmet. His helmet together with his height enables an English policeman to be seen from a considerable distance, a fact that is not without its usefulness. From time to time it is suggested that the policeman should be given a pistol and that his helmet should be taken from him, but both these suggestions are resisted by the majority of the public and the police themselves. However, the police have not resisted all changes: radios, police cars and even helicopters give them greater mobility now.
The policeman’s lot is not an enviable one, even in a country which prides itself on being reasonably law-abiding. But, on the whole, the English policeman fulfils his often thankless task with courtesy and good humour, and with an understanding of the fundamental fact that the police are the country’s servants and not its masters.
Listening Activity No. 6
Good afternoon, everyone. Thanks for turning up today for this short talk Pm going to give on student banking. Many of you are unfamiliar with the way banks work in this country and today’s talk should just give you a few starting points. Well, as you probably know, you’ll need to open a bank account while you are here. The safest place to keep your money is a bank; choose one that is near where you study.
All the major banks in Britain offer special facilities for students and will be only too happy to explain how to open an account. The most useful type of account is a current account. You can pay in money received in any form and then draw it out when you need it by using your checkbook. Writing out checks in their name can make payments to other people. If you want to draw out cash for yourself, make the check payable in your own name or “To Cash”. A check crossed with two parallel lines is even safer as it must be paid into a bank account. Payment by a crossed check has the added advantage that when the person to whom you have given the check presents it at a bank, it will eventually come back to your bank and provide proof of payment. Most people now ask their bank to supply only ready-crossed checks.
Most banks don’t make charges if you keep more than a certain amount of money in your account. However, you shouldn’t overdraw on your account (i.e. withdraw more money than you have in) without the bank’s permission. If you borrow money from the bank, there will be an interest charge. You will also have to pay a small charge to convert foreign currency paid into your bank into sterling.
If you have more money than you need for month-to-month expenses, it is a good idea to open a deposit account for some of it, where it can earn interest. This interest is taxable, but if your bank knows that you are not normally resident in Britain, then you do not pay tax on it. You can’t pay by check on a deposit account, and to withdraw money you should give the bank seven days’ notice or you’ll lose seven days’ interest.
When you have established yourself as a satisfactory customer with the bank, they can issue you a check card. This is really an identity card, which guarantees that correctly written checks up to the value of £50 will be honoured by the bank. A check card can be very useful, as many shops and enterprises, particularly in London and the cities, will not accept a check unless a check guarantee card backs it. You can also use it with your checkbook to draw up to £50 cash from almost any bank in Britain. If you also ask for a Eurocheque card, this can be used in the same way to draw cash from most banks in Europe.
Many banks provide dispensing machines, generally set in the wall of the bank outside, where you can draw cash when the bank is crowded or closed. Provided you are a satisfactory customer, the bank can issue you a cash card which allows you to draw up to £100 a day.
Listening Activity No. 7
Good morning. My name is Marcia Smith, a counsellor here at the Student Services Section of the university and this morning I’d like to talk to you about visiting a British home. This may help you to cope well with your study and social life in Britain.
There is a commonly quoted saying in Britain, “An Englishman’s home is his castle”， which sums up the importance we give to our own bit of private territory. If you are living in a British home or are invited to visit or stay with someone, it is important to act thoughtfully. For example, be punctual for meals and, if you know you have to miss one, let your host know as soon as possible. Check whether it is convenient for others in the house when you wish to take a bath or wash and dry laundry. And unless your host employs someone to do the housework, you are expected to make your own bed and keep your room clean and tidy yourself. If you don’t have a door key, remember to make arrangements if you intend to be out late and keep your hosts informed of your whereabouts so they don’t worry. These suggestions apply whether you are a guest or a lodger and will help the household to run smoothly.
If you’re staying as the guest of a British family or even visiting for one meal, it is customary to take a small gift of flowers, chocolates or something to drink. Don’t spend too much as this could embarrass your hosts. If you’re staying for several days as a guest, it is usual to give a small present when you leave.
Usually you will get on to first name terms with people you meet quite naturally and quickly. If you’re unsure, continue to use their family name (surname) and title until they ask you to use their first name. Older people and those with whom you have a more formal relationship may prefer to stick to surnames (for example, Dr. Smith or Mrs. Smith).
If you’re going to eat with British people or to stay with a British family, you may want to know if there are things that they normally do (or don’t do) at the table. Rather than worry too much about rules, you may like to watch other people and copy what they do. It also helps to understand a few customs first. Both at home and in restaurants people normally wait until everyone has got their food before they start eating. However, they will start before this if someone says, “Please don’t wait” or “Don’t let it get cold’，. When people have started, they keep their cutlery (knives, forks and spoons) on the plate when they are not using them and leave them on the plate when they’ve finished the course. For each course different cutlery is used.
You may also notice that people don^ usually spend much time at the table talking, drinking and smoking. In fact, after dinner at home, it’s fairly common for everyone to leave the table together and have coffee in the living room.
If you are staying with a family or visiting informally, it’s usual to offer to help with household chores, for example, clearing the table and washing up the dishes after a meal. Even men are expected to offer, though you may not be accepted. At a more formal meal, however, the host won’t normally expect guests to help.
Listening Activity No. 8
Riverdance is an expression of modem Irish culture, but it is based on a culture, which had its golden era from the 6th to the 9th century. Before that period, Irish culture was oral and based on a love of complicated stories and poetic styles. But in the 6th century something wonderful happened—writing was introduced by missionaries. From then on, the culture of Ireland began to develop in ways impossible before and had considerable influence in northern Europe in the period up till the 9th century.
With the invasions which began in the 9th century this golden age collapsed and there never was any real recovery. There were no wealthy kings to sponsor the poets and scholars so the traditions survived only in a form which the peasants liked. The love of story and song did not die but no real attempt was made to find a distinctive Irish style until the end of the 19th century when Irish Nationalism began to influence writers, in English called Anglo-Irish literature. There are many famous writers from that period.
There is also William Butler Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, and Samuel Beckett, all of whom have received the Nobel Prize for Literature. In all, Ireland has received the Nobel Literature Prize four times. When you consider we have only a population half the size of Beijing, you see how unusual that is.
Now, let me talk about the music.
The Irish love of music has succeeded in surviving the change from Irish, the native language, to the language of the invader and has once more begun to blossom and become influential outside the country.
Irish music was reduced to being the language of the country people and was dying out as people moved to the cities. Young city people did not want to listen to “peasant music” although we were all told it was important. Some efforts were made to make it attractive to city people, but largely without success. More recently, this has begun to change and since the 1980’s has taken off. But modem Ireland has been looking for more than just a revival of traditional music. Many of the most famous popular singers in the world are Irish—U2, Enya, the Cranberries, and many others. There are 10,000 people employed in Ireland in the music industry. Riverdance is an expression of that new interest in the old and that ability to understand the new.
Listening Activity No. 9
Riverdance is not just an expression of self-confidence, a kind of culturally interesting pop song. It tells the story of a people through song and dance. It tells the story of the people whose spirit was broken by an event which occurred in the middle of the 19th century but continued to affect the society until 1961, the Great Famine.
What is a famine?
In 1840 the official population of Ireland was 8,000,000. They were largely poor, and living in the countryside. They were beginning to have an interest in independence, and perhaps had things been different, Ireland might have been independent much earlier, but there was a serious problem in the agricultural system. All crops were grown to pay the rent of the land, and all that was grown to eat was the potato. This was fine until the potato crop failed as it did from 1845 to 1848. The stories of what happened in those times live on in the popular culture of Ireland and I won’t tell them here but the result was that 2 million people died or left the country by 1851. When you realize that the population continued to go down until 1961, you can realize what a disastrous effect this famine had on the people.
Compared with China, imagine if the famine of 1960 reduced the population by 1/4 and it kept falling to less than half of its pre-famine figure.
Anybody with ideas left and went to England, America or Australia. The people left behind were broken by their experiences and, in effect, the famine and its consequences put an end to all serious development in the country until well into this century. The Irish in Ireland lost all hope and self-confidence and much of our modem culture is about the sadness of that time and the sorrow of saying goodbye to those who left and left well into last century. Ireland has the highest emigration rate of any country in Europe for the last two centuries. We even have an expression for this saying goodbye. It is called the “American Wake”. It means the ceremony, like that of a funeral for someone going to America, because you will never see him or her again.
Do you know why there is Irish music on the film Titanic! It is because most of the people killed were Irish.
The leaving continued until the 1970’s because Independence in 1921 was followed by a civil war and an economic depression. Almost every family in Ireland has relatives abroad, and up to the 1960’s in some places, of a class of 30 graduating from high school all left. Along the west coast, closed-up houses from that time falling into ruins are still common.
Listening Activity No. 10
Last time I said that a lot of Irish people left the country and went to England, America and many other foreign countries. Today, I’d like to talk about the emigration.
The effects of the emigration were not all bad. The emigrants experienced a lot of hardship in their new countries. There is a famous story about a park in Shanghai where “Chinese and dogs were not allowed.” Well, in England, until into the 1950’s，signs for jobs sometimes read, “Irish need not apply.” The emigrants often experienced discrimination but they formed many organizations to look after their fellow emigrants. Many of these organizations later became very important. In America, the Irish chose politics as the way forward and significant cities were controlled by Irish politicians. This movement reached its peak with the election of John F. Kennedy in 1960. His grandparents came from Ireland and his election had a significant impact in Ireland, helping the process of recovery of self-confidence which we have today. Today there are 70 million people of Irish descent living outside Ireland. In America alone there are 40 million people, and 10 million of these people have 100% Irish background. They carried the culture of their home country with them and adapted it to their new home. They made changes which would be unthinkable in the home country and we often laughed at the Yankees’ Irishness. In fact any emigrant who came back to live in Ireland, often after many years, found it very difficult to fit into Irish society again. They had been changed by the experience.
These emigrants have always had an interest in the “old country”. “The American letter” was a letter containing dollars sent back to one’s family. Riverdance itself was the idea of a dancer who was American who applied American methods to traditional dancing, and the fusion was immediately popular.
Modem Ireland has been able to use the disaster of the last two centuries to learn modem marketing techniques and apply them, without at the same time loosing what is distinctive about itself. Riverdance is a demonstration of that distinctiveness.
Listening Activity No. 11
Every year thousands of young people want to study in Great Britain. They come from a range of backgrounds and have varying expectations of what their study in the country will be like and how to apply to the university. Today I’d like to talk on universities and colleges in Britain. There are 45 universities, 30 polytechnics and about 1,000 major technical, commercial, education and art colleges in the UK. Last year, there were over 251,200 full-time students in universities, of whom almost 10% were from overseas, a total of nearly 276,350 students attending full-time courses in establishments of further education, and about 130,270 in colleges of education.
University first degree courses in arts and sciences are normally of three or four years’ duration and, with very few exceptions, students are not admitted for any shorter period of study. The academic year normally extends from October to June and is divided into three terms. Information about courses and entrance requirements should be obtained by writing direct to the university at least twelve months before the proposed date of admission. All applications for admission are dealt with by the Universities Central Council on Admissions (the UCCA) to which all candidates seeking admission to a full-time internal first degree course or a first diploma course of more than one year’s duration must apply. Full details of the admission procedure are to be found in the UCCA handbook How to Apply for Admission to a University. A copy of this handbook and the standard application form should be obtained from the UCCA at PO Box 28, Cheltenham, and Gloucestershire GL501HY. The application form must be returned to the UCCA by a stated closing date, usually in December (October for Oxford and Cambridge). The UCCA will continue to send application forms to universities for consideration at their discretion for a limited period after 15 December, but candidates are strongly advised to ensure that their application forms reach the UCCA by the stated closing date to help their chances of selection. Candidates who fail to obtain a place in the initial selection period are automatically put into the “Clearing House Scheme” in June/July when these candidates’ application forms are again sent to those universities which still have vacancies.
Students from the following countries should send their application forms to the UCCA via the Overseas Student Office of their own country in London: Bahamas, Brunei, Cyprus, Ghana, Guyana, India, Luxembourg, Singapore, Tanzania, Thailand and Uganda.
Graduates of a university in Britain or overseas who wish to take another first degree course should approach the university concerned to enquire whether it wishes them to apply direct or through the central UCCA scheme.
Now lefs turn to transfer. It is very rare for a student who has begun a first degree course at one university in Britain to transfer to another British university with a view to completing it there, and there is no provision for the automatic granting of “credit” for university studies already undertaken. Students who have already completed some university level study should make enquiries directly with the individual university.
To be considered for admission, a candidate must show that his earlier education has qualified him to enter the course and that he speaks, writes and understands English sufficiently well. The usual minimum qualifications for entry to a first degree course in a university are good passes in the General Certificate of Education, the British school-leaving examination一 either three passes at ordinary level and two advanced level or one at ordinary level and three at advanced level. A certificate which gives admission to a university in the candidate’s own country will be taken into consideration for admission to a British university, but a university may still require passes in some subjects of the GCE or an equivalent examination. It should be noted that possession of the minimum entrance requirements does not guarantee admission. Selection is competitive and each application is judged on its merits. The British Council offices overseas and the Schools Council, 160 Great Portland Street, London W1N 6LL, are prepared to offer advice on the acceptability of specific overseas qualifications in place of the British General Certificate of Education. A copy of the original certificate and where appropriate an approved translation should accompany all enquiries.
Listening Activity No. 12
Good morning and welcome to this talk on Canada. Many people think of Canada as a land of ice and snow. They think of it as a young country with few inhabitants, a country of English-speaking white people. While some of this is true, it is also an inaccurate description of the country we call Canada.
Canada lies in the northern half of the continent of North America. The most northern parts of Canada are sometimes called “ the land of the midnight sun”，because at certain times of the year the sun never sets and is still shining faintly at midnight. This northern part of Canada is cold and mostly snow-covered all year round.
Most of the people who live in this northern part of Canada are called Inuit or Dene—they were once called “Eskimos”. They are the original people of this land and are part of what are called the “First Nation”. As we move to the more southern parts of Canada, the land changes and so do the people. Moving from east to west in southern Canada we travel from the Atlantic provinces of Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. These small provinces, with small populations, border on the Atlantic Ocean. The land in these provinces is not very fertile so fishing, forestry and mining are the main industries, although in some small areas agriculture is also important. If we travel west from the Atlantic provinces, we come to central Canada composed of the large provinces of Quebec and Ontario. Both provinces are rich in natural resources, have fertile land and are the centres of industry for Canada’s largest cities; Toronto and Montreal are found in these provinces.
The province of Quebec is the centre of French language and culture in Canada. In fact, Montreal is the second largest French-speaking city in the world after Paris. Finally, in the far west of Canada we come to the province of British Columbia. This province is separated from the prairies by the Rocky Mountains and is bounded on the west by the Pacific Ocean. British Columbia is often called simply “the West Coast”. British Columbia is an attractive place for tourists because of its mild climate, spectacular mountains, seacoast and beautiful forests. Agriculture, forestry, shipping and fishing are major industries in British Columbia.
The people of this land of Canada are as varied as its lanscape. The original settlers, those we call the people of the first nations, came from Asia by crossing the Baring Strait from Siberia to Alaska. In their new environment they developed many new languages and cultures. In the 16th century the first Europeans arrived in eastern Canada. They came from Britain and France. By making treaties with the original inhabitants they gradually established colonies in eastern and central Canada. After a war with France, Britain took over the French colonies in Quebec and eastern Canada. By the end of the 18th century all of Canada was under British rule. From this time until the present century most of the immigrants to Canada were British, Scottish and Irish. In this century, however, Canada has had an influence of settlers from all over the world. There are now hundreds of thousands of people from Asia, Africa and South America who now call Canada their home.
Listening Activity No. 13
Tom: Kevin, could you tell me something about the bars? I have never been to a bar. You see, Steve, my classmate, has invited me to go to a bar tonight.
Kevin: I see. You know, the word “bar” means a room in a pub. We say the bar when we mean the part of that room where drinks are kept. Soon after you go into the pub, you’ll realize that nobody comes to the tables to take orders or money; instead, customers go to the bar to buy their drinks.
Tom: I see. People will go to the bar directly to get their drinks and don’t wait for someone to come to take their orders.
Kevin: That’s right. People don’t queue at the bar, but they do wait till it’s their turn.
Tom: Oh, how do I pay? I mean do I pay directly after I get the drink or do I have to wait till I am ready to leave like I do in a restaurant?
Kevin: It’s not the custom to pay for all your drinks when you’re ready to leave; instead, you pay at the bar each time you get drinks. It helps if you’re ready to pay as soon as you’re served, and you’ll notice that many people wait with their money in their hands.
Tom: I see. Do I have to give a tip?
Kevin: No, it’s not the custom to give a tip. It’s very common for friends to buy their drinks together in rounds. This means that each person takes a turn to buy drinks for everybody in the group. Ifs faster and easier, both for you and for the person serving if drinks are bought in this way. Naturally you don’t have to have a drink in each round if you don’t want one.
Tom: That’s interesting.
Kevin: When you’re looking for somewhere to sit, remember that people have to leave their seats to get drinks, etc.，so an empty seat may not in fact be available to you. If you’re not sure whether a seat is free, ask someone sitting near it. When ifs time for another drink, people usually take their glasses back to the bar to be filled again. If you’re leaving，the friendly thing to do is to take your glasses back to the bar, thank the person who’s been serving you, and say “goodbye” or “goodnight”.
Tom: Thank you, Kevin. This helps me a lot. By the way, what kinds of drinks are available in pubs?
Kevin: Well, you can get both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. Besides alcoholic drinks such as beer and wine, there is cider, which is made from apples, usually sold in bottles; port—a type of thick, sweet wine from Portugal; sherry, which is a type of wine from Spain; and spirits—these are a kind of strong alcoholic drinks such as whisky and brandy.
Tom: What about non-alcoholic? I don’t drink alcohol.
Kevin: Well, they offer all kinds of fruit juices, such as orange and tomato. These drinks are usually sold in small bottles. And soft drinks, we often call sweet drinks, like Coke and
Fanta. They are normally sold in small bottles or cans. And lemonade, which is a clear and sweet drink made with carbonated water. They also serve cordials.
Tom: What are cordials?
Kevin: Cordials are strong and sweet drinks tasting of fruit, such as lime cordial, black-currant cordial. They are often added to other drinks or drunk with water.
Tom: I don’t like sweet drinks. Are there any other non-alcoholic drinks?
Kevin: Yes, mineral water, but ifs not available in all pubs.
Tom: Kevin, one more question. What is VAT? I saw this on most goods in Britain.
Kevin: Well, VAT stands for Value Added Tax. The price shown on most goods in Britain includes a tax of 15%. If you use the Retail Export Scheme, this tax can be returned to you if you take the goods with you when you leave Britain. You may have to spend a certain sum of money before you qualify for the scheme, and you’ll have to show your passport. Ask in the shop if they operate the Retail Export Scheme. If they do, the shop assistant will explain how you can get the tax back and fill in a form with you. VAT is also charged on hotel and restaurant bills, theatre and cinema tickets and car hire.
Tom: Are these refundable?
Kevin: No, ifs not refundable in these cases.
Tom: Thank you very much. Fve really learned a lot.
Listening Activity No. 14
In English pubs, the food is usually plain but of good quality; in fact, to taste good, traditional English food, you would do well to visit a reputable pub. Many businessmen habitually have lunch in a pub near their office. In the country, the pub is often part of an inn where you can put up for the night.
The Englishman’s favourite drink is beer. There are three different methods of serving beer in Britain. As you’d expect, some beer is served in bottles. Beer that comes from a tap is called draught beer, and there are two different methods of serving it: Keg beer is served with modem method, which uses a gas called carbon dioxide, and traditional draught has no gas in it and a pump is used to pull the beer up the pipe and out of the tap. Keg beer is served colder than traditional draught. Ifs easier to look after, and some keg beers are sold almost everywhere in Britain. This means that you can always have exactly the same drink in any pub that sells a particular keg beer.
Traditional British beer is probably quite different from the beer in your country. It has no gas in it and ifs not served very cold, but this is not a mistake. Traditional beer drinkers will tell you that this allows you to taste the beer better. Traditional draught is not always looked after as well as it should be, but in a good pub—a traditional draught beer drinker will tell you—there can be no better drink.
There are a lot of different breweries (companies that make beer) in Britain, but they make the same types of beer and you can see them in the list below: Lager is the kind of beer that is common in many countries. Normally keg is served cold. Strong lager is often available in bottles. Bitter is the most popular kind of British beer. It tastes slightly bitter and can be keg or traditional draught. Most pubs have more than one kind. Guinness is a thick, almost black, bitter tasting Irish beer.
Pale ale is less strong and a bit sweeter than bitter, and often is keg. Mild is a fairly sweet beer, often dark, not as strong as bitter. It can be keg or traditional. It can not be found everywhere. Bottled beers are sometimes served cold. There are several kinds available, for example, light ale like pale ale. Brown ale is a brown, often rather sweet beer. Stout is a very dark beer.
Law regulates the pub’s opening times. Local variations are possible but usually a pub is open from half past eleven to three o’clock and from half past five to half past ten or eleven o’clock. Betting is forbidden in pubs. Children are not allowed on licensed premises, which may mean that father and mother cannot have a quiet drink together, if children are with them. In the old days when people drank too much and pubs were often rowdy, the law against children entering pubs was a wise one. Today, drunkenness is much less frequent than it was, say fifty years ago. It would be quite wrong to consider the average English pub as anything other than a respectable, friendly place that provides good drink, good food and a pleasant social atmosphere. Far too often the foreigner has read accounts of sordid nineteenth century drinking places, haunted by people whose one desire was to drink as much as they could afford as quickly as possible.
Listening Activity No. 15
In July 1956 a fleet of 21 sailing ships from 11 countries raced each other from Torbay in Devon to Lisbon. The ships had been converted from cargo-carrying to sail-training ships. However, their future seemed uncertain and the purpose of the gathering was to mark the passing of the age of the sail.
What happened instead was that the sailing ships refused to say goodbye and two years later they raced again and the fleet was even larger. It was then that the title “the Tall Ships” was given to them and the name remains today. The original organisers (the Sail-Training Ship International Race Committee, now called “the Sail-Training Association”）saw that a new international movement had begun—adventure training under sail.
As race succeeded race, it became clear that the events had more to do with bringing adventure and widening the horizons of young people than commemorating the passing of sail. Now sail-training ships began to be specially built and young people from all walks of life wanted to participate. Now, to compete, a vessel has to satisfy just three requirements. It has to
have a minimum waterline length of 9.09 metres, half its crew must be between the ages of 16 and 25, and its principal means of propulsion must be a sail.
Since 1972 the race has been sponsored by Cutty Sark Scots Whisky, and it has started to attract huge crowds of spectators. In 1984 more than 250,000 people lined the River Mersey in Liverpool to watch the fleet set off and in 1986 two million spectators joined Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth at Newcastle-upon-Tyne to watch the parade.
1989 was the year that the spectacular Cutty Sark Tall Ships’ Race started from London. A grand fleet of up to 100 vessels gathered on the River Thames near Tower Bridge on Tuesday, the 4th of July. The only thing that the racing yachts (ancient and modem) had in common was their young crews. Few were expert sailors, and the majorities were strangers to the sea and to each other. Between Tuesday, the 4th of July when the fleet began to assemble and Saturday, the 8th of July when the ships took part in a grand parade of sail down the River Thames, vessels were berthed on either side of Tower Bridge. Some were moored in the Pool of London, opposite the Tower of London, while others were moored to the east of Tower Bridge. Smaller vessels were accommodated in St. Katharine’s Dock. Many of the larger ships were open to the public.
It was an amazing and historic spectacle as the ships sailed slowly up the River Thames.
Listening Activity No. 16
May I wish you a very warm welcome to Ealing College and, more especially, to the Student Union. The Student Union is run by four sabbatical officers, of which I am one. As the president, I am charged with the overall day-to-day running of the Union itself, according to established policies within the Constitution. We also have a brilliant staff team who help us and you’ll meet them when you have five minutes to drop in and see us.
Last year’s sabbatical team and staff worked very hard and they overcame many obstacles and teething problems. This year, our aims as a team will be to consolidate on what has already been achieved and to secure the future of the Union.
With the new post of Vice-president of Social and Communications, our main emphasis will be on communications within the College, which has always proved a problem in the past, but one which we hope to improve upon this year. One way will be with the regular publication of a Student Union magazine.
We are very aware that a lot of you have never had any contact with Student Unions before and don’t know what they are or what they can do for you. So basically, here’s a quick rundown. If you have any problems at all, either when you start college or throughout your time here, don’t hesitate to drop in the SU office in the North Building and see Pat, our office assistant. She will be able to help you with most of your day-to-day general enquiries, or if she can’t, she will direct you to one of our staff who can.
Myself and the other three vice presidents are here every day, and if you need to see us, just fix a time with Pat and we’ll be only too happy to help you. Please remember while you’re at Ealing that going to college is not just about education. Make sure you enjoy yourself as well because, believe me, time will fly once you’re here.
Ealing is a really good place to live as there are lots to see and do, and don’t forget the Metropolis of Central London is only twenty minutes away by tube. Finally, the Student Union is an organization run by students for students, so if there is anything you don’t agree with or you have any new ideas, please come along to the Union General Meetings and don’t be afraid to speak up.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the sabbaticals of the last two years who have worked so hard. I wish you lots of luck and success for your year at Ealing! Work hard, but play hard as well.
Listening Activity No. 17
Well, last week we talked about American education and today I’m going to discuss American values, characteristics, personal habits and courtesies. Keep in mind as you are listening to this lecture that your goal is to understand, not to emulate or judge. Just briefly, Fd like to mention that there is remarkable ethnic diversity in the United States. The population of the USA is about 260 million, 73% of the American population is White, 12% is African American, 8% Hispanic, 3% Asian or Pacific Islanders, and less than 1% American Indian or Eskimo. Many Americans resent generalizations being made about them because Americans see themselves as very unique and individualistic. On the other hand, Americans tend to lump foreigners together into one lot and condescendingly view foreigners as people who are not as intelligent or sensible as Americans. Despite Americans’ dislike of generalizations and their ethnocentric point of view, it becomes evident that they are indeed “American”. Americans value individualism, independence, informality, directness, punctuality, achievement and competition.
Individualism is probably the most highly esteemed value in the American culture and an important key to understanding American behaviour. In the historical development of the country, individuality was crucial for survival. If you asked Americans to characterize the ideal person, they would probably use adjectives such as ‘‘autonomous’’，“independent” and “self-reliant”. Persons tend to be viewed as individuals rather than as representatives of a family or a group. Here are some examples of how this value affects behaviours:
1. If a group of friends go to a restaurant, everyone “wants to pay their own way”. In other words, they want to have separate checks and not be someone’s guest.
2. In friendships, which seem to initially develop more quickly in the U.S. than in other cultures, the Americans may feel uncomfortable if you give them more help than they need. This is a tendency to draw back and see dependency as weakness.
In some ways the stress on the individual rather than the family or group has led to a more informal society. Sometimes this lack of formality is viewed by members of other cultures as a sign of lack of respect, but that is not the intention in the American value system. This informality is even more predominant on the university campus than in other segments of society. Some ways in which you might see this value expressed in behaviours are:
1. You will generally be on a first name basis with other students, in spite of any age differences.
2. Dress is very informal on campus.
3. Language is informal and sometimes confusing. Phrases like “See you later” and “Drop by any time” are not meant literally. They are informal ways of saying goodbye.
Americans are direct—honesty and frankness are more important to Americans than “saving face”. They may bring up impolite conversation topics which you may find embarrassing, too controversial or even offensive. Americans are quick to get to the point and do not spend much time on formal social amenities. This directness encourages Americans to talk over disagreements and to try to patch up misunderstandings themselves rather than ask a third party to mediate disputes.
It is particularly interesting to see what behaviours have culturally become associated with straightforwardness:
1. A firm handshake somehow has come to be interpreted as a sign of sincerity.
2. Looking at a person when you speak to him or her gives an indication of honesty.
3. In a question of honesty versus politeness, honesty wins. It is considered better to refuse graciously than to accept an invitation and not go.
4. You will be taken at your word. If you refuse food the first time it is offered (to be polite), it may not be offered again. An American will not know that your initial refusal is politeness.
Great value is attached to time in the U.S. Punctuality is considered an important attribute. As with all values, there are different rules of acceptability in different cultures. In the U.S., you should be present for school or business appointments at the exact time agreed upon. In social appointments you can arrive 10-15 minutes after the agreed-upon time without giving offense. If you are invited somewhere for dinner and are more than 15 minutes late, you will need to offer an apology and an explanation. A phone call explaining you have been detained and will be late will save face for you and patience for the other person.
Americans also value achievement and competition. The American style of friendly joking or banter of “getting the last word in” and the quick and witty reply are subtle forms of competition. Although such behaviour is natural to Americans, you may find it overbearing or disagreeable. Americans are obsessed with records of achievement in sports, and sports awards are often displayed in their homes. Also, sometimes books and movies are judged not so much on quality but on how many copies are sold or on how many dollars of profit are realized.
Listening Activity No. 18
Many typically “American” characteristics—individualism, self-reliance, informality, punctuality and directness一are a result of those values mentioned earlier. Other “national traits” could also be identified, however.
1. Americans cooperate—Although often competitive, Americans also have a good sense of “teamwork” and cooperate with others to achieve a goal.
2. Americans are friendly, but in their own way. In general, friendships among Americans tend to be shorter and more casual than friendships among people from other cultures. This has something to do with American mobility and the fact that Americans do not like to be dependent on other people. Americans also tend to compartmentalize friendships—having friends at work, family friends, friends on the softball team, etc.
3. Americans ask a lot of questions, some of which may to you seem pointless, uninformed or elementary; someone you have just met may ask you very personal questions. No impertinence is intended; the questions usually grow out of a genuine interest.
4. Americans tend to be internationally naive—Many Americans are not very knowledgeable about international geography or world affairs. They may ask uninformed questions about current events and may display ignorance of world geography. Because the U.S. is not surrounded by many other nations, some Americans tend to ignore the world.
5. Silence makes Americans nervous. Americans are not comfortable with silence. They would rather talk about the weather than deal with silence in a conversation.
6. Americans are open and usually eager to explain. If you do not understand certain behaviour or want to know “what makes Americans tick,” do not hesitate to ask questions.
Just as values and traits differ somewhat from one culture to another, so do the personal habits associated with good manners and courtesy. While very often there does not seem to be any particular reason why a particular way of doing something is considered good manners, observing these cultural rules will make Americans more comfortable with you and therefore you with them. It is, of course, impossible to cover all the possibilities here. If you are unsure in a situation, just ask—Americans like to be helpful.
1. Queuing up or lining up is essential. Courtesy requires that you do not push from behind, stand next to the person being helped or cut into a line. If you should accidentally bump someone, you should say, “Excuse me.”
2. Americans blow their noses into a tissue. Spitting, clearing phlegm or sniffing as from a cold are considered rude.
3. It is considered poor manners to slurp, chew noisily or open your mouth while chewing.
4. Questions are seen as a good way of getting acquainted, but questions about a person’s age, financial affairs, cost of clothing or personal belongings, religious affiliations and sex life are considered too personal for questioning except between very close friends.
5. Men generally do not hold hands or link arms in public with other men. This is somewhat more acceptable between women and quite common between men and women.
Now, a few words about personal safety. Unfortunately, in the U.S. one must be aware of crimes. It is wise to be especially careful until you are familiar with the community in which you live. Remember that good judgement and common sense can significantly reduce chances of having an unpleasant and perhaps harmful experience. Basic safety rules include the following:
1. Do not walk alone at night.
2. When you leave your room, apartment, or automobile, make sure that all doors are locked and all windows are secured.
3. Do not carry too much cash or wear jewelry of great value.
4. Never accept a ride from a stranger. Do not hitchhike and do not pick up hitchhikers.
5. Be careful of purses and wallets, especially in crowded metropolitan areas, where there may be purse-snatchers and pickpockets.
6. If a robber threatens you, at home or on the street, try not to resist unless you feel that your life is in danger and you must fight or run away. Give up your valuables as calmly as you can and observe as much as possible about the robber to tell the police when you report the crime.
A final note: Keep an open mind. Don’t judge what you see as right or wrong, but make it a challenge to try to understand the variety of American behaviours which you may observe. You certainly do not have to participate in something you disagree with, but you can try to understand it. This will help you build an attitude of intelligent and liberated respect for cultures, both your own and others…
Listening Activity No. 19
John F. Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln lived in different times and had very different family and educational backgrounds. Kennedy lived in the 20th century, while Lincoln lived in the 19th century. Kennedy was born in 1917, whereas Lincoln was born more than 100 years earlier, in 1809. As for their family backgrounds, Kennedy came from a rich family, but Lincoln’s family was not wealthy. Because Kennedy came from a wealthy family, he was able to attend expensive private schools. He graduated from Harvard University. Lincoln, on the other hand, had only one year of formal schooling. In spite of his lack of formal schooling, he became a well-known lawyer. He taught himself law by reading law books. Lincoln was, in other words, a self-educated man.
In spite of these differences in Kennedy and Lincoln’s backgrounds, some interesting similarities between the two men are evident. In fact, many books have been written about the strange coincidences in the lives of these two men. For example, take their political careers. Lincoln began his political career as a U.S. congressman. Similarly, Kennedy also began his
political career as a congressman. Lincoln was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1847; Kennedy was elected to the House in 1947. They went to the Congress just 100 years apart. Another interesting coincidence is that each man was elected president of the United States in a year ending with the number 60. Lincoln was elected President in 1860, and Kennedy was elected in 1960. Furthermore, both men were President during years of civil unrest in the country. Lincoln was President during the American Civil War. During Kennedy’s term of office civil unrest took the form of civil rights demonstrations.
Another striking similarity between the two men was that, as you probably know, neither lived to complete his term in office. Lincoln and Kennedy were both assassinated while in office. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, after only 1,000 days in office. Lincoln was assassinated in 1865, a few days after the end of the American Civil War. It is rather curious to note that both presidents were shot while they were sitting next to their wives.
These are only a few examples of the uncanny and unusual similarities between the destinies of these two American men who had a tremendous impact on the social and political life of the United States and the imagination of the American people.
Listening Activity No. 20
The American Civil War was fought over 140 years ago. It began in 1861 and lasted until 1865. The American Civil War resulted in the death of 800,000 Americans. What caused this terrible civil war between the North and the South?
Well, historians believe that there were many causes of the war. One of the important causes of the war was the friction between the North and the South over the issue of slavery. The southern way of life and the southern economy were based on the use of slave labour. For almost 250 years before the Civil War, the economy of the South depended on the use of black slaves. The slaves were used to plant and pick cotton and tobacco. Cotton and tobacco were the main crops grown in the South. Most Southerners did not think it was wrong to own, buy, or sell black slaves like farm animals. Slavery was, in fact, the foundation of the entire economy and way of life in the South. This was not the situation in the North. The northern economy did not depend on the use of slave labour. Why not?
Well, in the South, there were many large cotton plantations that used hundreds of black slaves. In the North, however, there were smaller farms. The northern farmers planted many different kinds of crops, not just cotton or tobacco. The Northerners did not need slaves since their farms were smaller than most of the southern plantations. In fact, many Northerners were so opposed to slavery that they wanted to end slavery completely. The northern attitude against slavery made the Southerners angry. So, for many years before the war there was constant friction between the North and the South over this issue. This friction eventually led to war.
There was other friction, too, as I said before, between the North and the South. There
were, in other words, other causes of conflict between the North and the South. One involved the growth of industry in the North. While the South remained an agricultural area, the North became more and more industrialized. As industry increased in the North, it brought more people and greater wealth to the northern states. As a result, many Southerners began to fear northern political and economic domination. Because of this fear, many Southerners believed that the South should leave the Union and that they should form their own country.
In 1860, the Southerners decided it was time to leave the Union when Abraham Lincoln became President of the United States. Lincoln, as you may know, was against slavery. The people of the South were afraid that their way of life and their economic system were in danger with Lincoln in the presidency.
Consequently, the southern states decided to secede from the Union. In other words, they wanted to break away from the North and form a separate country. In 1861, South Carolina seceded, and by June of 1861 eleven southern states had seceded and established a new country. They called the new country the Confederate States of America. The war between the North and the South began when the southern states seceded from the Union. The main reason that the North went to war against the South was to bring the southern states back into the Union. In other words, the North went to war to keep the United States one country.
After 4 years of terrible fighting, the North won the war against the South, and the United States remained one country. The North won the war mainly because of its economic and industrial strength and power.
The Civil War had two important results for the United States: (1) the Civil War preserved the United States as one country, and (2) it ended slavery in the United States. Many Americans wonder what the United States would be like today if the South had won the Civil War. The history of the United States would have been very different if the South had won the war between the States.