Once you realise that no method of language teaching is going to give you the ability to speak a foreign tongue to business standards in a few weeks, the selection of a system of teaching becomes a simple calculation of time, money and need.

There are three levels of language ability – tourist, social and fluent – and the gaps between them are huge. Most of us are aware that the schoolboy German that gets us into hotels and through supermarkets is not sufficient to keep up a pleasant dinner party conversation. Similarly, the ability to join in such a conversation, which is about as much as most of us could hope to achieve, is a long way from a full intelligent grasp of the language and its culture.

For a quick introduction to the basics, I prefer the cassette/book system. Language books alone cannot offer the necessary pronunciation skills, skills which you are going to need in order to understand, for example, the train announcements on the Moscow underground. Cassettes, however, have proved a great aid for the language student.

Learning a language
Learning another language is like becoming another person

The essential requirement when learning a language, even at that level, remains effort. The more willingness the student brings to the task, the easier the course will be. For European languages that effort comes a little easier.

The Londoner learning French or the Parisian learning English can readily find newspapers, radio stations and restaurants where the language is used and can thus become familiar with that culture before his visit. If the tongue is to be Tamil or Serbo-Croat, the task is a little more difficult. With languages such as French and German, it is also possible to listen to, or record, the BBC Schools programmes, which are always helpful.

There is no question, however, that the best teaching, and obviously the most expensive, is in the classroom, the very best being a one-to-one teaching basis,that is, private tutoring. For this, you will be paying a few hundred pounds per week and it is important to check carefully on the chosen place of learning. Language teaching attracts some dishonest establishments. Watch out for the school that promises an ability to ‘reach the moon’ after a couple of hours in the language lab!

Learning a foreign language
One language Vs Two Languages

These two letters appeared in a radio and TV magazine.

Last Saturday I watched the TV programme on the latest Grand Prix motor race and noticed how much advertising there was. In particular, the leading car (and the one that eventually won) was almost constantly on the screen: it was painted to look like a packet of well-known cigarettes. Not only that, but the car was, on more than one occasion, referred to by the reporter not by the name of the driver or the motor company, but by the name of the product.
Since the football team that I support is not allowed to wear shirts advertising anything when their matches are being televised, isn’t this a case of ‘double standards’? The rule preventing sportsmen and sportswomen from carrying advertisements on television is a good one. Keep it and enforce it. To take one example, what is the effect, I wonder, on the young and old, of the apparent connection between cigarette smoking and an exciting sport like motor-racing? L.H. Gray

What a ridiculous situation our television companies find themselves in with regard to sports and advertising!
I watched a televised football match in which the players did not carry any advertisements on their shirts, and yet there was advertising all around. (Do the TV producers think we viewers are blind or something?) And when a well-known international player was interviewed after the match, both he and the interviewer referred by name to the cosmetics firm that finances the team! And as if that were not enough, the sports item that followed was the National Bank Golf Tournament.
Advertising is all around us every day. Long live advertising, I say, and let the television companies recognise it and allow football players, athletes, racing drivers and others to wear sponsors’ advertisements. At least we would all know where we were! (Mrs.) R.P. Laing, Bristol


Mark the best choice.
1. L.H. Gray would like to see .

a) advertising banned from televised sport

b) smoking made illegal

c) more programs on motor racing

d) less sport on TV

2. Mrs. Laing believes that .

a) sportsmen on TV should be allowed to have advertisments on their clothes

b) advertising cigarettes should be banned at football matches

c) advertising on TV should be forbidden

d) golf tournaments should not be financed by banks

3. Which of the following do both L.H. Gray and Mrs. Laing agree on?

a) Sportsmen should be allowed to advertise on TV.

b) TV sports should allow advertising except for drink and cigarettes.

c) TV companies must get rid of their ‘double’ standards.

d) Reporters should be allowed to advertise.

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