1. Read a selection of letters from a problem page in an International English Language magazine.
I study English for 6 hours per week in secondary school. For 1 hour each week we have conversation classes with a native speaker of English where we talk about topics such as drugs, politics and culture. I know it's a really good opportunity to practise my spoken English, but I never make a contribution to the discussion. It's not that I don't have an opinion, or that I'm shy, but more that I don't have the vocabulary to express my views. I feel really frustrated at the end of the lesson. Nobody else in the group seems to have the same problem.
I'm a 24-year-old business student from Malaysia and I've been attending English classes at night school for the past 5 years. Up to now I've considered myself to be a good student. Last month I went to Britain to visit my relatives over there and it was awful. People found my pronunciation difficult to follow and I couldn't understand them either. What went wrong? My English teacher is very good and I always score the highest in grammar tests.
I'm writing to ask your opinion on a matter which is really annoying me. My English teacher never corrects my mistakes when I am speaking. Isn't that her job? How am I going to improve otherwise? Also she's always telling me that now I'm an advanced student, I should forget all the rules of grammar that I learnt when I was younger.
Can you help me? I really want to speak English the right way, with the correct accent. Do you have any good ideas? I have a particular problem with sounds like 's'. I plan to work in the UK in the future and nobody will take me seriously if my English pronunciation is anything short of excellent.
I am working as an au pair in London looking after 2 small children. I love my job but the way that English people speak is a little puzzling. For example, I often hear them say things like 'more friendlier', whereas I thought it should be 'more friendly'. It also seems to be common for them to say 'we was' instead of 'we were'. Can you explain this? Would it be impolite of me to correct them?
I am an intermediate student of English (I have been studying it for 3 years). I'm quite good at reading and writing but listening is very difficult for me. My teacher suggested that I listen to the BBC World Service every day in order to improve my listening. The problem is that it's hard for me to understand every word. Do you have any ideas about how to make listening to the radio less difficult? I like listening to the news and knowing what's going on in the world.
I have studied English for 5 years at school but for the past 6 months I have been doing self-study using the Internet and books to improve. There are lots of materials to choose but I'm not sure what is best for me and how I should use them. I really would like to take the FCE examination but don't know how to study on my own. Should I take a course in my local school – which is a little expensive for me now – or is it possible to prepare for the exam doing self-study?
Could you please give me some advice on a problem I have at the moment with my English studies. I decided to go to the UK to improve my English but the college I am studying in at present is full of people from my own country. Although the teachers tell us we should only try to speak in English with each other, it is very difficult to do this, especially in our free time when we go out together. I am worried that my speaking will not improve.
2. Choose from the people (A – H). Write the letter next to each extract on the right. The people may be chosen more than once.
1. would appear not to have an English teacher?
2. doesn't like studying with people from their own country?
3. has a job in the UK?
4. enjoys keeping up with current affairs?
5. feels that the teacher isn't doing their job properly?
6. uses English speaking radio stations to practise English?
7. had a shock when they visited Britain?
8. wants to avoid speaking their own language?
9. wants to speak English like a native speaker?
10. feels they are the only person with their difficulty?
11. wonders whether it is rude to correct people when they make mistakes?
12. worries that their English will cause them problems at work?
13. had difficulty being understood when they spoke?
14. is thinking about taking an English exam?
15. finds it difficult to take part in conversations?