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Language learning 学习外语的重要性

有些人觉得学外语这件事既有趣又实用。但一项研究发现,目前正在学习外语的英国中学生人数与本世纪初相比下降了 45%,导致这一变化的因素有哪些?青少年的外语水平是否会影响他们的国际竞争力?在英国,哪几门外语的热度近年来有明显的提升?本集内容通过讲述因学习外语而获益的几个真人真事,分析外语学习的重要性。

Vocabulary: languages 词汇: 语言

As you probably know, learning a foreign language is sometimes challenging. But it can also be fun. We spend hundreds of hours at school trying to get our tongues round different vocabulary and grammar in order to earn a qualification. But learning to speak a second language is more than just passing an exam – it opens doors to new opportunities, helps you to communicate with others and makes travelling overseas more fulfilling.

It might come as a surprise that, according to research by the BBC, the number of teenagers learning foreign languages in UK secondary schools has dropped by 45% since the turn of the millennium. German and French have fallen the most. While these languages from two of the UK's closest trading partners have declined at GCSE level, there has been a noticeable surge in some others, such as Spanish and Mandarin.

Another survey of secondary schools suggests a third of students have dropped at least one language from their GCSE exam options. There are many reasons for this, including a perception by some students that languages are difficult. Getting to grips with the lingo of another country can certainly be a challenge and some pupils think 'Why bother?' when English is spoken by hundreds of millions of people worldwide. Others have questioned the need for a second language when translation technology is advancing.

Matthew Fell, chief UK policy director for business group the CBI, has told the BBC that "The decline in language learning in schools must be reversed, or else the UK will be less competitive globally and young people less prepared for the modern world." But even for those who are keen to study another language, the opportunity is being reduced. In Scotland, for example, foreign language subjects are being squeezed out of many secondary school timetables with some head teachers blaming pressure on the curriculum.

However, some native English speakers have told the BBC about the benefits of speaking another tongue. Cassandra Scott, from Edinburgh, studied three languages in her final year at school. She is now a freelance translator in Edinburgh, and says "Learning languages at school really set the course for my career."

词汇表

foreign language 外语
get your tongue round something “舌头转过弯来”,正确发出…音
vocabulary 词汇
grammar 语法
qualification 资格证书,文凭
second language 第二语言
open doors to something 为(新事物)敞开大门,使…成为可能
German 德语
French 法语
Spanish 西班牙语
Mandarin 普通话
get to grips with 理解,掌握
lingo 外语
translation 翻译
foreign language subject 外语学科
curriculum 全部课程
native English speaker 英语为母语者
tongue 语言
translator 译者,翻译家
set the course for 为…指明方向
career 职业

测验与练习

1. 阅读课文并回答问题。

1. Which languages have seen the biggest decline in British students learning them?

2. True or false? Some students think translation technology can replace the need for learning another language.

3. What is suggested in the article about the effects on global business if we don't learn to speak other languages?

4. Why might it be considered a surprise that the numbers of students learning French and German has declined so much?

5. Which word used in the article means needing a lot of effort to be done successfully?

2. 请在不参考课文的情况下完成下列练习。选择一个意思合适的单词填入句子的空格处。

1. Having a degree in Economics certainly ________ to jobs in the banking sector.

opening doors         opened door                   opens doors           door opens

2. I thought my Italian penfriend said she was building a house, not moving house! Her message must have got lost in _________.

translator                 tongue                           translation             grammar

3. My son has chosen to study three _________ at school so he can eventually get a job as a translator at the UN!

languages                Spanish                         qualifications          curriculum

4. I just can't _________ this new computer software, I'm going to have to phone IT support.

got to grips with       get too gripped with       get to grip with       get to grips with

5. Although I speak Russian with my wife and her family, my mother ________ is actually English.

tongue                     lingo                              German                  translator

答案

1. 阅读课文并回答问题。

1. Which languages have seen the biggest decline in British students learning them?
In the UK, the number of teenagers learning foreign languages in UK secondary schools has dropped by 45% since the turn of the millennium, with German and French falling the most.

2. True or false? Some students think translation technology can replace the need for learning another language.
True. The article says some students have questioned the need for a second language when translation technology is advancing.

3. What is suggested in the article about the effects on global business if we don't learn to speak other languages?
Matthew Fell, chief UK policy director for business group the CBI has told the BBC that "The decline in language learning in schools must be reversed, or else the UK will be less competitive globally."

4. Why might it be considered a surprise that the numbers of students learning French and German has declined so much?
These are the languages spoken in two of the UK's closest trading partners.

5. Which word used in the article means needing a lot of effort to be done successfully?
Challenge. "Getting to grips with the lingo of another country can certainly be a challenge."

2. 请在不参考课文的情况下完成下列练习。选择一个意思合适的单词填入句子的空格处。

1. Having a degree in Economics certainly opens doors to jobs in the banking sector.

2. I thought my Italian penfriend said she was building a house, not moving house! Her message must have got lost in translation.

3. My son has chosen to study three languages at school so he can eventually get a job as a translator at the UN!

4. I just can't get to grips with this new computer software, I'm going to have to phone IT support.

5. Although I speak Russian with my wife and her family, my mother tongue is actually English.


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