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1. How it all began
A. Do you know how many people there are who speak English? It’s quite a number! The exact figure is impossible to tell, but it is around 400 million people. Geographically, English is the most widespread language on earth, and it is second only to Chinese in the number of people who speak it. It is spoken in the British Isles, the USA, Australia, New Zealand and much of Canada and South Africa. English is also a second language of another 300 million people living in more than 60 countries.
B. In Shakespeare’s time only a few million people spoke English. All of them lived in what is now Great Britain. But as a result of various historical events English spread all over the world. For example, five hundred years ago people didn’t speak English in North America: the American Indians had their own languages. So did the Eskimos in Canada, the aborigines in Australia, and the Maoris in New Zealand. The English arrived and set up their colonies… Today, English is represented in every continent and in the three main oceans — the Atlantic, the Indian and the Pacific.
C. English is mixing with and marrying other languages around the world. It is probably the greatest borrower. Words newly created or in fashion in one language are very often added to English as well. There are words from 120 languages in its vocabulary, including Arabic, French, German, Greek, Italian, Russian, and Spanish.
D. A century ago, some linguists predicted that one day England, America, Australia and Canada would be speaking different languages. But with the arrival of records, cinema, radio, and television, the two brands of English have begun to draw back together again. Britons and Americans probably speak more alike today than they did 50 or 60 years ago. (In the 1930s and 1940s, for example, American films were dubbed in England. It’s no longer the practice today.) Canadian English, Australian English, South African English, and many other ‘Englishes’ around the world are coming to resemble one another.
E. People have long been interested in having one language that could be spoken throughout the world. Such a language would help to increase cultural and economic ties and make communication between people easier. Through the years, at least, 600 languages have been proposed, including Esperanto. About 10 million people have learned Esperanto since its creation in 1887, but English, according to specialists, has better chances to become a global language.
F. For linguists across the continent, the 26th of September is a time of celebration-it is the European Day of Languages. The aim of the day is to focus on encouraging people to start learning a language. They take part in events celebrating learning and speaking other languages and consider the benefits that language learning can bring.
G. The suggestion: ‘Languages are learned, they are not taught’ is very productive. A new term ‘self-access work’ is not homework, it is class work; another one is do-it-yourself. So, it is the person who learns, the teacher who only helps, assists, trains learners to be more responsible, motivates, involves everybody into the learning process, encourages them to speak and promotes discussions.
A – 4
B – 1
C – 5
D – 2
E – 6
F – 7
G – 3