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2009-12-09 11:35BBC中文Qzone



  A few years ago I read a very touching article in a magazine. (I think it was by the well-known sinologist Simon Winchester, but I might be wrong.) The article was about a trip he had made deep into rural China many years before. On this trip he didn't meet anyone who could speak English and some people had never seen Europeans before.
  几年前我在一本杂志上读到了一篇非常感人的文章。(我记得是那个著名的汉学家Simon Winchester写的,但我也不太确定。)文章讲述了多年前,他到中国偏远地区的一趟旅程。在旅途中,他没有碰到任何一个会英语的人。很多百姓,甚至从来都没有见过一个欧洲人。

  Then one day this sinologist got off a train at a very isolated spot, and a beautiful young Chinese woman approached him and began to speak in fluent English about great English writers: Austen, Dickens, the Brontes, Swift, Shakespeare. She had taught herself to read English over many years and was desperate for an outlet(出路,使用英语的机会).

  After this brief encounter, the writer of this article and the young woman wrote to each other for many years before losing touch. It was impossible for them to be together: she was already married.

  I'm telling you this story because I want to show that it is possible to become really good at a language without being able to practise it with native speakers every day. However, I do also think that this young woman must have had a really astonishing natural ability for language – something most of us don't have.

  Somebody who does have an such an ability is my colleague here at the BBC, Feifei Feng. Feifei arrived in England speaking near-perfect English and is one of the most impressive language learners I know. She seems the person best-placed to answer your question. So here are her tips:

  Learn how to think in English. This is undoubtedly the best way to improve your fluency. When you are thinking about a topic, try to make English sentences in your head. This will also make you aware of what vocabulary you still need to learn in order to express yourself.

  You also need to work very hard on your pronunciation. Unlike the young Chinese woman in the story above, you have access to lots of recordings of native English speakers. Go to our website – bbcukchina.com. We have downloadable audio programmes and we make the scripts available. Use your pause button and repeat sentences that you hear, trying to match the pronunciation. If you prefer movies, watch DVDs. This will improve your listening ability too. The message is: expose yourself (给自己接触某事的机会)to as much audio of native English speakers as possible.

  I would also add something to Feifei's advice. I don't think it's a coincidence that in the story I tell above, the young lady loved to read books. I think that reading can do wonders for (对...产生奇效) your vocabulary and also for your grammar and fluency since books are, after all, full of examples of perfect English sentences. Instead of interacting with English speakers, do the next best thing: interact with English-language books, radio programmes and films.

  But you should also try hard to meet English speakers, and remember that this doesn't need to be face-to-face. It's great that all of you come to this blog but remember that there are thousands of other English language blogs too. Maybe it’s time to try out your English skills in 'public'?!

  One last thought. Some of my friends work out in the gym. They put a lot of time and energy into developing amazing muscles. I have to say I've never really understood that. Just by leading my normal life, my body develops all the muscles it needs. (It doesn't need many – I have a very sedentary lifestyle!) So, I ask my friends, if you don't need muscles, why go to the gym?

  If you really don't have any contact with English speakers, why learn English?

  I'll leave you with that question.

  Have a great weekend 周末愉快


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