Monday, September 29, 2008

Learn English

Let me introduce you to a sentence that changed my life:
A friend of mine came round the other evening and it took me ages to get rid of him.
I am sad that I cannot acknowledge the author of this sentence - I think his name was Robin - but I remember vividly the lecture in which he introduced it, many many years ago at an ARELS teacher training weekend at the Bell School in Cambridge.
That was in the late sixties when Frank Bell was still in charge. A colossus, long gone to his rest, bless him.
Robin's point was to give students sentences to memorise which contained a richesse of useful constructions.
Let us now deconstruct the sentece.
A friend of mine
Not "my friend",which sounds too intimate, but just one of my circle of friends.
came round
Oh my, the problem that foreign learners have with phrasal verbs.!
it took me ages
Lovely idiomatic phrase, begging to be learned by heart.
get rid of him
Another idiomatic phrase that you have to learn by heart.

I copied this idea and gave my students ten crazy sentences on each Friday to memorise over the weekend. Even today, god willing, there are geriatric Swiss guys and gals stll coming out with a slather of English idioms and phrases, thanks to Robin, or whatever his name was, and my enthusiastic adoption of his idea.

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