Basic Course in English

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Complete Guide to Basic English

Let us be clear at the start what Basic English is and what is the purpose of this course. It is a highly compact and serviceable unit of the English language, in the sense that people may express themselves in it for a wide variety of purposes and that it already possesses an extensive literature. It is also a self-contained unit, a language in miniature. Moreover, since it is simple but not distorted English and since it selects for attention the most essential words, uses, and grammar, it is the best foundation for any wider study of the language.

For a foreigner bent on complete mastery of English, the sky's the limit ; a lifetime may be spent in studying its finer points. But the first step is to learn enough English to be able to express oneself in it freely and with confidence. Basic English achieves this limited objective with the greatest possible economy of time and effort.The selection is the outcome of a comprehensive and systematic survey of the language, which disclosed among other important facts that the numerous complex verbs of English could be covered with the help of sixteen simple operators and two auxiliaries. It is not based on statistics, nor is it merely a random collection of useful and common words. Each word has its place in the system because of the work it will do in combination with the rest. In this way alone has it been possible to produce an effective vocabulary of English within so small a compass.

The Purpose of the Course

Though the satisfactory presentation of Basic as a teaching system calls for an understanding of the nature of the material to be presented, there is no one prescribed method. Provided certain principles implied in the Basic approach are observed, the pattern of the lessons may be varied considerably to suit different types of student and different teaching conditions. It is not the purpose of this book to use Basic English as a means of teaching a smattering of the English language to the greatest possible number of students in the shortest possible time; nor does it aim at providing a method of instruction that can be applied universally, for such methods necessarily cater for the needs of the most handicapped at the expense of the rest. The present course provides for an important section of the better-equipped students. It has been planned with the adult - or more or less adult learner in mind - and is intended for those whose object is to make a thorough study of Basic English, either for use as an international language or as an introduction to wider English. It explores the resources of Basic as fully as is practicable within the limits of a single graded course, and does so with the help of some formal grammar. In its English form, naturally, the course can only be studied with the assistance of a teacher familiar with the student's mother-tongue: but, as the course title implies, the course is itself a teacher. Students working by themselves, however, should get a teacher or an English friend to correct their exercises and help them with pronunciation.

Teaching Procedure

The material of the course has been carefully organized for teaching purposes. Within the framework provided by the Steps, various teaching procedures may be followed. The teacher is advised to take advantage of this flexibility and to handle the lessons in whatever way best serves his particular purpose or suits his own individual style of teaching. He should take into account the size of his class (bearing in mind that in individual teaching a more thorough treatment is possible), the aptitude of his pupils, the time at his disposal, ... He should also consider whether an all-round knowledge of English is desired or whether special emphasis is to be placed on writing, speaking, or reading. It is assumed that an average class will be able to work through an average Step in an hour. It should be understood, however, that the Steps are convenient groupings of material rather than carefully proportioned lessons. Some Steps (for example, 17 and 24) are a great deal more heavily loaded than others, and at the teacher's discretion these should be spread over two lesson periods. If ability to write the language is the main object, the teacher should give frequent dictation from the reading text and the examples. With students whose chief aim is to speak English, a feature should be made of reading aloud, different members of the class being allotted different parts in the dialogues. Students who will have little opportunity to use English except for reading should be allowed to practice silent reading. Comprehension may be tested by asking them to translate passages into their own language. In this case, the teacher may think it unnecessary to refer to the reading notes except on major points or for phrases they have failed to understand. He should bear in mind, however, that this is likely to affect their performance in the exercises.

In conclusion, a few general suggestions may be offered. In Basic, only one sense of a word is introduced at a time. Therefore, in giving the foreign equivalents of the new vocabulary introduced in each Step, be careful to translate only the sense in which the word is first used, which will be its root use in the Basic system. All expansions of sense will be dealt with in the notes as they are encountered. Much of the exposition in the sections dealing with structure is very detailed. It should be adapted where necessary to the understanding of the students. In the reading Steps, the learner should first be encouraged to try to make sense of what he is reading. In Steps 36-45, the learner should be expected to study the Basic English notes by himself, though he may naturally need occasional help. Where practicable, students should be asked to revise each Step for homework, and to make notes on any points they have failed to understand, which should then be discussed with the teacher at the next lesson.