Wednesday, August 31, 2011
A Visit to England Part III
Chapter 15 ----Looking after English children--
It's Wednesday evening and Isaac is already in bed. Elisabeth is asking Rosa a lot of questions.
"You know where mom is."
"You know where daddy is."
"Where's your daddy?"
Rosa does not want to answer this question. Her father is dead, but what can she say to a small child with her bad English vocabulary?
"My daddy's in the sky?" Rosa answers.
"Is he a pilot?" Elisabeth asks.
Rosa does not want to continue this conversation.
"No, he isn't a pilot, but we're pilots and we're going to fly three times round the living room, out of the living room into the hall, up the stairs, along the landing (rellano), past your daddy's door, into your bedroom and you're going to land right on your bed."
"Where are you going to land?" Elisabeth wants to know.
"I've got to do many things before I land and you're going to help me. We're going to fly all the way to the bathroom. Then we're going to wash your airplane's face and clean all its little teeth."
"Don't be silly", Elisabeth says, "Aeroplanes don't have teeth!"
"Well, you have very nice teeth!" Rosa tells her. "First, we're going to brush them. Then, I’m going to land on your bed and tell you a story!"
"I don't want a story!" Elisabeth says. "I want to ask you another question!"
"But I want to read you a story." Rosa answers. "It's good for my English! You can correct my mistakes!"
"Mom and daddy don't make mistakes when they read me stories!"
"That's because English is their first language. My mom and I live in Spain and our first language is Spanish!"
"Why does your daddy live in the sky and what language does he speak?" asks Elisabeth.
Chapter 16 ----Practicing English in a Study Center---
Kevin Foster is responsible for the Study Centre where students come after their lessons. It's now Friday. Rosa and Arturo are coming to practice their English.
"Welcome to self-study!" Kevin says. He knows it's their first time.
"What can we do in the language laboratory?" Arturo asks.
"Some students like to listen and fill in information, but I think it's better to use the lab for speaking practice," Kevin replies.
"Yes, I need to practice my pronunciation!" Rosa says.
"Then try this cassette. It has all the English sounds which are difficult for Spanish speakers and some exercises on rhythm and stress. There's also a worksheet which you can take home," Kevin explains.
"Can I take the cassette home?" Rosa asks.
Kevin hates this question, but answers politely.
"No, I’m sorry!
"What other types of speaking practice can we do?" Arturo asks.
"Well, the grammar practice drills are very useful at your level. Some students write all their grammar in their workbooks very slowly. They never learn to speak correctly at normal speed. Some grammar drills are very boring, but this cassette presents the language in interesting situations."
"Is there a book?" Arturo wants to know.
"Yes, here it is," answers Kevin. "Use the book to find the place on the cassette, but then shut it. Use your ears and your memory. Then speak! Don't read the answers from the book."
"How many exercises should I do?" Arturo asks.
"It's best to repeat just one or two exercises every day. Record and play back your answers several times. Try to do better each time. When you get tired, do something different. Practice your conversation or test your vocabulary on one of the computers!"
Chapter 17 ----A visit to a London flat
Arturo's flat is in the attic of a tall house in Greenwich just south of the river Thames. It's now Friday evening and Arturo has a visitor. He is still with Rosa.
When they left the Study Centre, they stopped at a supermarket and bought food and drink for the evening meal. Then they went to Charing Cross Station and caught a train to Greenwich.
Arturo's kitchen is very small, but there is a gas cooker, a fridge, a sink and a table big enough for two people. Rosa takes the shopping out of the bag and puts it on the table. Then she turns on the oven.
"I hope you're hungry," she says, "because now I’m going to show you the quick way to make pizza. Mr. Frost taught me how to do it yesterday!"
Arturo is hungry, but he is not giving Rosa his full attention. He is reading a letter which he found when he arrived home. Rosa has got two pizza bases, four tomatoes, two mushrooms, 100 grams of ham and a small packet of Mozarella cheese. First, she cuts the vegetables and meat into small pieces and puts them on the pizza bases. Next, she adds the Italian cheese. She is going to bake the two pizzas in the gas oven. Suddenly, she hears music. "Who's singing?" she asks.
"Peggy Seeger!" Arturo answers. "The song's called The Housewife's Alphabet." The song is an A to Z of all the jobs which housewives have to do.
Rosa enjoys cooking, but she is happy that she doesn't have to look after Diana's children this weekend. The Frost family are spending the weekend with friends in Oxford so she will be alone in their house.
"The pizzas only need 15 minutes in the oven. Can you help me set the table?" she asks.
Arturo is a waiter so this is not a difficult job for him, but his face is very sad. Rosa sees that he is not happy.
"What's the matter, Arturo! Are all your family O.K.?"
"Yes, but my parents have some money problems. My father's lost his job. I have to return to Spain at the end of February."
Arturo is worried about his father, but he is sad about leaving England. It is difficult for middle-aged men to find new jobs. It is also difficult for young men to find new friends as beautiful as Rosa.
Chapter 18 ----A weekend in Brighton
It is Sunday morning in Kemptown, part of Central Brighton where there are many small hotels. It is still early and there are not many people on the streets. It is Rosa's first time in Brighton. Arturo knows the town well. Today he is her guide. They arrive in Madeira Drive and make their way down to the promenade. There is a small railway line which runs east along the sea front to Brighton Marina.
"This was the first electric railway in the world!" Arturo says. "Queen Victoria travelled on it over a hundred years ago. They open it later in the year when the weather's warmer."
"I need a second cup of coffee and some more breakfast! Do you think we can find a snack bar on Palace Pier?" she asks.
It is windy and a little cold on the sea front and Arturo has another idea.
"I'd like to take you to a vegetarian restaurant in Prince Albert Street.They bake their own bread and serve very good breakfasts!"
"Is it near here?" Rosa wants to know.
"Yes, it's in the old part of Brighton just north west of the pier. It's in the Lanes. These are small streets where fishermen lived many years ago. Brighton was once a small fishing village before it became a large tourist town."
Arturo takes Rosa's hand and they walk along the sea front past the Royal Albion Hotel towards Hove. After a little way, they turn right and enter Brighton's historic Lanes. Soon, they are sitting in a warm restaurant eating croissants and drinking fresh coffee.
"You're the guide! What are we going to do next?" Rosa asks.
"We're going to continue through the Lanes and then we're going to visit a big oriental palace!" Arturo answers. Rosa pretends to be surprised.
"An oriental palace in Brighton? Are you crazy?"
Arturo is sure that Rosa knows the palace. They both saw the Royal Pavilion just twelve hours ago on their night out in Brighton. Nobody can miss the Royal Pavilion at night. Bright coloured lights make it look grand and romantic.
"I’m not crazy. I’m only dreaming. I’m walking towards an oriental palace in England with a beautiful Mediterranean princess!"
Chapter 19 ----Working from home-------- INDEX | HOME
It’s Monday afternoon and Mr. Frost is asking Rosa about her weekend.
"Were you lonely all by yourself in the house while we were in Oxford?"
Rosa decides to tell him the truth.
"Actually, I spent Saturday and Sunday in Brighton with a friend."
Before they can finish the conversation, the door bell rings and Mr. Frost
leaves the room. There are two large boxes for him. He thanks the
delivery man who helps him carry the boxes to his office. Then he
returns to the living-room where Rosa and the children are waiting with
"Daddy, what have you got?" Elisabeth asks.
"Come and see!" is Mr. Frost’s answer.
They all go upstairs. The children do not often enter Mr. Frost’s office.
"This is daddy’s new toy." he says.
Rosa and Mr. Frost unpack the boxes and take out a very modern
The children watch them connect the monitor, keyboard and mouse to the
computer base. Finally, Mr. Frost plugs the machine in and presses the
ON / OFF button.
"This computer is very easy to use!" Rosa tells him. "All the software
is already on the hard disk."
Mr. Frost bought his old computer many years ago. He does not have
Rosa’s confidence in new technology.
"All the new software is already there," he says, "but all my work is
on these large floppy disks."
The old disks are too large for the new computer, but Rosa has the
answer to every problem.
"Why don’t you buy a small external disk drive for your old computer!"
she suggests. "Then you’ll be able to save all your data on small modern
disks and you’ll have two compatible computers!"
The two children enjoy the paint program on the new machine and fill the
screen with colour. But they are not interested in their daddy’s technical
problems. Mr. Frost is very impatient. He cannot wait to transfer his
customer database and translation programs onto the super new machine.
Chapter 20 ----A Spanish meal
Today Mr. Frost is a happy man. It is Friday afternoon, his wife is at home and his work is going well. He took Rosa’s advice and bought an external disk drive from a shop in Tottenham Court Road. All the programs and files he needs for his job are now on the hard disk of the new computer.
Rosa is happy too, but she is not working in the Study Centre of the
school. She is in the Frosts’ kitchen with Arturo. They are preparing a
Spanish meal for all the family and it is nearly ready.
Diana is relaxing in an armchair with a big pile of magazines. She enjoys
reading about food, health, fashion and the home.
Elisabeth and Isaac have their books, toys and games all over the living
room carpet. They are playing happily.
Arturo can set a table very quickly. He and Rosa work well together.
Soon the Frosts are sitting round the dinner table and are ready for the first course. They are guests in their own home.
"The table looks beautiful!" Diana says.
"Wait until you taste the food!" Rosa exclaims.
The first course is gazpacho, a cold vegetable soup made with tomatoes,
green peppers, olive oil, salt and bread.
"The recipe is from the south of Spain. We usually eat it in the summer,
but Rosa likes it very much!" Arturo explains. Rosa looks a little worried.
"Don’t give Isaac too much!" she warns. "We put a lot of peppers and olive oil in it. The next course will be better for the children!"
"Yum! Yum!" Elisabeth says. She does not want to miss any of the Spanish meal. Rosa gets the next course quickly and serves the children.
"What’s that?" asks Elisabeth.
"It’s a special type of potato omelette," Arturo answers. "It’s called a tortilla."
The two children enjoy eating the tortilla. Elisabeth is ready for everything that Rosa and Arturo can serve. But the other members of the Frost family are full before the main course arrives. The final recipe
contains chicken, rabbit, rice, grated tomatoes, green beans, butter beans,, salt, saffron, pimentón, and olive oi (sometimes snails).
"Here you are Elisabeth! Your first paella Valenciana! Can I serve anybody else?" Rosa asks.
Chapter 21 ----The end of course test--
The main course at The English Language College runs for four weeks.
On the last Thursday, students have to do a progress test. If they score 75 % or more, students who are staying longer can continue at a higher level. If they do badly, they usually have to repeat the same level.
It is now lunchtime. The progress test is finished. Most students are
happy, but Rosa is a little worried.
"Relax!" says Arturo. "The test isn’t so important!"
"It isn’t important for you because you’re leaving tomorrow, but I don’t want to repeat the same level!"
"I’m sure you’ll pass," says Arturo. "English is easy for European
"What do you mean?" Rosa asks.
"I mean that usually students from Asia and the Arab world have a lot more work to do. Word order and grammar are very different in their first languages. Fewer words are similar and they usually have to learn a new alphabet." Arturo explains.
"But the Asian students in our class write very well and have very good English grammar!" Rosa says.
"That’s because they practice writing and grammar a lot at school in their countries. Some of the students in our class have practiced English grammar for many years. But they usually do more writing than speaking!" Arturo says.
"That’s interesting!" answers Rosa, "because in Spanish culture, speaking is probably more important than writing!"
"Yes," says Arturo, "but we make a lot of mistakes and have big pronunciation problems when we’re speaking English!"
"This is why I’m worried about my test," Rosa explains. "I didn’t spend enough time in the language laboratory!"
"But I’m sure your listening and reading were very good," says Arturo.
"Elisabeth Frost gives you a lot of listening practice and your food vocabulary is now very big!"
"Lets go and have lunch!" Rosa says. "My appetite is very big too!"
Upstairs, on the second floor, there are many hungry teachers. Their appetites are very big, but they have to correct the students’ tests quickly.
Both the students and Mary Palmer are waiting for the test results.
Chapter 22 ----A trip to Gatwick Airport-
It is the last Friday in February and Arturo’s last day in England. Rosa is with him. They are standing at the Charter Flight desk at Gatwick Airport.
Last week, Arturo phoned a travel company and bought a cheap flight with his credit card. The company gave him a booking reference and told him to collect the ticket at the airport.
"Do you think you’re going to get a ticket?" Rosa asks.
"I’m not worried!" Arturo answers. "I have to wait until the agent from the Charter company arrives. She has all the tickets for late bookings."
"Well, while you’re waiting," Rosa says, "I want to give you a small present. Put it in your hand luggage!" She gives him a small box.
"Can I have a look at it first?" Arturo asks.
"No, you’ll hate it!" Rosa answers.
Arturo opens the box and takes out two small tea-cups. They are decorated with pictures of the Royal Pavilion. At the bottom of the box are some cards from the British Museum.
"Thank you, Rosa!" he says. "I’ll read the cards when I’m on the plane.
I don’t want to cry in the airport. But why did you buy me two teacups?" he asks.
"Tea for two!" Rosa answers. "One for you and one for your guest.
I’m coming to visit you at Easter!"
A broad smile appears on Arturo’s face.
"Well, I’ve got something for you too!"
He gives her a large envelope with her name on. Inside, Rosa finds a picture of a London pub and a CD of songs by Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger. She looks at Arturo warmly.
"Learn these songs," he tells her, "and you’ll speak perfect Scottish and American English!"
"Which is your favorite song?" she asks him. "I’ll learn it first!"
"My favorite," Arturo answers, "is The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face. It’s a very romantic song. I’d like to sing it to you every day!"
"Well, wait until I come to Gijon and then you can!" Rosa promises.
Both Rosa and Arturo are very happy. The language course was a success. They both passed their test. On Monday, Rosa is going to study at a more difficult level and at Easter both Rosa and Arturo will be together again.
Labels: Visit to England