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MesazhTitulli: English   7th October 2011, 20:30

Lesson 1
English - the International Language

Lessons >>> Lesson 1

English is part of the Germanic branch of the Indo-European family of languages. It is spoken as a native language by around 377 million and as a second language by around 375 million speakers in the world. Speakers of English as a second language will soon outnumber those who speak it as a first language.

Around 750 million people are believed to speak English as a foreign language. English has an official or a special status in 75 countries with a total population of over 2 billion.

The domination of the English language globally is undeniable. English is the language of diplomacy and international communications, business, tourism, education, science, computer technology, media and Internet. Because English was used to develop communication, technology, programming, software, etc, it dominates the web. 70% of all information stored electronically is in English.

British colonialism in the 19th century and American capitalism and technological progress in the 20th century were undoubtedly the main causes for the spread of English throughout the world.

The English language came to British Isles from northern Europe in the fifth century. From the fifteenth century, the British began to sail all over the world and became explorers, colonists and imperialists. They took the English language to North America, Canada and the Caribbean, to South Africa, to Australia and New Zealand, to South Asia (especially India), to the British colonies in Africa, to South East Asia and the South Pacific.

The USA has played a leading role in most parts of the world for the last hundred years. At the end of the 19th century and first quarter of the 20th, it welcomed millions of European immigrants who had fled their countries ravaged by war, poverty or famine. This labor force strengthened American economy. The Hollywood film industry also attracted many foreign artists in quest of fame and fortune and the number of American films produced every year soon flooded the market. Before the Treaty of Versailles (1919), which ended the First World War between Germany and the Allies, diplomacy was conducted in French. However, President Woodrow Wilson succeeded in having the treaty in English as well. Since then, English started being used in diplomacy and gradually in economic relations and the media.

The future of English as a global language will depend very largely on the political, economical, demographic and cultural trends in the world. The beginning of the 21st century is a time of global transition. According to some experts, faster economic globalization is going hand in hand with the growing use of English. More and more people are being encouraged to use English rather than their own language. On the other hand, the period of most rapid change can be expected to be an uncomfortable and at times traumatic experience for many people around the world. Hence, the opposite view, that the next 20 years or so will be a critical time for the English language and for those who depend upon it. The patterns of usage and public attitudes to English which develop during this period will have long-term effects for its future in the world.

*Sources:

David Crystal
The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language, Cambridge University Press, 1995.
English as a global language, Cambridge University Press, 1997.

David Graddol
The Future of English?, London The British Council, 1997
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MesazhTitulli: Re: English   7th October 2011, 20:31

Lesson 2
Urban Legends

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Urban legends are popular, story alleged to be true and transmitted from person to person by oral or written communication.

People didn't begin talking about "urban legends" until the 1930s and 1940s, but they have existed in some form for thousands of years. Urban legends are simply the modern version of traditional folklore, legends and myths. In most cultures of the world, they have always existed alongside, or in place of, recorded history. Where history is obsessed with accurately writing down the details of events, traditional folklore and legends are characterized by the "oral tradition," the passing of stories by word of mouth.

In old Europe, the deep forests was a mysterious place to people, and there were indeed creatures that might attack you there (the crone Baba Yaga in the ancient slavic folklor, for instance). We do have a lot of fears in common with our ancestors, of course. As is clear in "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves," the fear of food contamination has been around for quite a while.

Typically, urban legends are characterized by some combination of humor, horror, warning, embarrassment, morality or appeal to empathy. We hear stories and rumours about killers and madmen on the loose, unsafe manufactured products, shocking or funny personal experiences and many other unexplained mysteries of daily life. Sometimes we encounter different oral versions of such stories, and on occasion we may read about similar events in newspapers or magazines; but seldom do we find, or even seek after, reliable documentation. Remember, urban legends aren't defined as false stories, they're defined as stories alleged to be true in the absence of real evidence or proof. The lack of verification in no way diminished the appeal urban legends have for us. We enjoy them merely as stories, and we tend at least to half-believe them as possibly accurate reports.

It might seem unlikely that legends - urban legends at that - would continue to be created in an age of widespread literacy, rapid mass communications and information technology. In fact, information technology actually accelerates the spread of tall tales. In the past 10 years, there has been a huge surge of urban legends on the Internet. The most common venue is forwarded e-mail. This storytelling method is unique because usually the story is not re-interpreted by each person who passes it on. A person simply clicks the "Forward" icon in their e-mail, and types in all his friend's e-mail addresses. Having the original story gives e-mail legends a feeling of legitimacy. You don't know the original author, but they are speaking directly to you.

The most remarkable thing about urban legends is that so many people believe them and pass them on. On the Internet and in universities all over the world, you'll find a lot of people interested in the role of urban legends in modern society. Many folklorists argue that more the more gruesome legends embody basic human fears, providing a cautionary note or moral lesson telling us how to protect ourselves from danger. It does seem to be the case that we have a built-in tendency to interpret life in narrative terms, in spite of how rarely events in the real world unfold in a story-like fashion. Maybe it's a psychological survival tactic. Consider some of the horrifying, absurd, incomprehensible realities we must reckon with during our short sojourns as mortal human beings. Perhaps one of the ways we cope is by turning the things that scare us, embarrass us, fill us with longing and make us laugh into tall tales. We're charmed by them for the same reasons we're charmed by Hollywood movies: good guys win, bad guys get their comeuppance, everything is larger than life and never a loose end is left dangling.

By definition, urban legends seem to have a life of their own, creeping through a society one person at a time. And like a real life form, they adapt to changing conditions. It will always be human nature to tell bizarre stories, and there will always be an audience waiting to believe them. The urban legend is part of our make-up.

*Sources:
1. http://urbanlegends.about.com/mbody.htm
2. "The Vanishing Hitchhiker" by Jan Harold Brunvand
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MesazhTitulli: Re: English   7th October 2011, 20:32

Body Language

Lessons >>> Lesson 7

According to behavior scientists, during face-to-face conversations, 5% of our message is verbal, 38% vocal (including tone of voice), while 55% is non-verbal - through gestures. By that they mean we communicate with our bodies in the form of gestures. Everybody communicates using these gestures and if you understand the gestures and their meaning you will be in a position to read people and know what they are really communicating to you. One researcher went as far as to say that we speak to hide what's on our minds. But gestures cannot lie.

Here is a guide to the main gestures and their meaning.

Palm, hand and arm gestures: An open palm facing upwards or away from the body indicates honesty and openness, as used by footballers and my cat. Every time footballers trip an opponent, they raise their hands, with open palms facing the referee as if to say, 'I didn't touch him.' When I walk into my bedroom, my cat jumps on the bed, rolls on its back and stretches out its front feet. Like the human animal, she's telling me, 'I want to play and mean no harm, look I'm even exposing my chest and stomach.' By contrast, when the palm turns towards the body or faces downwards, it's a sign of reasserting or assuming authority. But if you ask a work colleague to lend you a report while your palm faces the floor he'll frown at your arrogance. And if you combine it with a pointing fore-finger, he will feel intimidated, as the pointed finger symbolizes a stick beating him into submission. Many fights break out after someone jabs the air with a pointed finger at another person.

During handshakes the palm-up or palm-down positions also carry the same meaning. When one person grips the other person's hand with his hand on top, palm facing downwards, he is signaling his intention to dominate. And vice versa. But if both palms remain in a vertical position, both persons are putting each other on equal footing. Ever met someone who squashes your fingers? That's the 'tough man's' handshake. The politicians' handshake takes another form: he wraps your hand between his hands to give the impression of a warm and trustful personality. Beware of people who shake your hand in this way.

Another gesture that signals a confident and superior attitude is when someone cups both hands together behind his head. If you walk into your boss' office and he leans back in his chair and lifts both hands behind his head, he's telling you, "I'm smarter than you, I have all the answers."

Other superior gestures are thumb displays. Whether the thumb is hanging out of a pocket or standing out as your hands grip the opening of your coat, you're saying, "Look at me, I know it all."

Hand to face gestures: A friend was talking about her uncle's business in Australia. As she recounted how he generated millions, she lightly rubbed her nose with her fore-finger. That indicated she was exaggerating. In children this gesture is more obvious, covering their mouth with one hand to block the lie; the nose-touch version by adults is more refined.

"Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil," Allan Pease, in his book Body Language, captioned the hand-to-face gestures that are an attempt to block deceit.

My friend, besides rubbing her nose, also rubbed her eyes, which is an attempt by the brain to avoid looking into my eyes when lying. Another gesture having the same meaning is the ear rub, the hear-no-evil gesture. Note that these gestures are used both to block what another person is saying or what the person doing the gestures is saying.

Everyone recognizes the boredom gesture and you may even remember it from your schooldays, when your hand supported your face on the desk as you strained to keep your eyelids open. But don't confuse it with the interested evaluation gesture, when a closed hand with the index finger pointing upwards rests beneath the cheek. Notice this in a meeting when someone springs an interesting idea. If the idea is a bit far-fetched, however, observe the listeners shift their thumb underneath their chin, showing critical evaluation. Then, when the chairperson asks for comments on the idea, most members will start stroking their chin with their fore-finger and thumb, indicating they are making a decision.

Arm and leg barricades: We cross our arms and legs to shield our body in hostile situations. In demonstrations the police stand in a line with their arms crossed, clenching their fists beneath their armpits. Crossing arms is a defensive stance adopted by people when surrounded by strangers who are too close for comfort, such as in queues, trains and elevators.

We use anything at hand as a shield, and not only when we face a tight corner, but also when we are unsure of ourselves - in parties or public places for example. In a party someone who's just been introduced to a group of strangers may play with the cuff of his shirt, forming an arm barrier. Then, as that person begins to relax, his hands will drop to his sides and he lifts his head, showing that he now feels comfortable.

When two people gaze into each other's eyes for more than two-thirds of the time they face each other, it means one of two things: they're either interested in each other, or one of them is hostile to the other and the gaze is a non-verbal challenge. In fact, if you stare at a strange dog for a long time, he/she will feel threatened and attacks you or retreats. We react in the same way.

To decipher gestures correctly, put each gesture in context. It's easy to jump to conclusions. If someone is standing outside with his hands and arms crossed, the reason may be because he is cold not defensive. Don't look at isolated gestures. Gestures often occur in clusters, one following the other, each one reinforcing a particular attitude. Skeptics sometimes claim that they, for example, cross their arms and legs for comfort not defense or to argue. But if they observe themselves closely, they would be surprised to discover that their gestures are a carbon copy of their feelings, as described above.

To learn to decode gestures, the key is to watch yourself first, to spot the link between your gestures and your thoughts. Then start observing others, looking for the motive behind the gestures.

*Source: "You are what you gesture" - Victor Paul Borg
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MesazhTitulli: Re: English   7th October 2011, 20:32

Applying for a Job

Lessons >>> Lesson 8

Finding permanent or summer employment is often a difficult and confusing process, with hectic deadlines, stress-inducing interviews, and unfamiliar rules of etiquette. However, by becoming familiar with the recruiting schedule and process it is possible to land the perfect job with little effort.

1. Write a CV/resume

The first step is to compose a CV/resume. Many word processing programs, including Word and Framemaker, have resume templates. Searching on the Internet will yield both personal CV/resume posted online in addition to the many sites which describe how to write a CV/resume. The most important information to include is relevant professional and class experience. Large laboratory or research projects can be listed as experience as well, especially if teamwork and problem solving were involved.

Less important but still significant is a list of skills such as computer competence and foreign languages, as well as awards or honors. Finally, be sure to include contact information, including your phone number, street address, e-mail address, and web page URL.

Resumes traditionally open with a purpose or objective. this is a two or three sentence overview of your skills, qualities, hopes, and plans. But this trend is increasingly becoming optional, as the statement doesn't do a good job in differentiating students.

Sometimes to apply for a job, the employer will send you an application form. You should still use a cover letter, and send your CV/resume also unless told not to. Application forms need as much care to write as CVs/Resumes. Plan everything you will say on a separate piece of paper. Only complete the real form when you are exactly sure what is the best thing to say. Follow the directions and keep the form neat.

2. Write a cover letter

Often companies will require a cover letter along with a CV/resume. The letter should demonstrate an understanding of what the company does and why you would be an asset to it. Indicate how you heard about the company and that you are seeking an interview. This is a chance to stand out from the many CVs/resumes that the company is undoubtedly receiving, so be sure to emphasize why you stand out.

Effective cover letter explains the reasons for your interest in the organization and identify your most relevant skills or experiences. They should express a high level of interest and knowledge about the position you are applying for.

Ask yourself, "Why do I want to work for this organization?" Newspaper stories or magazines article may be available at the local library. The employer may be in the yellow pages or advertise over the radio or local television. When we can speak intelligently about a place of business, we have given that employer respect. By focusing on the employer we are better able to determine if the company can meet our needs. By focusing on the employer we are displaying interest in the needs of the company.

Also, the purpose of the cover letter is to make sure that the CV/resume arrives on the desk of the correct person. Take the trouble to telephone, and find the name of the person who will be dealing with applications or CVs/resumes, and address your letter, and envelope, to that person by name.

3. The interviewing process

Since we can not hide our energy, it would be well not to seek opportunities when we are depressed or feeling ill. Smile because happy people get hired faster. Basically, the object is to be yourself. Most employers prefer people who are open, honest and speak straight across, person to person. It is not necessarily the person with the most skills who gets hired. It is a person who the employer likes and believes will fit into the organization. Success in establishing comfort naturally increases with additional visits. The impression is dependant upon how we look, how we feel and also, how we act.

During the interview, be sure to dress appropriately, make eye contact, and greet the recruiter with a firm handshake. Answer the questions posed concisely and with a degree of modesty. Come prepared with questions about the company itself. Do research in advance on the corporate web site so that job descriptions and company projects are familiar.

Be able to briefly talk about your education, experience and abilities in relationship to the job for which you are applying. Be ready to discuss what you have learned about the company that has motivated you to apply for the job. Practice means saying the words out loud, not to memorize, rather just to have experience saying the words. Thinking about what you will say is not the same as saying what you will say.

Some interviewers like to use a rather sneaky tactic called 'stress questions'. These bizarre queries usually come out of the blue and are designed to confuse and fluster you. For example:
If you could be any animal which would you be?
What is the meaning of life?

The point of these is to test your sense of humour and see how you react under pressure. Often, what you answer is less important than keeping calm and composed.

Always remember that you are in control of everything you say, so don't merely answer questions; respond to them in a way that allows you to prove your suitability for the position.

Bottom line, employers want people who will come to work on time, every day they are scheduled, who can get along with the other employees and are willing to do the job the way the employer wants it done. In essence, every job requires on the job is training. New employees must learn the rules of the organization and how to get along with the other employees. Every job is hardest at the beginning and gets easier with experience. Saying something like, "I know I can learn your method of operation," tells an employer you have faith in your ability to learn the way the employer wants it done.

After an interview, it is advantageous to send the recruiter a thank-you note. This helps establish a relationship with the recruiter, shows interest in the position, and indicates personal responsibility.

The first interview may be followed up with second rounds on-site or over the phone. From there it is a short wait until the company calls back with their offer, or mails a rejection -- hopefully the former.
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