Wetenschap - 28 maart 2002

English lessons at ISO-W are popular

English lessons at ISO-W are popular

"What do you want to do tonight? I prepared a lesson on the present perfect but we can also work on problems you've encountered." Mauricio Mathias is the tutor of the English class at the ISO-W this Tuesday night.

He's Brazilian but has an American accent. "I used to teach English in college in Brazil for fun and I studied in the United States for six years," Mauricio explains. Present tonight are Ivo Gatto from Italy and the Chinese Yue Kang. They start by asking questions. Yue is struggling with the pronunciation of English words and does not always know where to put the stress. She shows Mauricio some words in her dictionary and they practise them. Ivo, who's here as Erasmus exchange student for the MSc programme in Environmental Science, gets the tip to use the pronunciation examples from his own language to practise his English pronunciation. Then they continue with the present perfect. Mauricio gives the example of losing a key. "When I say 'I lost my key' you don't know when I lost it or whether I found it again. When you say 'I've lost my key' everybody will start looking for it." After this explanation the students read the exercises out loud. Then Marcello Scarcella joins them and a little later Ambra Zotti draws up a chair too. As only two books are available they pass the book on after making the correct sentence. Mauricio regularly uses a piece of paper as a blackboard to make things clear. They use the book English Grammar in Use by Raymond Murphy which has answers in the back. Mauricio says that he chose the book because it has clear examples and they keep on editing it. "I also used the book as a student and many of the students here have used the book back home."

Ambra complains about the long list of irregular verbs. She's from Italy and starts with Landscape Architecture in May. "I am using these two months to learn the GIS basic programme and to improve my English. Tonight I cooked for my corridor. Generally I talk little with the other students because they all speak Dutch, but by cooking I have more contact with them." Ivo says that the university should house international students together so all students would be forced to practise their English, but his fellow countryman Marcello points out that that is the students' own responsibility. "You should know English when you come here, it's your problem." Mauricio admits that he's sometime surprised that people have got this far. Yue appears to have postponed her GIS study because of the language problem. She has visited the language centre, "but I couldn't understand the teacher's pronunciation." Ivo was put off by the long waiting list. "And the course at the language centre is basically self-study," Mauricio decides.

Yvonne de Hilster