The Nature of Basic English
Let us be
clear at the start what Basic English is. It is a highly compact and
serviceable unit of the English language, in the sense that men 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 which may well solve the problem of International communication.
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.
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, whatever one's
ultimate goal may be, is to learn enough English to be able to express oneself
in it freely and with confidence. Basic achieves this limited objective with
the greatest possible economy of time and effort. The student may get a
bird's-eye view of the task before him by looking at the Word List printed on
the single sheet which forms the frontispiece of this book. With these 850
words and 50 of the growing number of terms which are more or less
International, he need never be at a loss.
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 the statistics of word-counters, 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
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 which all who claim to teach Basic must follow. 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 therefore incumbent on author to state the
object with which a particular textbook has been written.
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, European 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, presented in terms with which European students may be assumed to be familiar. In these respects it differs from Basic Step by Step i(a schematic outline for European teachers) and "The Basic Way to English" (a school series for India, Africa, and certain other non-European areas), both of which are elementary courses.
In comparison with the 'blitz' tactics which are sometimes favored in connection with experiments in mass teaching, the methods employed in The Basic Teacher may seem conservative, and even old-fashioned. The more spectacular tactics, however, though they may give a useful start in certain conditions, are no substitute for the systematic and detailed exposition that is offered in this book. Informal, direct method teaching, relying on example rather than on precept or explanation, can doubtless give hesitant pupils self-confidence In the early stages and encourage their active co-operation with the teacher; but its limitations quickly become apparent in the handling of advanced material. For this reason it seldom ventures beyond simple sentence-patterns and set phrases, which are quite inadequate unless they can be supplemented by the further knowledge of English which a foreigner picks up fairly rapidly by living in an English-speaking community. but not otherwise. Therefore, even students who have been introduced to Basic by these methods are recommended to use The Basic Teacher for revision and reference. For others, accustomed to routine study, the formal treatment will present no difficulty, and the careful analysis of usage will help them to avoid numerous pitfalls. In fact, In the process of informing the Basic learner, so many points of ordinary English usage are here usefully covered that teachers of English to foreigners, and particularly foreign teachers, may find it a helpful handbook even if they are not following the Basic system.
It is intended that the course shall be translated into the main European languages. Two translations, into German and Italian, have already been prepared and will shortly be in the press. 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 title implies, the book is itself a teacher, and the translated versions may be used or self-teaching. Students working by themselves, however, should get a teacher or an English friend to correct their exercises and help them with pronunciation, paying special attention to the suggestions made on p. xiv.
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For this reason we have divided some of the large pages into smaller, separate pages. For example, the long introduction to the learning text, The Basic Teacher,
has been divided into several smaller pages.
Once you have entered the website, it will stay in translation mode and you can go from page to page in your language. However, not all pages have been separated into smaller pages.
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Note : Translation software is not perfect and can be both misleading and amusing. For example, as this is written, the Basic 850 words are translated as 850 languages. This provides reason for you, and the people from round the earth, to learn Basic.
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