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Lesson 50: Back to School


Summary

Anna has been wanting to go back to school for a long time. In this lesson, we go to class with her at Georgetown University, where she is getting ready to give a report in her class. Did she understand the directions?

Speaking

In this video, learn how to say the new words. Then learn about the present perfect continuous verb tense.

Pronunciation

This video teaches about how the word "for" is pronounced quickly in sentences using the present perfect continuous and a time phrase.

Conversation

Anna: Hello, and welcome to Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.! I am going back to school! Georgetown is the oldest Catholic and Jesuit university in the United States. The Jesuits are a religious order known worldwide for their many colleges and universities. Students have been studying here since 1792!
Sarah: Hey, are you finished with your report?
Taylor: Almost. I have been writing and re-writing since last night! The subject is really interesting to me.
Sarah: Me too! I have been studying this topic* for a long time.
Anna: Am I late?
Sarah: You’re a little late. But don’t worry. The professor isn’t here yet.
Anna: How long has the class been waiting?
Taylor: We’ve only been waiting for about 10 minutes.
Anna: Oh good. Oh, no! I forgot my pencil sharpener. Excuse me, do you have a pencil sharpener I can borrow?
Taylor: No, sorry.
Anna: Oh wait. I found my extra one! Whew, that was close.
Anna: So, how long have you been studying at Georgetown?
Andrew: I’ve been studying here since 2015.
Anna: Awesome. You know, I've been wanting to go back to school for a long time. So, here I am!
Andrew: Well, you picked a great school. I’ve been really happy here.
Anna: Awesome. See, I’ve been working for several years now. So, going back to school makes me a little nervous.
Randall: Don’t be nervous. Just pay attention and do your best!
Anna: That is great advice. You know, I have been paying attention. But sometimes I still feel like I don’t understand. Like last week …
Anna: What’s that?
Jada: This is my draft.
Anna: What draft?
Jada: The professor told us to bring our drafts.
Anna: I think she said “giraffe.”
Jada: No. She didn’t.
Anna: Here comes the professor.
Dr. Jones: Hello class! Sorry I'm late, but the snow storm made getting here really difficult. I see you’ve been waiting very patiently. So, let’s get started! Who wants to give their talk first?
Anna: Oh! Oh! Please, please pick me.
Dr. Jones: Anna?
Anna: Who me? Sure. Thanks.
Anna: Here is my report on “Violins in the City.”
Anna: People have been looking for a solution to the problem of violins in the city. I say stop! Stop! They are not the problem! In fact, violins are part of the solution!
Anna: Violins create beautiful music that can fill a city with hope.
Dr. Jones: Anna …
Anna: If we put a violin in the hands of every child …
Dr. Jones: Anna! The topic is “Violence in the city.” Violence. Not violins.
Anna: Until next time …Like I was saying, many people are saying that violence in the city is a problem. A very big problem.

* topic = subject

Thanks to Georgetown University for allowing us to film on their historic campus. And a special thanks to the Georgetown students and staff who appeared in this episode: Andrew Debraggio, Sarah Mucha, Taylor Soergel, Jada Bullen, and Randall-Grace Johnson.

Writing

In this lesson, Anna goes back to school. Did you ever take a special training course or classes? What did you learn? If you have not gone back to study, do you want to study something? Tell us about it. Write to us by email or in the Comments section.

Click on the image below to download the Activity Sheet and practice using the present perfect continuous tense and monitoring what you hear. Please note, our activity sheets now can be completed on the computer.

Lesson 50 Activity Sheet
Lesson 50 Activity Sheet

Learning Strategy

Learning Strategies are the thoughts and actions that help make learning easier or more effective.

The learning strategy for this lesson is Monitor. This strategy is what we use when we are speaking, and we want to know if our listeners understand what we say. We also monitor while we are listening, to check on whether we understand what we hear.

In this lesson, Anna goes back to school. She misunderstands the professor, and gives her report on the wrong topic. As she is speaking, she looks at her classmates. Their faces show they are confused. Anna should be monitoring here, to see that the other students cannot understand why she is talking about violins. After the professor corrects her, she begins talking about the topic of violence.

What do you do to monitor when you are speaking in English? Write to us about it in the Comments section or send us an email. Teachers, see the Lesson Plan for more details on teaching this strategy.

Quiz

Listen to short videos and test your listening skills with this quiz.

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New Words

Catholic - adj. of or relating to the Roman Catholic Church
class - n. a group of students who meet regularly to be taught a subject or activity
draft - n. a version of something (such as a report) that you make before you make the final version
confused - adj. unable to understand or think clearly
giraffe - n. a very tall African animal that has an extremely long neck and legs
Jesuit - n. a man who is a member of a religious group called the Roman Catholic Society of Jesus
order - n. a religious organization whose members usually live together and promise to follow special rules and traditions
patient - adj. able to remain calm and not become annoyed when waiting for a long time
pay attention - phrase to listen to, watch, or consider something or someone very carefully
pencil - n. an instrument used for writing and drawing that has a hard outer part and a black or colored center part
professor - n. a teacher especially of the highest rank at a college or university
religious - adj. believing in a god or a group of gods and following the rules of a religion
report - n. a written or spoken description of a situation or event
sharpener - n. a tool or machine that makes something sharp
since - prep. in the time after (a specified time or event in the past) orfrom (a point in the past) until the present time
solution - n. something that is used or done to deal with and end a problem
study - v. to learn about something by reading, memorizing facts or attending school
understand - v. to know the meaning of something
violence - n. the use of physical force to harm someone or to damage property
violin - n. a musical instrument that has four strings and that you play with a bow
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Free Materials

Word Book
Word Book

Download the VOA Learning English Word Book for a dictionary of the words we use on this website.

Each Let's Learn English lesson has an Activity Sheet for extra practice on your own or in the classroom. In this lesson, you can use it to practice using the present perfect continuous verb tense.

For Teachers

Lesson Plan - Lesson 50
Lesson Plan - Lesson 50

See the Lesson Plan for this lesson for ideas and more teaching resources. Send us an email if you have comments on this course or questions.

Grammar: Present perfect continuous verb tense

Topics: Discussing duration of activity; Expressing surprise; Reassuring someone

Learning Strategy: Monitor

Speaking & Pronunciation: Reduced "for" in sentences using the present perfect continuous and a time phrase

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Now it's your turn. Send us an email or write to us in the Comments section below or on our Facebook page to let us know what you think of this lesson.

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