Students’ replies in a short oral test on British and US background studies in the 1980s and 1990s. I only tested the UK part. The students were at a Berufsfachschule, a kind of secretarial college, and the test was to show how they expressed themselves in English as well as whether they knew their stuff. I think that over the years, as the teaching got better, the answers got better too:
highest mountain in UK Lord Snowdon
There is a lot of Arabic farming in Kent (= arable farming)
Oxford and Cambridge were found in the Middle Ages.
Citrus fruits in the Scilly Isles
The states under the Ohio River
The Fairy Isles
In Birmingham the main industry is roofing.
In Birmingham the main industry is distilling and biscuit making.
Lake Loman, Loch Almond
What flows through the Great Glen? – The Glen River.
Glen Penn (= the Great Glen)
Gas was founded in East Anglia.
The new universities were found in the 1960s.
The Grumpians (= the Grampians)
The Crumbians (= the Cambrians)
Give an example of what you mean by heavy engineering. – Textiles.
Chicago – they make cans, meat.
The streamsters’ union.
The truckster union
The tramsters’ union (= teamsters)
Old pensioners live there (Florida).
Why is the climate good there? -1 think so.
The Forth Railroad Bridge.
The Caledonian Valley.
The Manchester ferry.
Liverpool is rainy because of the monsoon.
On St Patrick’s Day you wear a clover.
The Norfolk Broads – where most Englishmen go on vacation.
There are pea pots in the Norfolk Broads.
They put rubbish there and got more land.
There are almost no rivers in Britain.
Tweed is a special kind of leather.
Hills in the UK – in the south we have the Pennines.
The maturity vote in Britain (= majority system)
The four saints founded the Union Jack.
What were they digging for in Dover when the Channel tunnel was begun in the 19th c? Steel./ – To find water.
Klondiking in Ullapool – (= cf. the Gold Rush) – people rushing for herrings.
Only 5% of the fishes were eaten in the UK.
The Dust Bowl is a strong wind in Oklahoma.
The St. Lawrence Canal.
I’m thinking of one of the natural wonders of the world (i.e. the Grand Canyon) – Salt? ’One of the great wonders of the world is what I’m thinking of.’- ’I see!’
The North-South division – it has something to do with black and white – The milk and dairy belt?
The capital of Indiana? – India.
The Chilly Isles
What is Hadrian’s Wall? – Oh God, I’m lucky to know the name.
The Flens (= the Fens)
What kind of cat has 9 tails? -1 can’t imagine.
What is a Manx cat? – The symbol of the island. – What kind of a cat is it? – It’s a living animal, it’s a cat with 9 tails.
Cats have 9 tails on the Isle of Man.
Skin Tain; Skin Pain (Sinn Fein) – the extremist Unionist party.
The patron saint of Wales? – The Early of Snowdon.
Indians live on a reservoir.
Dead Valley (= Death Valley)
Constitutional conventions – the Prime Minister is there but he hasn’t to be there.
Colloquial school (= comprehensive school).
What is a big mountain that caused trouble lately? (i.e. Mount St. Helen’s) – Mount Vernon? Mount Rushmore?
They wanted to build a channel through the US (= Union Pacific Railway).
What is a JP? – It sounds familiar, but I’m not quite sure what it is.
A JP doesn’t need a loyal (= legal) training.
A JP can deal with dismeanors (= misdemeanors)
Scottish Gaelic is spoken by about 300 peoples.
The Shilly Isles.
What are you doing next year? (Question after a good test) – I’m working in a bureau as a foreign secretary.
The crofters mainly process peat.
The crofters rent their soil.
The Sellafield re-plant (= reprocessing plant).
If the Queen dies, a new Queen will be elected.
There is never a moment without a monarch.
When the Queen dies, her ancestor becomes a Queen or King. – Which ancestor? – Her son.
What other things are said about the Queen? – They say she always takes water for her tea (i.e. on trips abroad)
What does she wear at the opening of Parliament? – How should I know – I’ve never seen her.
The Queen can abolish the Prime Minister.
What is the meaning of the expression ’The Queen never dies’? -1 didn’t think you were going to ask that. It means she’s always alive in the memory of the people.
When she dies, her son will immediately become Queen.
’The Queen never dies’? – She will be remembered. She is registered everywhere.
’The Queen does no wrong’ means she’s always right in the eyes of the people.
She’s always right – she gets her powers from God.
The Queen can do no wrong – It’s a law, she’s always right
The Queen can’t have a trial except for things which are very severe.
The Queen can’t be persecuted – prosecuted or put in prison.
’The Queen is the fountain of justice’ – She can say, ’No, you must not die’.
The Queen always lets someone of her family become Queen after her.
The Governor of General is the title of the Queen.
The Governor General of Australia vertrets the Queen.
The House of Lords
Who is in charge at the House of Lords? -I don’t know his name. – What does he sit on? – A red sofa, oh dear, I can’t remember what it’s called. -I see. The nameless man on the nameless sofa.
The woolsack is stuffed with cotton from all Commonwealth Countries.
He becomes a peer by hereditary and after his death passes his title on.
Life peers give their seat to their relatives.
The Lord peers.
Harry detory peers
The Lords have their titles because of heir.
Does Screaming Lord Sutch always lose his deposit? – No, he can’t, because he’s a peer, and peers aren’t elected.
In English schools, pupils who misbehave are sometimes canned.
The SDP was founded by three ancient (= former) Labour MPs.
A sandwich course is a course which pupils attend with a sandwich because the course lasts the whole day.
Quakers are very ordinary.
Jersey must be in East Anglia. I found it in my notes but I didn’t know where it belonged.
The Norfolk Broads are handmade lakes (= manmade).
The Irish potato famine: a lot of them starved and the rest of them emigrated.
The highest mountain in the UK? – Big Ben.
How are Manchester and Liverpool joined? – By a bridge.
They have a lot of peat near Stoke-on-Trent – reason for growth of pottery industry.
What author do you think of in connection with the Mississippi? – It’s the father of waters – it’s the biggest river in the USA.
Where would you find tobacco? -I think in the grazing and irrigation area.
Why would you go to Dover? – To see the white cliffs.
GB – the holy island (= whole island).
The Pennines – the backgrate of England (= backbone)
What’s the difference between dairy and beef? – Dairy is cows and beef is oxes. Stratford-on-Trend
The elf-plus (= eleven-plus)
How can you tell if someone comes from the north or the south of the USA? -I can notice it because of their accent. This is a very strange accent.
Where do the children of the rich go to school in the UK? – They go to university.
Most people live in the south of Scotland because the Highlands are not easily to be civilized.
What is Philadelphia famous for? – I don’t know – Philadelphia Cheese?
The oral application of the language is no problem.
Then there is, of course, the well-known Labour politician Mr Food.
The English people exchange friendliness verbally.
Since the use of condoms is an effective method to protect oneself from contraction…
Prince Charles, the Apparent Heir, must at any rate remain the sophisticated dignified person he was brought up to be.
A cash dispenser is a machine which is installed on a bank building.
What is the Square Mile? – East end: dogs; where the poor people live. BFS 2 Sj.
Harrods is situated in Knight’s Brides. BFS 2 Sj.
If you look at the House of Commons, what is different in appearance from the Bundestag? – They have false hair.
Where is there a parliament on this map? – Westminster. – What is the name of the country whose parliament that is? – England. – Well, where is the parliament of Scotland, then? – Dublin.
Battle of the Boyne was the defeat of the Catholic James II by the Protestant William the Orangeman and Mary Stuart.
The squalor in the slums – results of drug abuse, violence, infant pregnancy and other things…
The Isle of Wright
Hong Kong has 60,000 inhabitants
They can own their proprieties in Hong Kong.
A shipping way for the ship or ships (the St. Lawrence Seaway)
The Street (= Straits) of Dover
A law is guilty (= gültig, i.e. valid) orkads (= orchards)
Jersey and Gransey
Public schools are more noble than comprehensives
TVA – the Tennessee Water Association
Where is NASA? – On the Bahamas
The so-called O levels
Tuscon (= Tucson)
The Normans had red hair (= Vikings)
MPs are appointed by the Prime Minister The Scots were chased from the Romans New York is in Maryland
I could imagine everyone wants to own the Rio Grande, because there are some mineral sources there.
The New York Moors (= the North York Moors)
Which Chinese were not permitted to come? – The Japanese?
What hills are south of London? – The Broads?
The Brofolk Nords (= Norfolk Broads)
The Romans built a Hadrian Wall.
The political name – the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland It’s a constit, constit…monarchy but not an absolute monarchy Who is the present monarch? – Elizabeth I.
What do you know about the Colorado River? – It forms the Rio Grande.
You have the Grampians twice. – Yes, there and there. One’s with a ‘u’ and one’s with an ’a’. (= the Grampians and the Cumbrians)
Why do so many people live in the south of England? – Because of the agriculture there? Sin Fein
What exams do you have to pass to get into a comprehensive? – The 11 +
Grazing is that what cattle does.
The Channel Isles are tax-free (should be: they have no VAT).
Hadrian, which was a Roman – uh – head.
The parliamentary season.
(Becky) What’s the name of this state? -I don’t know. – (Becky) Good.
What kind of vegetables do they grow? – Crops.
OASD-one (= OASDI)
What was the legal status of the immigrants to Britain? – They were welcome.
(Hong Kong) In 1997 they go back to Asia.
In Northern Ireland there are the Catholics and the Conservatives; Catholics are discriminated against.