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Many conflicts of this world are believed to be the result of misunderstandings. But where better to begin the process of understanding than in the well springs of communication -- of language, of speech ? Unless we understand what another is saying, how can we approach even the fringes of consensus ? Even where people speak the same language, grave difficulties of semantics still often arise. How much more then in the case of people ruled by fears and suspicions of other people who speak an alien tongue ?

Each language has grown out of the deep cultural aspirations of a people. By understanding the language we begin to understand how they think, and more significantly how they feel. Out of such understanding will come a greater measure of mutual respect, and out of this respect greater love, and out of such love, and such love alone, will come a lasting peace.

There are many occasions in the modern world which provide opportunities for fostering greater contact with foreigners. In the past, when travel was extremely hazardous and nearly impossible, people hardly ever heard another language spoken. In this age of jet transport and highly organized tourism, it is impossible not to hear several languages regularly. Movements of people in search of employment across the globe, for short and long terms, expose themselves and their families to quite diverse ethnic groups and cultures. They thus absorb quite naturally at least some of the basic elements of speech in those countries.

The United Nations and its myriad service organizations have done immeasurable good in bringing together nations of the world. There are also many "friendship societies" which enable people who wish to appreciate another culture to do so in a most congenial manner. Foreign missions of most countries, except perhaps the Chinese and some East European countries, hold classes to teach their language to people of host countries. International schools are also great nurseries of international friendship.

At the school where my wife teaches, the Overseas Children's School just outside Colombo, children of about 35 nations attend, and it is always a deeply moving sight to see them on United Nations Day, or on their big occasions, carrying the flags of their nations. It represents an El Dorado in microcosm, a brave vision of peace in the future.

My wife recalls that when the US-Libyan confrontation was at its peak, she saw a Libyan diplomat's daughter walk hand in hand with an American child. They had a language in common. Indeed, unless we become as little children in the matter of learning one another's language, as children do, we will not enter the kingdom of a heaven of harmony on earth.

     
  1.

From paragraph 1 and 2,

    (a) what do misunderstandings lead to ?
    (b) what does the word "significantly" mean ?
       
  2. From paragraph 2, give two examples of what the understanding of each other's language will promote.
       
  3. From paragraph 3
    (a) why in the past was ravel extremely hazardous and nearly impossible ?
    (b) what has led to more people being exposed to diverse ethnic cultures ?
       
  4. From paragraph 4,
    (a) what are "friendship societies "?
    (b) how do they carry out their objective ?
       
  5. From paragraph 5 and 6,
    (a) what is meant by "El Dorado in microcosm" ?
    (b) how can harmony on earth be achieved ?
       
 

Answers

 
  1. (a) They lead to conflicts among people and nations
    (b) It means 'importantly'
       
  2. (i) They will understand better how the other people think and feel.
    (ii) It will lead to mutual respect, love and lasting peace.
       
  3. (a) It was because of the lack of communication, especially air travel.
    (b) Air travel has improved tremendously and people are able to travel to other countries.
       
  4. (a) They are societies set up by foreign missions in the host country.
    (b) They hold classes to teach their language to people of the host countries.
       
  5. (a) It means a meeting place of many people, similar to a world in miniature.
    (b) It can be achieved by learning other people's language as earnestly as children do.
       
 
 

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Comprehension 1

 

 

 
 
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