You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘LEARNING ENGLISH’ category.

Emperor Asoka of the Maurya Dynasty

Emperor Asoka of India sent Buddhist missionaries to countries like China, Burma (now known as Myanmar), Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Sri Lanka. Most of these countries accepted some form of Buddhism, and their art and architecture was greatly influenced by Indian art. In Indonesia the Temple of Borobudur is one such instance. In Cambodia the great Temple of Angkor Wat is a magnificent example of this influence exerted by India.

A hundred years ago nobody in the modern world knew of Angkor. How had this happened? For different reasons, the city of Angkor had been left empty and, after a few centuries the jungle grew over the temple and the city, hiding them from view. Cambodians forgot about it. Old Chinese history books spoke of a great temple in Cambodia but no one knew where it was, since no one lived in that forested area any longer.

A source of great national pride, Angkor Wat has been depicted in Cambodian national flags since 1863

One day in 1850 a French missionary saw some old ruins in a jungle and he wrote a description of them. In 1860 an Englishman named D O King visited what he could of the ruins, and wrote an article about them. But the credit for discovering the famous old temple goes to Henry Mouhot, a French scientist who went into the jungle and lived for three weeks in the ruins of Angkor. He studied them. Scholars took notice of this newly discovered city and so the restoration of the city and of its greatest building, the temple of Angkor Wat, began.

Little by little the jungle was cleared away. The rooms and statues of the temple were cleaned. Mud and earth were swept out. The lovely temple, and several others, emerged for the first time after centuries of being hidden beneath undergrowth and trees. Read the rest of this entry »

This is an extract from the Reading Materials in English that are available in the English and Education section of the website of the Liberal Party of  Sri Lanka, www.liberalparty-srilanka.org

The entire text of Historic Buildings by Goolbai Gunasekara, covering twelve famous constructions, is now available on that website.

Huayna Picchu towers above the ruins of Machu Picchu

The city of Machu Picchu is another one of history’s mysteries. It lies high up in the Andes mountains of Peru in South America. No one in the modern world had ever heard of this lost city till the 20th century.

Gold statue of Inca Sun God - Inti

When the Spaniards conquered South America in the early 16th century, the soldiers of Spain were called Conquistadors. They were cruel and destructive. They burnt down all the beautiful cities of the Incas in Peru and the Aztec in Mexico. They killed the Inca and Aztec kings. They took all the gold of South America back to Spain. Nothing of those civilizations exists today except the great buildings and temples which could not be destroyed by the Spanish.

Fortunately for everyone, the Spaniards did not find the city of Machu Picchu. This may have been because of the difficulty in getting there. Machu Picchu is not easy to reach. The roads are not very good and it was too far away for the Conquistadors to worry about. So nobody bothered about this little city hidden away in its mountain retreat.

Read the rest of this entry »

This is an extract from the Reading Materials in English that are available in the English and Education section of the website of the Liberal Party of  Sri Lanka, www.liberalparty-srilanka.org 

The entire text of Historical Buildings by Goolbai Gunasekara, covering twelve famous constructions, is now available on that website. 

Hagia Sophia

 

Hagia Sophia is a building that has changed much over the years. It is in Istanbul, which was earlier called Constantinople, and before that Byzantium. Byzantium had been a Greek city, established by Greeks who went into the Black Sea to trade. They needed a stopping place on the way, at a place where they could control entry into the Black Sea. 

Byzantium was therefore situated at the narrowest point of the straits that join the Mediterranean to the Black Sea, and separate Europe from Asia. Istanbul then developed over the centuries into a unique city, with half of it in Asia and the other half in Europe. It is at the crossroads of two great continents and many great cultures. 

Map of the Roman Empire

 

Byzantium was conquered by the Romans when they established their empire over the entire Mediterranean region, and it became more and more important as Roman commerce with Asia developed. At the beginning of the 4th century AD the Roman Emperor Constantine made it the capital of the Empire. He renamed the city Constantinople. He also became a Christian and made Christianity the official religion of the empire, and in 307 AD he built a church in his new capital. It was on the site of that church that another great emperor of Constantinople, somewhere around 537 AD, built a much more elaborate church, that was known as Hagia Sophia. Read the rest of this entry »

 

This is an extract from the Reading Materials in English that are available in the English and Education section of the website of the Liberal Party of  Sri Lanka, www.liberalparty-srilanka.org  

The entire text of Historical Buildings by Goolbai Gunasekara, covering twelve famous constructions, is now available on that website.  

The Great Wall seen from a satellite in space

The Great Wall of China is said to be the only man made object we can see from space. It stretches 1400 miles over mountains, plains and rivers. It was built by Emperor Shih Huang Ti around the year 214 BC. 

China’s history was always influenced by geography. It is a very large country. This has made it very difficult to conquer, but also very difficult to unite. China is protected from invaders by mountains in the South and West. However, no such protection exists in the North. 

Shih Huang Ti - first emperor of China

 

When Shih Huang Ti became king, he was determined to create a nation and rule as a strong king. He realized though, that he could not unite China through force alone. So he ordered all the rulers of the little Kingdoms, into which the country was divided, to live at his capital. This way he was able to keep an eye on them. He also won the loyalty of the peasants by allowing them to own the land they work on. But Shih Huang Ti was also a cruel king. He killed anyone who criticized him. 460 scholars were buried alive because they had dared to tell him he was wrong. He burnt their books and sent other scholars to work on his wall. 

The wall began because of a dream which Shih Huang Ti had. He dreamt that barbarians from the North would invade his country unless he built a great wall. He collected 300,000 workmen, peasants and prisoners and made them into a construction team. Work on the wall began. 

The work was very hard and the workers were badly treated. Many of them died of starvation and weakness. They were buried inside the wall and stones laid around their bodies. The Great Wall has therefore been called ‘The longest graveyard in the world’. 

The Emperor had heard something else about the wall. Some soothsayer had told him that unless 10,000 people were buried in the wall it would not be finished. There is a story that the cruel Emperor found a man whose name Wan meant 10,000. He buried him in the rampart and the work continued. Read the rest of this entry »

 

This is an extract from the Reading Materials in English that are available in the English and Education section of the website of the Liberal Party of  Sri Lanka, www.liberalparty-srilanka.org   

The entire text of Historical Buildings by Goolbai Gunasekara, covering twelve famous constructions, is now available on that website.   

The Parthenon - Greece

Greece is one of the three peninsulas extending into the Mediterranean Sea in the south of Europe. The capital of modern Greece is Athens. It is a very old city and dates back to a time long before the Birth of Christ, according to which we divide time into BC and AD. In that early period, Greece consisted of different city-states. Each was independent of the other. The two strongest city-states were Athens and Sparta. 

In those days, most developed areas were river valley civilizations, established around rivers in fertile areas that were good for agriculture. These civilizations were generally kingdoms, with power in the hands of a single person. In Greece however, there was more participation by the people in government, and it is from the Greeks that we get our idea of democracy. The word democracy comes from two Greek words, ‘demos’ which means people and ‘kratos’ which means power. 

The Acropolis

 

The concept of democracy was most developed in Athens. All Athenian citizens used to come to a hill in Athens every nine days to argue, make speeches and vote. Being a citizen meant more than voting. It meant holding office in government, and also acting as a juror, that is participating in making decisions in the courts. Every citizen was expected at some stage in his life to do his share of duty as an office holder and a juror, and to make sure this happened many such positions were allocated by lot, rather than by election. 

However this form of democracy was not perfect. The Athenian idea of a citizen was not the same as today. Only men were considered citizens. Women and slaves, as well as foreigners, could never be citizens. Since the men made up little more than half the population, this system cannot be described as fully democratic. 

Read the rest of this entry »

This is an extract from the Reading Materials in English that are available in the English and Education section of the website of the Liberal Party of  Sri Lanka, www.liberalparty-srilanka.org    

The entire text of Historical Buildings by Goolbai Gunasekara, covering twelve famous constructions, is now available on that website.   

Ancient Egypt

 

Everyone has seen pictures of the Pyramids. Earlier, historians thought that these large structures, so many of which can still be seen in Egypt, were only used as tombs for great kings. We have now found that pyramids had a much greater function, which will be discussed later. In fact pyramids probably had many functions.    

The ancient Greek Historian Herodotus called Egypt the ‘Gift of the Nile’. Even today, the Nile river is very important to Egyptians. Although there is little rain in Egypt, the flooding of the river every year makes the Nile Valley a fertile ground. This made it attractive to settlers, and so began the Egyptian Nation. Ancient Egypt was ruled by the Pharaohs.    

The Rosetta Stone

 

Little was known about ancient Egypt, largely because no one could understand their hieroglyphics, or picture writing. Then in 1799, when Napoleon invaded Egypt, a group of soldiers discovered, among some ruins, a stone with writing on it that they soon realized was very special. That stone is known as the Rosetta Stone, and on it were Greek letters and Egyptian hieroglyphics. A French Scholar, Jean Champollion, used this to unlock the mystery of Egyptian writing and so opened the way for the study of Egyptian History.    

The first pyramid was built by Zoser and his clever Minister Imhotep. It is called the ‘Step Pyramid’. In 2613 BC Pharaohs began to build pyramids in earnest. The biggest pyramid is called the Great Pyramid and stands in Giza. The King who built it was Khufu, or Cheops. His name means ‘Smasher of Foreheads’. He was a very strict ruler as his name shows.    Read the rest of this entry »

Thinking Skills

This is an excise in thinking skills and in making simple mathematical calculations. A fuller selection of such exercises will be found later on the website of the Liberal Party of Sri Lanka (www.liberalparty-srilanka.org) in the English and Education Section.


Learning English   

This is an extract from a book for Learners of English. A selection of books which may be downloaded can be found on the website of the Liberal Party of Sri Lanka (www.liberalparty-srilanka.org) in the English and Education Section. Books which are still in print may be obtained from International Book House, 151 A Dharmapala Mawata, Colombo 7.
 

Below  is the first Unit of the Grade 6 Junior English Textbook published by International Book House for the use of Sri Lankan students. As noted in the introduction,    

this book explains elements of English in a manner that will help both students and teachers to understand what they learn and teach. ..    

Each unit contains one or more reading texts, on which several exercises are based. Pre-reading questions are given in some instances, and … writing tasks should be given due attention and … Each unit also includes a Conversation section, which avoids the familiar practice of setting out a dialogue which students learn by rote. Students should first develop understanding of the speech patterns they use, and for this purpose they should first fill in the blanks as indicated. Initially much help may be required, and group work may be desirable….Teachers are also advised, on the pattern of the texts included here, to encourage active learning of useful subjects… including matters of wider interest that will be useful for students in the future.Read the rest of this entry »

Rajiva Wijesinha

November 2019
M T W T F S S
« Dec    
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
252627282930  
%d bloggers like this: