Unit 5 The ABC of the U.S.A:
America, Seen with European Eyes I. Teaching Objectives
1. To make clear the writer’s purpose to write the text — to get a general idea about America.
2. To grasp the key words and phrases.
3. To master the skills of writing and reading in this unit.
1) To understand the writing techniques applied in this text, such as listing, comparison and
2) To identify the writer’s purpose with the help of some clues.
II. Teaching Content
1. Lead-in Activities
2. Text Organization
3. Skill Learning in Writing and Reading
4. Language Points( key words, phrases and difficult sentences)
5. Grammar Focus (only + to infinitive clause)
6. Guided Practice (exercises, oral practice and group work)
III. Teaching Process
1. Warm-up Questions
1) Nowadays many people are surging into America, how will you comment on this?
2) How do you know about America? What do think of this country?
3) If you were given the chance to choose a foreign country to live, will you choose America?
Why or why not?
2. Text Organization
The whole text centers on the topic of why America seems so strange to visitors form abroad.
Part I (Paras.1-2) Bring about the main focus of the text and make clear that the author comes
form Britain while his wife is all-American. (This implies that the point of
view presented in the text is not biased.)
Part II (Paras.3-28) Explanation of America.(In an A-to-Z list to identify differences between
America and other countries.) 3. Skill Learning in Writing and Reading
1) The main writing skill in this text is LISTING. There are many different way of using listing.
The author prefers an A-to-Z explanation arranged according to the sequence of alphabetical
order. It is equally effective to use numerical order or apply phrases such as “ one of the
features” and “another feature”.
2) Identifying the writer’s purpose in reading materials:
Some of the clues that you can watch for to help you identify what kind of writing you’re
dealing with include:
a) Informational wring features facts, observations and evidence, not opinions or value
judgments. The writer may present theories to explain the facts, but the aim is not so much to
change the reader’s opinion as it is to clarify a question or situation.
b) Persuasive writing features emotional appeals: opinions and arguments, rhetorical
questions, evaluating language and/or judgmental language.
c) Texts written mainly to entertain can, of course, be very varied — but they often use rather
informal language, simple sentence structure, dialogs, puns and or figures of speech.
4. Language Points
1) as American as apple pie---typically American (para.2)
Since apple pie is a common dessert in the U.S.A., this comparison emphasizes that the writer’s
wife, is an typical American.
2) stand for---represent; mean (para.2)
The olive branch stands for peace.
The abbreviation NSPCC stands for National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Childre.
3) announce that you’re after the boss’s job. (para.3)
be after---be in search of; want for oneself.
I’m after a tie to go with this shirt. I’m sure she’s after my husband. 4) …but I doubt it will ever really catch on. (para.4)
catch on---a) become fashionable or popular; be widely accepted.
Will helicopters ever catch on as a common mode of transport?
That new song caught on quickly.
b) get the idea; understand or learn (para.21)
The second time the teacher explained the problem, the boy caught on.
The best thing about the new worker is that he catches on very fast.
5) power game---a situation in which different people or groups are competing for power.
6) I was refused a VISA card on the grounds that I didn’t have a credit profile. (para.5)
on the ground(s) that /of ---for the reason that/of ; because (of) Examples:
His request was disallowed on the grounds that he was not a full member of the club.
He was declining their invitation on the grounds of ill health.
credit profile---a short description of a person’s reputation in money matters.
7) With everyone on the first-name basis, how can you tell your acquaintances form your friends?
tell…from…---recognize the difference between…and ….
All cows look the sme to me, I can never tell one from another.
Can you tell Tom from his twin brother?
8) These can be addictive. (para.9)
addictive---causing people to be unable to stop taking or using the thing.
Narcotics such as morphine, heroin and cocaine are extremely addictive.
The problem with video games is that they are addictive.
9) I had to come to America to discover that…---only when I came to America did I discover
The pattern have to (do sth) can be used with another infinitive phrase to indicate a
conclusion about sth.
I have to pay double to get that ticket.
You would have to be a foreigner, and a newcomer at that, not to know all this.
10) the yellow line at immigration control---the line marked in yellow at international airports in
the USA for people to stand along and have their passports checked by immigration
11) The British queue, once internationally renowned, has begun to decay in recent years.
Paraphrase ---The British queue, which was once well-known in the world for the orderliness,
has begun to fall apart in recent years. (para.14)
Renowned means famous, but renowned implies more glory and admiration while famous
implies little more than the fact of being widely and popularly known.
The region is renowned/ famous for its outstanding natural beauty.
He is a jolly fellow, famous for humor.
12) Nobody would dare ask a Frenchman to put out his Galoise in a restaurant. (para.16)
Paraphrase---As there is no law in France against smoking in such public places as restaurants,
no one has the right to ask a smoker to put out his cigarette in such places, who would feel
offended if anyone should dare ask him to.
put out---cause to stop burning.
Firemen soon put the fire out.
Put out a candle/ pipe
13) an example of an American recklessness (para.17) Paraphrase ---an example of how Americans act without thinking of the consequences of their
an American recklessness---a type of recklessness typical of America
Note: a(n) is used in front of abstract or mass nouns that are preceded by adjectives or followed by
attributive clauses to indicate “ a type of”. Examples:
He has a real knowledge of income-tax legislation.
Success has brought him a happiness that he cannot quite hide.
I use to drink a black tea when I was in England.
14) for that matter---(used to show that a statement is true in another situation or that it can also
refer to another person.) (para.24)
I’m going to bed early, and so for that matter should you (= you should also).
Don’t talk like that to your mother — or to anyone else for that matter (= nor to anyone else
15).One wonders if many terrorists and criminals answer “yes” on these questionnaires. (para.24)
Paraphrase ---It’s doubtful that many terrorists and criminals would, when so questioned, admit
that they would overthrow the government by force or they had criminal records.
16) The European counterpart remains a pale shadow of the all-American original. (para.27)
Paraphrase ---The European yuppies are much less impressive than the typical yuppies of
America where they originated.
be a (pale ) shadow of ---be less powerful or influential or effective than Examples:
The new minister is a pale shadow of his predecessor.
She used to be a great player, but now she’s only a shadow of her former self.
original ---n. a thing form which another is copied, imitated or translated.
The original of this painting is in Rome.
I shall keep the original of this report. You can have a photocopy if you want.
17) The animal seems more ambitious, and more common, on this side of the Atlantic. (para.27)
Paraphrase ---It seems that the human creature in America is more ambitious, and more practical.
18) … but it certainly thinks big. ---…but American certainly have ambitious ideas.
5. Grammar Focus
The only + to infinitive clause
This structure is often used to indicate something that happens immediately afterwards, esp.
something that causes surprise, disappointment misfortune, relief, etc.
I arrived at the shop only to find I’d left all my money at home.
I finally found my watch, only to discover that it had stopped.
He got to the station only to be told the train had gone.
He was cured of cancer l\only to die in a car crash.
“Lifting a rock only to drop it on one’s own feet” is an old Chinese saying describing the behavior
of certain troublemakers.
He hurried back to his hotel room only to find that his luggage had arrived safe and sound.
6. Guided practice
1) Group discussion:
a) If you were making an A-to-Z list of impressions of China, what are some of the things
b) Which of the author’s impressions of America surprised you? Why?
c) If you could visit one place in America for one day, where would you choose to go and
what would you do there?
7. After-class Assignments
1) Review Text A
2) Do exercises:
Cloze (Ex. XI, p. 144)
Translation (Ex. XII & XIII, p. 145,146)
3) Structured Writing (p. 148)
Text B American Value and Assumptions
1. …how devoted they are to “individualism”---…how faithful they are to “individualism”
individualism--- the principle or habit of independent thought or action. In English it is not a
derogatory word in English.
2. The child’s preference will normally be accommodated. --- The child’s choice will usually be approved of by the parents.
preference----something that one likes better than other things.
3. Americans take this advice very seriously, so much so that…---American consider this advice to be very important and worth following, to such an extent that…
so much so that--- to such an extent that
He was very weak, so much so that he couldn’t walk.
We are very busy---so much so that we can’t manage to take a holiday this year. 4. …they assume everyone else in the world is too. ---…they take it for granted that everyone else in the world is a separate individual too.
5. assume that the person feels trapped --- think the person must be feel caught in an unpleasant
situation an unable to escape.
6. In the degree to which they glorify “ the individual” who stands alone and make his or her
own decisions, Americans are quite distinctive.---Americans are quite unusual in their praise
of the successful, self-reliant, independent person — they praise him much more highly than other people do.
stand alone--- be much better or much more important than other people or things.
be distinctive (in sth.) ---be different from others (in sth.)
7. dictate what the individual does.---tell an individual what he or she should do
8. some of the behavior Americans justify as “ individual freedom”---some of the behavior which Americans have good reason to call “individual freedom”. 9. Foreigners who understand the degree to which Americans are imbued with the notion
that…will be able to understand many aspects of American behavior and thinking that
otherwise might not make sense.--- If foreigners understand how deeply Americans are filled
with the idea that…, they will be able to understand many things about American behavior and
thinking, but if they don’t , American behavior and thinking might seem insensible.
10. or otherwise ---(used to indicate other possibilities in addition to what is already mentioned)
or in another way.
People who spoke out against the regime were executed, jailed or otherwise persecuted.
11. room and board---food and accommodation
board ---daily meals in rented accommodation
12. certain phrases…capture their devotion to individualism--- certain expressions…reflect their faith in individualism.
capture---vt. successfully represent in picture, music, or words.
With his camera he tried to capture changes that took place before his eyes.
It would be impossible to capture her beauty in words.
13. “ You made your bed, now lie in it.”---“You chose to do it and you will have to face up to
the consequence however unpleasant it is.” 14. look out for number one.--- (or: look out for oneself) think only about what will bring
oneself an advantage and not about other people.
number one.---(infml) oneself
15. the importance Americans assign to privacy---how Americans think it is important to stay
alone without being disturbed.
16. they’re entitled to a place of their own ---they have the right to a place of their own. 17. rules governing “confidentiality” --- official instructions on keeping secret the information
about their clients.
18. When the boundaries are crossed, Americans will visibly stiffen and their manner will
become cool. --- When the privacy is invaded, Americans will obviously stop being
friendly and become indifferent.