Wenger-learning English

Difficulty Level: 1→(2)→(3)

Background: Arsene Wenger is talking to a group of school children who are taking part in a project to encourage them to learn a foreign language. He tells them a story about his English learning experiences.

Think about this question when you watch the video for the first time:
What aspects of this story show that Wenger was very motivated to improve his English when he was 29 years old?
[afterwards read the text to check your understanding. Watching before reading to answer the question above will help you to develop your listening skills]

So where did you learn English. Was it at school? And can you tell us some of your memories of learning language at school…

Well, I learnt when I was, er 15 and 16 [for] 2 years, because it was not my first language. And I could just say ‘I am’, ‘you are’. And when I was 29 I was a football player, and all my friends went on holiday to Turkey and Greece. And I felt really deeply that I don’t speak well enough English [I didn’t speak English well enough]. I took a plane. Came to London. I asked, ‘how can I get to Cambridge?’ Because I thought that’s where you learn English. And I went to Cambridge in June during my football holidays, and I went from house to house, to see if I can have a bed and breakfast [if I could find bed and breakfast accommodation] and stay there. And finally somebody told me, ‘yes, I have a free room, you can stay here’.  And I asked her, ‘but where can I go to learn English?’. She said, ‘easy, you take a bike, rent a bike there, and you go to this building over there. And you ask for lessons. I went the next morning. Who did I meet there?  The girl who gave me bed and breakfast, she was teaching there! And I made the tests in the morning, and I was with… I was 28-29, and I was with children 12, 13, 14 for 3 weeks. But I never worked so hard, because [I was] so motivated to spend my holidays to learn English [learning English], that in 3 weeks I worked very, very hard. When I went back home, I read only novels in English [I only read novels in English]. And every word I didn’t know, I looked [up] in a dictionary. And that’s the way I learnt English.

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