Play Explores Humor, Complexity of Learning English

时间:2023-03-20 01:31:15



Play Explores Humor, Complexity1 of Learning English

Anyone who has learned a foreign language knows how uncomfortable the experience can be. But learning a new language is also enjoyable, meaningful and humorous.

The play "English" explores those ideas and more. The comedy is about four Iranian students in an upper-level English class preparing to take the TOEFL, the Test of English as a Foreign Language. The play is set in Iran over the course of one term.

The students are all adults with different English abilities and different reasons for taking the class.

Elham is hoping to go to medical school in Australia but must first pass the TOEFL. She has already failed the test five times and sometimes seems to hate English.

Goli is the youngest of the group. Of all the students, she is the most excited about learning the language. Roya wants to learn English so she can communicate with her grandchildren who live in Canada. And Omid is already very good at English. It is unclear why he wants to be in the class.

The teacher, Marjan, lived in Britain for several years. But she is worried about losing her fluency2.

"English" was first released in New York City in 2022. It began showing in Washington, D.C., in January. It finishes its run in the nation's capital on March 12.

"English" recently won the Obie Award for Best New Play. The Obie awards honor theater that is off-Broadway.

Sanaz Toossi, an Iranian-American, wrote the play. In a press release, she said that giving up a native language to move someplace else "can be an immensely painful experience for so many people..."

"I wanted to capture that, but I also wanted to honor how funny, textured4, and sometimes contradictory5 Iranians (and all of us) can be."

The students in the class play word games, listen to English-language songs, and watch American romantic comedies. Marjan has banned the use of Farsi in the class. But the rule is often broken.

The play is entirely6 in English. But through changing their voices, the characters show that they are "speaking" Farsi. When the students speak English, they do so in a strong Persian accent. Their sentences are often simple, because they are learning and speaking a foreign language. Words are spoken incorrectly.

But when the characters speak English in a perfect American accent, that means to the audience that they are speaking Farsi. When the characters speak Farsi, also called Persian, they can communicate much more clearly and can better express themselves.

The play explores how one's personality can change or even be lost when speaking a foreign language. It also deals with how speaking a different language can make a person question their sense of identity.

Elham, who is a proud person, feels shame when she speaks English. When speaking English, Elham says she feels "like idiot" ("Like an idiot," Marjan, the teacher, corrects her).

Marjan says she feels more like herself when she speaks English. But Roya does not feel like she can have an honest discussion with her son in English.

Tara Grammy is the actor who plays Elham. She was born in Iran and raised in Canada. Unlike the character Elham, Grammy enjoys learning languages. She speaks both English and Farsi fluently and also knows some German and French.

Grammy told VOA, "Different parts of us come out in different languages when you're multilingual." She said that English, which she is most skilled in, is the language of her intellect. Farsi is her language of love, she said.

"When I see a baby or I see a dog or something I speak to them in Persian," Grammy said.

In the play, Goli says she likes English because it is like rice—you can make it however you would like. It is much different than Farsi, which she says always tries to sound like poetry.

Grammy agrees. "English is simple, it's to the point. It's accessible, it's universal. Whereas Persian is absolutely poetry. It's ancient. It's complex," she said.

"You could learn English from reading a book," she added. "But I feel like Persian you have to learn from people, because it's so layered and ... just one phrase could mean 10 different things."

Grammy thinks personality is not lost when speaking different languages. Instead, she said, "the more languages you know the more access you have to expressing different sides of yourself."

Words in This Story

uncomfortable — adj. causing a feeling of being embarrassed or uneasy

fluent — adj. able to speak a language easily and very well

comedy— n. a play, movie, television program, novel, etc., that is meant to make people laugh

immense — adj. very great in size or amount

texture3 — n. the various parts of a song, poem, movie, etc., and the way they fit together

contradictory — adj. involving or having information that disagrees with other information

shame — n. a feeling of guilt7, regret, or sadness that you have because you know you have done something wrong

idiot — n. a very stupid or foolish person

accessible — adj. easy to appreciate or understand

layered — n. a covering piece of material or a part that lies over or under another



1 complexity KO9z3     
  • Only now did he understand the full complexity of the problem.直到现在他才明白这一问题的全部复杂性。
  • The complexity of the road map puzzled me.错综复杂的公路图把我搞糊涂了。
2 fluency ajCxF     
  • More practice will make you speak with greater fluency.多练习就可以使你的口语更流利。
  • Some young children achieve great fluency in their reading.一些孩子小小年纪阅读已经非常流畅。
3 texture kpmwQ     
  • We could feel the smooth texture of silk.我们能感觉出丝绸的光滑质地。
  • Her skin has a fine texture.她的皮肤细腻。
4 textured jgRz7L     
adj.手摸时有感觉的, 有织纹的
  • The shoe's sole had a slightly textured surface. 鞋底表面稍感粗糙。
  • Shallow burial seems to preserve chalky textured porosity. 浅埋藏似能保留具白垩状结构的孔隙。
5 contradictory VpazV     
  • The argument is internally contradictory.论据本身自相矛盾。
  • What he said was self-contradictory.他讲话前后不符。
6 entirely entirely     
  • The fire was entirely caused by their neglect of duty. 那场火灾完全是由于他们失职而引起的。
  • His life was entirely given up to the educational work. 他的一生统统献给了教育工作。
7 guilt 9e6xr     
  • She tried to cover up her guilt by lying.她企图用谎言掩饰自己的罪行。
  • Don't lay a guilt trip on your child about schoolwork.别因为功课责备孩子而使他觉得很内疚。

本文本内容来源于互联网抓取和网友提交,仅供参考,部分栏目没有内容,如果您有更合适的内容,欢迎 点击提交 分享给大家。