Listen to the extract from our story Awaking Beauty. It is around four minutes long. You can also read along with the text, and answer the questions at the end. The passage is about a student who is starting her first day at a college in Oxford University. The student (Sally) speaks with an accent from the City of Liverpool.
Sally was just longing for her parents to leave. It had been very kind of them to drive her up to her new college, but now she had been smothered and mothered quite enough. After 18 years, she had received all the advice she needed about hot her water bottle, her vitamin pills, and her beauty sleep.
“And just one word before we go,” said Mum as she held both her daughter’s hands tightly: “Don’t ever turn down an invitation to a party, You never know who you might meet, especially in a place like this.”
When her parents stepped out through the door of the Porter’s Lodge, and back into the real world of light, noise and pollution, Sally turned around and looked at the honey coloured stone of Westerly College. For almost 800 years, students had walked around the quadrangle, past the dining hall, the chapel, and the doors that opened onto creaky staircases. Very little had changed down the centuries. The only discernible evidence of the modern world was the faintest rumbling of traffic from the street beyond the college walls.
“It’s just like a fairy tale,” thought Sally to herself, “Like a castle in an enchanted wood, that has been asleep for centuries.”
She went back to her room and lay on her narrow, lumpy bed. Suddenly she felt restless. Was her new life to consist of these four oak panelled walls? The spirits of all the students who had lived in this room down the centuries were not much company. For a moment or two, she even missed her parents. She resolved not to be lonely. She got up, went out of her room, and tapped on her neighbour’s door.
“This is the knock of destiny,” she said to herself, “Perhaps the door will be opened by an Arabian prince, or perhaps by the daughter of a postman. Either way, I have this feeling that we will be life-long friends.”
But no reply came from within. Whoever he or she might be was out, no-doubt hobnobbing with brilliant and fascinating friends. Sally went back to listen to The Killers on her mp3 player.
The next day, she knocked on the door of her tutor, and as it was half open already, she entered his room. She saw two boys sitting on chairs, and a girl stretched out on the sofa with her nose buried in a cushion. The boys were in jeans and t-shirts, that hardly matched the black academic gowns draped on their backs. The sleeping girl wore a purple velvet dress, embroidered with a rich pattern of leaves and exotic birds. Her auburn hair rolled down her face in ringlets. Her arm dropped limply down to the floor. A bracelet clustered with jewels dangled on her wrist. Her expression was of serene innocence.
One of the boys smiled at Sally and put his finger over his lips to say “Shshsh.”
1) What kind of advice does Sally’s mother like to give her?
2) What impression does Sally have of Westerly College?
3) Who is living in the room next door to Sally?
4) Why does Sally feel lonely?
5) Why does the boy “Shshsh” to Sally?
Vocabulary and Grammar
1) “Don’t ever turn X an invitation.” What is the missing word?
2) “The only discernible evidence.” What does “discernible” mean?
a) can be seen
b) can be proved
c) can be refuted
d) can be said
3) What does “It’s” mean?
a) it has
b) it is
c) Many types of it
d) It has been
4) “X he or she might be was out”. What is the missing word?
5)”Her auburn hair”. What colour is “auburn”?
b) bright red
Is somebody who is 17 or 18 years old, and starting university, grown up? Or are they still a child? Write down your views or discuss in class.
What institutions more or less never change, even in the modern world? You might mention
university, school, parliament, churches, law courts, families, kings and queens… anything you think never changes. Write down your ideas or discuss in class.
Is there such a thing as a “modern fairytale”? Or do fairytales have to be set long long ago, in a far faraway land..?