Berlin taxi drivers pick up top tips on how to handle the English

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Artykuł pochodzi z pisma "Guardian"

Berlin taxi drivers pick up top tips on how to handle the English

Sitting in a classroom decorated with an England shirt and various football scarves, Bernd Dörendahl is learning English. The teacher asks him where he likes to go on holiday. "I am flying to the Balearic Islands," he replies.
Mr Dörendahl is one of 91 Berlin taxi drivers who are learning English for the 2006 World Cup in Germany. With just over a year to go, Mr Dörendahl and his fellow taxi drivers are attending an English course designed to help them speak to the thousands of British fans who are expected to pour into Berlin.
Six of the 64 World Cup matches will be held in Berlin's newly renovated Olympic stadium, including the opening ceremony and the final.
Mr Dörendahl grew up in communist East Germany, where English was not taught. But, with few British fans able to speak German, Mr Dörendahl is determined to master the basics. "We want to show Fifa that Berlin taxi drivers are trying to do their bit," he said. "I want to be able to say more than 'A little bit' when people ask me if I can speak English. It's a very difficult language, though."
As well as useful phrases such as turn right and straight ahead, the taxi drivers studying at Berlin's language academy are also learning handy football terms such as offside, referee and, of course, penalty shootout.
They also learn how to give an opinion on which side will win.
"It won't be England," Mr Dörendahl said. "Germany will get to the final again, but they will lose against Argentina."
The English for Taxi Drivers course started in January. After 100 hours of study, Mr Dörendahl and his fellow graduates will get an "English spoken" sticker which they can put in their yellow Mercedes cabs, possibly with a World Cup logo on it.
So far only a small fraction of Berlin's 14,000 taxi drivers has enrolled for English lessons, which cost just €2.95 (£2) an hour.
"Some of those who grew up in West Germany have good English already," Mr Dörendahl said. "Others can't be bothered. They say, 'I haven't needed English for 30 years. I don't need it now'."
The lessons, in a classroom near Berlin's Tempelhof airport, are just a small part of Germany's impressive preparations for the World Cup.
The Olympic stadium, where the Nazi regime staged the 1936 Olympics, has been renovated at a cost of €250m.
Once the tournament starts, tourist officials in Berlin are planning to convert the leafy heart of the city - between the Brandenburg Gate and the Siegesäule, the golden victory pillar - into a vast sports avenue.
Fans who don't have tickets will be able to watch the games on a giant screen. Next Tuesday the British embassy in Berlin is hosting a World Cup seminar, which brings together regional representatives from the English Football Association and the Home Office with their German counterparts.
British officials estimate that more than 100,000 England fans are likely to come to Germany for the tournament, assuming, as seems likely, that England qualifies. Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales have little chance of qualification.
Mr Dörendahl's English teacher, Juliane Bannert, said most of her students were beginners. After five months, what was Mr Dörendahl's English like? "It's not bad. He has a very strong German accent. His pronunciation isn't very good. But he is willing to learn," she said judiciously.
Very few of the mainly middle-aged taxi drivers taking her course had visited Britain, she said.
Mrs Bannert tries to teach them the rudiments of British culture. "I tell them that all the Brits go to Prague and get drunk there," she said. "I also tell them that London is really expensive and that if they have a chance to go to Scotland they should go there."
So far, Fifa has allocated 812,000 tickets for the tournament, after a lottery last month. The vast majority of applicants were disappointed. Further sales phases will continue throughout the year. The tournament's German organising committee has not clarified what will happen if successful holders try to sell their tickets to other fans.
The tickets are not transferable, but whether it will be possible to enforce this, even in law-abiding Germany, remains to be seen.
Yesterday Mr Dörendahl, who is also the deputy president of Berlin's taxi drivers' guild, said: "I'm going to watch it on TV. It's the best way."
His experience of Britain is restricted to a holiday in Scotland seven years ago, with his wife and two grown-up sons. "They can all speak better English than me. I liked Scotland a lot ... though it was a bit strange driving on the left."
Like most Germans, Mr Dörendahl is magnanimous about the England team. His favourite players are the Neville brothers and Paul Scholes. "England plays proper football. Your team is creative and aggressive," he said. "I'm not sure about Beckham, though. He's good at free kicks, but he can't do anything else."

clarify- wyjaśniać
convert- zmieniać, przekształcać
counterpart- odpowiednik
deputy- zastępca
design- projektować, obmyślać, opracowywać
enforce- wprowadzać w życie
enrol- zapisywać się
estimate- szacować
fraction- frakcja; drobna część
giant- olbrzymi
holder- posiadacz, właściciel, okaziciel
judiciously- rozsądnie, rozważnie
law-abiding- praworządny
leafy- pokryty zielenią
magnanimous- wielkoduszny, wspaniałomyślny
offside- spalony, na spalonym
penalty shootout- seria rzutów karnych
pillar - filar, podpora
pour into- napływać, tłumnie przybywać
referee- sędzia
renovate- odnawiać, restaurować
rudiments- fundamenty, podstawy
sticker- naklejka
tournament- igrzyska, turniej
vast- ogromny, przestronny

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