Introduction

Each unit is composed of three separate sections, and each section includes a reading text about a relevant topic, a grammar reference, a short story of the life of a family called “The Marbles”, and finally a section about the use of the language.

In the unit called “Aging”, there is a text about life expectancy. Nowadays, people live longer than in the past and this generates a lot of changes and challenges at a social level. Next, there is a text which describes the aging process, the physical and psychological changes that occur as we age. The last text describes some of the diseases normally associated with the elderly.

As for the grammar, you will learn about three basic aspects. In the first section, there is information about three very important words in a language: the nouns, which are used to define the material and inmaterial world around us; the determiners, which are some small words that we add to nouns, like articles, demonstratives and possessives; and the personal pronouns, which we use to refer to nouns. The second grammar section deals with the auxiliary verbs. These verbs are used to help other verbs form certain tenses, like the continuous tenses (verb ‘to be’) and the perfect tenses (verb ‘to have’); the passive (verb ‘to be’); and the interrogative and negative sentences (verb ‘to do’). The third section in the unit deals with three other types of important words: the quantifiers, which are added to nouns to express quantity; the intensifiers, which we can add to adjectives and adverbs to indicate different degrees of intensity; and the English numbers, which form a type of quantifiers with some special characteristics. Before this grammar section, you will see the storyline, where you can see some examples of the grammar points in context.

In the first section of the unit, you will also find information about the oral skills of the language (listening and speaking). These skills are the most difficult ones to acquire in an online course because they require practice with another person, especially speaking, but even so, you will find some advice and resources about the best ways of practising these skills. In the second section, we introduce the two remaining skills, the written skills (reading and writing). You will read about the characteristics of both and you can also get some ideas on how to practice each one, with a special reference to the use connectors and puctuation, which are necessary to write a text correctly. The third section introduces what we call ‘everyday language’. This refers to a number of expressions which are used in particular contexts and we can also use the terms ‘functional language’, or ‘social language’, because they are used in our interaction with other people. In this unit, we begin with the ways of greeting and introducing people, which are two very basic examples of interaction.

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Summary