Exercise 1

A. You are going to listen to an interview with David and Emma Illsley, who went to live in Mairena, a small village in southern Spain, in 1997. Number pictures a-g in the order they mention them (1-7).

B. Listen again to the first half of the interview. Answer the questions with D (David), E (Emma), or B (both).


___  first got a job in Spain

___  studied at Warwick University

___  taught English

___  fell in love with Mairena

___  taught in Granada for a year

___  worked in local government

___  thinks having children helped them to integrate

___  employs local people

C. Now listen again to the second half of the interview. Make notes under the following headings:

What they like most about living in Mairena

What they don’t like about living in Mairena

What they miss about the UK

Whether or not they will go back to the UK



1 D   2 G   3 C   4 F   5 A   6 H   7 E   8 B


1 D   2 E   3 B   4 B   5 D   6 D   7 E   8 B


What they like most about living in Mairena

the weather; living in a small community; learning how to farm

What they don’t like about living in Mairena

the time spent traveling to get to stores; the paperwork and bureaucracy

What they miss about the UK

friends and family; pubs; polite dog walkers; in London, cultural diversity; the choice of restaurants

Whether or not they will go back to the UK

maybe, but probably not


I = interviewer, E = Emma, D = David

I   Why did you decide to leave the UK and live abroad?

E   Well, actually it was David who convinced me it was a good idea. A long time ago, going back, I was studying at the, my final year at the University of Warwick and David was working at that time in Majorca and we met in England and then he returned to work in Majorca. And then it was, it was very– we kept in touch by letters and it was very easy to be seduced by the, the lifestyle he had there, the lovely swimming, the barbecues in the mountains, the, the fishing for octopus, so I was sitting finishing my le–, my essays in the- the library windows covered with rain and, yes, so when I graduated I, I went very happily out to, to Spain to be with him and we both got jobs in Vigo in, in Spain working as language teachers in a private school and we had a lovely time, we just – we worked, and when we weren’t working we spent the time discovering the area, going out on our bikes and learned to windsurf, yes, that was a great year.

 So a very happy introduction to Spain for you, and, and how did you both end up in Mairena?

D   Well, it was by chance, really, we’d, we’d been working as English teachers for, for several years, ten years perhaps in my case and we realized that we had the opportunity to, to take a year off, a sabbatical year as it were, with a view to then going back to, to teaching again and we had a friend who had a, a small house in the, in, in a village in the mountains south of Granada and he’d agreed to, to let us rent this house for, for next to nothing, for a year, so that’s what we did, but whilst we were there we wandered around and cycled around and finally stumbled on this little village of Mairena where we live now and fell in love with the village, fell in love with the house that we, we lived in for a while at first and realized at the end of the year that we were, we were having a ball and enjoying it too much, really to, to want to go back, so at that point we realized that we had to, to find a way of earning a living because we didn’t have any money and so we, I, I got a job in Granada in fact just teaching for a year or so and then we opened what’s now Las Chimeneas, our little hotel and restaurant.

 How integrated do you feel in the local community?

D   Well, one of the things that made me feel very integrated and indeed very, very proud in fact was, was being invited to, to join the local council and I worked for six years as the, the deputy mayor and not necessarily a very good deputy mayor, but I kind of enjoyed it, and it was, you know, I consider it as an honor to be, to be involved and asked to get involved in, in local politics and it’s, it’s a useful thing as well, rather than just being on the outside protesting at decisions taken after the event it’s quite useful to be part of the decision-making process as well. And…

E   I think for me the, the thing that really made a difference was when we had children, because especially, as being, being, you know a mother in the village, it meant that you met other mothers and people felt it was a reason to talk, and our children are friends with the other kids, they come round to play now, so yeah, that was a big difference for me.

D   And having a business as well because we, you know people can see that we’re, we’re actually working, and we’re working alongside our neighbors, because, you know, we’re lucky, we’re – enough to be in a position where we’ve been able to employ quite a lot of the local villagers as, you know, as cooks, and chefs, and taxi drivers, and so on.

I   What do you like most about living in Mairena?

 The obvious thing and almost a cliché is the weather, you can’t underestimate that, I mean, the weather does affect your everyday life and also simple things like the incredible clear skies and the light. But I think it’s something more than that, as long as I can remember I always had a hankering, I really wanted to live in a very small community, I remember even as a child it was something that I always had an ambition to do. And I think something about living in a very small village, everything seems very kind of human, very manageable, you, you know everybody, you literally know everybody in the village, and what’s also been great the last few years is that we bought some land which is filled with almonds, and olive and fruit trees, so we spend a lot of tr– time down there and learning how to farm like the locals do, because they have very complicated watering techniques, so we’ve had to speak to locals and learn how to farm the land.

 Are there any downsides to living there?

E   It’s the traveling, isn’t it, we have to spend probably more time than we would like in a car to, to buy something simple. On, on the one hand it’s great being away from shops, it’s like a kind of a, real kind of consumer detox, but on the other hand when you actually have to buy something it means you have a long journey, which I could do without.

D   And there’s lots of paperwork as well, Spain is a very heavily bureaucratic country as well, and so there is lots of certification and permits and so on that we’ve got to, we’ve got to get together and that always means a drive of a couple of hours to, to get to, to Granada, the local center to, to get paperwork sorted out.

I   Is there anything you miss about the UK?

D   Well, obviously we miss friends and family, I mean that’s the, the big thing, but we’re lucky we live in a nice part of the world and so we, we get lots of visitors, who come out and, and stay with us which is nice and then, you know, often it’s very trite, silly little things that you miss, I mean I miss pubs with carpets and soft lighting and you know, polite dog walkers, that kind of thing.

E   The fact that actually when we come back we often come back to London so, what I really like about the UK is, is that sense of cultural diversity, just traveling on public transport in London, you’re very aware of the, the, the very wide range of people living here which obviously you wouldn’t get in a, a small rural community. And, of course, the, the great thing about that is being in London is, yeah, you can choose, the, the– you know, rest– any kind of restaurant, that’s a big treat to come back and be able to choose what kind of food you want to eat.

 Do you think you’ll come back to the UK one day?

D   Well, you never know, I mean, we, we, we never took a, a decision that we would stay in Spain forever, so it was kind of by chance, by accident that we’ve been in Spain so long, so we, we’ve never really ruled it out, it would be tricky I think to come back, largely for economic or financial reasons, Britain is a very expensive place to buy a house at the moment and then of course there’s the boys, the boys, our two sons are now aged 7 and 13, so they were born and brought up in Spain, so it would be, they would be really uprooted for them to take them back to the UK, I think now, that would be perhaps a, a bigger hurdle.

E   Yeah, for sure, that’s the main reason why, why I can’t see us going back is definitely Dan and Tom, but of course, I think once you’ve spent 15 years building up a business then also that’s something you don’t want to, to easily turn your back on.

Exercise 2

A. Listen to a radio program about a book. In general, does the story have a sad or a happy ending?

B. Listen again and mark the sentences T (true) or F (false).

1   Nazneen hadn’t met Chanu before she joined him in England.

2   Nazneen’s new husband doesn’t live up to her expectations.

3   Nazneen rebels from the start against her new life in London.

4   Nazneen’s feelings for her husband remain the same throughout the novel.

5   Nazneen’s sister, Hasina, chose her own husband.

6   Nazneen doesn’t make any friends while she is in London.

7   Nazneen’s outlook on life changes as the novel progresses.

8   It is Nazneen’s lover, Karim, who teaches her how to speak English.



In general, the book has a happy ending.


1 T   2 T   3 F   4 F   5 T   6 F   7 T   8 F


Host   Hello and welcome to the show. There are many stories about immigrants coming to new countries and today we’re going to look at some of the best. Our starting point is a novel by the Bangladeshi-born British writer Monica Ali. It’s called Brick Lane, and here’s Jenny Trench to tell us about it.

Jenny   Hello there. Brick Lane tells the story of Nazneen, a Bangladeshi woman, who is sent to England at the age of 18 to enter into an arranged marriage. Her husband is Chanu, a middle-aged civil servant, who is also a Bangladeshi immigrant. Nazneen has been told that Chanu is a successful man, because this is how her father and his peers regard Bangladeshis who have left the country to make a new life for themselves abroad. But Chanu is not a success. He lives in a relatively poor area of London called Tower Hamlets and his apartment is not only full of ugly furniture, but is also in need of repair. Nazneen is confused by her new husband and her new surroundings, and to make things worse, she’s forbidden from leaving the house. At first, she accepts her fate and settles into the traditional role of wife and mother, while still an outsider in London.

Host   Jenny, apart from Nazneen, tell us about the other characters in the story.

Jenny   Well, I’ve already mentioned Chanu, Nazneen’s husband. He is full of endless plans to become successful, but he’s incapable of realizing any of them. At first, Nazneen has a strong aversion to him, but as time goes by, they gradually begin to accept one another. Then, there are the two daughters, Shanana and Bibi. Shanana battles constantly with her father, mainly because she prefers British culture, while Bibi longs for stability. Nazneen’s sister Hasina appears often in the story in the many letters she sends, describing her troubled life back in Bangladesh. Hasina’s fate is quite the opposite to Nazneen’s as she eloped to make a love marriage and then ran away when her husband began beating her. Razia, Nazneen’s unconventional friend, who shaves her head and wears European clothes, often visits Nazneen for a chat. And of course, there is Karim, the good-looking young man who is Nazneen’s lover for a time.

Host   Of course. What did you like most about the story, Jenny?

Jenny   The thing I liked most was the way we see Nazneen begin to take control of her life. Nazneen was taught from birth to accept her fate, and this is what she does on her arrival in England. As time passes, however, she begins to question the role of fate. One day, she leaves the house to explore the neighborhood and comes across Brick Lane itself, a street which is the very heart of London’s Bangladeshi community. As her daughters grow, she learns English from them, which ,!lows her to function in the world outside her home. Her life opens up more when she starts taking in sewing to earn some extra money and she meets Karim. But Brick Lane is not a love story. It’s about Nazneen’s development as a person. In the closing pages, we find a much more confident Nazneen. We are aware that her troubles are not over, but we know that she’s much better-equipped to cope with them than she was when she first arrived in London.

Host   Thank you, Jenny Trench. So that was Monica Ali’s novel, Brick Lane. And now onto our next book …

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