Ever since China was awarded the 2008 Olympic Games five years ago, the country has been busy making all kinds of preparations for the big day. Eager to show the world the progress the country has made over the past decade, the Central government has set aside abundant resources to spruce up Beijing's image. Among the many initiatives is the campaign to polish citizens' language skills. In order to address the needs of foreign visitors who will descend on Chinese soil in droves in 2008, all people, from government officials, taxi drivers and hotel receptionists to students, are learning English. Bilingual signs and billboards display all over the city. Littered with grammatical mistakes, the signs have long been the laughing stock of tourists. But, as part of the drive to refurbish the capital, all signs with language flaws will be replaced this year. Linguistic woes aside, Beijing has long been plagued by the problem of air pollution. As China begins to reap the benefits of modernisation, more and more people are buying private cars. The skyrocketing rate of car ownership is one of the major culprits of air pollution. In order to ensure better air quality during the Olympics, Beijing will ban the use of old vehicles whose worn-out engines spew out exhaust fumes and toxic particles. It is hoped that the clean-up campaign will bring blue skies back to the capital before the Games. To beautify the city, large-scale greenery campaigns have been launched, with seedlings and brushes planted along main thoroughfares leading to Olympic stadiums. Aesthetics aside, a campaign to improve citizens' manners is also in full swing. Criticised for their rowdy behaviour, Chinese tourists' rude and impolite habits often raise eyebrows on foreign soil. So as a counter-measure not to let Olympics' visitors down, the government has developed a civil education campaign which instructs citizens no to spit, jaywalk, squat or speak loudly in public areas. A construction boom is also sweeping across Beijing. New shiny stadiums are rising and existing sports avenues are being expanded and renovated. Inside the training centres, Chinese athletes are undergoing intense training to maximise the chance for China to win gold medals on home turf in 2008. With less than two years to go before the 2008 Beijing Olympics, it seems China will spare no efforts in preparing the city and its people for the big event. The stage is being set, Beijing is in training and cometh the Olympic flame, the nation expects. Think about it How will the 2008 Olympics in Beijing affect China's development? Do you think China will have a successful makeover before 2008? How did you feel when the news broke that China won the right to hold the Olympics? Will you watch the equestrian events in Hong Kong in 2008? Statistics It is estimated that 1.82 million jobs will be created in the lead-up to the Olympics. To serve the Olympic Park area, the Beijing Subway will be expanded from the current 114km to around 200km by 2008. China is building 12 new competition venues, expanding 11 existing ones for the Games. Hong Kong to host horse-riding events With its long history of horse racing, excellent stables and veterinary facilities, Hong Kong has been granted the right to hold the 2008 equestrian events on behalf of Beijing. The events will be held at the Hong Kong Sports Institute in Sha Tin and the Hong Kong Golf Club and the adjoining Beas River Country Club at Fanling. The event will draw visitors and boost Hong Kong's international standing. Word Power Fill in the blanks with the most suitable words in the passage. Five years ago, China was awarded the right to host the 1._______ _______. To prepare for the big event, numerous campaigns have been launched. Beijing citizens were encouraged to learn 2._______ so they can communicate with foreign visitors in 2008. Old vehicles with worn-out 3._______ will be banned from the roads. A large-scale 4.________ campaign was also launched to beautify Beijing with trees. The government also wants to improve people's 5._______ and teach them not to spit and jaywalk. A 6.________ boom is also under way with new sports venues being built. Chinese athletes are undergoing intense 7._______ to maximise the chance for China to win 8._______ medals. Language Focus Past participle phrases Past participle phrases are used to introduce the reason why something happens. Below are some examples of the use of past participle phrases from the passage. 1. Littered with grammatical mistakes, the signs in China have long been the laughingstock of tourists. 2. Criticised for their rowdy behaviour, Chinese tourists' rude and impolite habits often raise eyebrows on foreign soil. Try to combine the following sentences as shown in the example. e.g The children were amazed by the funny pictures. The children shouted with joy. Answer: Amazed by the funny pictures, the children shouted with joy. 1. The boat is filled with people. The boat can't take any more passengers. ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ 2. They were helped by their teachers. They finished their project on time. ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ 3. The girl was shocked by the news. The girl fainted. ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ Answers Pages 6 and 7: 1. Olympic Games 2. English 3. engines 4. greenery 5. manners 6. construction 7. training 8. gold; 1. Filled with people, the boat can't take any more passengers. 2. Helped by their teachers, they finished their project on time. 3. Shocked by the news, the girl fainted.