Intermediate word of the day: restore

When you restore something, you make it good again or make it exist again after a time when it was bad, damaged or not in use. So you can restore an old building or an old machine. You can restore public confidence, or restore calm or peace or restore order. Doctors might also restore someone’s sight or hearing. Democracy might be restored to a country. Usually the thing which is restored is a good thing and we often use a passive – we say something is restored or has been restored. The noun is restoration.

When you think about how to use the word restore, it’s useful to think about why something had to be restored. What happened before? You might also think about what was done to restore the building, peace, confidence, etc.? For example, maybe someone had an accident or was ill or they lost their hearing. You can have an operation to restore your hearing where they put a tiny computer chip in the ear. In the same way, some people have laser surgery to restore their sight. Alternatively, you might need to restore the settings on your computer because it’s been attacked by a virus – or because you want to sell it. So you might need to save all your files to an external hard drive and then run a programme to restore the default system and re-install applications.

Next, think about buildings that have been restored. Why? What happened – and how?

Well, when you go on a tour of an old building like a church or a castle, you might be told that the roof or rooms are not original. They were restored in the 19th century or the 1820s or whenever after being damaged in a fire or after being damaged in an earthquake. Sometimes the buildings have been neglected – people haven’t looked after them – or they were completely abandoned – people left them or stopped using them.

An example of this are some gardens I visited recently in the south of England. In 1914, the people who worked there went to fight in the First World War. The gardens  were neglected and became overgrown and were totally abandoned for over 70 years until they were rediscovered in the 1990s. Since then, they have been restored to their former glory. The weeds were cleared, some walls were rebuilt. They restored the old greenhouses to their original conditionrepainting the wood and replacing the broken glass. They have also repaired the paths for visitors to walk round. It’s an amazing place.

Now think about why peace or law and order might need to be restored. What happened? How was it restored?

Many countries have experienced civil war. Sometimes peace was restored by one side winning and because the other side surrendered – they accepted that they had lost and stopped fighting. More often, both sides agree to stop fighting and negotiate an end to the war. In other cases, order has to be restored, because there have been riots – lots of people fighting and breaking things in the street. For example, in 2011 there were riots in London and other parts of the UK. The riot started in North London following a demonstration against the police. The police had been accused of shooting an innocent man in the area. A lot of people were angry about other things like unemployment and the demonstration turned violent. The police couldn’t control the crowd and the crowd started attacking the police and smashing up shops and cars. The rioting spread to other places in London. It took several days for the government to restore order. They had to bring in extra police from other parts of Britain and call for calm.

Cover the text. What do you remember?

  • Say five things that can be restored.
  • What’s the noun connected to restore?
  • How could you restore someone’s hearing / sight?
  • Why might a building need to be restored?
  • What might you need to do if you wanted to restore some historic gardens?
  • When might peace / law and order need to be restored? How can it be done?

Related stories in the news

A £2.4m scheme to help restore buildings in Aberdeen’s Union Street has been launched. The five-year scheme is aimed at restoring one of the the city’s main streets to its former glory. It will provide grants to property owners, allowing them to carry out improvement works. These works may range from shop front improvements to the reinstatement of architectural features. It has funding support from Historic Environment Scotland and Aberdeen Inspired. At the moment, around 10% of the street’s retail space is sitting empty, a problem many other towns and cities around the UK also suffer from.

In Egypt, the President has given the military three months to restore security and stability to the Sinai peninsula, following the terrible attack on a mosque last Friday, which left 305 people dead. Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has told troops they can use “all brute force” necessary.

Finally, Japan has announced that it plans to send gardening experts around the world to restore Japanese-style gardens that have fallen into a state of neglect. The gardens have unique features such as stone bridges, ponds, moss-covered paths, stone lanterns and carefully tended miniature trees. There are about 500 Japanese gardens around the world of which 40 are in disrepair, with local gardeners generally struggling to maintain them. Officials say the plan is a way of promoting Japanese culture abroad.

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  • Do you know any places that have been restored to their former glory?
  • Can you think of any buildings / streets where you live that need to be restored?
  • Can you think of any other times when security / peace / law and order needed to be restored? What happened?
  • Have there heard of any riots recently? When? Why?
  • Do you know any countries that have been through a civil war? What happened?
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