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PERSONAL CHARACHTERISTICS ............................................................................... 4
About Myself .................................................................................................... 4
House and Home ............................................................................................. 5
Our House and Flat ........................................................................................... 5
My Household Duties ....................................................................................... 6
PLACES .............................................................................................................................. 7
Kharkiv ............................................................................................................. 7
Kyiv................................................................................................................... 8
EVERYDAY LIFE ............................................................................................................. 9
My Working Day .............................................................................................. 9
RELATIONSHIP .............................................................................................................. 11
My Friends ...................................................................................................... 11
Relations between Ukraine and English-speaking Countries ........................ 12
FAMILY AND SCHOOL ................................................................................................ 13
My Family ...................................................................................................... 13
Our School ...................................................................................................... 15
FREE TIME AND HOBBIES .......................................................................................... 17
My Hobby ....................................................................................................... 17
My Day Off..................................................................................................... 18
My Summer Holidays ..................................................................................... 19
My Winter Holidays ....................................................................................... 20
Music in Our Life ........................................................................................... 21
My Favourite Painters .................................................................................... 22
Theatre in Our Life ......................................................................................... 23
My Last Visit to the Theatre........................................................................... 24
Cinema in Our Life ......................................................................................... 24
Sport in Our Life ............................................................................................. 25
My Attitude to Sport ....................................................................................... 26
TRAVELLING ................................................................................................................. 27
SHOPPING ....................................................................................................................... 28
LANGUAGE STUDYING ............................................................................................... 29
Foreign Languages in Our Life ...................................................................... 29
My Favourite Subject ..................................................................................... 30
LITERATURE .................................................................................................................. 31
My Favourite Writers ..................................................................................... 31
Oscar Wilde .................................................................................................... 32
William Shakespeare ...................................................................................... 33
Rudyard Kipling ............................................................................................. 35
William Somerset Maugham .......................................................................... 36
Bernard Shaw.................................................................................................. 37
Mark Twain .................................................................................................... 38
Ernest Hemingway ......................................................................................... 39
Theodore Dreiser ............................................................................................ 40
Lina Kostenko ................................................................................................. 41
ENGLISH-SPEAKING COUNTRIES ............................................................................ 42
GREAT BRITAIN ............................................................................................................ 42
Geographical Position of Great Britain .......................................................... 44
Climate of Great Britain ................................................................................. 45
Cities and Towns of Great Britain.................................................................. 46
London ............................................................................................................ 47
UK Political System ....................................................................................... 50
Sights of Great Britain .................................................................................... 52
Places of Interest in Great Britain .................................................................. 53
Outstanding People of Great Britain .............................................................. 56
Charles Darwin ............................................................................................... 57
Isaac Newton .................................................................................................. 58
John Lennon.................................................................................................... 60
British Youth .................................................................................................. 62
The English Character .................................................................................... 63
English Cuisine ............................................................................................... 64
Customs and Traditions in Great Britain ....................................................... 65
UK Holidays ................................................................................................... 66
British Art, Theatre, Music............................................................................. 67
Television........................................................................................................ 68
Music............................................................................................................... 68
The British Newspapers ................................................................................. 69
British Universities ......................................................................................... 70
THE USA .......................................................................................................................... 72
The United States of America ...................................................................... 73
Geographical Position of the USA ................................................................. 75
Climate and Nature of the USA ..................................................................... 76
Political System of the USA ........................................................................... 77
The Executive Branch of the Government ..................................................... 78
The Legislative Branch of the Government ................................................... 79
The Judicial Branch of the Government ........................................................ 80
State and Municipal Governments ................................................................. 81
Cities and Towns of the USA ......................................................................... 82
Sights of the USA ........................................................................................... 83
Outstanding People of America ..................................................................... 84
O'Henry ........................................................................................................... 85
Bill Gates ........................................................................................................ 86
Edgar Allan Poe .............................................................................................. 87
Martin Luther King ......................................................................................... 89
American Customs and Traditions ................................................................. 90
Holidays in the USA ....................................................................................... 91
National Celebrations in the USA .................................................................. 92
Ethnic Holidays in the USA ........................................................................... 96
Education in the United States ....................................................................... 96
Transportation ................................................................................................. 97
Plant Life......................................................................................................... 98
Animal Life ..................................................................................................... 98
The Supercities ............................................................................................... 99
The Motion Picture ....................................................................................... 100
The American Movies .................................................................................. 101
More on American Literature ....................................................................... 102
NATURE AND ENVIRONMENT ................................................................................ 103
Seasons and Weather .................................................................................... 103
Pollution in Ukraine ..................................................................................... 104
Environmental Protection in Ukraine........................................................... 105
SCIENTIFIC PROGRESS ............................................................................................. 106
JOBS AND PROFESSIONS .......................................................................................... 107
My Future Profession ................................................................................... 107
MASS MEDIA................................................................................................................ 108
Mass Media in Ukraine ................................................................................ 109
Information Technology and Globalization ................................................. 110
About Myself
First of all let me introduce myself. My name is Natalya. My surname is
Goncharenko. I was named after my grandmother, and this fact makes me happy.
I'm seventeen years old. I was born on the 7th of February, 1992, in Kharkiv.
My family is neither large nor small. I have got a mother, a father and a younger
sister. My father is a doctor. He works at a hospital. My mother works at a large
company as an economist. They love their jobs very much, and they spend a lot of time
at work. I am proud of my parents and love them. I would like to spend more time with
them, but they are always busy. My sister is only ten. She is a schoolgirl. Her hair is red
and curly. Her cheeks are freckled. My sister and I do a lot of things about the house.
I have my own duties about the house. I must go shopping and clean the rooms. It’s not
difficult for me. So, when my parents have a little free time, we can have fun together.
I think our family is friendly and united. We like to go to the theatres and museums and
go for walks in the wood.
Now I am a pupil of the eleventh form of a secondary school. I'm doing well at
school. They say I'm a hardworking person. I will finish school this year and I want to
study at the University. So, I have to work very hard. I have already decided what
profession to choose. I want to become a teacher of foreign languages. I think, the
profession of a teacher is very interesting and useful to people but it is not easy, of
course. I'm fond of foreign languages and literature. My favourite subject is English.
I spend much time on my English learning new words, reading books in English, doing
exercises and tests, listening to the tapes etc. My teacher of English is a skilled
professional with broad outlook and deep knowledge of the subject. She encourages my
ambition to become a teacher of English.
I don't have much spare time but I have a hobby. My hobby is drawing. I have been
drawing since my childhood. I also take an active part in social life and go in for sports.
My favourite kinds of sport are volleyball and tennis.
I'm a sociable person so I get along well with different people. I have many good
friends. We like to spend time together. We meet and talk, dance and laugh, listen to
good music and do everything what is interesting for a teenager. I'm happy to have nice
friends and a good family.
You see, my biography isn't long. I hope my dream will come true and I'll become a
House and Home
Our House and Flat
I live in a new nine-storeyed block of flats in Pushkinska Street. It is situated
in a very picturesque place. In front of the house there is a small park where we
like to spend our time.
Our flat is on the fourth floor. It is very comfortable and well-planned. We
have all modern conveniences, such as central heating, electricity, gas, cold and
hot running water and a telephone. There are three rooms in our flat: a living room
and two bedrooms. We also have a kitchen, a bathroom, a small hall and two
Our living room is the largest in the flat. We use it as a sitting room and a
dining room. It is nicely furnished. In the middle of the room there is a big table
with several chairs around it. Opposite the wall you can see a nice cupboard. There
is a colour TV-set in the corner. In the opposite corner there is a sofa, two
comfortable armchairs and a small coffee table. The piano is on the right. There
are two pictures above the piano. There is a bookcase near it. We are fond of books
and have plenty of them at home. On the floor we have a nice thick carpet. The
curtains on the window match the wallpaper. All this makes the room very cosy.
Our bedrooms are also very nice and cosy. The parents' bedroom is larger than
the children's. There are two beds, a bedside table, some chairs and a wardrobe in
it. There is a lovely carpet on the floor.
The children's bedroom is just across the corridor on the right. Our bedroom is
rather big and cosy. We have a large window which faces the beautiful garden with
apple-trees. In our bedroom you can see two sofa-beds where my sister and I sleep
at night and have a rest in the day-time. There is also a desk, two chairs and some
bookshelves here. We use our bedroom as a study where we do our homework. In
the corner of the room there is a small table with a tape-recorder on it. We all
enjoy listening to music. I'm fond of painting, so there are two beautiful pictures
on the walls.
Our kitchen is rather large. There is a gas-stove, a refrigerator, a microwave
oven and a cupboard in which we keep cups, plates and other things. The kitchen
serves us as a dining-room. But when we invite guests or have our family
celebrations we have meals in the living-room.
We are happy to have such a nice flat and try to keep it clean.
My Household Duties
This is my last year at school and I work hard to pass my final exams
successfully. As I am very busy I can't help my parents much in keeping house.
But still I have some household duties. Every day I clean my room and make my
bed, wash up dishes, dust the furniture and take out the rubbish. It is also my duty
to buy bread and milk. I usually go to the bakers before dinner. I buy some brown
and white bread, biscuits and cakes there. The shop is not far from our house and it
doesn't take me much time to do my everyday shopping.
Once a week I help my mother to do all other work about the house. We wash
and iron our linen, and clean the flat. We vacuum the carpets and polish the floor.
It's not difficult to keep the flat tidy if you do your rooms regularly. This is my
usual round of duties. But sometimes I have some other things to do.
When my mother is ill or away from home I do cooking and washing up,
buying food and planning meals. I am not a good cook, but my vegetable soup is
always tasty. I can also boil an egg or fry some meat. I also lay the table and clear
away the dishes. If I'm too busy or can't do these things, all the duties are
distributed among the other members of our family.
Sometimes I have to visit everyday services: hairdresser's, shoemaker's,
tailor's, dry cleaner's, photographer's. At the hairdresser's I have my hair cut and
waved. At the shoemaker's I have my shoes and boots repaired, at the
photographer's I have my photo taken. Their service is generally good, but in some
cases it leaves much to be desired.
My brother has his own duties at home. He helps to repair some things. For
example, he repairs electrical appliances when they are out of order. He has
already repaired our mother's electric iron, my desk lamp and his own shaver.
Last year I was at my grandparents'. They are elderly people and need our care
and attention. During my stay there I swept the floor and washed it, fed chickens,
collected eggs and took care of the garden. I enjoyed this work very much.
My native city is Kharkiv. Kharkiv is quite an old city. It was founded over
350 years ago. The city is situated on the plateau surrounded by the Kharkiv and
the Lopan rivers. According to the popular legend the city is named after the
Cossack Kharko. Kharkiv is the historical capital of Slobidska Ukraine. With the
foundation of Kharkiv University in 1805 the city became an important
educational and cultural centre of Ukraine and the Russian Empire as a whole.
Such cultural figures as Kvitka-Osnovianenko, Hulack-Artemovsky, Kostomarov,
Repin lived and worked in Kharkiv. Kharkiv was the capital of Ukraine from 1919
to 1934.
Today Kharkiv is the second largest city in the country. About two million
people live there. Kharkiv is one of the largest industrial centres in Ukraine. Its
numerous enterprises produce planes, tractors, electronic, mining and medical
equipment, TV-sets, refrigerators, paints and cosmetics, clothing and-textiles.
Furniture and printing industries are well developed in Kharkiv.
Kharkiv is one of the major cultural and scientific centres of Ukraine. There
are a lot of schools, higher educational institutions, research institutes in Kharkiv.
There is the Scientific Library, the Historical and Natural Science Museums and
the Museum of Fine Arts in Kharkiv. The city supports a circus and several
professional theatres.
Kharkiv is very beautiful, especially in spring. There are over 2,500 streets and
26 squares in the city. The largest parks are the Gorky Park, the Shevchenko
Garden with the Zoo, the Artem Park, the Forest Park and some others.
The city is ornamented with a large number of monuments. The most
prominent of them is the one to Taras Shevchenko built in 1935. Its authors are
sculptor M. G. Manizer (1891-1966) and architect I. G. Langbard (1882-1951).
The monument is a multi-form composition while at the same time it is perceived
as the integral whole. The bronze figure of T. Shevchenko is towering on the
granite three-edged pylon over 16 other figures. They symbolize the continuous
raising of the people's struggle against oppressors. Nowadays It is difficult to
imagine Kharkiv without this monument. The grand monument is organically
connected with surrounding scenery of the Shevchenko Garden and the
architectural ensemble of the city.
Kyiv is my native city. It's an ancient city. The archeologists discovered settlements
of the 5th century on its territory. That's why it is considered that Kyiv is about 15
hundred years old.
There is a legend about its foundation. Once there lived three brothers, Kyi,
Shchek, Khoryv and their sister Lybid. They founded a city on one of the hills above the
Dnieper and called it Kyiv after the eldest brother. And in honour of the younger
brothers one hill was named Shchekavitsa, and another — Khorevitsa, while the river
was called Lybid after their sister.
Ancient Kyiv was a large commercial centre of the East Slavs. Its position on the
important water route helped its trade.
During the reign of Prince Volodymyr the city expanded greatly. Under the rule of
Prince Yaroslav the Wise ancient Kyiv increased more than 7 times. Many churches,
cathedrals, and monasteries appeared at that time.
As Kyiv is a very ancient city, there are a lot of places of historical importance in it.
Among them there are Kyivo-Pecherska Lavra, the Golden Gate, the St. Sophia
When somebody comes to see Kyiv and asks me to show him my native city, I am
always in despair. For those who love Kyiv as much as I do, it's very difficult to choose
some places of the particular interest.
If the day is fine and the sky is cloudless, Is like to take my guests to the Golden
Gate. It is situated in the centre of the city. From the top of the Gates we can admire a
splendid view of the city.
I also like the St. Sophia Cathedral. Prince Yaroslav the Wise is buried there. His
Tomb always reminds me about the glory of the first state on the territory of our
country, about Kyiv Rus. I dream about the time when the historians will find the
famous library of Yaroslav the Wise.
I usually like to take my guests to Andriyisky Uzviz. As for me this is the best Kyiv
street. I can't imagine the festivities on the Kyiv Day without having a walk along
Andriyisky Uzviz.
I am proud when I am walking along the streets where there are so many memorial
boards telling us about the famous Kyivites who were walking along the same streets.
Kyiv has changed greatly recently. There appeared a lot of small cafes, cosy
restaurants, different shops and stalls. Their bright colourful signboards look so alluring.
I hope that soon time will come when the standard of life of our people will permit
everybody to enjoy everyday's small joys.
My Working Day
I'm very busy on my weekdays. My weekdays do not differ much one from
On weekdays my day begins early in the morning. I usually get up at 7 o'clock.
I'm not an early riser that's why it's very difficult for me to get out of bed,
especially in winter. I make the bed, open the window and do my morning
exercises. Then I go to the bathroom where I clean my teeth and wash. If I have
enough time I take a cold and hot shower. After bathroom I go back to my room
where I dress and brush my hair. Ten minutes later I am ready for breakfast. After
breakfast I put on my coat, take a bag and go to school. As I live not far from my
school it takes me only five or seven minutes to get there. I don't like to be late for
the first lesson so I come to school a few minutes before the bell.
I leave my coat in the cloakroom and go upstairs to the classroom. The lessons
begin at eight o'clock in the morning and they are over at half past two in the
afternoon. I usually have six or seven lessons a day. After classes I go home. I
don't like to do my homework just after classes because I am really tired. So I have
dinner and have a short rest, read newspapers and magazines or watch TV. Then I
do my homework. We do many subjects at school and it takes me three or even
more hours to do my homework. Sometimes I go to the library to get ready for my
practical classes or to prepare a report. As a rule I have no free time on my weekdays.
Eight o'clock is supper time in our family. We all get together in the kitchen,
then go to the sitting room and watch TV, read books or discuss different things.
Twice a week I go to school in the evening to play volleyball. I am a member of
the school volleyball team and we have our training classes rather late.
At about eleven at night I go to bed.
So by the end of the week I get very tired. All I can do on Saturdays and
Sundays is to sleep till eleven o'clock, watch television, listen to music and read
some books. Nevertheless I look forward to my next week as I like my school. I
think I get a lot of useful experience there.
My Working Day
I'd like to describe my working day. All the days look very much the same.
On weekdays I usually get up at 7 a. m. I do my morning exercises.
Then I wash my face and hands and clean my teeth. At half past seven I am
ready to have breakfast. I like to have a quick light breakfast.
After breakfast I leave for school.
My school is not far from my house. It takes me 10 minutes to get to school.
My lessons begin at 8.30 a. m. and finish at about 3 p. m. My ordinary timetable
consists of six or seven lessons.
Twice a week I stay at school after classes to play basketball.
When I come home I have dinner. Then I rest a little. Sometimes I read a book
or talk to my friends over the telephone.
After that I start doing my home assignments.
Twice a week I go to have private lessons in Maths in order to improve my
As a rule, I finish doing my homework at about 11 o'clock. But one day a
week is not so busy. This is Thursday. On Thursday I usually help my mother.
Sometimes I do shopping or pick up clothes at the cleaner's.
I usually have supper at 8 p. m. Then I go on with my work.
At 11 o'clock I go to bed.
My Friends
I am not a very sociable person yet there are people whom I can call friends. One of
them is Igor. We made friends a few years ago when his family moved to our house. He
was a schoolboy then. Now he is eighteen.
He is a tall, well-built and strong boy. He has an oval face, thick hair, blue eyes and
an attractive smile. So people find him handsome. Igor is a good friend. He's always
ready to help everybody who needs it. He is honest and responsible, so I'm sure I can
rely on him in any situation.
He left school last year and now he's a first year student of the University. Igor is a
future economist. He does not have much free time but if he has it he likes to spend it
with his friends. Igor and his friends like to listen to good music, dance, watch new
films and discuss them and do many other interesting things. We often go to the cinema,
cafes, concerts and shows.
My friend knows a lot of interesting facts about music, famous people and history.
He is fond of driving. Now his car is not very new and beautiful but he hopes to buy
another one in future.
Igor also goes in for sports. He plays basketball and football very well.
I'm happy to have such a good friend as Igor.
I would like to tell you about one more bosom-friend of mine. Her name is Helen.
We are of the same age, we are both 17. She is a beautiful girl, not very tall but
pleasantly plump. She has fair curly hair and dark-blue eyes. When she smiles two
pretty dimples appear on her cheeks.
Helen is well-bred, joyful and kind, a good mixer and a soul of every company. She
is tactful, quick-witted, generous and kind-hearted, careful and sensitive. She is always
ready to help other people. She is fond of reading various kinds of books. She always
has 2 or 3 books with.
Helen's second hobby is knitting and sewing. She is always elegant and always
wears the things that suit her.
We spend much time together — watch video or listen to music, go for walks in the
park not far from our house, go to the cafe or disco. We also discuss new films,
television programmes or books.
I think our friendship makes me feel strong and self-confident; develop the skill to
consider other people's feelings and opinions.
Relations between Ukraine and English-speaking Countries
There is no denying the fact that not so long ago Ukraine had very weak
connections with other countries in the world. But at present the situation has
changed for the better. As now Ukraine is a sovereign state it establishes new
relations with the countries throughout the world. Ukraine is one of the members
of the United Nations Organization and participates in the work of many
international organizations. We have wide relations with Canada, the USA and
Great Britain in policy, economics and culture. Foreign Embassies of these
countries are situated in Kyiv. We have some joint political projects with the
United States of America and Canada. A lot of joint ventures have appeared in
Ukraine recently. Such big plants of ours as Cherkasy joint-stock company "Azot",
Gorlivka chemical plant "Stirol", Kharkiv aircraft plant sell their products at the
international market.
Scientific cooperation is also very important. We have joint projects for space
exploration with the USA and Canada. Cooperation in culture, education and sport
is very important, too. We exchange students and teachers with these countries.
These exchange programs help us to understand each other better, to study culture
and traditions of other countries.
Ukrainian orchestras, pop and opera singers, ballet dancers are warmly
received abroad. A lot of tourists from English-speaking countries visit Ukraine
every year.
It's very important to mention that many people who are Ukrainians by origin
live in Canada. So we have special relations with this country. Canada was the first
among the western states that recognized the state independence of Ukraine. Many
of the Ukrainians now living in Canada and other English-speaking countries don't
lose connections with Ukraine. A lot of public organizations, educational
establishments, religious organizations make considerable contribution to the
development of our culture, literature and art.
From year to year the number of spheres of our relations with the countries
abroad grows. We hope that our relations with other countries will go on
My Family
Our family is neither large nor small. I have got a mother, a father and an elder
brother. We all live together in a new flat in one of the industrial districts of Kharkiv.
We are a typical Ukrainian family.
My father is 45 years old. He is a tall and well-built man with short black hair and
grey eyes. He works as a computer programmer at a big company. He likes his job and
spends much time there. My father is always very busy but when he is at home and has
some free time he plays the guitar and we sing. He is also handy with many things. He
can easily fix almost everything. My father teaches me to repair furniture and to drive a
car. As a person my father is a quiet man, while my mother is energetic with good sense
of humour and always ready to help.
My mother is 43 years old. But to my mind she looks much younger. She is not tall,
but she has a fine figure. Father says she is still as slim as she used to be in her youth.
She also has beautiful fair long and wavy hair. She is a professional painter. She works
for a design company. Her colleagues respect her very much and she has many friends.
My mother is a busy woman. She also has a lot of work to do about the house though
we all try to help her as much as possible.
My parents have been married for 20 years. They have much in common but they
have different views on music, books, and films. My mother prefers soap operas but my
father likes horror films and thrillers. My mother plays the piano and sings very well,
and my father plays the guitar and he is an excellent story-teller.
My brother is three years older than me. He is nineteen. Like our mother he has
blue eyes and lovely fair hair. He is a very handsome young man. He studies at the
University and he wants to become an economist. My brother isn't married yet and has
no family of his own that is why he lives with us.
Our family is very united. We like to spend time together. In the evenings we watch
TV, read books and newspapers, listen to music or just talk about the events of the day.
Our parents don't always agree with what we say but they respect our opinion. All of us
like to spend our week-ends in the country. We often go to the village where our
grandparents live. They are aged pensioners now and they prefer living in the country. I
also have many other relatives: uncles, aunts and cousins. We are happy when we are
My Family
Our family is not large. We are a family of four: my father, my mother, my younger
brother and I.
My name is Olga. I am seventeen. I am a school leaver. My younger brother is ten.
He is a pupil of the fifth form. He looks like our father. He has brown eyes, short
straight hair. He is tall and thin. As for me everybody says I look like my mother. I have
the same blue eyes, a snub nose, fair curly hair. I am not tall and I am not thin. I am an
ordinary girl of 17.
Our family lives in Kyiv in one of the residential areas on the left bank of the
Dnieper. We have a nice three-roomed flat on the fourth floor of a nine-storied building.
We have all modern conveniences: running hot and cold water, telephone, central
heating, rubbish chute. We have no gas range. All the flats in our house are provided
with electric cookers. At first it was rather unusual but we got used to it very soon. And
then we realized the advantage of the electric cooker: the air in the kitchen is always
fresh and the walls are clean. My mother is satisfied with our flat which we moved in
only a year ago.
My mother is about 40. She looks pretty well and doesn't look her age. We all love
our Mum and are always ready to help her about the house. We try to share our duties.
Returning home after classes I usually do the shopping. I drop in at the bakery, at the
dairy or at the grocer's.
My younger brother also has his duties about the house. He helps Mother to set the
table and wash the dishes. He usually sweeps the floor and dusts the furniture. On
Saturdays Dad joins us in our work about the house. He likes to make or repair
something. He also likes to clean the flat with a vacuum-cleaner. I suppose it's his little
hobby. But speaking seriously his real hobby is taking photos. He can do it perfectly
well. We have several family albums with the pictures taken by him.
My father is an engineer in computers. He is considered to be an experienced
engineer. We are very proud of him but there is one unpleasant thing with this: he is
always busy and very often he works overtime.
My mother is an economist. The firm she works in deals with trading. They have
business in different towns of Ukraine. She is to go on business trips from time to time.
Then she is very tired and dreams about summer vacations.
We have a small summer house and a lovely garden near it not far from Kyiv. The
nature is very beautiful there. There is a lake there. My grandparents like to live there in
My grandparents don't work now. They are pensioners. They live in an industrial
district of the city where the air is rather polluted. That's why they always look forward
to going to our summer house. My Granny is fond of gardening and my Grandpa likes
to go fishing.
Our family is friendly.
I like them all.
Our School
Our school is a modern three-storeyed building of typical design. It is situated
in the centre of the city in a picturesque street named in honour of our great
Ukrainian poet Lesya Ukrainka. In front of our school there are round flower-beds,
where the pupils grow different flowers during their lessons in Crafts. Behind it
there is a big sports-ground where the schoolchildren have their lessons of Physical
Training when the weather is fine.
There are different classrooms for the classes of Physics, Chemistry,
Geography and Biology. They have slide projectors, schemes and charts on the
walls. Chemistry and Physics classrooms have special laboratories well-equipped
for different experiments and tests, which are done by our pupils during the
The first floor of our school is occupied by English, French and German
classrooms. There one can find different pictures, maps, diagrams and wall
newspapers on the walls. On the second floor there are our gymnasium and
assembly room, where we usually gather to celebrate different holidays. We
decorate our assembly room with colourful balloons, slogans and pictures. In our
gymnasium we have our classes of Physical Training and also spend the breaks
between the lessons there, playing volleyball or basketball.
There are also classrooms for junior classes in our school. They are decorated
with large pictures of nature, different things made by our youngest
schoolchildren, large posters with alphabet and so on. Those rooms are the largest
and most beautiful in our school. We also have an Aesthetics classroom where we
have the lessons of Drawing, Music, Russian and Ukrainian Literature. There one
can see portraits of Ukrainian poets and writers, posters with the history of the
development of Ukrainian costumes. The canteen and the cloak-room are on the
ground floor.
Our school is very clean and light. There are white and pink curtains on the
windows and many flowers on the window sills. The corridors are large and full of
sunlight. There we can have some rest between our classes or just talk with each
I like my school very much. I am very grateful to my teachers for all they have
done for us. During the school years we have acquired deep knowledge in various
My School
Our school is a fine four-storeyed building. There are many classrooms and
specialized rooms for studying different subjects in it.
The pupils study Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Ukrainian, Russian,
English, History, Geography and Biology in specialized rooms.
Chemistry, Physics and Biology are taught in well equipped science rooms.
There is good equipment for laboratory experiments there. At the lessons we often
carry out different experiments.
Mathematics is taught in the science rooms on the third floor. There is a
special room equipped with calculators and computers.
The Assembly Hall is on the first floor of our school. We usually gather there
to celrbrate holidays.
On the second floor there is a gym. We like our gym, and we like to spend our
breaks there. During the breaks we usually play basketball or volley-ball there.
The canteen is on the ground floor. On the ground floor there is a workshop
too. There we are taught to use some tools and machines.
My Hobby
Hobbies differ like tastes. If you have chosen a hobby according to your character
and taste you are lucky because your life becomes more interesting. Hobby is a
favourite occupation of a person at his free time.
I have many friends. They are very different and they have different kinds of
hobbies. One of my friends likes to make everything with his own hands. He can repair
an iron, a radio-set or a tape-recorder. I think it's a very good hobby for a boy.
Another friend of mine is very fond of collecting stamps. Her mother had started
collecting stamps long before she was born. Now she has 5 albums full of stamps, there
is more than one thousand of them. She likes to sit at a table in the evening and arrange
new stamps in the albums, or write in the names of the countries, or just look through
the stamps. Each stamp has its own story about distant countries and strange people.
The stamps show the pictures of men and women, birds and animals which we have
never seen. Kings and presidents are presented in the stamps, so we can follow the
history of the whole nations.
One more friend of mine has a relatively new hobby, which appeared about 10
years ago. He likes playing computer games. This way of spending spare time is
becoming more and more popular.
I have little free time because I have to study much in order to do well at school.
But I try to find some time during the weekends for my favourite occupation: knitting
and sewing.
I learned to knit when I was ten. The first thing I made was a muffler. I knitted it
for my Dad. I was very proud when he wore it. Now I can make quite complicated
things. This year I've knitted pullovers for my Mom and myself, and a hat for my friend
as a birthday present. When I see beautiful knitting-wool in a shop, I find it very
difficult to go by without buying it. My hobby always lets me wear new and fashionable
but not very expensive things.
I learned to sew at the age of twelve. Now I'm very good at it. Sometimes I cut
patterns out of magazines, but more often I design clothes by myself. I think it's a very
useful hobby. Thanks to it I have some very nice clothes which aren't expensive. I don't
have to spend much money to look attractive.
My hobby is not only wonderful but very useful, too.
My Day Off
I go to school five days a week, so I have two days off — Saturday and
Sunday. I usually have no free time on week-days that's why I look forward to my
days off. I like them very much.
On a day off I don't have to hurry anywhere. I can do whatever I like. On a day
off I wake up later than usual, at about 10 o'clock. I don't get up at once. I enjoy
staying in bed for a while and thinking about something nice. Then I get up, wash
and have breakfast. I like to have something special for breakfast on such days.
After breakfast I clear away the dishes and wash up. Later if the rooms are untidy I
help my mother to do the rooms. I sweep and wash the floor and put everything in
its place. As a rule my mother and I go to the supermarket and do the shopping.
Two more hours for getting ready with my homework, and I am free.
I meet my friends and we discuss our plans together. We may go to the cinema
or theatre, to museums and parks. In the afternoon I sometimes play football or
basketball with my friends. If the weather is fine, we often go to the country. In
summer we find a nice place and sunbathe, swim or play different games and in
winter we go skiing or skating. If the weather is bad, I stay at home and my friends
come to my place. We listen to music, play computer games or watch video films.
We like films about the life of the youth abroad. We usually discuss the films we
have seen.
In the evening all the members of our family get together. We have supper,
make plans for the next day, watch TV or read books. Sometimes we have guests
at our place and enjoy ourselves. I like my days off very much.
Yesterday was Sunday, that's why my last day off wasn't long ago and I
remember it quite well. I always try to do my best to make my day off really
exciting because I have only two days a week for relaxation and rest.
I met with my friends and we went to the skating-rink. Though it was rather
cold we played soccer and skated almost all day long. All of us liked that day very
I like my days off because all the working days are alike, but every day off is
unique. At the weekend we have an opportunity to enjoy our life and have a rest.
My Summer Holidays
Summer is a wonderful season for everyone. It is the hottest season of the year. The
weather is always nice and sunny. It’s a real pleasure to spend some days out of a noisy
town. So many people leave towns for countryside, seaside or mountains.
In summer schoolchildren do not go to school. They have summer holidays which
are three months long. Children don't have to get up early. There is no homework to do
or lessons to learn. So they like holidays. I never stay in bed long in a bright summer
morning. Sometimes my friends and I go to the cinema or to a concert. Sometimes we
play football or badminton in the yard.
Every summer I go to the country to stay with my grandmother for a week or two. I
help Granny to work in the kitchen garden or to look after chickens and ducks. In the
village I often go for long bike rides with my cousins. There is a nice river not far from
my Granny's place. Sometimes we go fishing or boating. I like to sit in silence for a
while waiting for a fish to get caught and listening to the birds singing in the forest. I
like to go to the beach in the morning when it is not too hot. I swim, sunbathe and play
with my friends on the bank of the river. If my uncle is not very busy he takes my
cousins and me on a hike in the forest. I like sleeping in a tent, sitting by the fire and
singing songs.
Every year my family and I go somewhere to the South for holidays. There are
many holiday-homes and tourist camps at the seaside. Sometimes we live in a tent on
the seashore enjoying fresh air and the sun all day long. We swim and sunbathe a lot.
My father and I are fond of mountaineering. So we do a lot of climbing together.
Some people think that there are two ways of spending holidays — active and
passive. The passive way means lying in the sun and doing nothing, and the active way
means the opposite: sailing, climbing, swimming, etc. Now I can tell you for sure that I
prefer an active way of spending holidays to a passive one.
Summer holidays are never too long for me.
My Winter Holidays
Winter holidays are shorter than summer ones. They begin at the end of December
and last about two weeks. It is so nice to have a rest from school. During winter
holidays we celebrate the New Year Eve and Christmas. There are New Year parties for
children at schools and theatres. Cinemas show children's films and cartoons. As New
Year approaches, excitement mounts to a pitch. Presents should be bought, cards should
be sent and rooms should be decorated. Parents are faced with the difficult task of
concealing presents from inquisitive young children. If the gifts are large, this is
sometimes a real problem.
It is usually very cold in winter, but frost and snow can't keep children indoors. It's
so great to go skiing down a hill. Boys like to play hockey on the ice. Many children go
to the skating-rinks to skate. Little children play snowballs and make snowmen, or ride
the sledges happily.
When the weather is bad I stay at home and watch TV. There is always something
interesting on during winter holidays. Sometimes my friends come to see me and we
play computer games or listen to music. There is also more time for reading, drawing
and other hobbies. Sometimes my friends and I go to the cinemas, theatres, visit art
galleries, attend music and concert halls.
This year our winter holidays began on the 28th of December. On that day we had a
New Year party at school. Certainly, we had been preparing to the party for a long time
beforehand. We had prepared an amateur performance with Father Frost and SnowMaiden. There were different competitions, we played different games. Certainly the
lucky winners got the memorable prizes. We had prepared them beforehand but we had
not bought them. We had brought some nice trinkets from our homes. Those who won
these prizes said that they were especially dear to them because they would remind them
about their schoolmates. Then we had a dance party. That day we had a lot of fun.
The period of the winter holidays is rich in different shows and performances. This
year we chose the show in the circus. We are not children any more to go to the theatre
to see some childish performance with a bad wolf who has stolen a new year tree. But a
circus show is another pair of shoes. I think there is nobody in the world who can be
tired of the circus. I liked the clowns most of all. Their tricks were so funny. And, of
course, I liked the performing animals. They are so clever and beautiful and sometimes
they behave themselves exactly like people.
Holidays passed quickly and soon it was time to go to school again.
Music in Our Life
Music is an essential part of everyone's life. People cannot live without music.
They can listen to music everywhere: at home, at work, in the car, while walking
along the street or even in the forest, when they walk and hear birds singing.
Music can be classical and modern. Classical music is performed by
symphonic orchestras in the great halls. There are a lot of famous composers
whose music is played nowadays. Classical music is serious and requires good
understanding otherwise it may seem to be boring and dull. Speaking about
classical music in my life I have always liked the music of Peter I. Tchaikovsky. I
like it because it is deeply Slavonic in its spirit. In his creative work Tchaikovsky
used folklore melodies. He created wonderful music: 10 operas, 3 ballets, 6
symphonies, 7 large symphonic poems and many other musical pieces. I like his
First Symphony "Winter Dreams" most of all. It is very tender, and at the same
time solemn and grand.
Most people prefer modern music. Modern music is often performed by TV
and radio. Modern music has different trends: pop, rock, disco, rap, techno and
others. Young people like techno and disco. Older people are fond of jazz, rock
and pop. There are a lot of singers or music bands who perform this or that kind of
music. Everybody knows the founders of rock music. They are "The Beatles" and
Elvis Presley. Now there are a lot of albums of different performers. As for
modern music I prefer to listen to jazz. Jazz appeared in 1900 in America. Most
prominent of jazz players were Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Ella
Fitzgerald. It is a kind of music where experiments are always welcome. The main
jazz instruments are the piano, the trumpet and the drums. Jazz is often based on
improvisation. It is always new and diverse music.
The last achievement in music production is a clip. Musical clips are short
films accompanied by the song. People like to watch clips because it's not only
listening to music but also watching interesting things. I'm fond of music and like
to listen to it for it helps me to have good relaxation.
My Favourite Painters
I like painting and I think I understand it. I am very fond of impressionism,
and Monet especially.
Classicism attached the main importance to composition and figure painting.
Romantism laid stress on personal and emotional expression. In its turn
impressionism showed the moments of life, parts of human existence. It was one
of the most interesting and unusual trends in modern painting. It started in the 60s
of the 19th century and the most famous impressionists were French painters
Renoir, Degas, Manet, Monet, Pissaro and Sisley. They added some freshness and
spontaneity of perception of life to the painting. This kind of perception was quite
unusual even for that time, and impressionists were not accepted as a new school.
First they were thought to be a group of painters of some unusual style. Their
paintings were not admitted to exhibitions. But some critics paid their attention to
them, and they were able to show their art.
The most famous of Monet's works are: "The Ruan Cathedral in the Morning",
"The Ruan Cathedral in the Afternoon", "The Ruan Cathedral in the Evening",
"Haystacks" and others. He created the feeling of glittering sunshine, of subject
dissolved in the vibration of light and air. He showed moments of life, subjects in
different times of the day. His colours are very soft and delicate, his paintings are
always full of air and light. They seem very alive to me.
By developing their own style of painting these artists opened a new school in
the history of modern art.
I also like the paintings of one of the greatest Dutch masters Rembrandt van
Rijn. He created a number of portraits and some group portraits, which were
traditional to the Dutch art. The best of them are "Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Tulp"
and "The Night Watch". Rembrandt was not understood when he was alive. He
died in poverty. But it is the spirituality of his art that distinguishes Rembrandt
from his Dutch contemporaries making him one of the greatest artists in the world.
Theatre in Our Life
There are quite many theatres in my city and they are all very popular with the
public. If one made up his mind to go to the theatre one should go to the box-office
to buy tickets in advance. There are a lot of people who love and visit different
kinds of theatres: drama, comedy, variety, puppet, musical theatres, opera and
ballet houses. I am a theatre lover, too. As for me, I prefer drama to all other
theatres, but I also like ballet and musical comedy.
I'll never forget my first visit to the Opera and Ballet Theatre. My friend and I
wanted to see the famous ballet "Swan Lake" by Tchaikovsky. We bought the
tickets in advance and came to the theatre half an hour before the show. At 7 sharp
the performance began. From the very first minute I was deeply impressed by
everything I saw on the stage. The costumes were excellent The dancing and music
were thrilling. The ballet seemed a fairy-tale to me. I had never seen anything
more wonderful. My friend also enjoyed every minute of it. When the curtain fell
at the end of the performance there came a storm of applause. It seemed that it
would never end. The dancers received call after call. They were given large
bouquets of flowers. We also applauded enthusiastically. The performance was a
great success.
Last summer my classmates and I went to Moscow. I highly appreciated my
first visit to the Bolshoy Theatre. We saw the famous ballet "Sleeping Beauty" by
Tchaikovsky. The theatre was packed. Our seats were in the second row of the pit.
Before the beginning of the performance we bought a bill and saw that the leading
parts in the performance were played by the well-known actors. The setting and
the dancing were superb and exciting. The costumes were wonderful and the music
was nice. The performance was a great success with the public. It was one of my
brightest memories.
But we are to admit that theatre is not so popular now as it used to be. There
are many people who prefer sitting comfortably before their TV-sets and enjoying
themselves without leaving their homes. According to the poll, the actual priorities
are as follows: TV comes first, followed by reading, films, listening to records,
radio, going out to dances and discos; then come concerts, museums, amateur arts,
and finally theatre.
My Last Visit to the Theatre
As for me I like theatre very much, especially, the Ukrainian Drama Theatre.
I highly appreciate the cast of this theatre. I like the traditional scenery, skilfullymade costumes. And, of course, it's very important what plays there are in the
repertoire. The Kyiv Ukrainian Drama Theatre always chooses the plays for its
repertoire very thoroughly.
Sometimes it is very difficult to get tickets for the performance.
Not long ago I visited the Ukrainian Drama Theatre, where I saw the play "The
Pious Martha" by the Spanish playwright Lope de Vega.
The leading parts in the performance were played by the well-known actors.
Generally speaking this production has an excellent cast.
This time our seats were in the second row of the pit. Before the beginning of the
performance we bought a bill.
The music in this perfomsnce was marvellous. But what I especially enjoyed in this
performance was the sense of humour which permeated the whole performance.
I consider it is one of the best performances I have seen this season.
Cinema in Our Life
The movies are truly an art of our time. The cinemas possibilities are unlimited.
Cinema brings culture to homes, schools and institutions. It is the greatest aesthetic and
educational force in the world today. Video classes are useful when studying
Geography, Foreign Languages and many other subjects. They are also the means of
getting familiarized with the world. With the help of documentary and science films one
can get much information about the world around. The news on TV helps to know what
happens in the world each day. It also helps to attract the attention of people to different
important issues, such as hunger, earthquakes, water pollution and so on.
Cinema is also the means of entertainment. After a working day one can relax
watching some good movie. Nowadays people can't just imagine their life without the
art of cinema.
Many people prefer going to the cinema on our days off (at the week-end). I like
going to the cinema too. When I have free time I always go to see some new film. When
I want to go to the cinema I usually find out in the program what films are on. Then I
phone my friends and we discuss what films to see. We prefer feature films but also
enjoy cartoons and popular science films. To see a good love story, musical or detective
film is a very pleasant leisure.
There are a lot of talented actors and actresses in this country. My favourite actor is
Oleg Yankovsky. My favourite actress is Natalia Gundareva. They starred in many
films and I have always enjoyed their superb performance.
The last film I saw was the screen version of the novel "Gone with the Wind" by
Margaret Mitchell. Its an old film but still it enjoys great popularity. There are a lot of
famous American actors in it with Vivien Leigh and Glare Gable starring. I was deeply
impressed by their acting and the film itself. It hasn't lost its visual splendour with the
passage of time.
Sport in Our Life
Sport is probably as old as the humanity itself. It has been developing with the
developing and growth of the mankind. Sport is very important in our life. People
all over the world are fond of sports and games. Sport makes people healthy, keeps
them fit, more organized and better disciplined. Nobody likes to be stout and
clumsy. Some people go in for sports for their health and some for professional
aims. There are a lot of stadiums, sports grounds, swimming pools, football fields
in each town. Practically all kinds of sports are popular in this country, but
football, figure-skating and tennis enjoy the greatest popularity.
A lot of people are fond of jogging. Both in the morning and in the evening we
can see people jogging in the parks, stadiums and even in the streets.
We've always paid great attention to sport in our schools, colleges and
universities. You can hardly find a school without a gym or a sports ground. In
every school pupils spend much time going in for sports. First of all they have their
Physical Training lessons. And after classes they may train different kinds of sport
at different sports clubs and sections.
Professional sport is also paid much attention in this country. Every year there
are a lot of sports competitions, sports days and Olympics. Once in four years the
Olympic Games take place in different countries. There are Summer and Winter
Olympic Games. This is a great sport competition of the best sportsmen in the
When I go in for sports I feel wonderful. I am cheerful, active and full of
energy. In summer I go in for swimming or rowing. I enjoy spending winter
holidays in the country. There I can ski or skate. I also go in for table tennis (pingpong). It needs mobility, good reaction and much energy. It maintains a person in a
good form. I have been playing tennis for five years, but the more I play the more I
like it. My friends and I often gather after school to play basketball, football or
other active games.
Basketball is a dynamic and interesting game. It develops many good qualities
such as rapid action, accuracy, dexterity, agility, endurance, will-power and
collective spirit. The object of the game is quite simple. To win you must put the
ball through the hoop more often than your opponent. This means the basketball
player must learn to shoot effectively. All the players may take part in both the
attack and the defence.
I have already realized that sport is desperately necessary for everybody. I'd
like to give you advice: if you haven't chosen the kind of sport for you yet, do it
and you'll see: your life will become more interesting.
My Attitude to Sport
If you want to be healthy, strong and beautiful you should go in for sports. If
you want to keep fit, you should go in for sport regularly. Nobody likes to be stout
and clumsy.
We enjoy watching nice bodies of sportsmen, their strength and adroitness.
When I go in for sports I feel wonderful. I don’t sneeze or cough. I am
cheerful, active and full of energy. I try to do some training almost every day. In
summer I go swimming or rowing. I enjoy spending winter holidays in the
country. There I can ski or skate. Certainly, it depends on the weather. But all the
same in the country there are more possibilities for this than in town.
For those who have already determined to go in for sport is very important to
choose the kind of sport he likes best. Some games are quiet, others are very lively,
active. Some kinds of sports need simple equipments and facilities, others —
rather complex ones.
We start playing games and going in for sport in our childhood. Later on in
school we discover our favourite sports and games. I doubt whether the bare idea
that sport is helpful to make us healthy, will make somebody go in for sport if he
doesn't like physical exercises. That's why the lessons of physical training at
school are very important.
At school we have PT lessons twice a week. Our sports teacher is a reasonable
woman. She realizes that those who want to become professionals attend
specialized sport sections but the majority of us will remain amateurs.
Our teacher considers her pupils must enjoy sports, then they will go in for
sports when they leave school. And I completely agree with her.
As for me I enjoy basketball. Basketball is a dynamic and interesting game. It
develops many good qualities such as rapid action, accuracy, dexterity, agility,
endurance, will-power and collective spirit. The object of the game is quite simple.
To win you must put the ball through the hoop more often than your opponent.
This means the basketball player must learn to shoot effectively. All the players
may take part in both the attack and the defence.
I have already realized that sport is desperately necessary for everybody. I'd
like to give you advice: if you haven't choose the kind of sport fdr you yet, do it
and you'll see: your life will become more interesting.
Modern life is impossible without travelling. Thousands of people "travel
every day. They travel to see other countries and continents, to learn about people's
traditions, to enjoy picturesque places. It is interesting for them to discover new
things, different ways of life, to meet different people, to taste different food.
Those people who live in the country like to find themselves in large cities
with their shops, cinemas and theatres. City-dwellers usually like a quiet vacation
at the seaside or in the mountains.
There are many different ways of travelling. People can travel by plane, by
train, by ship, by bus or by car.
There are moments in every person's life when he or she wants to travel.
Everyone understands travelling in his/her own way. Some people consider trips to
new towns and countries offered by different travel agencies to be the best way to
travel. These package tours are for the laziest. The others prefer walking tours and
tourism. There is nothing more beautiful for them than walking in some pinewood,
or rowing down the river in a boat, or even riding a bicycle and enjoying the
landscape. There are also people who are fond of mountain climbing. The most
unforgettable feeling for them is the one they have at the peak of the mountain.
And the view, which opens from it, is just magnificent.
The sea has also attracted mankind as one of the powers of nature. Therefore
sea tours are very popular among people. They offer a great possibility to enjoy the
sight of the sea in different seasons and weather, and also to open some new towns
and countries for oneself.
For some people travelling is associated with visiting ancient cities. There one
can see ancient palaces, cathedrals and fortresses, visit different museums.
There also exists a very interesting and cheap kind of travelling — hitchhiking. It is very popular among young people.
And there are also people who like exotic kinds of travelling, like travelling on
a balloon. But only brave people can risk and surrender themselves wholly to the
will of the wind. Speaking about different types of travelling, one should say that
any of them is a good method of having a rest and spending some new unusual
When we want to buy something, we go to a shop. There are a lot of kinds of
shops in every town or city, but most of them have a food supermarket, a
department store, men’s and women's clothing stores, a grocery, a bakery and a
I like to do my shopping at big department stores and supermarkets. They sell
various goods in one building and this is very convenient.
A department store, for example, true to its name, is composed of many
departments: ready-made clothes, fabrics, shoes, sports goods, toys, china and
glass, electric appliances, cosmetics, linen, curtains, cameras, records, etc. You can
buy everything you like there. There are escalators in the big stores which take
customers to different floors.
The things for sale are on the counters so that they can be easily seen. In the
women's clothing department you can find dresses, costumes, blouses, skirts,
coats, beautiful underwear and many other things.
In the men’s clothing department you can choose suits, trousers, overcoats,
ties, etc. In the knitwear department one can buy sweaters, cardigans, short-sleeved
and long-sleeved pullovers, woolen jackets. In the cosmetics they sell face cream
and powder, lipstick, lotions and shampoos.
In a food supermarket we can also buy many different things at once:
sausages, fish, sugar, pasta, flour, cereals and tea. At the butchers there is a wide
choice of meat and poultry. At the bakery you buy brown and white bread, rolls
and biscuits. The greengrocery is stocked with cabbage, potatoes, onions,
cucumbers, carrots, beetroots, green peas and what not. Everything is sold here
ready-weighed and packed. If you call round at a dairy you can buy milk, cream,
cheese, butter and many other things.
The method of shopping may vary. It may be a self-service shop where the
customer goes from counter to counter selecting and putting into a basket what he
wishes to buy. Then he takes the basket to the check-out counter, where the prices
of the purchases are added up. If it is not a self-service shop, and most small shops
are not, the shop-assistant helps the customer in finding what he wants. You pay
money to the cashier and he gives you back the change.
Foreign Languages in Our Life
Learning a foreign language is not an easy thing. It is a long and slow process
that takes a lot of time and efforts. Nowadays it is especially important to know
foreign languages. Some people learn languages because they need them for their
work, some people learn languages because they travel abroad, for the others
learning languages is a hobby.
Every year thousands of people from Ukraine go to different countries as
tourists or employees. They cannot go there without knowing the language of the
country they are going to. Everyone, who knows foreign languages, can speak to
people from other countries, read foreign authors in the original, which makes ones
outlook wider. It is not surprising that many intellectuals and well-educated people
are polyglots.
The problem of learning foreign languages is very important today Foreign
languages are socially demanded especially at the present time when the progress
in science and technology has led to an explosion of knowledge and has
contributed to an overflow of information. Foreign languages are necessary as the
main and most efficient means of information exchange of the people of our
I learn English. Nowadays English has become the world's most important
language in politics, science, trade and cultural relations. Over 300 million people
speak it as a mother tongue. The native speakers of English live in Great Britain,
the United States of America, Australia and New Zealand. English is one of the
official languages in the Irish Republic, Canada, the South Africa Republic.
English is one of the official languages of the United Nations and other political
organizations. Half of the world's scientific literature is in English. It is the
language of computer technology. To know English today is absolutely necessary
for every educated person, for every good professional.
The English language is a wonderful language. It is the language of the great
literature. It is the language of William Shakespeare, Jonathan Swift, Walter Scott
and Charles Dickens.
The great German poet Goethe once said, "He, who knows no foreign
language, does not know his own one". That is why in order to understand oneself
in the world one has to study foreign languages.
My Favourite Subject
We have a lot of subjects at school. They are: Mathematics, Physics,
Chemistry, History, Geography, Russian, Ukrainian, English, Literature and
others. Every teacher asks for equal and adequate attention to his/her subject. I
know that all the subjects are important but my favourite subject is English.
English is very important as it has become one of the most important
languages in politics, science, trade .and cultural relations in the world. It is also
the language of great literature. Such writers as William Shakespeare, Walter
Scott, Charles Dickens and Bernard Shaw wrote in English. It gives me great
pleasure to read their books in the original.
We began learning English in the first form of school. We started with the
ABC and sounds. Then we learnt English words, phrases and dialogues by heart,
read and translated texts. From lesson to lesson we have improved our knowledge,
learnt to speak, to write, to listen and to read in English. We enjoy our English
lessons and prepare well for them.
Our lessons usually start with phonetic verses and tongue-twisters in English.
Some of them sound very funny but they are very useful. Sometimes we practice
our pronunciation in the language laboratory where we can listen to the tapes. We
usually do some exercises from the textbook. Then the teacher gives us a dictation
to check how well we have learned the new words. After it we discuss different
topics or make up dialogues.
At home I read English books, magazines and newspapers. I watch video films
and listen to songs in English. I do many different exercises, translate texts and
learn grammar. I write new words on small cards and revise them every evening
before going to sleep.
I want to know foreign languages because I have always been interested in
foreign countries, their cultures and peoples. I want to learn English in particular
because it has become the international language. I hope that in future I'll speak
English fluently!
My Favourite Writers
I'm fond of reading. Usually I borrow books from the library, but I have a lot
of them at home, too. I like to read books about famous people and detective
stories. Literature means much in my life. It helps to form my character and to
understand life better.
There are some names in Russian and foreign literature that are very dear to
me. In Russian literature I highly appreciate Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenev. For me
he is a real intellectual and aristocrat, a man of culture, devoted to literature, music
and art. Though he lived abroad for a long time he didn't stop being a Russian
writer for a moment. He reflected a number of national characters in his books.
The image of Turgenev's woman, deeply feeling, faithful and tender is an ideal of a
Russian woman for me. It doesn't lose its charm even today.
Among the present day writers and poets I like Eugene Evtushenko, Valentin
Rasputin, Valentin Pikul, Boris Vasilyev. Their works are very human and
realistic. They assert high moral principles into life. And this is very important
One of my favourite foreign writers is O'Henry. In my childhood I was deeply
impressed by his story "The Last Leaf". Since then I have been bearing in my heart
the image of a young girl suffering from the incurable illness, and her friends
doing all they can to give her hope and bring back to life.
I also like the novels and short stories by William Somerset Maugham. I've
just read his novel "The Moon and Sixpence" and liked it very much. This novel is
based on the life of the artist Paul Gauguin. While writing the book Maugham
went to Tahiti and lived in Gauguin's hut.
As for detective stories my favourite writer is Alexandra Marinina. She is
considered to be a Russian Queen of detective prose. The works of this author are
clever and really interesting. In all books there are the same characters and starting
a new book you meet old friends. The author used to work as an investigator and
she knows how to arouse the reader's interest and at the same time writes the facts
that could take place. Many detective novels by Marinina are translated into
foreign languages and foreign readers can compare our writer with Agatha
Christie. When I got acquainted with these books I was greatly impressed by the
wit and humour.
I can't imagine my life without reading. Books are a source of information.
They are collected wisdom and experience of many generations. Books are our
teachers and advisors. Books are effective means of educating oneself.
Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wilde is a famous English writer of the 19th century.
Oscar Wilde was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1854. His mother wrote poetry,
and she taught him to love literature.
He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin and Magdalen College, Oxford.
Soon after leaving university his first volume of poetry, "Patience", was published.
Oscar Wilde married Constance Lloyd in 1884 and the. couple had two sons.
When the boys were children Wilde wrote fairy stories for them that were later
published as "The Happy Prince and Other Tales" (1888). Wilde's tales are very
beautiful.This was followed two years later by the novel, "The Picture of Dorian
Gray" (1890) and a book on the role of the artist, "The Soul of Man under
Socialism" (1891). However, it was a playwright that Wilde had his greatest
success. Comedies such as "Lady Windermere's Fan" (1892), "A Woman of No
Importance" (1893), "An Ideal Husband" (1895) and "The Importance of Being
Earnest" (1895) made him one of Britain's most famous writers. By 1895 Wilde
had left his wife.
Wilde was publicly accused by the Marquis of Queensberry. Wilde sued for
libel but he lost his case and was then himself prosecuted and imprisoned.
After being released from Reading Prison in 1897 Wilde moved to France.
The following year he wrote "The Ballad of Reading Gaol", a poem inspired by his
prison experience. Wilde's time in prison badly damaged his health and he died in
His books are read and his plays are staged in many countries and in many
languages. Here are some of his quotations:
Art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known.
The best way to make children good is to make them happy.
Duty is what one expects from others.
I can resist anything except temptation.
He to whom the present is the only thing that is present, knows nothing of the
age in which he lives.
The pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple.
A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it.
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was born on April 23, 1564, in the town of Stratford-uponAvon. His father, John Shakespeare, was a glove-maker and wool-dealer.
William went to the local free grammar school where he studied Latin. At the age
of 18 Shakespeare married a local girl, Anne Hathaway.
We don't know exactly when Shakespeare went to London, maybe in 1584-1589.
Probably his first play was "Titus Andronicus"(1589/1590).
Shakespeare wrote history plays such as "Henry IV" and "Richard III", comedies
such as "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "A Comedy of Errors". Shakespeare's early
tragedy is "Romeo and Juliet".
Shakespeare's plays became more serious and psychological as time went on.
Between 1600 and 1608 Shakespeare wrote his four great tragedies, "Hamlet",
"Othello", "Macbeth" and "King Lear". It is the summit of Shakespeare's art.
"Hamlet" is probably the most popular, the best-known of all Shakespeare's plays.
It is a very philosophical play. Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, is a highly intelligent
person. Hamlets soliloquy is very famous:
To be, or not to be; that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And, by opposing, end them? ...
Queen Elizabeth I died in 1603 and was succeeded by James VI of Scotland, son of
Mary Stuart. James, who became James I of England and Scotland, was a lover of the
theatre. Shakespeare wrote a tragedy "Macbeth", in which action passes in Scotland.
In 1606 Shakespeare was a very mature and successful playwright. He had become
a wealthy man.
In "King Lear" we see evil defeated, but we also see goodness being destroyed.
King Lear through his madness glimpses truth of human existence. "King Lear" is the
greatest of all Shakespeare's tragedies.
The story of an old king of England and his three daughters was not invented by
Shakespeare. Shakespeare hardly ever invented the plot of his plays.
Between 1608 and 1613, Shakespeare wrote five plays: "Pericles", "Cymbeline",
"The Winter's Tale", "The Tempest" and "Henry VIII". In "The Tempest", Shakespeare
says farewell to the theatre, to his friends. On June 29, 1613, the Globe theatre was
destroyed in a fire. For Shakespeare and his colleagues it must have been a terrible time.
The Globe was the greatest theatre in England. Shakespeare died on April 23, 1616.
The verse on his grave stone is:
Good friend for Jesus sake forbear
To dig the dust enclosed here:
Blest be the man that spares these stones,
And curst be he that moves my bones.
Shakespeare wrote 38 plays and many poems. Many people think that William
Shakespeare is the greatest playwright of the world.
William Shakespeare
There are a lot of famous names in the history of Great Britain. The name of
William Shakespeare is one of them. William Shakespeare, the great English poet
and dramatist, was born in 1564 in the town of Stratford-on-Avon. This
picturesque town situated on the river Avon is visited yearly by thousands of
people desirous to see the birthplace of W. Shakespeare. There were no theatres in
England then. Groups of actors travelled from town to town showing performances
in the street. Sometimes actors came to Stratford-on-Avon. The boy went to see all
their shows and liked them very much. He wanted to become an actor. Sometimes
he wrote little plays and staged them with his friends. When he was twenty-one,
William went to London. There he joined a group of actors. At first he only helped
actors and then began writing plays for them. Soon Shakespeare's plays were
staged more and more often and became famous. The theatre where he worked was
called "The Globe". It became the first professional theatre. Many of his plays
were staged there.
Shakespeare is known as a writer of delightful comedies and historical dramas.
His comedies "A Midsummer Night's Dream", "Comedy of Errors" are light and
bright, and jingle with many rhymes.
The tragedies "Othello", "Hamlet" and "Romeo and Juliet" strike by the depth
of the thought. Shakespeare showed the real life and relations between people.
Love and death, friendship and treason, devotion and lie are the main topics of his
In "King Lear" we see evil defeated, but we also see goodness being
destroyed. King Lear through his madness glimpses truth of human existence.
"King Lear" is one of the greatest of all Shakespeare's tragedies. The story of an
old king of England and his three daughters was not invented by Shakespeare.
Shakespeare hardly ever invented the plot of his plays.
Between 1608 and 1613, Shakespeare wrote five plays: "Pericles",
"Cymbeline", "The Winter's Tale", "The Tempest" and "Henry VIII". In "The
Tempest", Shakespeare says farewell to the theatre, to his friends.
Shakespeare's plays translated into many languages are performed on the
stages of the best theatres of the world. Shakespeare is highly appreciated by
people in many countries of the world. His works will always be interesting for
Rudyard Kipling
Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) was born in Bombay, but educated in
England. In 1882, he returned to India, where he worked for Anglo-Indian
His literary career began in 1886. A prolific writer, he achieved fame
quickly. Kipling was the poet of the British Empire. His "Barrack Room
Ballads" (1892) were written for, as much as about, the common soldier. In
1894, appeared his "Jungle Book", which became a children's classic all over
the world. "Kim" (1901), the story of Kimball O'Hara and his adventures in
the Himalayas, is perhaps his most felicitous work. Other works include "The
Second Jungle Book" (1895), "The Seven Seas" (1896), "The Day's Work"
(1898), "Just So Stories" (1902), "Actions and Reactions" (1909), and "Limits
and Renewals" (1932).
During the First World War Kipling wrote some propaganda books. His
collected poems appeared in 1933. Kipling was the recipient of many
honorary degrees and other awards.
In 1926 he received the Gold Medal of the Royal Society of Literature,
which only Scott, Meredith, and Hardy had been awarded before him.
William Somerset Maugham
William Somerset Maugham is one of the best-known English writers of
the present day. He was not only an outstanding novelist, but also one of the
most successful dramatists and short-story writers.
He was born in Paris in 1874. His father was an official at the British
Embassy in France and William spent his childhood in that country. In his
later life he also lived for long periods there.
His parents died when he was very little, and the boy was brought up by
his uncle, a clergyman. At the age of ten the boy was sent to England to attend
In 1890 he went abroad and studied at the University of Heidelberg, from
which he returned in 1892. As his parents had destined him for the medical
profession, he became a medical student in London.
After graduating from a medical college he worked at a hospital in
Lambeth — one of the poorest districts of London. Although he had taken his
degree in medicine and become a fully qualified doctor, he decided to devote
his life to literature. And in 1897, when he was only 23, Maugham wrote and
published his first novel "Liza of Lambeth" and after that he went on
producing books, one almost every year for more than sixty years.
In his literary works Maugham gave a realistic picture of the English
society — its egoism and false democracy, but he didn't want to improve that
society or human nature.
Maugham's cherished desire from childhood was to see different
continents and as soon as he got the opportunity he set out to realize his
During World War I Maugham was in the British Intelligence Service. His
work there is described in a collection of short stories under the title of
"Ashenden, or the British Agent", published in 1928. The action of one of the
stories takes place in Petrograd where Maugham was sent as a secret agent
just before the Great October Socialist Revolution.
The best-known novel of Somerset Maugham is "Theatre" published in
1937. His rich experience of life helped him in the vivid depiction of
characters and situations. Maugham expects the reader to draw his own
conclusions about the characters and events described in his novels.
W. S. Maugham lived a long life. He died ih 1965. He was always a very
popular writer because he tried to satisfy his readers and all his books were
sold well.
Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw was born in Dublin, Ireland, on 26th of July, in 1856.
At the age of twenty one, Shaw came to live in London. His first five novels
were rejected by London publishers, but became well sort after when Shaw
became famous.
In his own words, Shaw said he was a writing machine. He became a famous
He wrote 65 plays and many pamphlets. His interests lay in politics, socialism,
communism, humanist issues.
Bernard Shaw rejected the plea to become a full time MP. He said, "All those
who think they should be politicians, should not be allowed to become one".
He was an ardent vegetarian. He wrote on such subjects as Drama, Women
and Feminism, Stimulants, Vivisection, Natural Selection, Music, Marriage,
Capital Punishment and so on.
Apart from writing, Shaw loved to speak on the radio. What the audience
perceived as a joke, Shaw actually meant. He used comedy as a way of translating
what he seriously thought about society and it worked.
Shaw had a great respect for woman. He spoke up for the Suffragette
movement in Parliament and the prison movement. Actresses begged him to write
plays for them.
Bernard Shaw was a sensitive man who looked upon poverty and social
injustice in disbelief. To Shaw, all living things, human or animal were equals and
should be treated with equal respect. In his world all humans (men and women;
rich and poor), were equals and have the right to bring out the best in themselves,
no matter what class you were born into.
Throughout Shaw's 94 years, famous actors, presidents, prime ministers,
scientists, royalty, lords and ladies etc. requested Shaw at their dinner tables. At
the age of ninety four Bernard Shaw died on 2nd of November, in 1950. It was the
first time the lights on Broadway went out as a mark of respect.
Even so long after his death, Shaw's influence is still with us.
Mark Twain
Samuel L. Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, is one of the most widely
loved and celebrated American writers since his first books were released in the
late 1860s, early 1870s. Since his death, Mark Twain has transcended ordinary
fame and become an icon of American culture and humor the world over.
Sam Clemens lived a rich and eventful life, which covered the years 18351910. He had many unique experiences before his first book, "The Celebrated
Jumping Frog of Calaveras County", was published in 1867, including stints as a
printer, a steamboat pilot, a gold prospector, a journalist in Nevada and San
Francisco during the height of the Gold Rush, and a renowned lecturer, known for
his storytelling and stage presence.
He was married to Olivia Langdon for 34 years, until her death in 1904, and
they had three daughters (Susy, Clara and Jean).
Under the pen-name Mark Twain, Sam Clemens published over 30 works of
literature — encompassing satire, historical fiction, short stories and nonfiction.
Many of his writings have reached the pinnacles of American and world
literature, including the timeless "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" and "The
Adventures of Tom Sawyer".
In 1881 "The Prince and the Pauper" was released. This was Clemens' first
attempt at writing historical fiction with a serious thefne, a marked departure from
the humorous books of his earlier career.
Another classic historical novel, although more satirical, was "A Connecticut
Yankee In King Arthur's Court", released in 1889.
Lesser-known gems in Twain's catalogue are a detailed history of "Joan of
Arc", "Extracts From Adam's Diary", "Eve's Diary" and "Letters From The Earth".
Ernest Hemingway
Hemingway is an American novelist and a short-story writer. He is one of the
greatest American writers of the 20-th century.
Oak Park is a suburb of Chicago. There Ernest Hemingway, the second child
of the local doctor was born in 1899. In 1917 the USA went to World War I.
Hemingway tried to enlist but was rejected because of his poor eyesight. For six
months he worked as a reporter in the "Kansas City Star", one of the biggest
newspapers in the Middle West. Then he found a way to leave for Europe with
American Red Cross and fought on the Italian front. He was wounded, went to
hospital in Milan, was decorated by the Italian Government and returned to
America in 1919.
He began to write fiction in 1923. His first books were the reflection of his war
In 1929, when he was thirty, his book "A Farewell to Arms" appeared bringing
him great success. To some degree the book describes the events of World War I
in which he took part. In the summer of 1936 the Spanish Civil War broke out.
Hemingway sailed for Spain to support the Republicans.
During World War II he was a war correspondent first in China and then in
Europe. In 1954 Ernest Hemingway was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature.
Hemingway's fiction usually focuses on people living essential, dangerous lives —
soldiers, fishermen, athletes, bullfighters — who meet the pain and difficulty of
their existence with stoic courage. Among his best works are "A Farewell to
Arms", "The Green Hills of Africa", "The Old Man and the Sea". Very often
the books reflect the events that he himself witnessed.
He died at his home in Sun Valley, Idaho, in 1961.
Theodore Dreiser
Theodore Dreiser is a famous American writer and publicist. He was born in
1871 in the state of Indiana. He was the 12th child in the family. His mother came
from the family of Czech immigrants and his father came to America from
Germany and was a factory worker. From his early childhood the boy knew what
poverty was. In 1887 he moved to Chicago where he worked in restaurants
washing dishes and cleaning. For a short period of time he studied at the
University of Indiana. Working at the newspaper "Chicago Daily Globe" he started
to publish his first sketches and stories.
His first novel "Sister Carrie" is a real life story. One of his elder sisters,
Emma, was the main character of the novel. The story about the girl, who became
an actress at a high price of losing her best human qualities was considered to be
immoral by critics. The feature of American literature that struck Dreiser most of
all was the contradiction between the real life and the life described in literature.
Therefore Dreiser's novels always depicted the life of common people, the cruelty
of their existence in American society.
His novel "An American Tragedy" was the work of critical realism in the
American literature of the 20th century. In his three novels "The Financier", "The
Titan", and "The Stoic" Dreiser described the life of a financier Cauperwood. He is
not only a cruel American businessman, a person without "soul or heart", but a
very tragic figure. Having an extraordinary personality, he can t fully realize
himself in American society. His love of arts, his unusual talent stay deep inside
In 1928 Dreiser came to Russia, as he was always interested in the country and
especially its literature. The works of Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky influenced his
creative work. Till nowadays Dreiser remains the largest master of realistic
American literature of the 20th century.
Lina Kostenko
Ukrainian literature boasts a lot of glorious names. Among them one can name Lina
Kostenko, Pavlo Zahrebelny, Vasil Stus, Roman Ivanychuk. One can continue this list
for many pages. But I want to tell you about Lina Kostenko.
The famous Ukrainian, poet Lina Vasylivna Kostenko was born on the 19th of
March, 1930 in the town of Rzhyshchev in Kyiv region in the teachers' family. Since
1936 she lived in Kyiv where she graduated from the secondary school. Lina Kostenko
continued her education in Kyiv Pedagogical Institute. As a matter of fact she did not
want to stop at this level and in 1956 she graduated from Moscow Literary Institute.
Such Ukrainian outstanding writers as Taras Shevchenko and Lesya Ukrainka, I.
Karpenko-Kary and M. Kotsubinsky, M. Rylsky and A. Doyzhenko influenced the
creative works of Lina Kostenko. The leading theme in her poems is the role of an artist
and art in the society, its close connection with the people's life.
Lina Kostenko belongs to the generation that is usually called "the children of the
war". That is why the problems of war and peace are often raised in her works.
The Chornobyl tragedy did not leave Lina Kostenko careless. The new topic
became interesting for her — the problem of ecology.
Nevertheless I would like to admit that the majority of Lina Kostenko's works are
dedicated to the historical life of Ukraine.
The most famous Lina Kostenko's creation is the novel in verses "Marusya
Churay". In this work the political, philosophical and esthetic problems are raised
against the national background. In the centre of the novel there is the image of
legendary Marusya Churay — the poet and the author of many Ukrainian folk songs. In
the novel the accent is made on Marusya's love to people, her motherland, and her
patriotic feelings are underlined as well. The action takes place in the period of the
liberation war of the Ukrainian people that was headed by Bogdan Khmelnitsky. In this
context Lina Kostenko depicted the tragic love story of Marusya and Grits Bobrenko. It
was difficult for Marusya to forgive her beloved for betraying their feelings, because
Grits decided to marry another girl for the reason she was rich. Marusya made up her
mind to commit the suicide. Accidentally Grits drank the poison prepared by Marusya
for herself.
Lina Kostenko managed to create the perfect picture of psychological, heroic and
romantic life of Marusya Churay and to depict the historical events in Ukraine in the
mid of the 17th century.
Being devoted to national traditions Lina Kostenko proves the immortal spiritual
values of the Ukrainian people, and that fact makes her creative works sound very vital
especially today when the Ukrainians solve the problem of the national and cultural
revival of their country.
That is why it is just to say that Lina Kostenko is the daughter of her epoch who
completely belongs to the contemporaries.
Great Britain
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is situated on the
British Isles which consist of two large islands: Great Britain and Ireland. They lie to
the north-west of Europe. The British Isles are separated from the continent by the
narrow strait of water, which is called the English Channel. The country is washed by
the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, the North Sea, and the Irish Sea.
The United Kingdom consists of four parts: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern
Ireland. England, the central part, occupies the most of the island of Great Britain. To
the north lies Scotland and to the west the third part of the country, Wales, is situated.
The fourth part is called Northern Ireland and is located on the second island. Each part
has its capital. The capital of England is London, Wales has Cardiff, Scotland has
Edinburgh and the main city of Northern Ireland is Belfast.
The population of the UK is over 57 million people. The UK is inhabited by the
English, the Scottish, the Welsh and the Irish. About 80 percent of the population is
urban. Many of them live in big industrial cities like London, Liverpool and
Manchester, but people are often surprised by how much of Britain is an open country,
with lonely hills and woods, quiet rivers, lakes and farmlands.
Great Britain is a country of forests and plains. There are no high mountains in this
country. Scotland is the most mountainous region with the highest peak, Ben Nevis. The
rivers of Great Britain are not long. The longest river is the Severn and the deepest river
is the Thames. The capital of the United Kingdom, London, stands on the bank of the
Thames. As the country is surrounded by many seas there are some great ports at the
seaside: London, Glasgow, Plymouth and others. Wales is a country of lakes. It has the
most famous lake in the world — Loch-Ness. Seas and oceans influence the British
climate which is not too cold in winter but never hot in summer. Great Britain is a
beautiful country with old traditions and good people.
The UK is a highly developed industrial country. It is known as one of the world's
largest producers and exporters of machinery, electronics, textile, aircraft, and
navigation equipment. One of the chief industries of the country is shipbuilding.
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (the UK) occupies most
of the territory of the British Isles. It consists of four main parts: England, Scotland,
Wales and Northern Ireland. London is the capital of England, Edinburgh is the capital
of Scotland, Cardiff — of Wales and Belfast — of Northern Ireland.
The UK is a small country with an area of some 244,100 square kilometres. It
occupies only 0.2 per cent of the world's land surface.
It is washed by the Atlantic Ocean in the north-west, north and south-west and
separated from Europe by the North Sea in the east and by the English Channel in the
south. The Strait of Dover or Pas de Calais is the narrowest part of the Channel. The
North Sea and the English Channel are often called "the narrow seas"; they are not deep
but are frequently rough and difficult to navigate during storms.
In the west the Irish Sea and the North Channel separate the UK from Ireland. The
seas around Britain provide exceptionally good fishing grounds. The country has many
bays favourable for shipping. In their shelter are Britain's main ports such as London,
Liverpool, Glasgow, Hull and others.
One will not find very high mountains or large plains in Great Britain. Everything
occupies very little place. Nature seems to have carefully adapted things to the size of
the island itself.
The highest mountain is Ben Nevis in Scotland, 4,409 feet high.
The longest river is the Severn in England, about 200 miles long.
The population of the United Kingdom is over 57 million people. Foreigners often
call British people "English", but the Scots, the Irish and the Welsh do not consider
themselves to be English. The English are Anglo-Saxon in origin, but the Welsh, the
Scottish and the Irish are Celts, descendants of the ancient people, who crossed over
from Europe centuries before the Norman Invasion. It was this people, whom the
Germanic Angles and Saxons conquered in the 5th and 6th centuries AD. These
Germanic conquerors gave England its name — "Angle" land. They were conquered in
their turn by the Norman French, when William the Conqueror of Normandy landed
near Hastings in 1066. It was from the union of Norman conquerors and the defeated
Anglo-Saxons that the English people and the English language were born.
The official language of the United Kingdom is English. But in western Scotland
some people still speak Gaelic and in northern and central parts of Wales people often
speak Welsh.
The UK is a highly developed industrial country. It is known as one of the world's
largest producers and exporters of machinery, electronics, textile, aircraft, and
navigation equipment. One of the chief industries of the country is shipbuilding.
The UK is a constitutional monarchy. In law, Head of the State is Queen. In
practice, the country is ruled by the elected government with the Prime Minister at the
head. The British Parliament consists of two chambers: the House of Lords and the
House of Commons.
There are three main political parties in Great Britain: the Labour, the Conservative
and the Liberal parties.
The flag of the United Kingdom, known as the Union Jack, is made up of three
crosses. The big red cross is the cross of Saint George, the patron saint of England. The
white cross is the cross of Saint Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland. The red diagonal
cross is the cross of Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland.
Geographical Position of Great Britain
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland occupies the territory of the
British Isles which consist of two large islands: Great Britain and Ireland. They lie to the
north-west of Europe. Once upon a time the British Isles were an integral part of the
mainland. As a result of sinking of the land surface they became segregated. Great Britain is
separated from the continent by the English Channel. The country is washed by the waters of
the Atlantic Ocean. Great Britain is separated from Belgium and Holland by the North Sea,
and from Ireland — by the Irish Sea.
There are several islands along the coasts. The total area of the British Isles is 325,000
square km. The main islands are the Isle of Man and the Isle of Wight.
Geographically the island of Great Britain is subdivided into 2 main regions: Lowland
Britain and Highland Britain. Lowland Britain comprises southern and eastern England.
Highland Britain consists of Scotland, most of Wales, the Pennines (or the Pennine Chain)
and the Lake District.
The surface of the country is varied. Great Britain is the country of valleys and plains.
The mountains in Britain are not very high. Scotland is the most mountainous region with the
highest peak, Ben Nevis (1344 m). The northern part of Scotland is mountainous and is called
the Highlands. The southern part of Scotland, which has beautiful valleys and plains, is called
the Lowlands.
There are many rivers in the UK but they are not very long. The main rivers are: the
Severn (the longest and the most important river) and the Thames (the deepest one).
The insular geographical position of Great Britain promotes the development of
shipbuilding, different trading contacts with other countries. It has also allowed the country to
stay independent for quite a long period of time.
The population of Great Britain is over 57 million. Four of every five people live in
towns. The largest cities of the country are London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester,
Glasgow and Edinburgh.
The territory of Great Britain is divided into four parts: England, Scotland, Wales and
Northern Ireland. England is in the southern and central part of Great Britain. Scotland is in
the north of the island. Wales is in the west. Northern Ireland is situated in the north-eastern
part of Ireland.
Geographical Position of Great Britain
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is situated on the British
Isles. The British Isles are separated from Europe by the English Channel. The British Isles
are washed by the North Sea in the East and the Atlantic Ocean in the West.
The population of Great Britain is over 56 million. The largest cities of the country are
London, Liverpool, Manchester, Glasgow and Edinburgh.
The territory of Great Britain is divided into four parts: England, Scotland, Wales and
Northern Ireland. England is the richest, the most populated part in the country. There are
mountains in the north and in the west of England, but all the rest of the territory is a plain.
Scotland is a land of mountains. Its highest peak is Ben Nevis.
The British Isles have many rivers. The longest of them is the Severn. It flows into the
Irish Sea. The Thames is over 200 miles long. London, the capital of Great Britain, stands on
it. Geographical position of Great Britain is very good as the country lies on the crossways of
the sea routes from Europe to other parts of the world.
Climate of Great Britain
Great Britain is situated on the islands. It is washed by seas from all the sides. The
mountains, the Atlantic Ocean and the warm waters of the Gulf Stream influence the
climate of the British Isles very much. The climate and the nature of Great Britain are
very specific. British climate is mild and damp. It is not very cold in winter and never
very hot in summer. In winter there is no ice on the lakes and rivers. The temperature
seldom falls below zero and the fields and meadows are green all year round. It rains
very often in all the seasons. Besides, Britain is famous for its fogs. Fogs are quite
frequent especially in the west and south-west. Sometimes fogs are so thick that it is
impossible to see anything within 2 or 3 metres.
The weather changes very often. Mark Twain said about America: "If you don't like
the weather in New England, just wait a few minutes", but it is more likely to have been
said about England. A fine morning can change into a wet afternoon and evening and
the wrong side down. The English people say: "Other countries have a climate; in
England we have weather." The English also say that they have three variants of
weather: when it rains in the morning, when it rains in the afternoon or when it rains all
day long. The weather is the favourite conversational topic in the UK. After the British
greet each other they start speaking about the weather.
The nature of the British Isles is picturesque. There are a lot of rivers and very
beautiful lakes, but there are no great forests in the British Isles. The mountains there
are not very high, but very beautiful. The most picturesque part of the country is
Highlands in the North of Scotland. This is a region of mountains and rivers, small
towns and villages. In Wales there are also many beautiful mountains and valleys. The
highest mountain in Wales is Snowdon.
Everyone who comes to England says that it looks like one great beautiful park.
The Englishmen love their country and take care of it.
Climate of Great Britain
In Great Britain it is never too hot or too cold for work or play in the open air. The sea
keeps the island warm in winter.
The winds have also very much to do with weather in Great Britain. Warm winds from
the Atlantic are wet and warm. They bring plenty of rain to the island. The east and north-east
Winds are cold and dry.
Thanks to the mild climate there are a lot of evergreen plants in Great Britain. But the
lack of sunshine is the reason why the cultivation of grain crops is difficult. Grass grows all
the year round.
The weather changes very often. In spring sunshine and showers follow each other often
during the day.
In spring the weather is generally mild, the summer is not so hot as on the continent.
In winter they have all sorts of weather. Sometimes it rains and sometimes it snows, and
they also have fog and frost. The rivers and lakes are seldom covered with ice.
But the worst thing about the climate in Great Britain is the thick fog they so often have
in autumn or winter.
Cities and Towns of Great Britain
Great Britain is a highly developed industrial country, and most people live in
large cities. Naturally, the capital comes first among the biggest industrial,
economic, political and cultural cities of the country. Lots of things such as
clothes, food, planes and cars are made in London. London is a great port though it
is about 45 miles from the coast. Big liners go to and from all parts of the world.
They are loaded and unloaded here.
Birmingham is the biggest town in the centre of England. It is the centre of the
British heavy industry. Machines, cars and lorries are made here. TV and radiosets are also produced in Birmingham.
Manchester is an industrial capital of the North of England. It is a very old
city. It is the centre of the cotton industry. Manchester was the first city in Great
Britain to build an airport in 1929. In Manchester computers, electronic equipment,
various machines, foods and other things are made. Manchester has many libraries,
museums, art galleries and theatres.
Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland. It is one of the most beautiful cities in
Europe. Its main attractions are the Floral clock made of growing flowers, and the
Edinburgh Art Festivals, the annual summer performances of operas, dancing,
music and drama.
Glasgow is another great. Scottish city. It is famous for its shipyards. Glasgow
is a great industrial city and also the centre of Scottish culture.
Cardiff is the capital of Wales. It used to be a capital of coal mining, and now
it is a big port and ships come here from all over the world.
Cambridge and Oxford are the oldest university towns in Great Britain. Many
great men studied in these universities: Cromwell, Newton, Byron, Darwin and
Stratford-upon-Avon is a small town with the population about 20 thousand. It
is 94 miles northwest of London. Its chief points of interest are associated with the
name and life of Shakespeare. In Henley Street stands a one-storeyed wooden
house, where the greatest English poet and playwright was born. Nowadays this
house belongs to the British government.
London is a very old town. It is about two thousand years old.
Now London is one of the biggest cities in the world. Its population is about 8
million people. It's not only a capital of Great Britain, it's a large business and
commercial centre. London stands on the Thames.
As an ancient city London has a great number of places of historic interest.
They attract tourists from the entire world.
London is traditionally divided into four main parts. They are Westminster, the
City, the West End and the East End.
Westminster is the historical area in London. Famous monuments and
buildings are there. One of the most beautiful places is Westminster Abbey.
Many greatest poets and writers are buried there. Chaucer, Dickens, Kipling
are among them. Newton and Darwin are buried there too.
Another place which is worth seeing in London is the Tower. In different
times this castle was a fortress, a royal palace, a prison. Now it is a museum.
London is rich in famous palaces. Buckingham Palace is the official residence
of the Queen. Westminster Palace is the seat of the British Parliament.
The greatest of English churches is St. Paul's Cathedral. It was built by a
famous English architect, Sir Christopher Wren.
Trafalgar Square is considered to be the very centre of London. In the middle
of it stands the monument to Admiral Nelson.
London is famous for its streets and squares as well. Fleet Street is known for
the newspaper offices situated there. Regent Street is famous for the richest shops
and supermarkets.
Speaking about London it is impossible to say nothing about its museums. The
British Museum shows works of art from ancient Asia, Egypt, Rome and Greece
side by side with those of Great Britain and other countries.
London is a very old town. It is about two thousand years old. The first
settlement was situated on the place of modern city even before the first Roman
invasion in 55 В. C. (Before Christ). The Romans founded a fortress on the place
where it was possible to cross the river. Time passed and round it a lot of villages
appeared. There were about three hundred 'of them. Their names we can still find
in the names of some London streets. For example, Kensington, Westminster and
others. After many years all of them grew into one very large city.
Now London is one of the biggest cities in the world. Its population is about 8
million people. It's not only a capital of Great Britain, it's a large business and
commercial centre.
London stands on the Thames and is situated about 64 kilometres (40 miles)
from the mouth of the river. But it doesn't prevent it from being an important ocean
port. When the tide from the sea comes up the river big sea-going ships can get to
London through a wide mouth of the river.
As an ancient city London has a great number of places of historic interest.
They attract tourists from all the world. Tourism has become a profitable business
and brings large sums of money to the London budget.
London is traditionally divided into four main parts. They are Westminster, the
City, the West End and the East End.
Westminster is the historical area in London. Famous monuments and
buildings are there. One of the most beautiful places is Westminster Abbey. It's
full of history. For nearly one thousand years all the kings and queens of England
have been crowned here. Many of them are buried here too.
There is one place in Westminster Abbey which the tourists like to'Visit most
of all. This is the Poet's Corner. Many greatest poets and writers are buried there.
Chaucer, Dickens, Kipling are among them. Newton and Darwin are buried there
too. One can also see there the memorials to Shakespeare, Burns, Byron and
Walter Scott.
Another place which is worth seeing in London is for sure the Tower. The
Tower is situated on the north bank of the Thames. It dates from the Roman times
and was strengthened by William the Conqueror. In different times this castle was
a fortress, a royal palace, a prison.
Now it is a museum of armour and also the place where Crown Jewels are
London is rich in famous palaces. Buckingham Palace is the official residence
of the Queen. Westminster Palace is the seat of the British Parliament. Most of the
people know this building as the Houses of Parliament.
There are two tall towers at the corners of the building. One of them is the
Clock Tower with the famous Big Ben. This tower has become a visiting-card of
the British capital as well as the Tower or Westminster Palace.
The greatest of English churches is St. Paul’s Cathedral. It was built by a
famous English architect, Sir Christopher Wren. Wellington (a famous British
general whose army defeated Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815), Nelson (an English
admiral who won the battle of Trafalgar) and other great men of England are
buried under the huge dome of the Cathedral. Trafalgar Square is considered to be
the very centre of London. In the middle of it stands the monument to Admiral
Nelson. It's a tall column with a statue of Nelson at its top. At the bottom of the
column there are four bronze lions.
London is famous not only for its historical buildings.
It is famous for its streets and squares as well. Fleet Street is known for the
newspaper offices situated there. Regent Street is famous for the richest shops and
supermarkets. A small side-street Downing Street is quiet and unimpressive. There
is the official home of Prime Minister in this street. All Prime Ministers have lived
there for the last 200 years. Piccadilly Circus and Piccadilly can be called quiet.
On the contrary everything shines here with bright advertisements. Big hotels and
shops, different clubs are situated here.
One of the oldest streets in London is The Strand. "The Strand" means a river
bank and dates from the times when the grey waters of the Thames washed the
sides of the wide muddy road — the ancient Strand. Now this street links the City
and the West End.
It's worth mentioning that there was never a plan of building in London. That's
why it's sometimes difficult to find the way in the crooked streets of the city. The
best way to see the city is from the top of London red double-decker buses.
Speaking about London it is impossible to say nothing about its museums. The
British Museum is one of the best-known for its library, reading room, the
collection of manuscripts. It shows works of art from ancient Asia, Egypt, Rome
and Greece side by side with those of Great Britain and other countries.
Going sightseeing in London one should have a look at London's
Underground. It was built in 1863. Then its trains covered the distance of four
miles. Now, more than a hundred years later, the London Underground carries two
million passengers every day over its 244 miles of route with their 273 stations.
London is an ancient city. But it is also a living city and like all living cities it
is constantly developing. Londoners like to say "When a man is tired of London,
he is tired of life".
UK Political System
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is a constitutional
monarchy. The power of Queen Elizabeth II is not absolute. It is limited by the
Parliament. The Queen reigns but she doesn't rule. The country is ruled by the
elected government with the Prime Minister at the head.
The legislative body, the Parliament, consists of two chambers: the House of
Lords and the House of Commons. The executive body consists of the central
Government — that is the Prime Minister and the Cabinet of Ministers, who are
responsible for initiating and directing the national policy, government
departments, local authorities, and public coronations. The judiciary body is
independent of both the legislative and the executive ones. It determines common
law and interprets status.
The Government derives its authority from the elected House of Commons.
General elections, for all seats in the House of Commons, must be held at least
every five years. The Government is normally formed by the political party, which
is supported by the majority in the House of Commons. The leader of the party
chooses a team of ministers. The second largest party becomes the Official
Opposition with its own leader and "Shadow Cabinet". The House of Commons
comprises members from the constituencies in England, Scotland, Wales and
Northern Ireland who represent people whose history and traditions differ.
The House of Lords used to be a hereditary chamber. The members of the
House of Lords are not elected. They inherit this right from their fathers. The
Chairman of this House is called Lord Chancellor.
It's in the House of Commons that new bills are introduced and debated. If the
majority of the members are in favour of a bill, it goes to the House of Lords to be
debated. The House of Lords has the right to reject a new bill twice. But after two
rejections they are obliged to accept it. And finally a bill goes to the monarch to be
signed. Only then it becomes a law.
In Great Britain there is no written constitution, only the precedent laws.
The main political parties are the Conservative Party, the Liberal Party and the
Labour Party.
Political System of Great Britain
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is a constitutional
monarchy. Britain does not have a written constitution.
Parliament is the most important authority in Britain.
The monarch serves formally as head of state.
The present sovereign is Queen Elizabeth II (the second).
The House of Commons consists of Members of Parliament. General elections
are held every five years. All citizens aged 18 have the right to vote.
There are few political parties in Britain.
The main ones are: the Conservative Party, the Labour Party.
Each political party puts up one candidate for each constituency. The one who
wins the most votes is elected MP for that area.
The party which wins the most seats in Parliament forms the Government; its
leader becomes the Prime Minister.
The functions of the House of Commons are legislation and scrutiny of
government activities. The House of Commons is presided over by the Speaker.
The House of Lords is presided by the Lord Chancellor. The House of Lords
has no real power.
It's in the House of Commons that new bills are introduced and debated.
Parliament is responsible for British national policy. Local governments are
responsible for organizing such services as education, police and many others.
Sights of Great Britain
There are a lot of places of interest in Great Britain. They are both modern and
ancient monuments, like Stonehenge and Hadrian Wall, Durham castle and York
Cathedral. The Lake District is very famous in Northern England. In Embleside
one can visit the Steam Boat Museum. The oldest ship in this museum — her name
is "Dolly" — is 150 years old. In York the tourists are usually attracted by the
National Railway Museum. It presents the history of Stephenson's invention of
steam locomotive.
There is a prehistoric monument in Great Britain which is as interesting to the
tourists as the Egyptian pyramids. This is Stonehenge. Stones stand here in circles
or are arranged into a horseshoe shape. A great many theories have been advanced
but exactly why it was built remains a mystery. Though the scientists consider that
Stonehenge was built in order to calculate the annual calendar and seasons.
But the main attraction is London places of interest. Among them there are:
Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, St. Paul's
Cathedral, London Bridge, the Tower of London. London is situated on the river
Thames. Its population is more than 11 million people. The city is very old and
beautiful. It was founded more than two thousand years ago.
On the Houses of Parliament one can see the famous Clock Tower, Big Ben,
the symbol of London. Big Ben is the real bell, which strikes every quarter of an
hour. Another place, which you can admire, is Buckingham Palace. It's the
residence of the Queen.
In the West End of London one can see the famous St. Paul's Cathedral, the
masterpiece of the well-known English architect Christopher Wren. It is the third
largest church in the world. It contains the monuments of many English statesmen,
poets, writers and other famous people.
Whoever comes to London is eager to see the Tower of London. It is
associated with some of the darkest scenes in the history of England. A number of
famous English men and women were imprisoned here. Now it is a museum.
London is also famous for its beautiful parks. Hyde Park is the most
democratic park in the world, as anyone can say anything he likes there. Regent's
Park is the home of London Zoo. I'd like to see all the sights myself.
Places of Interest in Great Britain
Great Britain is rich in world-famous places. Certainly among them there are
famous university towns Oxford and Cambridge; Shakespeare's birthplace —
Stratford-upon-Avon, towns of Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow.
Stratford-upon-Avon is a small town. Its chief points of interest are associated
with Shakespeare, the greatest English poet and playwright. Shakespeare was
buried in the church at Stratford on the banks of the Avon.
The Royal Shakespeare Theatre was opened in Stratford in 1932. Only
Shakespeare's plays are performed here.
Those who come to Oxford are certainly interested in its university most of all.
It was founded in the 12th century. But there is no "university" as such in Oxford.
The component parts of the University of Oxford are the colleges. Each college is
practically autonomous. But they do not stand in isolation, they are mixed together
with houses, shops and offices.
Cardiff is the capital of Wales and its chief port. Cardiff is also a tourist centre.
There are some places of interest there. Wales is sometimes called "the land of
song". One of the Welsh traditions is festivals. Song festivals are very popular.
Edinburgh is a city where the historic past lives side by side with the present.
Edinburgh Castle is the most famous building in the city.
Edinburgh is especially famous for its festivals. In summer there is the
Edinburgh Festival. This is Britain's biggest arts festival. Besides the official
festival there is also an unofficial festival.
There is a prehistoric monument in Great Britain which is as interesting to the
tourists as the Egyptian pyramids. This is Stonehenge. Stonehenge was built in
order to calculate the annual calendar and seasons.
Places of Interest in Great Britain
Great Britain is rich in world-famous places. Certainly among them there are
famous university cities . Oxford and Cambridge, Shakespeare's birthplace —
Stratford-upon-Avon, towns of Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow.
Stratford-upon-Avon is a small town with the population about 20 thousand. It
is 94 miles northwest of London. Its chief points of interest are associated with the
name and life of Shakespeare. In Henley Street stands a one-storeyed wooden
house, where the greatest English poet and playwright was born. Now, this house
belongs to the British government.
When Shakespeare won the recognition of his contemporaries and became
wealthy he bought New Place, one of the largest houses in Stratford. It was in
1597 but he continued to live and work in London until 1610. Shakespeare died at
the age of fifty-two in 1616 at New Place. But in 1759 the house where he died
was torn down. Shakespeare was buried in the church at Stratford on the banks of
the Avon.
The Royal Shakespeare Theatre was opened in Stratford in 1932. Only
Shakespeare's plays are performed here. The plays staged in this theatre attract
people from all over the world.
Every year on the 23d of April people from all over the world come to
Stratford to take part in celebrating Shakespeare's birthday.
Those who come to Oxford certainly are interested in its university most of all.
It was founded in the 12th century. But there is no "university" as such in Oxford.
The component parts of the University of Oxford are the colleges. Each college is
practically autonomous, with its own set of rules of government. But not only this
differs Oxford from universities in other countries. Oxford has a "golden heart" —
an area of less than half a square mile in which various historic buildings may be
found. But they do not stand in isolation; they are mixed together with houses,
shops and offices.
Cardiff is the capital of Wales and its chief port. Cardiff is also a tourist centre.
There are some places of interest there: the Castle, National Museum of Wales,
New Theatre, Welsh Folk Museum. The Welsh people love singing. That's why
Wales is sometimes called "the land of song". One of the Welsh traditions is
festivals. Song festivals are very popular and usually gather a lot of people.
Edinburgh is a city where the historic past lives side by side with the present.
The first thing one can see is a very large hill in the middle of Edinburgh — the
Rock. Edinburgh Castle stands on the Rock. It is the most famous building in the
Edinburgh is famous for many things: its art galleries, museums, libraries. But
it is especially famous for its festivals. In summer there is the Edinburgh 54
Festival. This is Britain's biggest arts festival. The city gets thousands of visitors
during the festival period and every theatre, church and school hall is used for
drama, music, film or opera. Besides the official festival there is also an unofficial
festival. Here the artists are amateurs. Now, the unofficial festival is even bigger
and more popular than the official one.
The best-known monument in Edinburgh is the Walter Scott Monument. The
famous English writer of historic novels lived and worked here, The monument is
in the form of a Gothic spire 200 feet high with a statue of Sir Walter Scott inside
this beautiful structure. In the niches of the monument there are 64 statuettes of
well-known characters from Scott's novels and poems.
There is a prehistoric monument in Great Britain which is as interesting to the
tourists as the Egyptian pyramids. This is Stonehenge. Stones stand here in circles
or are arranged into a horseshoe shape. A great many theories have been advanced
but exactly why it was built remains a mystery. Though the scientists consider that
Stonehenge was built in order to calculate the annual calendar and seasons.
Outstanding People of Great Britain
Great Britain made a great contribution to the science, literature, music and
arts of the world. It gave to mankind a lot of outstanding scientists, writers and
poets, musicians and painters.
Thomas More, who lived in the 15th century, was an outstanding humanist,
scientist and statesman. His work "Utopia" brought him world-wide
acknowledgement. Many prominent people were influenced by his ideas of a free
democratic state described in "Utopia".
William Shakespeare is one of the most famous writers in the world. His plays
"Romeo and Juliet", "Hamlet, Prince of Denmark", "King Lear", "Macbeth" were
translated into almost every language and staged in every theatre. He described the
characters and feelings, which can be called international and living forever.
Daniel Defoe, Robert Burns, Walter Scott, Charles Dickens, Lewis Carroll are
only a few names well-known all over the world.
William Hogarth, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Thomas Gainsborough, John
Constable contributed to the world's painting treasures.
Great Britain has also given to the world many outstanding scientists.
Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of penicillin, was born in Scotland. He spent
his working hours in hospitals and laboratories. His discovery of penicillin did
more to help suffering people than anything else for centuries. When he died in
1955 his old friend said: "... by his work he relieved more suffering than any other
living man".
Ernest Rutherford, a famous English physicist, worked in the field of
radioactivity. His brilliant research established the existence and nature of
radioactive transformations. He was one of the founders of the atomic theory of
physics and creators of the first atomic model.
Michael Faraday made his major discovery in the field of electricity — the
electromagnetic induction. He also made several important observations on the
conductivity of different materials. Enjoying worldwide popularity, Faraday
remained a modest man, who rejected high titles.
All of them considered hard labour and love for mankind to be the main reason
of their success.
Charles Darwin
Darwin had not planned to be a scientist. He wanted to become a doctor.
But he was interested in plants and animals.
A friend who knew about Darwin's interest in nature invited him to take
the trip. Charles was 22 when he left England for a five-year trip around the
world. This trip is a very important one in the history of science, for it led
Darwin to write one of the world's most famous books. The book is "The
Origin of Species". It gives Darwin's ideas of how all the plants and animals
of today have come from the very simple plants and animals that first lived on
the Earth. Darwin was seasick for much of the voyage, but he came back with
the notes for his great book. He visited the Galapagos Islands, Australia, New
Zealand. There he saw many strange plants and animals.
These were Darwin's chief ideas: many more plants and animals are
produced than can possibly live. There is no two plants and animals, even of
the same kind, which would be exactly alike. The idea that all the plants and
animals of today came from the simple plants and animals of long ago is
called "the theory of evolution".
Isaac Newton
Plato is my friend, Aristotle is my friend,
but my best friend is truth.
Isaac Newton's life can be divided into three quite distinct periods. The first is
his boyhood days from 1643 up to his appointment to a chair in 1669. The second
period from 1669 to 1687 was the highly productive period in which he was
professor at Cambridge. The third period (nearly as long as the other two
combined) saw Newton as a highly paid government official in London with little
further interest in mathematical research.
Isaac Newton was born in the manor house of Woolsthorpe, near Grantham in
Lincolnshire. By the calendar in use at the time of his birth Newton was born on
Christmas Day, 1642. (The Gregorian calendar was not adopted in England until
1752, by the Gregorian calendar — on January 4, 1643).
Isaac Newton came from a family of farmers but never knew his father, also
named Isaac Newton, who died in October 1642, three months before his son was
born. Although Isaac’s father owned property and animals, which made him quite
a wealthy man, he was completely uneducated and could not sign his own name.
Isaac's mother Hannah Ayscough remarried Barnabas Smith the minister of the
church at North Witham, a nearby village, when Isaac was two years old. The
young child was then left in the care of his grandmother Margery Ayscough at
Woolsthorpe. Basically treated as an orphan, Isaac did not have a happy childhood.
Isaac began attending the Free Grammar School in Grantham, but soon was
taken away from school.
An uncle, William Ayscough, decided that Isaac should prepare for entering
university and, having persuaded his mother that this was the right thing to do,
Isaac was allowed to return to the Free Grammar School in Grantham in 1660 to
complete his school education.
Newton entered his uncle's old College, Trinity College Cambridge, on June 5,
1661. He was older than most of his fellow students.
Instruction at Cambridge was dominated by the philosophy of Aristotle but
some freedom of study was allowed in the third year of the course. Newton studied
the philosophy of Descartes and Boyle.
He recorded his thoughts in a book which he entitled "Quaestiones Quaedam
Philosophicae" ("Certain Philosophical Questions"). He headed the text with a
Latin statement meaning "Plato is my friend, Aristotle is my friend, but my best
friend is truth" showing himself a free thinker from an early stage.
Newton received his bachelor's degree in April 1665. His scientific genius
emerged suddenly when the University was closed because of the plague in the
summer of 1665 and he had to return to Lincolnshire.
There he began revolutionary advances in mathematics, optics, physics and
astronomy. He had reached the conclusion during the two plague years that white
light is not a simple entity. Every scientist since Aristotle had believed that white
light was a basic single entity, but the chromatic aberration in a telescope lens
convinced Newton otherwise. When he passed a thin beam of sunlight through a
glass prism Newton noted the spectrum of colours that was formed.
He argued that white light is really a mixture of many different types of rays,
which are refracted at slightly different angles, and that each different type of ray
produces a different spectral colour.
Newton's greatest achievement was his work in physics and celestial
mechanics, which culminated in the theory of universal gravitation.
In 1687 Newton published the "Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica"
or "Principia" as it is always known.
The "Principia" is recognised as the greatest scientific book ever written.
Newton analysed the motion of bodies in resisting and non-resisting media under
the action of centripetal forces. He demonstrated that the planets were attracted
toward the Sun by a force varying as the inverse square of the distance and
generalised that all heavenly bodies mutually attract one another.
Further generalisation led Newton to the law of universal gravitation:
... all matter attracts all other matter with a force proportional to the product of
their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them.
Newton explained a wide range of phenomena: the tides and their variations,
the precession of the Earth's axis, and motion of the Moon as perturbed by the
gravity of the Sun. This work made Newton an international leader in scientific
Newton decided to leave Cambridge to take up a government position in
London, becoming Warden of the Royal Mint in 1696. However, he did not resign
his positions at Cambridge until 1701. As Master of the Mint, adding the income
from his estates, Newton became a very rich man. For many people a position such
as Master of the Mint would have been treated as simply a reward for their
scientific achievements. Newton did not treat it as such and he made a strong
contribution to the work of the Mint. He was particularly active in measures to
prevent counterfeiting of the coinage.
In 1703, he was elected president of the Royal Society and was re-elected each
year until his death. He was knighted in 1705 by Queen Anne, the first scientist to
be so honoured for his work. Newton died on March 31, 1727, in London.
John Lennon
John Winston Lennon was born on October 9, 1940, to a troubled, working-class
Liverpool family. John’s father deserted his mother when John was only three, so at
an early age Lennon was sent to live with his aunt in the suburb of Woolton, where
he was a rebellious child. Frequently skipping school, Lennon left Quarry Bank High
School at age 16 after his aunt persuaded the headmaster to write him a
recommendation to Liverpool Art College. At art school Lennon became involved in
music, buying a guitar and starting a skiffle band in early 1957. That band, the
Quarrymen, evolved over the next few years into the Beatles.
Lennon remained a principle singer and songwriter for the band through its
decade-long career, splitting these duties with Paul McCartney. Lennon contributed
more experimental and mystical music during the band's later years, while
McCartney was more pop-oriented; Lennon also led the group into drug use during
the mid-'60s and encouraged them to follow his guru, the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
Shortly after forming the Beatles, Lennon married an art school classmate,
Cynthia Powell, with whom he had a son, Julian, in 1963. Their marriage was rocky,
especially after Lennon began openly dating an older Japanese-American artist
named Yoko Ono. Cynthia divorced John in 1968. In the spring of 1969 Lennon and
a very pregnant Ono embarked on a "honeymoon" to Europe, stopping along the way
to get married in Gibraltar on March 20th. The newlyweds returned to England in
May 1969, where Yoko had a miscarriage, the first of several.
To deal with their anguish, John and Yoko hastily recorded two avant-garde
albums, "Life with the lions" and "The Wedding Album" (whose entire B-side
consists of John and Yoko screaming each other's name).
As Lennon spent more time collaborating with Ono, he began to distance himself
from the other "Beatles". In late 1969 he informed the group that he wanted to quit
the band, but because contract negotiations were underway with EMI, his decision
was kept quiet. Lennon intensified his political actions, paying for billboards in
various cities that called for the end of war, and returning an award given to him by
the Queen in protest of Britain's involvement in Biafra. Lennon refocused on his
music career in February 1970. Two months later Paul McCartney released his debut
solo album and publicly announced the end of "The Beatles", angering Lennon, who
had first had the idea and wanted to be the one to break the news.
In the spring of 1971 Lennon and Ono relocated to New York City, moving into
the Dakota, an historic apartment building on Central Park West. Lennon wasted no
time becoming involved in American society, siding with Chicago Seven political
radicals and frequently speaking out on political issues. That fall Lennon released his
most popular solo album, the No. 1 charting "Imagine", which dealt with personal
and political issues in a more accessible manner than his earlier works.
In 1974 Lennon separated from Yoko Ono, relocating to Los Angeles. For the
next two years Lennon became heavily involved in drugs, and became a frequent
attendee of celebrity parties and wild nightclubs. Through the party circuit Lennon
developed a friendship with Elton John, with whom he co-wrote the song "Whatever
Gets You Through the Night," Lennon's 1974 No. 1 comeback. On
Thanksgiving night Lennon joined John onstage at Madison Square Garden, a
legendary performance which turned out to be Lennon's last public concert. The
following year Lennon recorded a contractual obligation album, "Rock and Roll".
Several months before the official release of the album, businessman Morris Levy
released a bootleg of the record. Lennon later sued Levy, winning a large judgement
in court.
By the end of 1975, things had turned around for Lennon: Elton John had helped
John and Yoko resolve their marital differences, and in early October an appeals
court overturned the deportation order which had been haunting Lennon. The
following year Ono became pregnant yet again, and on October 9, 1976 (John's
birthday) gave birth to their child, Sean. In the summer of 1976 John retired from
music to raise his child.
In early 1980 Lennon came out of retirement and signed a new record. John and
Yoko recorded a new album that summer, "Double Fantasy", which was released in
While leaving his New York apartment on December 8, Lennon was approached
by a sleazy-looking fan who requested an autograph. When John returned home
several hours later, the fan was still outside his apartment, and shot Lennon several
times. He died minutes later, and the crazed fan, Mark David Chapman, was quickly
On December 14, at 2 p. m., Lennon fans around the world participated in a
widely publicised 10-minute silent vigil. Naturally, Double Fantasy went to No. 1
and sold thousands of copies. As Chapman went to trial, bizarre details came out
about the disturbed loner, who apparently was obsessed not only with Lennon, but
also with the popular novel Catcher in the Rye. He was easily convicted and
sentenced to an indefinite term in a mental institution.
British Youth
Most 18 and 19 year-olds in Britain are quite independent people.
Relationships within the British family are different now. Children have more
freedom to make their own decisions.
For example, children aged 13 may be employed part time in Great
Britain. At the age of 16 they can leave home, marry with "parents' consent".
At the age of 18 they can vote, get married and drink in pubs.
Education is a very important part in the life of British youth. One can't
become an independent person without it.
During the last 30 years there were a lot of different trends in youth
movements. Those trends are known as the "hippies", the "punks", the
But certainly there are different traditional youth organizations in Great
Britain. Among them — the Scout Association, the National Union of
Students (the Nus).
The National Union of Students was founded in 1922. It promotes the
educational and social interests of students.
But certainly the most numerous is the Scout Association, founded in
1908 for boys and in 1910 for girls by Lord Baden-Powel. The programme of
training is planned to develop intelligence and practical skills and to promote
health. Scout training is complementary to the ordinary education.
Everyone in Great Britain can find the activity he likes most.
The English Character
The national character of the English has been very differently described,
but most commentators agree over one quality, which they describe as a sense
of superiority or "insular pride". English patriotism is based on a deep sense of
security. Englishmen as individuals may have been insecure, threatened with
the loss of a job, unsure of themselves or unhappy in many ways. But as a
nation they have been secure for centuries.
The English are a well-disciplined people. This is not to say that they are
never rude. Coarse expressions are hardly ever used. You may be struck by
the fact that life in Britain is less noisy. The English display a surprising unity
in a crisis.
The visual coldness of Englishmen has been almost universally noted by
the foreigners. But they also confess that once one gets to know an
Englishman better, he turns out to be a very companionable fellow.
The characteristic feature of the English is their love of games. They love
playing all of them. They play football and cricket; games are nowhere so
popular as in England. But however childish at their games they are very
serious in business.
The British have long been famous as a nation of animal-lovers. There is a
pet in nearly every family and often the family dog or cat has a special chair
near the fire, special food and a special place in the hearts of his owners.
All this doesn't mean that the English are different from other human
beings. They certainly feel the same emotions: jealousy, envy, joy and
happiness as others — only their external reactions are different. When one
speaks of the English, one usually means all the other nations living within the
borders of the United Kingdom — Scottish, Welsh or Irish. The difference
between these nations is great enough for everyone who lives in Britain, but
for the outside world it is much smaller.
English Cuisine
With the exception of breakfast meals in England are much the same as in
other countries. The usual meals in Great Britain are breakfast, lunch, tea and
dinner. The English are very particular about their meals and strictly keep to
their meal times.
Breakfast time is between 7 and 9 a.m. Many people like to begin it with
porridge. English people eat porridge with milk or cream and sugar, but no
Scotsman — and Scotland is the home of porridge — ever puts sugar in it.
Then comes bacon and eggs, marmalade with toast and tea or coffee. For a
change you can have a boiled egg, cold ham or perhaps fish.
The two substantial meals of the day, lunch and dinner, are more or less
the same. Lunch is usually taken at one o'clock. Many people, who go out to
work, find it difficult to come home for lunch and go to a cafe or a restaurant,
but they never miss a meal. Lunch is a big meal — meat or fish, potatoes and
salad, puddings or fruit are quite usual for it.
In the afternoon, about four o'clock, the English have a cup of tea and a
cake, or a slice or two of bread and butter. Tea is very popular with the
English; it may be called their national drink. The English like it strong and
fresh made. Tea must be brewed as follows: one teaspoon for each person and
one for the pot. They drink it with or without sugar, but almost always with
milk. It is important to pour tea into milk, and not vice versa. Very famous is
their "high tea" at 5 o'clock, where tea is accompanied by ham, tomatoes and
salad, bread and butter, fruit and cakes. Dinnertime is generally about half
past seven or later. In some houses dinner is the biggest meal of the day. They
begin with soup, followed by fish, roast chicken, potatoes and vegetables, fruit
and coffee. But in great many English homes the midday meal is the chief one
of the day, and in the evening they only have light meal, for example, bread
and cheese and a cup of coffee or cocoa and fruit.
Customs and Traditions in Great Britain
Every country and every nation has its own customs and traditions. You cannot
speak about England without speaking about its traditions and customs. Englishmen are
proud of their traditions and carefully keep them alive.
The English are stereotyped as cold and reserved. However, they are steady, easygoing and fond of sport. But these statements can't be universal. Great Britain consists
of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Inhabitants of all these parts have a
lot of differences.
For example, the Scots are not English. The Scots don't like to compromise, lean
much upon logic and run much to extremes. The Scots are more extravagant, their
traditions are more colourful and exciting. The Gaelic language and songs, the tartan,
the bagpipes are Scottish attributes.
In Wales national spirit is strong, national traditions are really appreciated. The
Welsh still proudly wear their national dress on festive occasions. The Welsh language
is still very much a living force and is taught side by side with English at schools.
Welshmen, who have a highly developed artistic sense, have a distinguished record in
the realm of poetry, song and drama.
The main difference between the Irish and the British is their religion. But there are
some things that unite them all together. One of them is gardening. The love of gardens
is deep rooted in all the British people. You will seldom see a suburban garden
neglected. Britain is also a nation of animal lovers. Every family has a pet, which is
carefully attended.
The English are stay-at-home people. "There is no place like home", they say.
When they don't work they like to spend their days off at home with their families.
Englishmen are very fond of fire-places, that's why many of them prefer the open fire to
central heating. They like to live in small houses with a small garden. People all over
the world know the saying "The Englishman's home is his castle".
They say that English people keep to their traditions even in meals. Many
Englishmen eat porridge with milk and sugar for breakfast. As for the Scots, for
example, they never put sugar in their porridge, they always put salt in it.
By the way, breakfast time in England is between seven and nine. Then, between
12 and 2 there comes lunch time. In some English houses lunch is the biggest meal of
the day — they have meat or fish, vegetables, fruit or pudding. In the afternoon, at teatime the English like to have a cup of tea with milk. Some Englishmen have their dinner
late in the evening. For dinner they have soup, fish or meat, vegetables," pudding or
fruit. For supper they usually have a glass of milk and a cake or a cup of tea and a
The English are tea-drinkers. They have it many times a day. Some Englishmen
have tea for breakfast, tea at lunch time, tea after dinner, tea at tea-time and tea with
supper. Some English families have "high tea" or big tea and no supper. For high tea
they may have cold meat, bread and butter, cakes, and, of course, a lot of tea.
UK Holidays
Great Britain is famous for its old traditions. Some of them existed in
ancient times and survived through centuries. Some of them appeared when
Christianity came to the British Isles. Speaking about religious holidays one
can't but mention Easter, Pancake Day and Mother's Day, Christmas Day,
Boxing Day. Public holidays in Britain are called Bank holidays. I would like
to speak about Christmas, New Year and Bank holidays.
Christmas is celebrated on the 25th of December and symbolizes the
birthday of Jesus Christ. This day is marked by setting the fur-tree and
decorating it with different toys and candles. Children wait for Santa Claus
who comes to every house and brings presents. Going to bed children leave
their stockings to receive presents next morning. There are a lot of parties
organized by people to celebrate this wonderful holiday. Young people like to
spend it together in good companies. There is a lot of fun and jokes on that
Celebrating of the New Year Eve is held in the family in England. Some
people in Scotland go outside and celebrate New Year in squares singing
songs or dancing. The first man coming to you after the New Year Eve may
bring you luck, especially if he comes with a piece of bread and coal. Bread
symbolizes wealth and coal — warmth. Children like this holiday very much.
They go out of their houses, sing songs and congratulate people. People treat
them with candies or give them little money.
Bank holidays are celebrated four times a year. This day is a day-off for
everybody because all banks and all places of business are closed. According
to the Act of Parliament of 1871 there are 4 bank holidays: Easter Monday,
White Monday, the first Monday in August December 26 — Boxing Day.
There are also great fairs with a lot of goods for sale, with fun, jokes and
choosing the Pearl Queen and King. The Pearl Queen and King are people at
the fair who have the most unusual costume with a lot of pearl buttons on it.
There are a lot of other holidays in Great Britain.
British Art, Theatre, Music
People assume that the artist's prime responsibility is to communicate with them
and that this communication ought to be instantly understandable — something they can
hum, a landscape they can recognize, characters they can identify with, a plot they can
The history of the arts is notoriously rich in examples of great talents ignored in
their generation; such as Ibsen, Van Gogh and Wagner who were considered in their
day as bad, mad and dangerous.
But it's also true, of course, that there are examples of great artists who enjoyed
immediate success — Shakespeare is the most familiar example.
What makes it worse for many people is the tendency of so much contemporary art
in the West to look inwards, or into the mirror, rather than outwards, into society.
Although the arts are there to be enjoyed, to give more intensity of living, a greater
depth of understanding, a more profound self-awareness, you really can't expect to
enjoy them all, or always to understand what is new straight away, any more than you
should feel obliged to like what you don't comprehend. But to try is always worth the
There was little pictorial art in England until the great miniaturists of the Tudor
epoch. There were portraits on a large scale, of course, but they were in the main, of
foreign origin, notably Dutch like Holbein. Then came Hogarth, the first great native
painter born at the end of the 17th century. Famous for both engravings and oil
paintings, some of them of an extreme sensitivity, others bitterly satirical, he was
followed by Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792) famous for his portraits. If Hogarth was the
artist of the towns, Gainsborough, contemporary of Reynolds, was the painter of the
countryside, frequently the background to his portraits. In a similar tradition was
Stubbs, as famous for his portraits of horses as of people. Among the other portraitists
of the 18th century were Romney, and Raeburn. Constable (1776-1837) finally gave
landscape painting its importance. Among his near-contemporaries, though a little
younger, were William Blake, poet, visionary and painter, and Turner, renowned above
all for his naval scenes.
The modern period in British art may be said to date from the year 1910, when the
first Post-Impressionist Exhibition was held in London.
The first decade of the century had been dominated by two romanticists, Frank
Brangwyn and Augustus John and by the sculptor Jacob Epstein who became a
protagonist of modernity. The two painters may, to some extent, have been influenced
by Gauguin, Epstein was essentially an expressionist.
Such modern painters as Peter Blake, Allan Jones and some others seek an image of
immediate popular appeal (hence the term "pop-art" sometimes applied to this school).
Lacking any formal or even ideological basis, such a pictorial activity tends to
become amateurish, flippant and vulgar. And what is more, it is not "popular" in the
sense of having a direct appeal to the masses.
Television gained acceptance as a communications medium following World War II.
Critics claim that the golden age of television occurred in the 1950's. Various fads have swept
the television scene — e. g. westerns, doctor and lawyer shows, cops-and-robbers series, rural
comedies. Sports coverage of baseball, golf and especially professional football is currently in
vogue. Late evening talk shows are currently popular. Recently controversies involving
television have concerned children's programming, the issue of violence, and the right of TV
to broadcast controversial news programs. Psychologists have argued that the presentation of
violence on television might lead young people to regard violence as acceptable behaviour,
TV is a major factor in British life.
The British spend a great deal of time watching television. Some people watch one
program, and then they are tempted to watch the next one as well, when perhaps they ought to
be doing something else. The more intelligent people, however, choose their programs very
carefully. They find out what they really want to watch by studying the printed programs, and
do not allow themselves to waste too much time watching merely entertainment.
Musical activity in Britain has reached in 20th century its highest level since Tudor
times. An unusual amount of new composition has included the operas of Sir Benjamin
Britten and the symphonies of Sir Edward Edgar and Ralph Maughan Williams who can be
considered as the greatest symphonic composers Britain has produced.
The musical public has grown steadily larger, and can support nightly concerts at
London's two great concert halls, The Royal Festival Hall and The Royal Albert Hall, as well
as a number of smaller halls. London has five major orchestras, of which the Royal
Philharmonic and the younger Philharmonia are outstanding.
Choral singing, always a feature of British musical life, remains as popular as ever,
particularly in the North of England and Wales.
Grand opera has no more than-a limited following among the British, but in London The
Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, maintains a high standard and draws large audiences.
Opera is also performed at Sadler's Wells Theatre.
Ballet, on the other hand, has become increasingly popular, and The Royal Ballet (the
resident company at Covent Garden) has established a high reputation, and has been ranked
by experts among the best ballet companies in the world.
Although there have been no great jazz artists of British origin, jazz is still quite popular
in Britain. Attempts are made to combine jazz and rock.
Since the early fifties pop music has been the enthusiasm and the entertainment of the
young, but recently it has joined forces with beat and protest songs to express more than
romantic yearnings: it has become an outlet for discontent, disillusionment, for hopes and
social protest. With the emergence of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones in the early 1960s, a
distinctive new style began to make itself heard.
The young began to create their own music with instruments such as the guitar and
percussion. The pop group was born.
There is considerable force in the music of many pop groups, and much in common, for
example, between Bob Dylan and recent Paul McCartney. Such groups as "Led Zeppelin" and
"Pink Floyd" achieved international success.
The British Newspapers
Let's talk about English papers. First of all there is no subscription. You may buy
any on sale. There are too many types of newspapers; the "popular" papers and the
"quality" papers. The popular papers are less in size, with many pictures, big headlines
and short articles. They are easy to read. The quality papers are for more serious
readership. These papers are bigger in size, with larger articles and more detailed
The newspapers in Britain are proud of the fact that they are different from each
other — each tries to have a definite profile. The following is a witty, but at least partly
accurate, description of the people who read the different papers.
The Times is read by the people who run the country.
The Mirror is read by the people who think they run the country.
The Guardian is read by the people who think about running the country.
The Morning Star is read by the people who think they ought to run the country.
The Mail is read by the wives of the people who run the country.
The Telegraph is read by the people who think the country ought to be run as it
used to be. The Express is read by the people who think it is still run as it used to be.
The Sun is read by the people who don't care who runs the country as long as the
girl on page three is attractive.
British Universities
For seven hundred years Oxford and Cambridge universities dominated the
British education. Scotland had four universities, all founded before A. D. 1600
(Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, and St. Andrews). Wales only acquired a university
in the 20th century; unlike the others it is a loose federation of four university
colleges located in different cities (Cardiff", Swansea, Bangor, and Aberystwith). The
first English university after Oxford and Cambridge (sometimes referred to as
Oxbridge) was Durham, in the North of England, founded in 1832. The University of
London was founded a few years later in 1836.
During the nineteenth century institutions of higher education were founded in
most of the biggest industrial towns, like Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield
(sometimes called the Redbrick Universities). At first they did not have full
university status but were known as university colleges; since 1945, however, all
have become independent universities, and in recent years a number of other
universities have been founded: Sussex, Essex, Warwick, and others.
In the middle 60s there was a further new development. Some of the local
technical colleges maintained by local authorities had gained special prestige. By
1967 ten of these had been given charters as universities, though they still
concentrated mostly on science and technology, with languages and social sciences
on a smaller scale. Many of them are in the biggest cities where there were already
established universities; so now we have the University of Aston (Birmingham),
Salford (close to Manchester), Strathclyde (Glasgow), Herriot-Watt University
(Edinburgh) and Brunei University (London).
When we add all these together we find that the number of universities in
England increased within ten years from nineteen to thirty-six, and in Scotland from
four to eight.
Oxford University is a sort of federation of colleges, and it is impossible to
understand its structure (or that of Cambridge or Durham) unless one first
understands the nature and function of these colleges, which have no resemblance
whatever with the institutions called "colleges" in America.
Oxford has twenty-three ordinary colleges for men, five for women. All these are
parallel and equal institutions, and none of them is connected with any particular
field of study. No matter what subject a man proposes to study he may study at any
of the men's colleges.
Each college has a physical existence in the shape of a dining-hall, chapel, and
residential rooms (enough to accommodate about half the student membership, the
rest living in lodgings in the town). It is governed by its Fellows (commonly called
"dons"), of whom there are usually about twenty or thirty. The dons are also
responsible for teaching the students of the college through the tutorial system. The
Fellows elect the Head of the college (whose title varies from college to college).
The colleges vary very much in size and extent of grounds and buildings, and
also in eminence. The biggest and most magnificent is Christ Church, the chapel of
which is also Oxford cathedral.
Colleges choose their own students, and a student only becomes a member of the
University by having been accepted by a college. Students are chosen mainly on
academic merit, but the policy of colleges in this respect varies from college to
college. Some tend to be rather keen to admit a few men who are very good at rugby
or some other sport, or sons of former students or of lords, or of eminent citizens, or
of millionaires.
The University prescribes syllabuses, arranges lectures, conducts examinations,
and awards degrees, but there is no single building which can be called "the
University". The colleges and university buildings are scattered about the town,
mostly in the central area, though the scientific laboratories and the women's colleges
are quite a long way out.
The university teachers are mostly Fellows of colleges, who may at the same
time hold university appointments as lecturers or professors. Part of the teaching is
by means of lectures organized by the university, and any student may attend any
university lecture. At the beginning of each term (there are three terms in the Oxford
academic year) a list is published showing all the lectures being given during the
term within each faculty, and every student can choose which lectures he will attend,
though his own college tutor will advise him which lectures seem likely to be more
useful. Attendance at lectures is not compulsory, and no records of attendance are
Apart from lectures, teaching is by means of the "tutorial" system, which is a
system of individual tuition organized by the colleges. Each Fellow in a college is
tutor in his own subject to the undergraduates who are studying it. Each student goes
to his tutor's room once every week to read out an essay which he has written, and for
an hour he and the tutor discuss the essay. A student does not necessarily go only to
his own tutor but may be assigned to another don in his own college or in another
college when he is studying some particular topic which is outside the special interest
of his own tutor.
The United States of America is one of the greatest countries in the world. It is
situated on the North American continent and is washed by two oceans: the Pacific
and the Atlantic. The USA only borders on two countries — Canada and Mexico.
This large country has a lot of mountains, rivers and lakes. The main
mountains are the Appalachians and the Cordilleras. The longest rivers are the
Mississippi and the Missouri. There are five great lakes in the northern part of the
USA. They are Lake Ontario, Lake Huron, Lake Erie, Lake Superior and Lake
Michigan. The longest rivers of the USA are the Mississippi, the Missouri, the
Columbia, the Colorado, the Yukon and the Rio Grande.
The USA is a very large country so it has several climatic regions. In the
southern part the climate is subtropical while the northern part has very cold
weather in winter.
The United States is rich in most of the metals and minerals needed to supply
its basic industries. It produces iron, copper, coal, phosphate rock, natural gas,
uranium, non-ferrous metals etc.
America has fifty states and one federal District of Columbia where the capital
of the country is situated. The capital of the USA is Washington. It stands on the
Potomac River in the eastern part of the country. The main cities are located on the
Pacific and Atlantic coasts. New-York, the largest city of the country, is situated
on Manhattan island. Other large cities are San-Francisco, Los-Angeles, Detroit,
Chicago, Phoenix and Dallas.
The USA is a country of highly developed industry and agriculture. The main
industrial centres are Chicago and Detroit, with their greatest automobile company
"General Motors". There are a lot of farms with various agricultural products there.
Grain, fruits and vegetables are grown in vast fields especially in the South.
The USA is a country with great holidays, customs and traditions. It is one of
the most beautiful and interesting countries in the world.
The United States of America (Part I)
The U.S.A. is a federal republic of 50 states. Besides the 48 contiguous states
that occupy the middle latitudes of the continent, the United States includes the
state of Alaska at the north-western extreme of North America and the island state
of Hawaii in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The conterminous states are bounded on the
north by Canada, on the east by the Atlantic Ocean, on the south by the Gulf of
Mexico and on the west by the Pacific Ocean. The national capital is Washington,
which is coextensive with the District of Columbia, the federal capital region
created in 1790.
The total area of the United States is 3,679,192 square miles (9,529,063 square
kilometres), making it the fourth largest country in the world in area (after Russia,
Canada and China). Outlying territories and other politically associated areas in the
Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea add approximately 4,000 square miles to this
The major characteristic of the United States is probably its great variety. Its
physical environment ranges from the Arctic to the subtropical, from the moist rain
forest to the arid desert, from the rugged mountain peak to the flat prairie.
Although the total population of the United States is large by world standards, its
overall population density is relatively low; the country embraces some of the
world's largest urban concentrations as well as some of the most extensive areas
that are almost devoid of habitation.
The United States contains a highly diverse population; but, unlike a country
such as China that largely incorporated indigenous peoples, its diversity has to a
great degree come from an immense and sustained global immigration. Probably
no other country has a wider range of racial, ethnic and cultural types than does the
United States. In addition to the presence of surviving native Americans (including
American Indians, Aleutians and Eskimos) and the descendants of Africans taken
as slaves to America, the national character has been enriched, tested, and
constantly redefined by the tens of millions of immigrants who by and large have
gone to America hoping for greater social, political and economic opportunities
than they had in the places they left.
The United States of America (Part II)
The United States is the world's greatest economic power, measured in terms
of gross national product (GNP). The nation's wealth is partly a reflection of its
rich natural resources and its enormous agricultural output, but it owes more to the
country's highly developed industry. Despite its relative economic self-sufficiency
in many areas, the United States is the most important single factor in world trade
by virtue of the sheer size of its economy. Its exports and imports represent major
proportions of the world total. The United States also impinges on the global
economy as a source of and as a destination for investment capital.
The country continues to sustain an economic life that is more diversified than
any other on the Earth, providing the majority of its people with one of the world's
highest standards of living.
The United States is relatively young by world standards, being barely more
than 200 years old; it achieved its current size only in the mid-20th century.
America was the first of the European colonies to separate successfully from its
motherland, and it was the first nation to be established on the premise that
sovereignty rests with its citizens and not with the government.
In its first century and a half, the country was mainly preoccupied with its own
territorial expansion and economic growth and with social debates that ultimately
led to civil war and a healing period that is still not complete. In the 20th century
the United States emerged as a world power, and since World War II it has been
one of the pre-eminent powers.
Although the United States still offers its residents opportunities for
unparalleled personal advancement and wealth, the depletion of its resources,
contamination of its environment, and continuing social and economic inequality
that perpetuates areas of poverty and blight all threaten the fabric of the country.
Geographical Position of the USA
The USA occupies the central part of the North American continent. It borders
on Canada in the north and Mexico in the south. It is washed by the Atlantic Ocean
in the east, by the Pacific Ocean in the west and by the Gulf of Mexico in the
south. The territory of the USA consists of three separate parts. The USA and
Alaska are situated in North America. The Hawaii are situated in the central part of
the Pacific Ocean.
The total area of the United States is 3,679,192 square miles (9,529,063 square
kilometres), making it the fourth largest country in the world in area (after Russia,
Canada and China). Outlying territories and other politically associated areas in the
Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea add approximately 4,000 square miles to this
The population of the USA is about 256 million people. The United States
contains a highly diverse population; but, unlike a country such as China that
largely incorporated indigenous peoples, its diversity has to a great degree come
from an immense and sustained global immigration. Probably no other country has
a wider range of racial, ethnic and cultural types than does the United States.
No general statement can be made about the landscape of the USA. It is a
country of mountains and prairies, valleys and deserts. About one half of the
territory in the west is occupied by the Cordilleras. In the east there are the
Appalachian Mountains. Between these great mountain chains central and large,
valleys lie. The Rocky Mountains extend from Alaska through Canada and the
USA to Mexico. Together with the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California they
have snow-capped peaks and clear mountain lakes.
The Great Lakes are situated in the north-east of the country. They are Lake
Ontario, Lake Huron, Lake Erie, Lake Superior and Lake Michigan. The largest
rivers of the USA are the Mississippi, the Missouri, the Columbia, the Colorado,
and the Yukon. American rivers have very expressive names: the Snake River, the
Milk River, the Green River, the Sweetwater River, the White River.
The USA has rich deposits of coal, oil, iron, zinc, copper, silver, phosphate
rock, natural gas, uranium and non-ferrous metals. The country has one fourth of
the world’s coal deposits.
Climate and Nature of the USA
The USA is situated in the central part of the North American Continent.
It is washed by the Atlantic Ocean in the east, by the Pacific Ocean in the west
and by the Gulf of Mexico in the south. The climate varies from moderate to
subtropical. Along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts it is oceanic. In the USA are
observed sharp differences between winter and summer. Average winter
temperature is about 25 degrees below zero in Alaska and up to 20 degrees
above zero in Florida. Average summer temperature varies from 14 degrees
above zero in the western part up to 32 degrees above zero in the southeast.
The largest amount of rainfall is observed in Alaska and the southwest of
the country. In winter the northern part of the USA usually has a steady snow
cover. The largest rivers of the USA are the Mississippi, the Missouri, the
Yukon, the Columbia, and the Colorado. The Great Lakes are situated in the
northeast of the country.
The region of the Cordilleras has semi deserts, while the rest of the
territory is rich in forests. In California, where the climate is usually mild, the
famous fruit-raising area is located. Californian oranges, grapefruit and
lemons are sold all over the USA and other parts of the world. The plains of
Wyoming, stretching for hundreds of miles, are covered with short grass and
sagebrush. This is the land of cattle- and sheep breeding. The south of the
country has been an agricultural region for many years. It raises the nation’s
cotton and tobacco. The USA also grows wheat, corn and different vegetables.
There are a lot of national parks in the USA, the aim of which is to
preserve the beauty and treasures of the nature.
Political System of the USA
The United States of America is a federative republic. From 1959 the
Federation comprises 50 states. The president is the head of the state and the
executive departments. He is also the Commander-in-chief of the army and
Navy of the USA. The president and vice-president are elected for a term of
four years.
All the legislative power is vested in Congress, which consists of the
Senate and the House of Representatives. There are 100 Senators who are
elected by popular vote for a term of six years two from each state. The
Senators represent all of the people in a state and their interests.
The House of Representatives has 435 members. They are elected for twoyear term. They represent the population of "congressional districts" into
which each state is divided. The number of Representatives from each state is
based on its population.
Congress makes all laws, and each House of Congress has the power to
introduce legislation. Each can also vote against legislation passed by the
Within the executive branch there are a number of executive departments.
Each department is established by law, and is responsible for a specific area.
The head of each department is appointed by the President. These
appointments, however, must be approved by the Senate.
An essential role in the US political system is played by the Supreme
Court, which may declare a law, passed by Congress, to be contradictory to
the Constitution of the country.
The states have legislative and executive bodies of their own. Their
structure, function and competence are determined by the Constitution of each
state. There is an elected governor at the head of each state. States enjoy
independence in their domestic affairs, including financial matters. However,
state laws and actions of state authorities must not conflict with the
Constitution of the USA.
The US has in fact developed a two-party system. The two leading parties
are the Democrats and the Republicans. There are other parties besides these
two which do not play a role in national politics.
Administration. The Executive Branch of the Government
The U.S. Constitution defines a federal system of government in which
certain powers are delegated to the national government; other powers fall to
the states. The national government consists of executive, legislative and
judicial branches that are designed to check and balance one another; all are
interrelated and overlapping yet each is quite distinct.
Since the Constitution was ratified in 1788, there have been 26
amendments to it. The first 10, known as the Bill of Rights, established a
number of individual liberties. Notable among the other amendments are the
13th, 14th and 15th, which abolished slavery and declared former slaves
citizens with the right to vote; the 17th, which provided for the direct election
of U.S. senators; and the 19th, which effected women's suffrage.
Amending the Constitution requires a proposal by a two-thirds vote of
both houses of Congress or by a national convention, followed by ratification
by three-fourths of the state legislatures or state conventions.
The executive branch of the government is headed by the president, who
must be a natural-born citizen of the United States, at least 35 years old and a
resident of the country for at least 14 years. The formal responsibilities of the
president include those of chief executive, treaty maker, commander in chief
of the army and head of state. In practice, they have grown to include drafting
legislation, formulating foreign policy, personal diplomacy and leadership of
his political party. The members of the president's Cabinet — the secretaries
of State, Treasury, Defence, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Labour, Health
and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation,
Education, Energy and Veterans Affairs and the attorney general — are
appointed by the president with the approval of the Senate; they are described
in the Twenty-fifth Amendment as "the principal officers of the executive
departments," but much power has come to be exercised by presidential aides
who are not in the Cabinet. Thus, the president's Executive Office includes the
Office of Management and Budget, the Council of Economic Advisers and the
National Security Council.
Congress. The Legislative Branch of the Government
The legislative branch of the government is the Congress, which has two houses:
the Senate and the House of Representatives. Powers granted Congress under the
Constitution include the power to levy taxes, borrow money, regulate interstate
commerce, declare war, seat members, discipline its own membership, and determine
its rules of procedure.
With the exception of revenue bills, which must originate in the House of
Representatives, legislative bills may be introduced in and amended by either house;
a bill — with its amendments — must pass both houses and be signed by the
president before it becomes law. The president may veto a bill, but a veto can be
overridden by a two-thirds vote of both houses.
The House of Representatives is chosen by the direct vote of the electorate in
single-member districts in each state, the number of representatives allotted to each
state being based on population and the overall total never exceeding 435. Members
must be 25 years old, residents of the states from which they are elected, and
previously citizens of the United States for at least seven years.
It has become practically imperative, though not constitutionally required that
they be inhabitants of the districts that elect them. They serve for a two-year period.
The speaker of the House, who is chosen by the majority party, presides over debate,
appoints members of select and conference committees and performs other important
duties. The parliamentary leaders of the two parties are the majority floor leader and
the minority floor leader; they are helped by party whips who maintain contact
between the leadership and the members of the House.
Bills introduced by members in the House of Representatives are received by the
standing committees, which meet in private executive session and can amend,
expedite, delay or kill the bills. The committee chairmen traditionally have attained
their positions on the basis of seniority, but this practice has been challenged. Among
the most important committees are those on Appropriations, Ways and Means, and
Rules. The Rules Committee, traditionally conservative, has great power to determine
which bills will be brought to the floor of the House for consideration.
Each state elects two senators at large. Senators must be at least 30 years old,
residents of the state from which they are elected, and previously citizens of the
United States for at least nine years. Each term of service is for six years, and terms
are so arranged that one-third of the members are elected every two years.
The Senate has 16 standing committees, among which the most prominent are
those on Foreign Relations, Finance, Appropriations and Governmental Affairs.
Debate is almost unlimited and may be used to delay the vote on a bill indefinitely.
Such a delay is known as a filibuster and in most instances can be brought to an end
if three-fifths of the Senate agree. Treaties made by the president with other
governments must be ratified by a two-thirds vote of the Senate.
Courts. The Judicial Branch of the Government
The judicial branch of the federal government is headed by the U.S. Supreme
Court, which interprets the meaning of the Constitution and of federal laws. It
consists of nine justices (including the chief justice) appointed for life by the
president with the consent of the Senate. It has appellate jurisdiction for the lower
federal courts and from state courts of last resort if a federal question is involved.
The court has original jurisdiction over cases involving foreign ambassadors,
ministers, consuls and cases to which a state is a party.
Three types of cases commonly reach the Supreme Court: cases involving
litigants of different states, cases involving the interpretation of federal law and
cases involving the interpretation of the Constitution. The court can take official
action with as few as six judges joining in deliberation, and a majority vote of the
entire court is decisive; a tie vote sustains a lower-court decision. Often the
minority judges write a dissenting report.
The Supreme Court has often been criticised for its decisions. In the 1930s, for
example, a conservative court overturned much of President Franklin D.
Roosevelt's New Deal legislation. In the area of civil rights it has received
criticism from various groups at different times. After a 1954 ruling against school
segregation, Southern political leaders attacked it harshly. Later, they were joined
by Northern conservatives. A number of decisions involving the pre-trial rights of
prisoners also came under attack on the ground that the court had made it difficult
to convict criminals.
Below the Supreme Court are the U.S. courts of appeals. Special courts handle
property and contract damage suits against the United States (U.S. Claims Court),
review customs rulings (U.S. Court of International Trade), and apply the Uniform
Code of Military Justice (U.S. Court of Military Appeals). Each state has at least
one federal district court and at least one federal judge. District judges are
appointed for life by the president with Senate consent. Appeals from district-court
decisions are carried to the courts of appeals.
Administration. State and Municipal Governments
The governments of the 50 states have structures closely paralleling those of
the federal government. Each state has a governor, a legislature and a judiciary.
Each state has its own constitution.
All state legislatures but one have two houses, Nebraska's being unicameral.
Traditionally, state legislatures have been dominated by rural representatives who
may not always be sympathetic to the needs of growing urban areas. Most state
judicial systems are based upon elected justices of the peace (although in many
states this term is not used), above whom come major trial courts, often called
district courts, and appellate courts. In addition, there are probate courts concerned
with wills, estates and guardianships. Most state judges are elected.
State governments have a wide array of functions, encompassing agriculture
and conservation, highway and motor vehicle supervision, public safety and
corrections, professional licensing, regulation of intrastate business and industry,
and certain aspects of education, public health and welfare. These activities require
a large administrative organisation, headed by the governor. In most states there is
also a lieutenant governor, not always of the same party as the governor, who
serves as the presiding officer of the Senate. Other elected officials commonly
include a secretary of state, state treasurer, state auditor and attorney general.
Municipal governments are more diverse in structure than state governments.
There are three basic types: mayor-council governments, commission governments
and council-manager governments. In the first type, the mayor and the council are
elected; although the council is nominally responsible for formulating city
ordinances, which the mayor enforces, the mayor often controls the actions of the
council. Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Seattle, Wash., are
among those cities having the mayor-council type of government.
In the commission type, voters elect a number of commissioners, each of
whom serves as head of a city department; the presiding commissioner is generally
the mayor. Tulsa, Okla., and Salt Lake City, Utah, are included among the cities
with commission governments. In the council-manager type, an elected council
hires a city manager to administer the city departments. The mayor, elected by the
council, simply chairs it and officiates at important functions. Des Moines, Iowa,
and Cincinnati, Ohio, have council-manager governments.
Cities and Towns of the USA
There are very many large cities in the USA. Washington, the capital of the
United States of America, is situated on the Potomac River. In comparison with
such ancient historical cities as, for example, Rome, London, Moscow or Paris,
Washington is quite young. The capital owes much to the first President of the
USA — George Washington. It was G. Washington, who chose the place for the
capital and laid in 1790 the corner-stone of the Capitol, where Congress sits.
Washington has many historical places. The largest and tallest among the
buildings is the Capitol with its great House of Representatives and the Senate
chamber. There are no sky-scrapers in Washington because no other building must
be taller than the Capitol.
New York is the largest city in the USA and the biggest sea-port. It is situated
in the mouth of the Hudson River. New York was founded by the Dutch. It is
interesting to know that Manhattan Island — the central part of New York — was
bought from the local Indians by the Dutch for 24 dollars. That was the most
profitable commercial deal in the US history. Today Manhattan is the heart of
business and commercial life of the country. New York is the city of sky-scrapers.
There are many other places of interest in New York: Central Park, Times
Square, Rockefeller Centre, the shopping districts and the United Nations
Building. In Manhattan at Broadway there is Columbia University, one of the
biggest universities of the USA.
Another large city of the USA is Boston, one of the first cities which were
built on the Atlantic coast of America. It is an important port and a financial and
cultural centre. It has three universities.
Chicago is one of the biggest industrial cities in the USA and the second
largest after New York. Los Angeles, in California, is the centre of modern
industries. Not far from Los Angeles there is Hollywood, the centre of the US film
Philadelphia, near the east coast, produces agricultural machines and
locomotives. Light industry is highly developed here. Philadelphia is an important
cultural centre with many fine buildings and a university.
Sacramento is the capital of the state California, which is called the "golden
State" as it has gold mines on its territory. Gold-rush days made the state famous.
Sights of the USA
One should start sightseeing in America from Washington. There are many
beautiful parks and gardens in Washington. It is interesting to see the famous
cherry trees, the gift from Japan. They were brought to America in 1912. The
NASA museum presents the US achievements in the exploration of space. Capitol
Hill is the highest place in the city. There is a law that forbids building houses
higher than the Capitol on Capitol Hill. Pennsylvania Avenue runs from the
Capitol to the White House. It is used for all processions and parades.
The White House, the residence of the president is the oldest public structure
in the capital and one of the most beautiful. It was built in 1799. It is a twostoreyed white building. It is said that in 1812 when England was at war with
America the British entered the city and some of the buildings, including the
Capitol and the house of the president were set on fire. Two years later in order to
hide the marks of the fire, the brown stone walls of the president's home were
painted white and it has been the White House ever since.
The Lincoln memorial and Washington monument are the most famous ones
in Washington. The Washington monument is one of the most impressive sights in
the city. It is situated in Potomac Park. It was erected in the memory of the first
president, of the USA in 1888. It is called "the Pencil", one of the tallest stone
constructions in the world and the tallest in the USA. The Lincoln memorial is in
the west of the Washington monument. It is designed like a Greek temple. The
dominant figure is the realistic figure of Abraham Lincoln seated in the centre of
the open temple.
There are a lot of sights in Philadelphia, for example, the Independence
National Historical Park. You can also see the Liberty Bell, which is a symbol of
freedom. The sound of this Bell told the people about the first public reading of the
Declaration of Independence in July 1776. You can also visit the Philadelphia
Museum of Art — one of the greatest art museums of the world.
One should also visit New York, the city of skyscrapers with the statue of
Liberty. A new American Immigration Museum has been opened at the base of the
statue. The Metropolitan Opera House, the Madison Square Garden, the Modern
Arts Museum are popular among the tourists. One can also visit Lyndon B.
Johnson Space Centre near Houston in Texas or go to Florida or California to
enjoy the Atlantic or Pacific Ocean beaches. I would like to see them all myself.
Outstanding People of America
The fates of many famous people of America have very much in common.
Thus, one of the most well-known statesmen of the USA, Abraham Lincoln, was
born in 1809. His father was a poor farmer and the boy had to work much on their
small farm. But he read a lot, too. When he grew older he showed a strong interest
for law. He became a lawyer and he always tried to use the law to defend people.
In 1846 he was elected to Congress. There he said he was against slavery. In 1860
he became the President of the USA. In 1864 Abraham Lincoln was elected the
President again, but a year later he was killed by his enemies in a theatre in
The American inventor, Thomas Alva Edison, was born in Ohio in 1847. His
family was not rich and the boy's education was limited to three months in the
public school. When he was 12 he started to work. Several years later Edison
learned telegraphy and became a telegraph operator. He wanted to improve the
telegraph system and worked at it very hard. After a few months of work he built a
transmitter of a new kind. This was his first important invention. The other two of
Edison's greatest inventions were the gramophone and the electric lamp. Edison
believed that only work could bring success.
So did many of the famous American writers. O'Henry, for instance, a wellknown short-story writer had to earn his living from the age of fifteen and he
educated himself with the help of friends. He wrote about the life of ordinary
people in New York City. Typical for O'Henry's stories is a twist of plot which
turns on an ironic or coincidental circumstance.
Another famous American novelist, Theodore Dreiser had to leave school and
work at a factory when he was still a boy. Later he became a newspaper
correspondent and then he began to write books. He wrote such popular novels as
"Sister Carrie", "Financier" and "Titan".
Noah Webster is famous for his dictionary. It took Webster 20 years to write
his dictionary. Part of this time he spent visiting scholars in England and France.
The first edition of the dictionary was published in 1828 and the second in 1840.
The first edition contained 12,000 words and between 30,000 and 40,000
definitions that had never been in a dictionary before.
Webster's dictionary is still being printed by the millions. Of course, changes
in it have been made since Webster's time. Words that Webster never heard or
even dreamed of have been added. A "Webster's New International Dictionary" of
today has more than 600,000 words.
O'Henry is a famous American short-story writer, a master of surprise endings.
He wrote about the life of ordinary people in New York City. Typical for
O'Henry's stories is a twist of plot which turns on an ironic or coincidental
circumstance. The public loved his work.
William Sidney Porter (O'Henry) was born in Greenboro, North Carolina. His
father, Algernon Sidney Porter, was a physician. When William was three, his
mother died, and he was raised by his paternal grandmother and a paternal aunt.
William was an avid reader, but at the age of fifteen he left the school, and then
worked in a drug store and on a Texas ranch. He continued to Houston, where he
had a number of jobs, including that of bank clerk. After moving to Austin, Texas,
in 1882, he married.
In 1884 Porter started a humorous weekly "The Rolling Stone". It was at this
time that he began the heavy drinking. When the weekly failed, he joined the
"Houston Post" as a reporter and columnist. In 1894 cash was found to have gone
missing from the bank and O'Henry fled to Honduras. He returned to Austin the
next year because his wife was dying. In 1897 he was convicted of embezzling
bank fund, although there has been much debate over his actual guilt. In 1898 he
entered a penitentiary at Columbus, Ohio.
While in prison O'Henry started to write short stories to earn money to support
his daughter Margaret. His first work, "Whistling Dick's Christmas Stocking"
(1899), appeared in "McClure's Magazine". The stories of adventure in the U. S.
Southwest and in Central America gained an immediately success among readers.
After doing three years of the five years sentence, Porter emerged from the prison
in 1901 and changed his name to O'Henry. According to some sources, he acquired
the pseudonym from a warder called Orrin Henry.
O'Henry moved to New York City in 1902 and from December 1903 to
January 1906 he wrote a story a week for the New York "World", also publishing
in other magazines.
O'Henry's first collection, "Cabbages and Kings", appeared in 1904.
The second, "The Four Million", was published two years later and included
his well-known stories "The Gift of the Magi" and "The Furnished Room." "The
Trimmed Lamp" (1907) explored the lives of New Yorkers and included "The Last
Leaf". "Heart Of the West" (1907) presented tales of the Texas range.
O'Henry published 10 collections and over 600 short stories during his life
O'Henry's last years were shadowed by alcoholism, ill health, and financial
problems. He married in 1907 Sara Lindsay Coleman, but the marriage was not
happy, and they separated a year later. O'Henry died of cirrhosis of the liver on
June 5, 1910, in New York.
Bill Gates
William (Bill) H. Gates is chairman and chief software architect of Microsoft
Corporation. Microsoft employs more than 39,000 people in 60 countries.
Born on October 28, 1955, Gates and his two sisters grew up in Seattle. Their
father, William H. Gates II, is a Seattle attorney. Their late mother, Mary Gates,
was a schoolteacher, University of Washington regent and chairwoman of United
Way International.
At school Gates discovered his interest in software and began programming
computers at age 13.
In 1973, Gates entered Harvard University. While at Harvard, Gates developed
a version of the programming language BASIC for the first microcomputer.
In his junior year, Gates left Harvard to devote his energies to Microsoft, a
company he had begun in 1975 with his childhood friend Paul Allen.
Guided by a belief that the computer would be a valuable tool on every office
desktop and in every home, they began developing software for personal
computers. Gates' foresight and his vision for personal computing have been
central to the success of Microsoft and the software industry.
Under Gates' leadership, Microsoft's mission has been to continually advance
and improve software technology, and to make it easier, more cost-effective and
more enjoyable for people to use computers. The company is committed to a longterm view, reflected in its large investment on research and development.
In 1999, Gates wrote "Business @ the Speed of Thought", a book that shows
how computer technology can solve business problems in fundamentally new
The book was published in 25 languages and is available in more than 60
countries. "Business @ the Speed of Thought" has received wide critical acclaim,
and was listed on the best-seller lists of the "New York Times", "USA Today", the
"Wall Street Journal and".
Gates has donated the proceeds of his book to non-profit organizations that
support the use of technology in education and skills development.
In addition to his love of computers and software, Gates is interested in
biotechnology. He is an investor in a number of biotechnology companies. Gates is
an avid reader, and enjoys playing golf and bridge.
Edgar Allan Poe
Best known for his poems and short fiction, Edgar Allan Poe deserves more
credit than any other writer for the transformation of the short story from anecdote
to art. He virtually created the detective story and perfected the psychological
thriller. He also produced some of the most influential literary criticism of his time
— important theoretical statements on poetry and the short story — and has had a
worldwide influence on literature.
Poe's parents were touring actors; both died before he was 3 years old, and he
was taken into the home of John Allan, a prosperous merchant in Richmond, Va.,
and baptized Edgar Allan Poe. His childhood was uneventful, although he studied
(1815-20) for 5 years in England. In 1826 he entered the University of Virginia but
stayed for only a year.
Although a good student, he ran up large gambling debts that Allan refused to
pay. Allan prevented his return to the university and broke off Poe's engagement to
Sarah Elmira Royster, his Richmond sweetheart. Lacking any means of support,
Poe enlisted in the army. He had, however, already written and printed (at his own
expense) his first book, "Tamerlane and Other Poems" (1827), verses written in the
manner of Byron.
His fellow cadets contributed the funds for the publication of "Poems by Edgar
A. Poe "Second Edition" (1831), actually a third edition — after "Tamerlane and
Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane, and Minor Poems"(1829). This volume contained the
famous "To Helen" and "Israfel", poems that show the restraint and the calculated
musical effects of language that were to characterize his poetry.
Poe next took up residence in Baltimore with his widowed aunt, Maria
Clemm, and her daughter, Virginia, and turned to fiction as a way to support
himself. In 1832, the Philadelphia Saturday Courier published five of his stories —
all comic or satiric and in 1833, "MS. Found in a Bottle" won a $ 50 prize given by
the Baltimore Saturday Visitor. Poe, his aunt, and Virginia moved to Richmond in
1835, and he became editor of the Southern Literary Messenger and married
Virginia, who was not yet 14 years old.
Poe published fiction, notably his most horrifying tale, "Berenice", in the
"Messenger", but most of his contributions were serious, analytical, and critical
reviews that earned him respect as a critic.
He praised the young Dickens and a few other contemporaries but devoted
most of his attention to devastating reviews of popular contemporary authors.
His contributions undoubtedly increased the magazine's circulation, but they
offended its owner, who also took exception to Poe's drinking. The January 1837
issue of the Messenger announced Poe's withdrawal as editor but also included the
first installment of his long prose tale, "The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym", five
of his reviews and two of his poems. This was to be the paradoxical pattern for
Poe's career: success as an artist and editor but failure to satisfy his employers and
to secure a livelihood.
First in New York City (1837), then in Philadelphia (1838-44), and again in
New York (1844-49), Poe sought to establish himself as a force in literary
journalism, but with only moderate success. He did succeed, however, in
formulating influential literary theories and in demonstrating mastery of the forms
he favored highly musical poems and short prose narratives.
Among Poe's poetic output, about a dozen poems are remarkable for their
flawless literary construction and for their haunting themes and meters. In "The
Raven" (1845), for example, the narrator is overwhelmed by melancholy and
omens of death.
Poe's extraordinary manipulation of rhythm and sound is particularly evident
in "The Bells" (1849), a poem that seems to echo with the chiming of metallic
instruments, and "The Sleeper" (1831), which reproduces the state of drowsiness.
"Lenore" (1831) and "Annabel Lee" (1849) are verse lamentations on the death of
a beautiful young woman.
Virginia's death in January 1847 was a heavy blow, but Poe continued to write.
In the summer of 1849 he revisited Richmond and was accepted anew by the
fiancée he had lost in 1826.
After his return north he was found unconscious on a Baltimore street.
In a brief obituary the "Baltimore Clipper" reported that Poe had died of
congestion of the brain.
Martin Luther King
Michael Luther King Jr., later renamed Martin, was born to schoolteacher Alberta
King and Baptist minister Michael Luther King on January 15, 1929. His boyhood
passed in Sweet Auburn district.
In 1948 King graduated from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Ga.
In 1951 King graduated from Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pa.
King married Coretta Scott in Marion, Ala. in 1953. They had four children:
Yolanda Denise (b. 1955), Martin Luther King III (b. 1957), Dexter (b. 1961), Bernice
Albertine (b. 1963).
In 1954 King moved to Montgomery, Ala. to preach at Dexter Avenue Baptist
Church. There he became famous as a leader of the Montgomery boycott. Black and
white people were not treated at the same manner on the buses. Black people had to
give up their seats to white people. Everyone paid the same fare, but black people had to
go to the back of the bus. The black community decided to boycott the bus company
until the rules were changed.
The Montgomery boycott continued for almost a year. Black people refused to ride
buses, they walked long distances to work, to church, to see friends, etc. In 1956 the
Supreme Court ruled that bus segregation in Montgomery was illegal.
The Montgomery boycott proved that nonviolent actions could bring about real
changes in the laws of the United States.
In 1957, black ministers formed what became known as the Southern Christian
Leadership Conference. King was named first president. In this typical year of
demonstrations King travelled 780,000 miles and made 208 speeches.
In 1958, King published his first book, "Stride Toward Freedom" (Harper), his
recollections of the Montgomery bus boycott.
King visited India in 1959. He had a lifelong admiration for Mohandas K. Gandhi,
and credited Gandhi's passive resistance techniques for his civil-rights successes.
Nonviolent actions became the basic rule of the Civil Rights movement.
King leaved for Atlanta in 1960 to pastor his father's church.
In 1962, King met with President John F. Kennedy to urge support for civil rights.
In 1963 King led protests in Birmingham for desegregated department store
facilities, and fair hiring. King was arrested after demonstrating in defiance of a court
order. Then King wrote "Letter From Birmingham Jail." This eloquent letter, later
widely circulated, became a classic of the civil-rights movement.
On August 28, 1963, 250,000 civil-rights supporters attended the March on
Washington. At the Lincoln Memorial, King delivered the famous "I have a dream"
speech. In 1964 King published his book "Why We Can't Wait" .
On December 10, 1964, Martin Luther King received the Nobel Peace Prize. It was
a great day for all progressive Americans.
Martin Luther King was assassinated in Memphis, Tenn., on April 4, 1968, by
James Earl Ray. On January 20, 1986 was the first national celebration of King's
birthday as a holiday.
American Customs and Traditions
Every nation has different customs and traditions, its own way of life. In
Europe there are people who have lived in the same house and been in the same
job for twenty, thirty or more years. That's not the American way of life. They love
change, they call it the spirit of adventure, a spirit that they think is more
characteristic of America than of Europe. They like to move away, to change
homes and jobs. While the Englishman thinks it is ill mannered to ask private
questions, the American doesn't feel that at all. He will tell you all about himself,
his wife and family, and ask where you have come from, what your job is, how
you like America and how long you are staying. An American prefers sociability.
In his home he doesn't object to being seen by everyone — he actually likes it.
With this sociability goes overwhelming hospitality.
A national Thanksgiving Day is perhaps the only holiday spent by the
Americans at home. Table decorations follow a traditional pattern — a harvest of
Indian corn, apples, oranges, walnuts and grapes. Flowers also bring the fall scene
indoors. The centrepiece is the traditional roast turkey.
Still another American tradition concerns Halloween. Its origin dates back
hundreds of years to the Druid festival. The Druid New Year began on November
1, marking the beginning of winter and the reign of the Lord of Death. The custom
of telling ghost stories on Halloween comes from the Druids. On this occasion
children usually wear ghost costumes or false faces. They also carve out rounded
eyes in pumpkins and put burning candles inside them to make them visible from
far away.
In Texas, where the West begins, the biggest annual festival — the Fat Stock
Show — is held. Its rodeo, held together with the stock show, is the biggest indoor
rodeo on the earth.
And, of course, no nation can exist without humour. As they themselves say,
the American must have one wife, two cars, three children, four pets, five suits, six
acres, seven credit cards — and is lucky to have eight cents in his pocket.
Holidays in the USA
There are a lot of holidays in the USA. Many of them are associated with the
history of the nation. There are also some holidays that have come from the old
colonial days. The main holidays of the USA are New Year's Day, Easter,
Memorial Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas.
Christmas is the most important religious holiday for Christians. Gift-giving is
very common at Christmas. American children look forward to Christmas
morning, when they find gifts brought by Santa Claus.
The New Year's Eve is a time for merriment. Most Americans spend this night
with friends at home or in restaurants. Thousands of people gather in New York in
Times Square to see the New Year in. The Tournament of Roses takes place in
Pasadena, California, on January 1 each year. Prizes are given to the cities with the
most unusual floral compositions.
At Easter there is a tradition for people to buy new clothes. After church
services many people take walks along the streets of their towns, wearing their
new Easter hats and suits. This is usually called the "Easter Parade".
Memorial Day comes on May 30. It is dedicated to the memory of those who
died for America in different wars. The national flags are put on the graves of
soldiers on this day.
The fourth of July, an Independence Day, is the biggest national holiday of the
USA. On this day in 1776 a document, known as the Declaration of Independence,
was adopted. During this holiday American cities have parades; people shoot off
fire-works in parks and fields.
Thanksgiving Day comes on the fourth Tuesday in November. When the first
settlers landed in America, their first year was very hard and 50 of 100 people
died. But the Indians taught people how to plant corn and wild vegetables and in
autumn they got a large harvest. Thanksgiving Day was their holiday, the day of
giving thanks to God for his blessings. It is a family holiday and families get
together for a traditional dinner which includes roast turkey and pumpkin pie.
There are also some holidays which are not celebrated nation-wide, but only by
each state separately.
National Celebrations in the USA
the 1st of January
— New Year's Day
the 15th January
— Martin Luther King Day
the third Monday
— President's Day
the 14th of February — St Valentine's Day
the fourth Monday
— Memorial Day
the 4th of July
— Independence Day
the first Monday
— Labor Day
the 12th of October — Columbus Day
the 31st of October — Halloween
the 11th of November — Veterans Day
the fourth Thursday — Thanksgiving Day
the 25th of December — Christmas
Americans share three national holidays with many countries: Easter Sunday,
Christmas Day, and New Year's Day. Easter, which falls on a spring Sunday that varies
from year to year, celebrates the Christian belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. For
Christians, Easter is a day of religious services and the gathering of family. Many
Americans follow old traditions of colouring hard-boiled eggs and giving children
baskets of candies. On the next day, Easter Monday, the president of the United States
holds an annual Easter egg hunt in White House lawn for young children. Christmas
day, December 25, is another Christian holiday; it marks the birth of the Christ Child.
Decorating houses and yards with lights, putting up Christmas trees, giving gifts, and
sending greeting cards have become traditions even for many non-Christian Americans.
New Year's Day, of course, is in January. The celebration of this holiday begins the
night before, when Americans gather to wish each other a happy and prosperous coming
Boxing day is a day when one visits friends, goes for long walks or just sits resting
from too much food — everything to eat is cold. In Great Britain there are usually
Boxing Day Meets (fox-hunting). In the cities tradition on that day demands a visit to
the pantomime, where once again one is entertained by the story of Cinderella, Puss in
Boots or something like that. This holiday takes place on December 26th.
Halloween means "holy evening" and takes place on October 31st. It is celebrated
by many people in the United Kingdom. It is connected with witches and ghosts. At
parties people dress up in strange costumes and pretend they are witches. They cut
horrible faces in pumpkins and put a candle inside, which shines through their eyes.
People play different games such as trying to eat an apple from a bucket of water
without using their hands. In recent years children dressed in white sheets knock at
doors at Halloween and ask if you would like a "trick" or "treat". If you give them
something nice, a "treat", they go away. If you don't, they play a "trick" on you, such as
making a lot of noise near your house.
July 4th - Independence Day - On July, 4, 1776, a group of Americans representting the thirteen British colonies on the Atlantic coast of North America signed a
document stating that these colonies had the right to be free and independent. This
document is known as the Declaration of Independence. July 4 is celebrated by
Americans as a national holiday— Independence Day. There is a building in
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which is called independence Hall. Here the Declaration
was signed. On the building there is the famous Liberty Bell which rang to tell people in
the streets that a new country had been born. But Britain did not recognise this fact until
1783, when the American colonists were victorious in the war of Independence with
Britain. June, 14 is Flag Day in the USA. On that day in 1777, the Americans adopted
their own flag. No one really knows who sewed the American flag but many Americans
believe that it was made by Betsy Ross in her own home. You can see Betsy Ross
sewing the flag on an American stamp. The Fourth of July is the biggest national
holiday of the USA. It is celebrated as the birthday of the country. On July 4, 1776,
when the American colonies were fighting against Britain, the legislative assembly of
the colonists, the continental Congress, adopted a resolution which has come to be
known as the Declaration of Independence. The resolution was drafted by Thomas
Jefferson (1743-1826). The Declaration of Independence was a letter from the
Continental Congress to the King of Great Britain. Thomas Jefferson wrote to the King
that the people in America did not want to pay taxes if they were not allowed to decide
how to spend the taxes. But the Declaration was just a letter, it did not make the
American people independent of Britain, the people had to fight for their independence.
Though the Declaration of Independence had been adopted on July 4, it was not signed
by the members of the Congress until August 2, 1776. The Congress held its meetings
in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. When the people of Philadelphia heard that the Congress
had voted to send the Declaration of Independence to the King, they rang a big bell in
the tower of Independence Hall and celebrated their first "Fourth of July". It has become
a tradition to celebrate the Fourth of July with speeches about the "American
democracy", the "American system", the "American way of life".
Thanksgiving Day
For most Americans, two of these stand out above the others as occasions to cherish
national origins: Thanksgiving Day and the 4th of July.
Thanksgiving Day is the fourth Thursday in November, but many Americans take a
day of vacation on the following Friday to make a four-day weekend, during which they
may travel long distances to visit family and friends.
The holiday dates back to 1621, the year after the Puritans arrived in
Massachusetts, determined to practise their dissenting religion without interference.
After a rough winter, in which about half of them died, they turned for help to
neighbouring Indians, who taught them how to plant corn and other crops. The next
fall’s bountiful harvest inspired the Pilgrims to give thanks by holding a feast.
The Thanksgiving feast became a national tradition — not only because so many
other Americans have found prosperity but also because the Pilgrims' sacrifices for their
freedom still captivate the imagination. To this day, Thanksgiving dinner almost always
includes some of the foods served at the first feast: roast turkey, cranberry sauce,
potatoes and pumpkin pie. Before the meal begins, families or friends usually pause to
give thanks for their blessings, including the joy of being united for the occasion.
Mother's Day comes on the second Sunday in May. It is a day when Americans
honour their mothers. It is not a national holiday. Mother's Day is an American national
observance in honour of motherhood. The holiday, suggested by Anna Jarvis of
Philadelphia, was set by an act of Congress in 1914 for annual celebration. It is also
observed in England and Germany.
In 1907, the day was celebrated in a church in Philadelphia, Pensylvania. A
member of that church planned the Sunday morning service to honour her own mother.
More and more churches in cities and states set aside the day to honour mothers. Since
1914, the whole country has observed Mother's day.
Most mothers like to celebrate the day with family reunions. Many people send
their mothers a card or a gift. Some people take their mothers to a restaurant for dinner.
It is a custom to wear a red or pink flower if one's mother is living. It is the custom to
wear a white flower if one's mother is dead.
Father's Day comes on the third Sunday in June. It is not a national holiday.
Americans honour their fathers. Many people send their fathers a card or a gift.
Americans are great letter-writers. Whatever happens in a family, they congratulate all
the members. They congratulate people on Easter, Christmas and Whitsun.
They do not have to possess great literary talent themselves, because one can find
printed texts for all possible occasions. One may select and check any of these
suggested texts: "Here's to Father: always loved, respected, and admired". "Warmest
wishes for your hapiness on Father's Day and ever after".
About 1909, the churches of Spokane, Washington, set aside the day to honour
fathers. The custom soon spread throughout the United States and Canada. During the
autumn, some colleges celebrate Dad's Day. On Dad's Day, they honour the fathers
among the members and friends of the college.
Memorial Day
Celebrated on the fourth Monday of May, Memorial Day honours the dead.
Although it originated in the aftermath of the Civil War, it has become a day on
which the dead of all wars, and the dead generally, are remembered in special programs
held in cemeteries, churches, and other public meeting places.
Labour Day
The first Monday of September is the national holiday that honours national
working people, typically with parades. For most Americans it means the end of the
summer vacation season, and for many students it is the beginning of academic year.
Columbus Day
On October 12, 1492, Italian navigator Christopher Columbus landed in the New
World. Although most other nations of the Americans observe this holiday on October
12, in the United States it takes place on the second Monday of October.
Veterans Day
Veterans Day is originally called Armistice Day.
This holiday was established to honour Americans who had died in World War I. It
falls on November 11, the day when that war ended in 1918, but it now honours
veterans of all wars in which the United States has fought.
Veterans' organizations hold parades, and the president customarily places a wreath
on the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington, National Cemetery, across the Potomac
River in Washington, D. C.
Presidents' Day
Until the mid — 1970s, the February 22, the birthday of George Washington, the
hero of the Revolutionary War and the first president of the United States, was a
national holiday. In addition, the February 12, the birthday of Abraham Lincoln, the
president during the Civil War, was a holiday in most states. The two days have been
joined, and the holiday has been expanded to honour all former presidents. It is
celebrated on the third Monday in February.
Martin Luther King Day
The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., an African-American clergyman, is
considered a great American because of his tireless efforts to win civil rights for all
people through nonviolent means.
Since his assassination in 1968, memorial services have marked his birthday on the
15th of January.
In 1986, that day was replaced by the third Monday of January, which was declared
a national holiday.
Ethnic Holidays in the USA
Various ethnic groups in America celebrate days with special meaning to them
even though these are not national holidays. Jews, for example, observe their holy
days in September. Irish Americans celebrate St Patrick on the 17th of March.
Many Americans wear green clothing in honour of the "Emerald Isle". The
celebration of Mardi Gras is an occasion in New Orleans, Louisiana, where
parades take place. Mardi Gras means "Fat Tuesday", the last day before the
season of Lent. The tradition goes back to the city's settlement by French
immigrants. There are many other such ethnic celebrations, and New York City is
particularly rich in them.
Education in the United States
The interplay of local, state, and national programs and policies is particularly
evident in the field of education. Historically, education has been considered the
province of the state and local governments. Of the more than 3,000 colleges and
universities, the academies of the armed services are among the few federal
institutions. (The federal government also administers, among others, the College
of the Virgin Islands.) For years, however, the federal government has been
involved in education at all levels, beginning in 1862 with the grant of public lands
to the states for the purpose of establishing colleges of agricultural and mechanical
arts, called land-grant colleges. Additionally, the federal government supports
school lunch programs, administers Indian education, makes research grants to
universities, underwrites loans to college students, and finances education for
Although responsibility for elementary education stfll rests primarily with
local government, it is increasingly affected by state and national policies. The
1964 Civil Rights Act, for example, required federal agencies to discontinue
financial aid to school districts that are not racially integrated.
Trends in education have been toward being more responsive to the needs of a
complex society: preschool programs; classes in the community; summer and night
schools; and increased facilities for exceptional children. Such programs, however,
have been only partially successful.
The economic and social complexion of life in the United States mirrors the
nation's extraordinary mobility. A pervasive transportation network has helped bring
together in the vast geographic expanse of the country a surprisingly homogeneous and
close-knit social and economic environment. This freedom to move explains in large
measure the dynamism of the U.S. economy. Mobility has made possible vast
metropolises, spreading suburbs, a lengthening radius of commuter travel, dispersal of
business and industry, and the growing millions of nonfarm rural residents who
constitute a new kind of urbanization without a strong centre. Mobility has also had
destructive effects. It has accelerated the decay of older urban areas, multiplied traffic
congestion, intensified pollution of the environment, and helped to undermine public
transportation systems.
Nearly 90 per cent of all households own at least one automobile or truck, and
many own two or more. While most trips in metropolitan areas are made by automobile,
public transit and rail commuter lines play an important role in the most populous cities.
The majority of home-to-work travel in the rush hours is by public carrier in such large
centres as New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Boston. At the same time, most
city transit systems have undergone a sharp decline: bus and subway riders have
generally decreased despite a large increase in the urban population of some areas.
Although railroads once dominated both freight and passenger traffic in the United
States, government regulation and increased competition from trucking substantially
reduced their role in transportation. Railroads now move about one-third of the nation's
intercity freight traffic, the most important items carried being coal, grain, chemicals,
and motor vehicles. Many rail companies had given up passenger service by 1970, in
which year Congress created the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (known as
Amtrak) to take over passenger service. Amtrak operates a 24,000-mile system serving
nearly 500 stations across the country.
Navigable waterways are extensive and centre upon the Mississippi River system in
the country's interior, the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway system in the north, and the
Gulf Coast waterways along the Gulf of Mexico. Barges carry more than two-thirds of
domestic waterborne traffic, the major products moved being petroleum products, coal
and coke, and grain. The country's largest ports in tonnage handled are New York City;
New Orleans, La.; Valdez, Alaska; and Houston, Texas.
Airplane traffic has experienced spectacular growth in the United States since the
mid-20th century. From 1970 to 1985, for example, passenger traffic on certified air
carriers increased 126 per cent. There are nearly 500 public airports, the busiest being
Chicago and Atlanta.
Plant Life
The dominant features of the vegetation are indicated by the terms forest, grassland,
desert, and alpine tundra. A coniferous forest of white and red pine, hemlock, spruce,
and balsam fir extends interruptedly in a narrow strip near the Canadian border from
Maine to Minnesota and southward along the Appalachian Mountains. There may be
found smaller stands of tamarack, spruce, paper birch, willow, alder, and aspen or
poplar. Southward, a transition zone of mixed conifers and deciduous trees gives way to
a hardwood forest of broad-leaved trees. This forest, with varying mixtures of maple,
oak, ash, locust, linden, walnut, hickory, sycamore, beech, once extended
uninterruptedly from New England to Missouri and eastern Texas.
Pines, palmettos, and live oaks are replaced at the southern tip of Florida by the
more tropical palms, figs, satinwood, and mangrove.
The alpine tundra, located in the conterminous United States only in the mountains
above the limit of trees, consists principally of small plants that bloom brilliantly for a
short season. Sagebrush is the most common plant of the arid basins and semi deserts
west of the Rocky Mountains, but juniper, nut pine, and mountain mahogany are often
found on the slopes. The desert, extending from south-eastern California to Texas, is
noted for the many species of cactus, some of which grow to the height of trees, and for
the Joshua tree and other yuccas, creosote bush, and acacias.
The United States is rich in the variety of its native forest trees, some of which, as
the species of sequoia, are the most massive known. More than 1,000 species and
varieties have been described, of which almost 200 are of economic value.
Animal Life
The animal geography of the United States, however, is far from a natural pattern,
for European settlement produced a series of environmental changes that grossly altered
the distribution of animal communities.
First, many species were hunted to extinction or near extinction, most
conspicuously, perhaps, the American bison, which ranged by the millions nearly from
coast to coast but now rarely lives outside of zoos and wildlife preserves.
Second, habitats were destroyed throughout most of the country — forests cut,
grasslands ploughed and overgrazed, and migration paths interrupted by fences,
railroads, and highways. Third, certain introduced species found hospitable niches and,
like the English sparrow, spread over huge areas, often preempting the habitats of native
animals. Fourth, though their effects are not fully understood, chemicals such as DDT
were used for so long and in such volume that they are believed at least partly
responsible for catastrophic mortality rates among large mammals and birds. Fifth, there
has been a gradual northward migration of certain tropical and subtropical insects, birds,
and mammals, perhaps encouraged by gradual climatic warming. In consequence, many
native animals have been reduced to tiny fractions of their former ranges or
exterminated completely, while other animals, both native and introduced, have found
the new anthropocentric environment well suited to their needs, with explosive effects
on their populations. The coyote, opossum, armadillo, and several species of deer are
among the animals that now occupy much larger ranges than they once did.
The Supercities
The unprecedented outward sprawl of American urban settlement has created
some novel settlement forms, for the quantitative change has been so great as to
induce qualitative transformation. The conurbation — a territorial coalescence of
two or more sizeable cities whose peripheral zones have grown together — may
have first appeared in early 19th century Europe. There are major examples in
Great Britain and Germany, as well as in Japan.
Nothing elsewhere, however, rivals in size and complexity the aptly named
megalopolis, that supercity stretching along the Atlantic from Portland, Maine,
past Richmond. Other large conurbations include, in the Great Lakes region, one
centred on Chicago and containing large slices of Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana;
another based in Detroit, embracing large parts of Michigan and Ohio and reaching
into Canada; and a third stretching from Buffalo through Cleveland and back to
All three are reaching toward one another and may form another megalopolis
that, in turn, may soon be grafted onto the seaboard megalopolis by a corridor
through central New York state.
Another example of a growing megalopolis is the huge southern California
conurbation reaching from Santa Barbara, through a dominating Los Angeles, to
the Mexican border. Quite exceptional in form is the slender linear multicity
occupying Florida's Atlantic coastline, from Jacksonville to Miami, and the loose
swarm of medium-sized cities clustering along the Southern Piedmont, from southcentral Virginia to Birmingham. Also of note are the Texas cities of Dallas — Fort
Worth, Houston and San Antonio, which have formed a rapidly growing — though
discontinuous — urbanised triangle.
One of the few predictions that seem safe in so dynamic and innovative a land
as the United States is that, unless severe and painful controls are placed on land
use, the shape of the urban environment will be increasingly megalopolitan: a
small set of great constellations of polycentric urban zones, each complexly
interlocked socially and physically with its neighbours.
The Motion Picture
In some respects the motion picture is the American art form par excellence,
and no area of art has undergone a more dramatic revision in critical appraisal
since the 1970s. Throughout most of the 1940s and '50s, serious critics, with a few
honourable exceptions, even those who considered the .motion picture seriously as
a potential artistic medium, took it for granted that the Hollywood movie was,
judged as art, hopelessly compromised by commerce. In the 1950s in France,
however, a generation of critics associated with the magazine Cahiers du Cinema
(most of whom later would become well-known filmmakers themselves, including
Francois Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard) argued that the American film, precisely
because its need to please a mass audience had helped it break out of the limiting
gentility of the European cinema, had a vitality and a set of masters without equal
in the world.
New studies and appreciation of such Hollywood filmmakers as John Ford,
Howard Hawks and William Wyler resulted, and, eventually, this new evaluation
worked its way back into the United States itself: another demonstration that one
country's low art can become another country's high. Imported back to the United
States, this reevaluation of Hollywood motion pictures changed and amended
preconceptions that had hardened into prejudices. The new appreciation of the
individual vision of the Hollywood film was to inspire a generation of young
American filmmakers, including Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, and
George Lucas, to use the commercial film as at once a form of personal expression
and a means of empire building, with results that were, predictably, mixed.
The American Movies
Movies, or the cinema, have been an integral part of American culture
throughout the 20th century. The 1920s was the great era of the silent film with
stars like Rudolph Valentino, Greta Garbo, Clara Bow, Charlie Chaplin, and the
Marx Brothers. Some famous movies of the 20's were "The Gold Rush", "City
Lights". With the production of Al Jolson's "The Jazz Singer", the era of talking
pictures arrived. The period from the 1930's to the beginning of World War II has
been called the "golden era" of American cinema.
It was the era of the John Ford western "Stagecoach", of the historical movie
— Paul Muni in "Juarez", Clark Gable in "San Francisco"; of the gangster movie
with Jimmy Cagney or Humphrey Bogart. In 1941 came the production of Orson
Welles' "Citizen Kane". The most important figure in the 1950's cinema was James
Dean with his movies like "Rebel without a Cause" which explored the alienation
of youth. The movie industry of the late 50's and early 60s concentrated on the
multimillion dollar spectacular: "Ben Hur", "Cleopatra", "West-Side Story", "My
Fair Lady", and "The Sound of Music".
After a decline in the early 1960's the American motion picture industry has
recently made a comeback. Films are much more explicit about sex. Examples of
recent cinema: "Easy Rider", "Midnight Cowboy", "Little Big Man",
"Woodstock". America still likes its romance and its "blood and guts". Old movies
have been sold to television, beginning in the 1950's with the "Late Show". The
Academy Awards ("Oscars") are awarded each year for excellence in acting,
directing, and technical achievement in motion pictures.
During the 1920s and 30's entrepreneurs formed in Hollywood large film
companies: "Twentieth-Century-Fox", "Metro-Goldwyn Mayer", "Paramount".
The studios worked on a star system and a contract system. Major American
writers like F. Scott Fitzgerald and William Faulkner did screen plays.
During its golden age Hollywood was responsible for some great pictures .
More on American Literature
While one can describe general tendencies of American fiction the individual
authors are more difficult to characterize. For instance, Ralph Ellison and James
Baldwin are clearly black writers; but their knowledge of the dominant literary tradition
has certainly influenced their style. Ellison's "Invisible Man" has many stylistic
connections with "Moby Dick" and "Huckleberry Finn" two classic 19th century novels.
And Baldwin's "Another Country" is more concerned with black-white relationships
than with the direct image of black life in America. Another example is that of Flannery
O'Connor, who has been called a Southern writer and has been grouped with other socalled Southern writers like Truman Capote and Eudora Welty. Yet Flannery
O'Connor's style is so unlike that of the other Southern writers that it is harder to see the
similarities than the differences.
Our short review of contemporary American fiction has completely ignored a
number of other writers who deserve to be mentioned. Many of these writers tend to
write from an ironic or satiric point of view. At one extreme we find the writers of
"black" comedy: writers devoted to showing the ugliest aspects of human personality
for the purposes of provoking a mixture of laughter and disgust. Two leading stylists of
this genre are Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., and J. P. Donleavy. Each has created characters who
are neither admirable nor heroic and who constantly go from one problem to another. In
Vonnegut’s "Slaughterhouse Five" a style that approaches fantasy and science fiction
combines with a bitter commentary on the immorality of war. In "The Ginger Man"
Donleavy's hero is an alcoholic who takes advantage of other people and then moves on
to his next misadventure. This ironic style is also used to create grotesque characters,
people who are outsiders and whose fate is to remain isolated from the rest of the human
There seems to be a common feeling among most of these writers that American
life has no subject suitable to epic writing. Heroism seems to have disappeared as a
legitimate possibility for contemporary man. This has produced a pessimistic body of
fiction whose optimism has appeared only in terms of humor or existential skepticism.
The movement toward a fiction of minority groups is a logical development given
the skeptical outlook of most of these writers. By exploring the different aspects of
minority group life in America many writers seem to be searching for the positive
characteristics of American life that have become hard to find since the end of the
Second World War. Contemporary fiction reflects the fact that the pressure to conform
in America has made the average American uninteresting and easy to mock. But the
members of minority groups remain outside the framework and thus become, without
necessarily wanting to, social outcasts.
The future of American fiction is difficult to predict, but if the influence of daily
events continues to affect what writers choose to write about, we may see develop a
stronger movement towards what Norman Mailer and James Baldwin have attempted:
the joining of fiction and non-fiction in a style that takes advantage of the imaginative
possibilities of the novel and the critical possibilities of the essay.
Seasons and Weather
Everyone knows that there are four seasons in the year: winter, spring, summer
and autumn. Each of them lasts three months. In Ukraine winter is usually the
coldest season. It often snows, the rivers are frozen. The most unpleasant thing
about winter is that the sun sets early and rises late — especially in December and
January. The days are short, the sky is often grey and nature is sleeping. But
everything looks so pretty covered by snow.
Children like winter. They can ski, skate, sledge, and play snowballs with their
friends. Winter is a hard time for birds and animals. They are cold and hungry in
winter. Children help them, giving them bread, corn and fruit.
But at the end of March the weather gets gradually milder. The sun shines
more brightly. The days become longer and the nights become shorter. The snow
begins melting. Spring comes and nature awakens after a long sleep of winter. All
kinds of plants and flowers come out. The birds return from the South and build
their nests. The farmers begin the sowing campaign. Everything around is full of
life and joy.
Spring is followed by summer. The weather gets still warmer and sometimes it
is very hot. The sky is blue and cloudless. But sometimes there are storms with
thunder and lightning. The gardens are beautiful with flowers all summer months.
In summer people spend much time in the open air. They find time to go to the
forest, to swim in the river and to sunbathe.
Autumn comes in September. Early autumn is still the harvest time, the time
when fruit and vegetables ripe. It is also a very beautiful time of the year, when the
weather is still warm and the leaves change their colour from green to yellow. But
towards the end of October the weather gets colder and colder. There's much rain
and fog. Leaves fall from trees and cover the ground. Birds fly away to warm
countries. Low and heavy clouds hang in the sky. The landscape becomes rather
dull. Nature slowly falls asleep for winter. In fact, every season has its fine days
and is pleasant in its own way. And it is not difficult to see this beauty.
Pollution in Ukraine
Pollution is the contamination of the environment, including air, water, and land,
with undesirable amounts of material or energy. Such contamination originates from
human activities that create waste products. An industrial and intensively farmed
country, Ukraine contains some of the most polluted landscapes in Eastern Europe.
Pollution became evident in Ukraine with industrial development in the 19th century.
Air pollution is especially severe in many of the heavily industrialized cities and
towns of southeastern Ukraine, notably in Kharkiv, Luhansk, Donetsk, Dnipropetrovsk
and Zaporizhia. Coal-using industries, such as metallurgical coke-chemical plants, steel
mills, and thermal power plants are major sources of high levels of uncontrolled
emissions of sulphur dioxide, dust, unburned hydrocarbons, and other harmful
substances. Other Ukrainian cities with major chronic air pollution problems include
Kyiv, Komunarsk, Makiivka and Odesa.
Over one-third of the emissions into the atmosphere originate from automobile
transport. That source, which attains overwhelming proportions in cities with little
industry, such as Uzhhorod, Yalta, Poltava and Khmelnytskyi, is aggravated by the use
of leaded gasoline and inefficient engines as well as a lack of catalytic converters.
Almost all surface waters of Ukraine belong to the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov
basins. The high population density, heavy industrial development, and relatively low
freshwater endowment of those basins, and the low governmental priority placed upon
environmental protection until very recently, have given rise to chronic and serious
levels of water pollution throughout Ukraine. The Dnister and the Danube are included
among the most polluted bodies of water in the territory of the former Soviet Union.
Hundreds of small rivers supply water for three-quarters of the villages and half of
Ukraine's cities. Widespread fear is growing in Ukraine that a substantial fraction of
those water arteries are so polluted as to pose fatal health risks to the people who
depend on them. About half of the chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides applied
in the fields are washed off into rivers. Moreover, surface runoff from industrial
territories is highly contaminated.
One of the areas suffering most from serious and chronic coastal water pollution is
the Sea of Azov. That shallow and previously biologically rich and commercially
productive body of water has experienced serious problems of industrial and municipal
wastewater contamination and increased levels of salinity since the early 1970s. A
primary cause of the sea's ecological deterioration has been the diversion for purposes
of irrigation (up to 80 per cent) of fresh, but not necessarily pure, water inflow from the
Don and the Kuban rivers. As a result the sea's salinity has increased by more than 40
percent since the 1950s. Despite repeated warnings and special government
antipollution resolutions, the conditions in the Sea of Azov continue to deteriorate.
Environmental Protection in Ukraine
The protection of nature has become one of the most burning problems of the
20th century. The earth provides people with mineral resources, rivers, forests,
fields — everything that makes the foundation of industrial and agricultural
production. The development of industry has had a bad influence on the nature of
the whole world. People often do things which pollute land and waters greatly. It is
very dangerous because it damages health of the people.
Protection of the environment in Ukraine is much attended. The worsening of
the ecological situation has been closely linked to the Chernobyl explosion. On
April 26, 1986, a fire went out of control and released radioactive materials. The
disaster killed 31 persons immediately and caused the hospitalization of about 500
others. It has caused widespread illnesses and made the land in the area unusable.
A radioactive cloud spread from the plant over most of Europe. Radiation even
spread so far as to appear in Asia and in North America.
Another issue of concern in Ukraine is the question of where to put nuclear
waste. This waste is largely the spent fuel of reactors. It is radioactive, and some of
its components remain so forever. The waste is held at temporary sites until a
solution of the problem can be found. At present the most promising solution of
the problem of waste storage is recycling.
Another environmental problem is air pollution. One of its results is acid rain.
It is caused by smoke from factories and transport. Nowadays the emission of
smoke is strictly controlled by special governmental agencies.
The activity of various environmental organizations helps to improve the
situation. Among the leading environmental organizations in Ukraine are the
Greenpeace and the Green Party. They are very popular with the youth in Ukraine.
Scientific Progress
Science is often distinguished from other domains of human culture by its
progressive nature: in contrast to art, religion, philosophy, morality, and politics,
there exist clear standards or normative criteria for identifying improvements and
advances in science. For example, the historian of science George Sarton argued
that "the acquisition and systematization of positive knowledge are the only human
activities which are truly cumulative and progressive," and "progress has no
definite and unquestionable meaning in other fields than the field of science"
(Sarton 1936). However, the traditional cumulative view of scientific knowledge
was effectively challenged by many philosophers of science in the 1960s and the
1970s, and thereby the notion of progress was also questioned in the field of
Science is a multi-layered complex system involving a community of scientists
engaged in research using scientific methods in order to produce new knowledge.
Thus, the notion of science may refer to a social institution, the researchers, the
research process, the method of inquiry, and scientific knowledge. The concept of
progress can be defined relative to each of these aspects of science. Hence,
different types of progress can be distinguished relative to science: economical (the
increased funding of scientific research), professional (the rising status of the
scientists and their academic institutions in the society), educational (the increased
skill and expertise of the scientists), methodical (the invention of new methods of
research, the refinement of scientific instruments), and cognitive (increase or
advancement of scientific knowledge). These types of progress have to be
conceptually distinguished from advances in other human activities, even though it
may turn out that scientific progress has at least some factual connections with
technological progress (increased effectiveness of tools and techniques) and social
progress (economic prosperity, quality of life, justice in society).
All of these aspects of scientific progress may involve different considerations,
so that there is no single concept that would cover all of them.
My Future Profession
Finishing school is the beginning of independent life for millions of school
leavers. But it is not an easy thing to choose a profession out of more than 2,000
existing in the world because many factors must be taken into consideration. Some
pupils follow the advice of their parents, others can't decide even after leaving
As for me I made my choice long ago. I want to have an interesting job. I
would like my work to be connected with foreign languages, different countries
and people. I want to communicate with people and gain more knowledge about
these countries, their customs and traditions.
More and more people realize that every educated person should know a
foreign language. Learning foreign languages is especially important nowadays.
Some people learn foreign languages because they need them in their work, others
travel abroad, for the third learning foreign languages is a hobby. I always
remember the famous words of the great German writer Goethe: "He, who doesn't
know a foreign language, doesn't know his own language". So I understand the
importance learning foreign languages.
I want to become an interpreter. This profession is very useful because it helps
people to understand each other. My choice of this occupation didn't come as a
sudden flash. During all school years English has been my favourite subject. I have
read a lot of books by British and American writers. I understand that reading
books helps people in self-education and in solving different life problems.
My parents are also interpreters and I know that interpreting is a very specific
and difficult job. It's a great responsibility. It's not as easy as it may seem at first.
But I think that command of foreign languages combined with different skills,
which I'll get at University, will be enough to succeed in my work.
I want to apply to the Faculty of Foreign Languages and I hope my dream will
come true sooner or later.
Mass Media
Mass media play a very important role in our everyday life. "Mass media" is a
comprehensive term embracing television, radio, motion pictures, newspapers and
magazine. They serve to inform people, of different events that take place or may
happen. They also entertain people or even help make their lives better. But the most
important thing that newspapers, radio or TV bring to people is information. Nowadays
it is very important to get it complete and accurate. Those TV and radio programs and
newspapers that provide reliable information are always very popular.
There are 5 major fields of journalism: newspapers, news services, periodicals,
radio and television. Radio and television perform information very briefly but quickly.
Newspapers include full reports on different topics. News agencies provide them with
the latest information.
Sensational events such as crimes, natural disasters or unusual events are also of
great interest. That is why many newspapers and TV programs combine them with
serious information. Usually daily mass media spread some international, state and local
news. They also include some other topics like health care, arts and so on. A lot of
newspapers have advice columns, review of books, comics, crossword puzzles, etc.
Most of them have different pictures, photographs and illustrations. Mass media also
focus public attention on the most urgent problems of the society. Those may be
problems in health care, education, transportation or even corruption in government.
Advertising is also paid much attention to in mass media. It helps people to get
orientated in the variety of firms and shops that offer their goods and services. All in all,
mass media help us to form our opinion on different events, provide us with the
information of what takes place in the world, and also lay on entertainment.
It is difficult to say what TV programmes I like most of all. From the informational
and political programmes I prefer "Night News", because in my opinion, they discuss
different important events of our country and abroad.
Many people like such musical programmes as "Melorama", "Chance", and some
others because music helps them to get through difficult times or to get over bad mood.
New programmes, such as "Dancing with the Stars" and "The First Million" are
enjoyable and entertaining ones. Schoolchildren can learn better geography, zoology,
and biology by watching regular TV programmes such as "The Travellers Club" and
"The World of Animals". Programmes such as "What? Where? When?" attract the
attention of many people, too. It is rich in many facts taken from everyday life, history
of the country, literature and science.
Mass Media in Ukraine
The media in Ukraine today is a single public structure providing society with
up-to-date detailed information concerning sociopolitical, economic, cultural
aspects, etc. It is designed to positively influence the general public, from their
progressive views, aspirations and ideals.
At present, Ukraine numbers 4,000 editions varying in forms of ownership,
genre, type, and periodicity. Periodicals are independent and censorship free.
The national radio-and-television network of Ukraine is made up of
government-run and nongovernment radio and TV companies. Ukraine is a
member of the International Telecommunication Union and an active participant in
the Intervision network. Besides State channel "UT-1" there have appeared several
nongovernment TV and radio companies: "1+1", "Inter", "STB" and others.
Among Ukraine's information agencies special popularity have the
UKRINFORM (Ukrainian National Information Agency), UNIAR (Ukrainian
Independent Information Agency Respublica), and several others. These agencies
have correspondents and reporters throughout "the country and abroad and
disseminate information both within and outside Ukraine.
Information Technology and Globalization
Information and communication technologies (ICTs) have been implicated in the
structuring and restructuring of human social relations since the days of cave
paintings and fire signals. The development of the electrical telegraph and the
telephone in the late 1800s marked a qualitative shift in the scope and power of ICTs,
however. The new electrical communication systems brought disparate regions and
peoples into an unprecedented, increasingly synchronous global network of
information, trade, finance, and culture. In the 20th century, the emerging global
telecommunication infrastructure was extended and its uses expanded by the
development of radio transmission, satellite communications, and terrestrial
broadband networks. More recently, digital encoding, storage, and transmission have
allowed for data compression and the convergence of multiple formats into a
common digital stream, further accelerating the speed and volume of global
information and communication flows. At the same time, the diffusion of inexpensive
personal computers, the development of the graphical user interface, and the
establishment of common data exchange protocols have given users around the world
direct access to an increasing mass of data, text, and multimedia documents-as well
as the power to create and distribute such documents themselves. The integration and
interdependence of global media and information systems have created new
challenges and new opportunities.
Globalization has facilitated positive forms of cross-cultural exchange, creating,
for many, an unprecedented historical opportunity to learn about and benefit from the
cultural diversity of the human species, but it has also smoothed the progress of
cultural domination, threatening regional and national cultural self-determination and
increasing the risk of global cultural homogenization and commercialization. It has
greased the wheels of transnational investment, production, and trade in both goods
and services, opening new markets and permitting new levels of economic
productivity and efficiency, but the expansion and integration of the global economy
has also deepened economic inequalities, both internationally and within nations.
The development of the Internet and the diffusion of the personal computer have
broadened access to information, giving rise to visions of the democratization of
knowledge, education, and economic opportunity on a global scale. But the new
technologies require new literacies, access to high-quality equipment, and a reliable,
high-speed network connection. These remain sharply stratified, strongly determined
by access to older technologies such as the telephone and to older forms of literacy
such as typing and English. Because the ability to participate in the new networks
depends on cultural competencies and forms of access associated with the old
networks, the development of new global information and communication
technologies may actually exacerbate educational and economic inequalities .
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