II. BEFORE YOU READ. A. Imagine you have to live in one of the following places: Cardiff, Edinburgh, The Lake District, Bournemouth
A. Imagine you have to live in one of the following places: Cardiff, Edinburgh, The Lake District, Bournemouth, Birmingham, Liverpool, the Cotswolds or John o’Groats. (Find eight places on the maps).
a) Find as much information as you can about each place, including its weather, its distance from London, the size, and the sort of scenery you would find nearby.
b) Decide which place you would prefer to live in. Make list of all reasons for living there. Discuss your choice with other students.
B.Match the following English words and phrases with their Russian equivalents:
C. Practice your pronunciation:
Great Britain ['greɪt'brɪtn]
British Isles ['brɪtɪʃ'aɪlz]
Northern Ireland [,nɔːðən'aɪələnd]
Hyde Park [ˌhaɪd'pɑːk]
the Atlantic Ocean
the North Sea [ðiː 'nɔːθ'siː]
the Irish Sea
the Gulf Stream
the Clyde [ðiː klaɪd]
the Thames [ðiː temz]
New Zealand [njuː'ziːlənd]
Read the text and make sure you know the translation of the highlighted words and phrases.
1. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (the UK) occupies most of the territory of die British Isles. It consists of four main parts, which are England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Their capitals are London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast.
2. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the official name of the state, which is sometimes referred to as Great Britain or Britain (after its major isle), England (after its major historic part) or the British Isles. The country is washed by the Atlantic Ocean, the North Sea and the Irish Sea, which is between Great Britain and Ireland. Great Britain is separated from the Continent by the English Channel and is connected with many countries by sea. The greater part of the surface of England and Ireland is flat. Most of the mountains are in the North, in Scotland, but they are not very high. Scotland is also famous for its beautiful lakes. The rivers in Great Britain are not long but many of them are deep. The longest rivers are the Clyde and the Thames.
3. The climate of Britain is mild and warm because of the warm Gulf Stream. The climate in Britain is usually described as cool, temperate and humid. The weather is so changeable that the English often say that they have no climate but only weather. The English 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. Sometimes it rains so heavily that they say "It's raining cats and dogs".
4. The population of the United Kingdom is over 60 million people. The distribution of the population is rather uneven. Over 46 million people live in England and about 1.5 million in Northern Ireland. The UK is inhabited by English, the Scots, the Welsh, and the Irish who constitute the British nation.
5. English is the official language of Great Britain. But some people speak Gaelic in western Scotland, Welsh – in parts of northern and central Wales. English is now spoken in many countries of the world: the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, India and others.
6. The flag of the United Kingdom known as the Union Jack is made up of three crosses. The upright red cross is the cross of St. George, the patron saint of England. The white diagonal cross is the cross of St. Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland. The red diagonal cross is the cross of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland.
7. The UK is a constitutional monarchy. The official head of the state is the King or the Queen. But the power of the monarch is limited by Parliament, which is made up of the House of Lords and the House of Commons. Members of the House of Lords are appointed, and members of the House of Commons are elected by people. Parliament makes laws. The head of the Government is the Prime Minister, who is the leader of the party in power.There are four main political parties in Great Britain: the Conservative, the Labour, the Liberal and the Social- Democratic Party.
8. The most important industrial cities are Manchester, Leeds, Bristol, Edinburgh, Birmingham and others. Cambridge and Oxford are famous university cities. The UK is a highly developed industrial country. It exports machinery, vessels, motors and other goods. One of its main industries is the textile industry and a lot of British textiles are exported. The UK buys more goods than it sells because it has to import food products and raw materials from many countries of the world.
9. London, the capital of the country, is the largest city in Britain and one of the largest in the world. London dominates the life of Britain. It is a big port and most important commercial, manufacturing and cultural centre. London is divided by the Thames into two parts: the West End and the East End. The West End is called the centre of London. There are a lot of places of interest there. The Houses of Parliament is situated in the most important part of London, in Westminster. The Houses of Parliament is a beautiful building with two towers: the Clock Tower with Big Ben and the Victoria Tower with the national flag over it. Opposite the Houses of Parliament is Westminster Abbey. Many English kings and queens were crowned and are burried there. Another interesting sight in the West End is Hyde Park. It is the largest of London's parks and it is famous for its Speaker's Corner which attracts a lot of tourists. In the centre of the City there is the Tower of London and St. Paul's Cathedral. The Tower has a very long history. It used to be a fortress, a royal residence, then a prison, and now it is a museum. The West End is associated with wealth, luxury, and goods of high quality. It is the area of the largest department stores, cinemas and hotels. The East End of London is formerly unattractive in appearance, but now changing because of the introduction of new industries and very expensive housing. London is one of the leading world centres for music, drama, opera and dance. Festivals held in towns and cities throughout the country and attract much interest. Many British playwrights (W. Shakespeare), composers (G.F. Hendel), sculptors, painters, writers, actors, singers and dancers are known all over the world.
10. In Britain children start going to school when they are five and continue studying until they are sixteen or older. Many children in Britain attend nursery school from the age of about three, but these schools are not compulsory. Compulsory education begins at the age of five when children go to primary school. Primary education lasts for six years. They attend the infant school from five to seven and then junior school until they are eleven. In infant school children don't have real classes. They get acquainted with the classroom, desks, they mostly play and learn through playing. They know some numbers and also how to add them.
12. When children are seven real studying begins. They have classes, sit at desks, read and write and don't play as much as they did in infant school. Then pupils go to secondary school. Children study English, mathematics, science, geography, history, art, music, a foreign language, and physical education. The first three are called "core" subjects. Pupils take examinations in the core subjects at the age of 7, 11 and 14. Most secondary schools teach French and some other schools - Spanish, German, Italian and Russian.
13. After five years of secondary education, pupils take the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) examination. Most pupils take examinations in all subjects. Ordinary levels are normally called "O"-levels. If you get good "O"-level results, you can stay at school until you are 18. Here you prepare for Advanced Level Exams ("A"-levels). Three good "A"-level exams are the entrance exams for Universities. But Oxford and Cambridge have special ones. Higher education begins at eighteen and usually lasts for three or four years. Students go to Universities, polytechnics, or colleges. There are about 80 universities in Britain now.
IV. UNDERSTANDING THE MAIN POINTS
React to the statements, correct the mistakes.
1. The UK consists of 4 main parts.
2. The country is washed by the Pacific Ocean, the Black Sea and the Irish Sea.
3. The official head of the state is the President.
5. There is the Spasskaya Tower in the centre of the City.
6. The Tower of London used to be a fortress, a royal residence, then a museum and now it is a hotel.
7. The East End of London is attractive in appearance because of expensive housing.