1. Some people think that school years are the happiest days in people’s
lives. Can you say that you have been happy at school? Why?
School is the traditional place for acculturating children into our
national life. In the modern age, the role assigned to our schools is to
prepare children for the literate public culture. Some students like
school, others don’t; but they all study for eleven years and gain
knowledge by doing different tasks. For students who are doing well in most
subjects and who want to get higher education, school is an attractive
place. But those who are not successful at school, and who are always
pressed by teachers and their parents, school is boring and uninteresting.
I think that the most important role of school is giving knowledge. I can
say that my school gives such knowledge, and that’s why I’m happy at
school. Most of my teachers have a lot of teaching experience; they
understand very well the difficulties of the learning process. They help us
to learn all subjects well. They also guide us and advise us on all aspects
of our study and life. They share their knowledge and experience with us,
and we respond with love.
If you want to study well, you must feel relaxed and happy with your
family, school and your social life. Your parents should understand you and
help you when you need their help. My parents usually help and support me
when I need it. We have our school psychologist who also helps us to
overcome difficulties and cope with our problems. The main purpose of our
school is to create a supportive and caring atmosphere for students.
The standard of education in our school is very high. I’m a rather good
student really. I don’t have many problems with the work; but I usually get
into trouble for talking, especially when I speak at the same time as the
However I think that sometimes we have too much homework. Teachers and
parents insist that doing homework develops the student’s ability to work
without assistance, or that additional work could help us complete our
education successfully. But I believe, in many subjects, homework is
totally unnecessary, because it doesn’t do me any good. I think it’s really
stupid to copy from a textbook, and there is no point in duplicating the
textbook. And if we could get rid of unnecessary homework, we would have
more time to take up hobbies and interests.
School is not only a place of education; it is a place where we develop our
relationships, increasing tolerance and respect to each other. At school we
can enjoy different activities and demonstrate our individual talents.
Everyone has an opportunity to take part in different performances at a
school or class party, or to take part in different sport competitions.
These activities help us with our education and relationships among our
classmates. We want to have harmony in our class and among our classmates,
but it is rather difficult to achieve. Of course, we try our best to do it,
and in many cases we overcome our problems and solve them. And only
sensitive teachers can help us, because boys and girls are not passive
lumps of clay; they are living, pulsating, developing, mysterious beings
who must be studied and understood before they can be taught in the true
So a teacher plays an important role in our education, and when we remember
our school years we usually remember our teachers, if they were fair and
intelligent or not. I think that I’m a lucky person – almost all my
teachers are very interesting and intelligent. When our teachers criticize
us, they follow such rules: they try to correct a student’s action, not
him; they do not impress upon him that he has no abilities; they try to
contribute to the minds and souls of their students; they try to be a path
for their students to go through a dark forest of school rules. But I can’t
judge all teachers, because there are as many opinions how to treat a child
as there are people. Teachers must choose their methods themselves, but
they should remember that they influence and shape the student’s opinion
about their school. As for me, I think that in our school almost all
teachers understand the students and become like parents to us. They
support us and care for us. I’m happy at my school and so are my
2. If you want to continue your education, what kinds of institution will
you attends? Explain your choice.
At the age of fifteen, students in Russia have to make some important
decisions. Will they continue on at school? Or will they enter a lyceum or
a gymnasium? Of course, it’s not easy to make the right choice. In our
country a nine-year education is compulsory and after the ninth form
students have an opportunity to choose. To enter a university or a college
it is necessary to study two more years, and take five examinations on
finishing the eleventh form. To get a professional education, students have
to enter a technical college or a vocational school and study for three
years. Finally, they may finish their education, leave school, and get a
job. The choice depends on their likes and dislikes.
When choosing a place for future studies, it’s a good idea to consider a
number of factors. First of all, we should take into account our own
preferences and find out what our talents are. We can do this through
aptitude tests, interviews with specialities, and consulting reference
books on the subjects that interest us. Different types of schools, for
example lyceums and gymnasiums, often specialise in various fields. They
can offer a good choice of subjects that will be useful in a future
profession. Most of them are affiliated with universities and colleges and
help pupils to prepare for their entrance examinations.
I am not sure what I am going to do when I leave school. By the time I
finish school I will have already formed a much better idea of what I’d
like to do. But the problem is we have to decide which subjects to study
for university or college two years before we finish school.
It’s not easy to make the right choice. There are a number of things we
could do. For some of the most interesting professions, like medicine, you
have to be very good at chemistry, and I am not much of a chemist. Although
my parents are doctors, I don’t seem to be very interested in caring for
others and helping them with their problems. I don’t think it’s the best
decision to follow in the footsteps of a parent or a relative if you are
not interested in this profession.
I have always wanted to be something like a computer programmer, because I
like computers and I am interested in knowing how computer programmes work.
Besides, I have an aptitude for working with figures and solving
mathematical problems. Maths is my favourite subject, and I am really good
at it. So I think I can work in a scientific or computational field. As far
as my personal qualities are concerned, I can say that I’m creative and
hard-working; I have good logical-reasoning and problem-solving skills.
Besides, I’m rather communicative and like to work in a team. So I feel I
can become a good specialist in programming.
To my mind the profession of a programmer has a lot of advantages. It is a
highly paid job, and it can offer many opportunities. I will be able to
work on the full range of development activities, such as analysis, design,
coding, testing and implementation. Computers are the most rapidly changing
sphere of modern technology. The next generation of computers will be able
to talk and even to think. We are living in the age of information. And I
think that the future will be just filled with computers. Today, in the USA
people work, go shopping, or even go on dates, sitting at their computers.
But to become a good specialist in computing, you should know a lot of
programming languages and application programmes. So after finishing school
it is necessary for me to enter a university or a college and to study
computer science. I’ll have to take three entrance examinations: in Maths,
Physics and Literary composition. If I am lucky, I’ll have the chance to
study interesting sciences, and to listen to the lectures of famous
However, it’s very difficult to pass entrance examinations. The school I am
now studying in is a comprehensive school with a standard curriculum.
Though the teachers here are very knowledgeable and experienced, my school
only offers general education. So after finishing the ninth form, I would
like to leave it and to enter a lyceum of information technologies. It
gives its pupils profound knowledge in Maths, Physics and other academic
subjects. Besides, pupils are offered a wide choice of elective subjects
connected with computers. They study different programming languages and
learn how to write programmes. The teachers there are friendly and well-
qualified. The lyceum is known for its academic excellence.
I hope my education at the lyceum will form a basis for my future
occupation. But it goes without saying that I’ll need some extra knowledge
to pass my entrance exams at the university or college. That is why I’ll
have to take preparatory courses in Maths and Physics. Anyway, I have to
get down to some hard work now, if I want to achieve my aims.
3. Choosing a profession is not an easy matter. What do you think can help
you to make the right choice?
What do you want to be when you grow up? We have heard this question many
times during our school years. Perhaps, it was difficult for us to give a
definite answer earlier. But now we understand that the time to choose our
future profession has come. Finishing school is the beginning of an
independent life for millions of school-leavers. Many roads are open before
us: technical schools, colleges and universities.
Centuries ago there were only a few jobs: people were farmers, bakers,
butchers or carpenters. Today there are thousands of different kinds of
jobs, and new ones are constantly appearing. No wonder that it is not an
easy thing to make the right choice.
When choosing a future career, we should consider different factors. In my
opinion, money is one of the most important factors when you make a choice.
There are highly paid jobs and low-paid jobs. For example, a businessman, a
president or a film star, are highly paid jobs. A worker, a doctor or an
engineer, are low-paid jobs. I think everybody wants to earn as much money
as possible. Training, promotional prospects and conditions should be also
taken into account.
On the other hand, it’s good when you get satisfaction from your job. It is
very important to choose a profession that suits your interests. In my
opinion, a job should be interesting and socially important. Some jobs are
considered to be more suitable for men and others for women. For example,
the professions of secretary or nurse are more suitable for women. A
lifeguard or a pilot are more likely the jobs for men. You should also
decide whether you want to work indoors or outdoors.
To make the right choice, you should take into account your traits of
character. It goes without saying that to become a good doctor you must be
patient, caring and kind. Teacher’s work requires love for children,
profound knowledge of subjects, and the ability to explain. A secretary has
to be efficient and careful in order to do her work quickly and accurately.
Salespeople need to be friendly and persuasive, to get people buy their
There are so many people who influence us in choosing our occupation.
Parents and friends play a very important role in our choices.
My father works is a bisnessman. It is a highly paid job and it offers a
lot of opportunities. You can travel abroad and meet different people. My
father is a friendly person and he is easy to talk to. He thinks that I
must choose my future profession according to my taste and preferences. I
respect him but I want to become a programmer.
I have always been interested in computers. I’m rather communicative and
have good social skills. I have good analytical abilities and I am good at
problem-solving. Besides, I am good at English. English has become the
standard language for all kinds of international programs. To know English
today is absolutely necessary for every programmer.
But to become a good specialist in computing, you should know a lot of
programming languages and application programmes. So after finishing school
it is necessary for me to enter a university or a college and to study
computer science. I’ll have to take three entrance examinations: in Maths,
Physics and Literary composition. If I am lucky, I’ll have the chance to
study interesting sciences, and to listen to the lectures of famous
4. There are different ways of learning about the world: through the mass
media, books, travelling, visiting museums, meeting other people, etc.
Which ways do you prefer to learn about the world?
There are a lot of different ways of getting new information. In the past
the only way to learn about the world was traveling. The first travelers
were explorers who wanted to discover new lands. Nowadays, millions of
people travel around the world either for pleasure or on business.
Traveling has always been a part of people’s education. It teaches people
about the art and culture of different countries. It teaches them to be
understanding. Besides, you can improve your knowledge of foreign
languages. In my opinion, traveling is the most pleasant way of learning
about the world. It’s always interesting to discover different ways of
life, to visit different museums, to try different foods, and to listen to
different kinds of music. In brief, when we travel, we can learn a lot of
things that we can never see and learn at home.
But to travel around the world you need a lot of money. That is why the
main source of information for millions of people is mass media. Mass media
includes newspapers and magazines, advertising and radio, and, of course,
Television is a reflection of the modern world. It gives you an opportunity
to travel all over the world, to see different peoples, and learn about
their customs and traditions. Television keeps you informed about the rest
of the world. When you need immediate information about the latest world
events, you switch the TV on. There are always a great variety of
programmes on TV: current affairs programmes and documentaries, plays and
feature films, talk shows and TV games. A lot of people like TV news
because they can see everything with their own eyes. Besides, TV has the
power to educate and broaden our minds.
Some people think that the only way to be in the know of everything is to
read newspapers and magazines. If you get on a bus or catch a train during
the morning and evening “rush hours”, when most people travel to and from
work, you will see a lot of people with their heads in a newspaper or a
Newspapers are packed with the latest news, information, fashion and facts.
They cater to a variety of political views, interests and levels of
education. Papers are generally divided into “quality papers”, or
broadsheets, and “popular papers” that are half the size of broadsheets.
But the size is not the only thing that makes them different. “Quality
papers” are serious, with long, informative articles; while “popular
papers”, known as “tabloids”, have a more sensational reporting style and
contain more human interest stories than news. The two most popular British
daily newspapers, The Sun and The Daily Mirror, are both tabloids. Tabloids
sell many more copies than broadsheets.
In Russia we also have these two types of newspapers. For example,
Izvestiya or Kommersant are broadsheets. They contain political, business
and cultural information. Such tabloids as Megapolis-Express and Express
Gazeta contain the latest gossip, sensations and crossword puzzles. People
choose a paper according to their tastes and preferences. Though newspapers
don’t react to events as quickly as TV, they usually provide us with extra
details, commentaries and background information.
There are also a lot of magazines and other periodicals. Whatever your
interest, there is likely to be a magazine about it – from sport, cookery,
and farming, to religion, computers, cinema and more. Young people below
the age of 18 do not buy newspapers; but they do buy magazines. Girls enjoy
magazines about pop music, clothes, fashion and make-up; whereas boys
prefer to read about sport, cars and computers. As far as I am interested
in fashions I enjoy reading Yes. It is a monthly magazine for girls
containing the latest information about our favourite pop, film and soap
stars, brilliant fashions and beauty, sports and romance. It approaches
interesting subjects with intelligence and good humour. Besides, there is a
lot of useful advice on various areas of life.
Still, many people prefer the radio. It’s good to listen to the radio in a
car, or in the open air, or when you do something about the house.
Listeners can tune into all kinds of stations: pop or classical music,
news, sport or foreign radio stations. People can often call in and ask
questions about everything from cooking or car repair to politics or
health. Callers often get a chance to give their opinions on the air.
Besides, radio has fresher news than newspapers. They inform every half
The Internet has recently become another important source of information.
It is a computer system that allows millions of people around the world to
receive and exchange information about almost everything. The main use of
the Internet is to find information – for your schoolwork or job, or just
to find out more about your hobbies, sports or current events. All the
latest information is available to you in your home, at any hour of the day
and night. It’s much faster and easier to surf the net in search of
information from all over the world than to travel to libraries in dozens
However, the real world of the Internet may not be as perfect as it seems.
With so much information available, finding what you want can take you
hours. Multimedia web pages with photographs are attractive, but they make
downloading slow and boring. Besides, there is too much advertising instead
of real information.
With so many modern forms of finding information, such as radio, TV and the
Internet, people read fewer books, newspapers and magazines. Nowadays, most
people consider television their most important source of information, and
a majority ranks television as the most believable news source. In my
opinion, we can’t say exactly which source of information is the best. It
depends on what kind of information you need. However, I don’t think we
should forget the educational value of reading a good book.
5. Travelling is one of the ways of discovering new countries. What
attracts tourists to Russia? What would you show your foreign friends in
your home town?
Millions of people all over the world are fond of travelling. They travel
to see other countries and continents, to discover different ways of life,
to meet different people and to practise foreign languages. It goes without
saying that travelling broadens the mind. While travelling we can see and
learn a lot of things that we can never learn staying at home and watching
TV or reading books. That’s why a lot of foreign people come to Russia to
get acquainted with Russian culture, with Russian customs and traditions.
Russia has always been a country of mystery attractive for foreigners.
There are lots of villages and towns in Russia famous for their specific
crafts: painted boxes in Palekh, wooden tableware in Khokhloma and toys in
Dymkovo. Thousands of foreigners visit Russia to enjoy the typical Russian
log houses, decorated with wood carvings.
Tourists like to visit old Russian towns and cities famous for their
ancient architecture. They are especially attracted by Russian orthodox
cathedrals, churches and monasteries. One of the most interesting old
cities in Russia is Novgorod, or Novgorod the Great, as it was called in
the old times. It is a treasury of architecture, painting and applied art
created over the 11th to 17th centuries. The first records of the city on
the Volkhov River date back to the year of 859. Now Novgorod has expanded
far beyond its former limits. It is an important industrial and cultural
centre, located on the busy highway linking Moscow and St. Petersburg.
The focal point of the city is the Detinets, or the Kremlin. The present-
day Kremlin stems largely from the 15th century. Several alterations made
in the 16th and 17th centuries were minor and did not affect its
appearance. Novgorod’s contribution to the development of Russian culture
is outstanding. No other city excels Novgorod in the number of ancient
monuments of architecture. The Novgorod Museum of History, Architecture and
Art shows visitors the history of the medieval Novgorod. Its artistic value
lies primarily in its collection of medieval icon painting.
There is a lot to see in Russia, but first of all foreign tourists visit
the capital of our country, Moscow, its political, economic, commercial and
cultural centre. They dream of visiting Red Square, which is called the
heart of Moscow. Perhaps, the most ancient monument of Red Square is St.
Basil’s Cathedral. With its nine beautifully painted cupolas, it is a real
masterpiece of ancient Russian architecture.
If you come to Moscow for the first time, you should by all means visit the
Kremlin, which is very impressive. On the territory of the Kremlin you can
see old cathedrals, the Bell Tower of Ivan the Great, the State Kremlin
Palace, the Tsar Cannon and the Tsar Bell, the biggest cannon and bell in
the world. The tallest Kremlin tower, the Spasskaya Tower, has become the
symbol of the country.
If you leave the Kremlin by the Trinity Gate you will come to the
Alexandrovsky Gardens. The first thing to do in the Gardens is to stand by
the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, still and silent. Not far from the
Alexandrovsky Gardens, behind the Bolshoi Kamenny Bridge, you will see
Christ the Saviour Cathedral, with its huge beautiful gilded dome.
Foreigners are usually surprised by the number of churches and cathedrals
in and around the city. There are also a lot of beautiful palaces, old
mansions and monuments in Moscow.
There are more than 80 museums in our capital. The largest museums are the
Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, whose collections include works of art of the
ancient Orient and ancient Egypt, and the State Tretyakov Gallery, which
houses a rich collection of Russian painting and Russian icons. Other
unique museums in Moscow are the State History Museum, the All-Russia
Museum of Decorative, Applied and Folk Art, the Polytechnical Museum and
many others. Moscow is famous for its theatres, too. The best-known of them
is the Bolshoi Opera House. Drama theatres and studios are also very
Another interesting place to visit in Moscow is the All-Russia Exhibition
Centre which occupies an area of 530 acres. The Exhibition Centre is
situated in a beautiful park. The most admired feature of the Exhibition
Centre is its fountains. The “Friendship of the Nations” and the “Stone
Flower” fountains are the most beautiful. The Exhibition Centre is a large
cultural and commercial complex where different international exhibitions
and fairs are held.
One of the most famous sights of the city is the Moscow Metro and a journey
by Metro will be unforgettable. In the Metro you do not feel as if you’re
underground. This is due to the unique architecture and the artistic design
of the stations, which are more like palaces. No two stations are alike;
most of them have their own appearance.
Of course, every foreigner should visit St. Petersburg, the second largest
city in Russia and one of the most splendid cities in the world. It was
founded in 1703 by Peter the Great at the mouth of the Neva River. Now it
is an important industrial, cultural and educational centre.
St. Petersburg is indeed a wonderful city: at every turn there is something
to catch your eye. The Winter Palace, St. Isaac’s Cathedral, the Peter-and-
Paul Fortress, and the Admiralty Building attract thousands of tourists
from every corner of the world. Petersburg’s many museums house some of the
world’s most famous art collections. The Hermitage and the Russian Museum,
for example, contain the richest collections of pictures in the world.
The city is called the Northern Venice, because there are 65 rivers,
branches and canals there with artistically decorated bridges. It’s also
famous for its beautiful white nights.
There are a lot of Hero-cities in our country. And I would recommend that
my foreign friends visit one of them. Volgograd is a legendary city,
because here in 1943 the Soviet Army won the great and glorious victory
over the fascists. The city was completely ruined during the war, but now
it is a beautiful city again. It stands on the banks of the great Russian
river Volga. The symbol of Volgograd is the Mamaev Hill. It was the centre
of fighting during the heroic defence of Stalingrad. Now there is a great
memorial there. Besides, you can visit the Stalingrad Battle Panorama
Museum, which is situated on the bank of the Volga River. The centre of
Volgograd is the Square of the Fallen Heroes. In the middle of it there is
a granite obelisk and the common graves of the heroes of the Civil War and
the Great Patriotic War. At the foot of the memorial you can see the
Eternal Flame. Now Volgograd is a big industrial and cultural centre.
There are a lot of other interesting towns and cities in Russia, which are
all worth visiting.
6. Every country is special. What comes to your mind, when you think of the
UK and its people?
The British Isles is the name for a collection of about 4000 islands,
including Great Britain and Ireland. Great Britain, known as Britain or GB,
is the name for the largest of the Islands in the British Isles. It
includes England, Scotland and Wales. The United Kingdom or UK is a
political term which includes England, Scotland, Wales and Northern
Ireland. All of these countries are represented in Parliament in London,
and the abbreviation UK is used on most official documents produced by
Parliament. Everybody from the UK is British, but be careful: only people
from England are English. People from Wales think of themselves as Welsh;
people from Scotland as Scottish; people from Northern Ireland as either
British or Irish.
Britain is split into counties. The word county describes an area with its
own local government. County councils are elected to run things, such as
education, housing, town planning, and rubbish disposal. They look after
things like roads, libraries and swimming pools.
The British flag, known as the Union Jack, is a combination of three flags:
the Saint Andrew’s cross, the Saint Patrick’s cross and the Saint George’s
The Saint Patrick’s cross is the former flag of Ireland. Saint Patrick is
the patron saint of Ireland. He was born about AD 390. He converted the
Irish to Christianity. Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated on 17 March. The
symbol of Northern Ireland is a shamrock and a red hand.
The Saint George’s cross is the English flag. Saint George is the patron
saint of England. He was a soldier famous for saving the Princess Cleolinda
from being eaten by a dragon. Saint George’s Day is celebrated on 23 April.
The symbol of England is a red rose.
The Saint Andrew’s cross is the Scottish flag. Saint Andrew, a fisherman,
was one of the 12 apostles who followed Jesus Christ. Paintings of Saint
Andrew often show him being crucified on an X-shaped cross. Saint Andrew’s
Day is celebrated on 30 November. He is the patron saint of both Scotland
and Russia. The symbol of Scotland is a thistle.
The Welsh flag shows a dragon. Saint David, the patron saint of Wales,
converted Wales to Christianity and established the Welsh church. Paintings
of Saint David show him with a dove on his shoulder. Saint David’s Day is
celebrated on 1 March. The symbol of Wales is a daffodil or leek.
London is the capital city of England and the UK. It is a place where the
invading Romans first crossed the River Thames. They built a city and
called it Londinium. This original site of London is now called the City of
London. London manages in a unique way to reflect the past and, at the same
time, to live a life of a modern city. The saying “When a man is tired of
London, he is tired of life” means that you can’t be bored in London. There
are hundreds of historic buildings, galleries and museums in London.
As for me, I’m fond of history and I’ve read a lot about English kings and
queens. I’d like to visit all places in London which are connected with
Royal London, such as Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Whitehall and
Trafalgar Square, St Paul’s Cathedral, and the Tower of London. And I’d
like to visit places which are not in London, such as Windsor Castle, the
Queen’s house in Greenwich, the Palace of Holyrood house in Edinburgh and
other places in the UK which are connected with the Crown. The UK is famous
for its castles such as Edinburgh Castle and Leeds Castle and others, and
I’d like to see them with my own eyes. Another place which is worth seeing
is Madam Tussaud’s Museum of Waxworks. This museum consists of several
halls with wax images of outstanding political characters, poets and
writers, world-famous film stars and musicians. Then I’d like to see one of
the wonders of the world – the famous Stonehenge. Every year thousands of
young people go to Stonehenge to take part in the midsummer Druid festival.
I wish I were there.
Palace of Holyrrodhouse in Edinburgh
In the House of Lords, the Chancellor sits on a sack of wool. This
tradition comes from old times when sheep wool made England rich and
powerful. In the House of Commons there are two rows of benches: one row is
for the government and the other one is for opposition. There is a red line
in the carpet in front of each “front bench”. The person who is speaking is
not allowed to step across it. It is also a tradition from old days, when
that division prevented the two parties from fighting during the debates.
Even the Legislation of the country is traditional. It includes many laws
that haven’t been changed for centuries. Other traditional features of
Great Britain are the numerous clubs that unite people of various
interests; and the pubs, the local beer halls, where Englishmen like to
spend their time talking, discussing traditional matters: politics, sports,
and weather, over a glass of beer. The British have a reputation of being
conservative, for having established values without questioning their
validity. They drive on the left side of the road and use double-decker
buses. They stick to their own measurement system and continue to measure
distances in miles and yards (not in kilometres and metres). They buy
cheese in pounds and ounces, milk in pints, petrol in gallons.
English people are famous for their habit of politeness. It is considered
polite to give up one’s seat to a woman who is standing, to open a door for
her, carry things for her, and so on. Most British people expect the person
in front of them to hold the door open for them. People think you are rude,
if you don’t do this. English people are very reserved. This means that
they don’t talk much to strangers, and don’t show much emotion. A reserved
person never tells you anything about himself. But the people of the North
and West of Britain are much less reserved than those of the South and
East. Most British people queue when they are waiting for a bus or waiting
to be served in a shop. But during the rush hour, when a bus or train
arrives, people often push forward to make sure they get on. This is called
jumping the queue. British people keep their old traditions and are very
proud of them. They are famous for their sense of humour. English people
show great love for animals. And, of course, English people are fond of
sports. Many continentals think life is a game; the English think cricket
is a game. To many Englishmen cricket is both a game and a standard of
behaviour. When they consider something unfair, they say “That isn’t
The traditional love of English people for tea is well known. They like to
drink tea with milk. They have their five-o’clock tea not only at home or
in offices, but also in tea-rooms and tea-shops, which can be found in
A nation is born from its land, its history, its art, its traditions and
its institutions. These things work together to make people what they are.
But above all, a nation is made up of people, and although there are things
they all share, all of those people are different. We can say there is
still a “British nation,” and one of the most characteristic features of
Englishmen is their traditions, which they respect, and which they have
kept for centuries. The traditions don’t only accumulate the experience and
wisdom of many generations, but they bring some stability into the rapidly
7. Each country takes pride in its own achievements and success. What makes
you feel proud of your country?
Our country is great, and I’m very proud of it. Russia is famous for its
outstanding people – scientists, writers, poets, travellers and explorers.
Russia is a stable and democratic society. Its citizens have many freedoms,
among them the freedom of speech, religion and the press. Russia is a
member of the United Nations. Russia is one of the largest trading
countries. It has a lot of energy resources and exports oil and natural
gas. Russia has for centuries encouraged research and innovation and it has
a lot of achievements throughout the twentieth century. Nobel prizes for
science, literature and peace have been won by Russian citizens. In the
fields of art, media and sports, Russia enjoys an international reputation.
Russia has nuclear weapons, a strong army and remains a widely-respected
For ages mankind was dreaming of travelling in the space. The science
itself came later. K. E. Tsiolkovsky, the great Russian scientist, is the
father of the theory of interplanetary travels. His words that “mankind
will not remain on the Earth forever” came true. On 4 October 1957 the
Soviet Union launched the world’s first satellite “Sputnik”. This word,
“sputnik”, immediately began to be used in all languages. The first
cosmonaut on the Earth to fly into space, Yuri Gagarin, was from Russia,
and he made his flight around the Earth on 12 April 1961 that lasted 1 hour
48 minutes. Years will pass, people will conquer the Universe and make
landings on other planets, but mankind will always remember Yury Gagarin as
the first to pave the way to the stars.
Russia is also famous for its ancient churches, cathedrals, and towns.
Moscow, the capital of Russia, is famous for its monuments to outstanding
people, churches, galleries, theatres, squares and streets.
The heart of Moscow is Red Square. It’s my favourite place in my native
city. I show it to all my guests from different countries. It is our
history, and I’d like to tell you some facts about the buildings on it. St
Basil’s Cathedral was built in 1551–1561 after the victory over the Kazan
Kingdom. It’s a magnificent Cathedral, with eight churches placed around
the tallest ninth one. There is a monument to Minin and Pozharsky in front
of the Cathedral. It was built in 1818 and it was the first statue put up
in Moscow. Minin and Pozharsky were heroes of the people’s struggle in the
war against Poland in 1612. You can see Lobnoye Mesto near the Cathedral.
It was erected in the 16 century; the tsar’s orders were read from it, also
it was used as a place for execution. The tallest tower of the Kremlin is
the Spasskaya Tower. It’s also on Red Square. It’s one of the symbols of
Moscow, because the Kremlin clock, made in the 16th century, is on it. The
clock strikes on the hour, half hour and quarter of an hour. The Lenin
Mausoleum is in the centre of the square. It was at first made of wood; and
in 1930 it was rebuilt, and made of stone, brick, marble and granite. The
State History Museum was opened in 1883. It has a rich collection of
documents, drawings, pictures, and materials about the country’s past and
Russia’s great people. The State Department Store (GUM) is one of the
largest department stores in the country. It is an impressive building with
a glass roof.
Of course the most ancient part of Moscow is the Kremlin. Nowadays the
Kremlin centre looks truly magnificent, with its many-domed cathedrals in
Cathedral Square and with its Tsar Bell and Tsar Cannon.
A very interesting place in Moscow is the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour.
The original cathedral was erected by order of Emperor Alexander as a token
of the Russian people’s gratitude to God for the deliverance of Russia from
Napoleon’s invasion in 1812. In 1931 it was demolished by order of Josef
Stalin. In 1995, Moscow’s Mayor Yuri Luzhkov and the world-famous musician
Mstislav Rostropovich laid the first stone in the foundation of the new
Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. Today you can admire this Cathedral in the
centre of Moscow.
People in Russia keep their old traditions and are very proud of them. They
celebrate religious holidays such as Easter, Christmas, and Maslenitsa.
They eat traditional food for Maslenitsa such as pancakes with honey,
caviar or sour cream; they colour eggs; bake kulich cakes; make a paskha
out of cottage cheese for Easter. Many Russians are religious people. The
main church in Russia is the Orthodox Church, but there are other religions
too. The Orthodox Church has survived during hard times, and now we speak
about a rebirth of religion in our country.
Russian people are open-hearted, hospitable, and friendly. They like to
invite guests to their homes and cities; they like to give traditional
souvenirs to their foreign friends such as matryoshka dolls, beautifully
painted mugs, plate and spoons from the village of Khokhloma, Palekh boxes,
art books, badges and etc.
We are proud of our famous and talented poets and writers such as Alexander
Pushkin, Michael Lermontov and many others. We are proud of our famous
composer Peter Tchaikovsky and one of our famous artists, Isaak Levitan. We
can see his paintings and the paintings of other outstanding Russian
artists, such as Repin, Vasnetsov, Shishkin, Surikov, Benua, Korovin, etc.,
in the Tretyakov Gallery. It is one of the most famous and well-known
picture galleries in our country and in the world. It is situated in the
centre of Moscow and is named after its founder Pavel Tretyakov. He began
to collect Russian paintings in 1856. He was a famous patron of arts. In
1892 Tretyakov donated his collection to Moscow.
Russia is proud of its famous sportsmen who win a lot of gold, silver and
bronze medals in different international sports competitions.
So, I’m very proud of my country, my native city and the people who brought
a lot of fame to my country. And I invite everyone, who has never been to
my country, to visit it, and to see its achievements with their own eyes.
8. What famous people from Russia would you tell your foreign friends
about? Which famous British and American people do you admire? What
made/makes them famous?Each country is proud of its famous people, and
Russia is among them. I’d like to tell you about Russian famous writers,
poets and musicians, because I’m fond of literature and music. A. Pushkin
is the most important Russian writer and poet of all time. He is like
Shakespeare in England. He provided the standards for Russian arts and
literature in the 19th century. In 1823 Pushkin began writing his
masterpiece “Eugene Onegin”. It became his linguistic and literary
standard. It is a commentary on the life of early 19th century Russia.
Pushkin also wrote a lot of other poems and created masterpieces in drama
and prose. All Russian people know Pushkin. Galleries and museums were
named after him. In the centre of Moscow there is a monument to Pushkin
built by the famous Russian architect Opekunshin in 1880. Pushkin’s
memorial museums in different cities attract many visitors. One of the
other famous poets and writers in Russia was M. Lermontov. He won fame as a
poet after his poem on Pushkin’s death had been published. Lermontov’s
poems “Demon”, “Mtsyri”, his great novel A Hero of Our Time and his play
“Masquerade” are masterpieces of Russian literature.As for me I like
reading F. Dostoevsky and L. Tolstoy. They are famous Russian writers. I
like M. Bulgakov; Master and Margarita is one of the world’s masterpieces.
I often go to Patriarch’s Pond where the book begins. It has a special
atmosphere even now. I go there to be inspired. I like reading poetry, and
Anna Ahmatova is my favourite. Russian’s famous musicians and composers
such as Sergei Rachmaninov and Peter Tchaikovsky are recognized all over
the world. Tchaikovsky composed a lot of symphonies and created beautiful
music for operas and ballets. His famous operas “Eugene Onegin”, and
“Iolanta” and his famous ballets “The Swan Lake”, “The Sleeping Beauty” are
masterpieces. His memorial museum was opened in 1894 in Klin not far from
Moscow. And the international Tchaikovsky Music Competition started in 1958
in Moscow. S. Rachmaninov was an outstanding Russian composer and pianist.
He became famous with audiences around the world for his piano
performances.Great Britain is also proud of its famous people. And I’d like
to tell you about one of its famous writers A. Conan Doyle. He invented
Sherlock Holmes, one of the most famous characters and detectives. Arthur
Conan Doyle was born in Scotland. He was a doctor. In 1882 he moved to
England to set up a practice. One of the doctors he worked for, was the
model for Dr. Watson. Conan Doyle’s medical knowledge was a great help in
his detective stories. He started the fashion of the detective stories.
Nowadays I don’t know a person who doesn’t like detective stories. We know
a lot about Sherlock Holmes. We even know his address – 221 “B” Baker
Street in London. If you go to London, you won’t find 221 “B” Baker Street.
But instead, you can go to a pub called “The Sherlock Holmes” in
Northumberland Street (near Trafalgar Square). In that pub there is a room
like his room at 221 “B” Baker Street, as described in Conan Doyle’s
stories. There is also the stuffed head of a hound. It is said to be the
original “hound of the Baskervilles”. A lot of tourists visit this pub.
When Conan Doyle began to get tired of writing detective stories, he
“killed” Holmes in one of his stories. But the public didn’t like it. Conan
Doyle had to write another story in which Holmes came back. So we can say
that Conan Doyle was a famous British writer. He became popular because of
his love for people.I also admire American famous people. I’d like to tell
you about Walt Disney, the pioneer of animated cartoons. He is famous for
creating such cartoon characters as Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Pluto, Goofy
and others. He was born in 1901 in Chicago. His father was a carpenter,
farmer and building contractor. So the family changed homes several times.
In 1917 Walt entered a Higher School in Chicago, where he took photographs,
made drawings for the school paper and studied cartooning, for he wanted to
get a job as a newspaper cartoonist. After World War 1, in which he
participated as a truck driver for the American Red Cross in France and
Germany, he returned to Kansas City. There he met Ub Iverk who turned into
his partner for life. They started a small studio of their own and began
making short animated advertising films. In 1927 Mickey Mouse appeared.
Disney himself provided the voice for Mickey. Then the other cartoons
appeared. Gradually, the Disney studio turned into a big enterprise and
began to produce a variety of cartoons for children. And it was he, who
initiated plans for a huge amusement park, which is known as Disneyland. A
lot of grown-ups and children visit this park and remember the person who
founded it, Walt Disney. And, of course, they remember Walt Disney because
of his remarkable cartoons.
9. What would you tell your foreign friends about traditional Russian
holidays and celebrations? What do you think your British friends will tell
you about their traditional holidays and celebrations?
Every country has its own national holidays, but there are holidays that
are common for many countries. People all over the world know New Year’s
Day, Christmas and Easter. In Russia, New Year’s Day is the most popular
holiday; but in the West people pay more attention to Christmas.
New Year’s Day is a family event in Russia. People begin to prepare for
this holiday beforehand. Everything is rush and bustle. There is a great
air of expectation. People decorate their New Year trees with tinsel,
various baubles and coloured lights. They usually put their presents under
the tree. When the Kremlin clock strikes 12 they see the New Year in.
There are also dates and events in our country that are memorable to
Russian people. They are Victory Day, the Day of Reconciliation and
Harmony, Women’s Day, the Day of Spring and Labour, Independence Day,
Country Defendant’s Day, Constitution Day, and Maslenitsa. Besides, there
are many professional days in our country: Teacher’s Day, Miner’s Day, etc.
Christmas in Russia is celebrated on 7 January. It is celebrated with all-
night services in churches. Country Defendant’s Day is celebrated on 23
February. This holiday is devoted to soldiers and officers and everyone
else who defended the country or is in the Army. Women’s Day is celebrated
on 8 March. It is a day-off. Men and boys try to please their mothers,
sisters and friends by giving them presents and flowers. Maslenitsa marks
the end of winter and the beginning of spring and Lent. During this
festival people make pancakes, sing and dance traditional songs and dances,
and visit each other. Maslenitsa and Easter are movable holidays. Easter is
the main Orthodox festival. People colour eggs and enjoy traditional
Russian dishes. Churches hold special services on this day.
The Day of Spring and Labour is celebrated on 1 May. On this day people
prefer to go outdoors and take part in all kinds of outdoor activities.
Victory Day is celebrated on 9 May – it celebrates the end of the Soviet
Union’s participation in World War II in Europe. People put flowers at the
tombs of the soldiers who were killed during the war. The main ceremony is
held in Moscow. People lay flowers in Moscow’s Park Pobedi and at the Tomb
of an Unknown Soldier. Independence Day is celebrated on 12 June. On this
day Russia became an independent country after the break up of the Soviet
Union in 1991. This is an official holiday. The Day of Reconciliation and
Harmony is celebrated on 7 November. It used to be the greatest official
holiday, celebrating the anniversary of the October Revolution. Now this
day is marked by marches and demonstrations. For many people it’s just a
day-off. The Constitution Day is celebrated on 12 December. It celebrates
the new Constitution of 1993.
There are fewer public holidays in Great Britain than in other European
countries. They are: Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day, Good
Friday, Easter Monday, Spring Bank Holiday and Late Summer Bank Holiday.
All holidays and traditions are connected with the history and culture of
The most popular holiday is Christmas. Every year the people of Norway give
the city of London a present. It’s a big Christmas tree and it stands in
Trafalgar Square. The central streets are beautifully decorated. People
decorate their houses with holly and mistletoe. They send Christmas cards
to greet each other. Children hang their stockings, hoping that Father
Christmas will come with toys and sweets. Before Christmas groups of people
go from house to house – they sing Christmas carols and collect money for
charity. Christmas is a family holiday. The family usually meets for a
traditional dinner of turkey and Christmas pudding, and everyone gives and
receives presents. New Year’s Day is less popular in Britain than
Christmas. But in Scotland, Hogmanay is the biggest festival of the year.
They celebrate New Year. The preparations for the occasion begin several
days before the New Year’s Eve, which is known as Hogmanay. The night of
Hogmanay is a time for merrymaking, the giving of presents and observance
of the old customs. The name “Hogmanay” is supposed to come from the Anglo-
Saxon “Haleg Monath” (Holy Month), or the Gaaelic “oge maiden” (New
Morning). December 26th is Boxing Day. People usually visit their friends,
go for a drive or for a long walk, or just sit around and watch TV
recovering from too much food after Christmas dinner. In the country there
Easter is the time when certain old traditions are observed. It is
celebrated as the start of spring and as a religious festival. It is the
time for giving and receiving presents, such as Easter eggs, hot cross
buns, fluffy little chicks, baby rabbits, and springtime flowers to signify
Four times a year the banks are closed on Monday apart from traditional
weekends. Such days are called Bank Holidays.
Besides public holidays, there are certain traditional festivals which have
existed over centuries in the country. They are Pancake Day, Guy Fawkes’
Night, Saint Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Hallowe’en, April’s Fool Day,
etc. These days are not days-off. But they help to keep many traditions,
which Englishmen have always been famous for.
As for me, most of all I like Hallowe’en. It goes back many, many hundreds
of years. At that time the Celts lived in England. The Celts said, “In this
night the ghosts of the dead come back.” Nowadays children in the USA and
Britain dress up as witches or ghosts. Some children also make jack-o’-
lanterns out of pumpkins. They put them in the windows at night. In the
evening, the children go out in groups and knock at people’s doors. The
children call out: “Trick or treat.” Most people then give the children a
“treat”. This is usually a sweet, some chocolate, or maybe a toffee apple.
But some people do not give the children a treat. Then the children play a
trick on them. Sometimes, they ring the doorbell again and then they hide
or run away. Or they come to the house again later and put leaves, grass,
stones or other things into the letterbox. Children and older people often
have Hallowe’en parties where they play games such as “bobbing for apples”,
“apples on a string”, “fortune telling”. I wish we celebrated Hallowe’en in
Russia because this holiday is very funny and interesting.
10. You are going to spend a month with an American or British family. What
do you think will be interesting for your host family to learn about you?
Hello! Let me introduce myself to you. I’m Alexander, Alex for short. I
live in Moscow. I’m a student of the 9th grade. We are a family of four: my
mother, my father, my elder brother and me. We live in a block of flats on
the 11th floor. There are three rooms in our flat and we have all modern
conveniences. I share a room with my elder brother. My brother is a student
of Moscow University. We are close friends. I discuss everything with him
and we don’t have any secrets from each other. We get on very well.
Sometimes I even borrow his clothes and he never gets annoyed. We don’t
feel competitive, because we have different interests. I’m more academic
and he’s more artistic. But we are both fond of sport very much. We both go
to the swimming pool twice a week. It helps us to keep fit, it gives us
good stamina, and it’s good for our hearts and lungs. We hardly ever
quarrel or fight. My brother never sees me as being in the way. I think I’m
quite easy-going. I’m similar in personality to my mother. She is always
very friendly to all, although she can be quite critical of people. I like
to be friendly to the people around me, and I don’t normally like to let my
bad moods and anger inside me, come out and affect other people.
I don’t know if I’m particularly obsessive. I like to do different things
every day. I am fond of collecting different things. One day I collect toy
cars, another day I want to collect badges. But most of all I prefer
collecting stamps because it’s a family hobby. You can learn a tremendous
amount through stamps, especially about history. Stamps are a great way to
bring history alive. All the members of my family collect stamps and the
theme of our collection is history. It is a long-lasting hobby and who
knows – in 20 years or so it may have become an impressive collection that
can be appreciated and enjoyed by my own children too.
I have grandparents, my mother’s parents. They don’t live with us; but I
often visit them. They live a very routine life, but they like it. I can’t
put my finger on it, exactly, but there is some atmosphere in their house
like nothing has changed for twenty years. My parents are doctors and they
work in the hospital. They are very giving, caring persons, and always
consider those around them. They work very hard in their hospital and
really put all their energy in their work. They are very much in love, even
after years of being married and always caring for each other. My parents
have warm, friendly eyes and always express a spirit of goodwill towards
people. I love my parents very much and my ambition is to be a doctor too,
because I want to help people if they have some problems with their health.
I originally became interested in medicine during my 9th grade, when I
realized that my skills and my traits would serve me well in my future
career. Besides I’m good at Chemistry, Biology and History – they are my
favourite subjects. I’m not very good at English, but I understand that it
is one of the most important subjects now, and I try my best to improve it.