English Topics for Exams
Short histories on different themes: Belarus (Health care in Belarus, Education in Belarus), Great Britain (A day trip to London, British theatre and its theatrical traditions, System of education in the UK), my home (My family, The house of my dreams).
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Another American -- Glenn Doman introduces the parents to his `89 Cardinal Facts for Making Any Baby into a Superb Human Being'. Cardinal Fact No. 6: 'Our individual genetic potential is that of Leonardo da Vinci, Mozart, Michelangelo, Edison and Einstein'.
Doman claims that up until the age of six, when brain growth slows, a child's intellectual and physical abilities will increase in direct proportion to stimulation. Thus any child, given the proper stimuli, can become the next Leonardo. 'Every kid,' he asserts, 'learns better than even-adult'. Parents at the Better Baby Institute learn to regard their mewling puking infants not so much with respect as awe.
So the question is now one of technique. How can parents create the kind of brain growth that leads to expertise in reading, math, gymnastics, and the like? Say you want to teach your six-month-old how to read. Write down a series of short, familiar words in large, clear letters on flashcards.
Show the cards to your infant five or six times a day, simul¬taneously reciting the word written on each one. With his extraordinary retentive powers he'll soon be learning hundreds of words, then phrases. The idea is to try to treat the baby's mind as a sponge by the age of three, Doman guar¬antees, your child will be entertaining himself and amazing your friends by reading 'everything in sight'. In like manner he can learn to perform staggering mathematical stunts, or to distinguish and thoughtfully analyze the works of the Great Masters or the classical composers.
What does Dr Benjamin Spock think of the better baby phenomenon? Like most octogenarians he thinks the world has gone to hell; he argues that competitive pressures are taking a psychic toll on most Americans, especially young people, and blames 'excessive competitiveness' for the extraordinary rise in teenage suicide over the last twenty years.
It's a popular myth that great prodigies spring up out of nowhere as if touched by divine finger. But what sort of parental stimulation should it be: hot-housing, supportive or stimulating? Hot-housing children are constantly under parental pressure and this results in burn out rather than in giftedness. Supportive parents are those who will go out of their way to help their children follow their pet interests and praise whatever level of achievement results. Generally such parents create a harmonious home governed by clear rules. But the children in this case are not very intense in their concentration and achieve not very high results. Stimulating parents are more actively involved in what their children do and push them to work hard, often acting as tutors. But the children in this case, though working for long hours, are constantly on alert and less happy than those from a stable balanced family environments.
Vice and virtue
A person's character is the totality of his character traits. Our character traits can be good, bad or somewhere in between. They can be admirable or not. The admirable character traits, the marks of perfection in character, are called virtues, their opposites are vices. Neither is inherited but acquired, thus character traits have the following characteristic features: 1) they are dispositions or habit-like tendencies that are deeply
trenched or engrained. They have been referred to as second nature - "first nature" referring to tendencies with which they are born. Character traits are not innate - we were not born with them. Thus infants are neither virtuous nor vicious. 2) they are formed as a result of more or less freely selected actions of a certain kind. We are not born honest or liars, but we become so by repeatedly telling the truth or by repeatedly lying.
We are hopefully mastered some essential skills at the beginning of our education. They have to do with 10 Biblical commandments: don't kill, don't lie, don't steal, love your neighbour, don't say God's name in vain etc. These are the principles to be guided by and are to be followed both by religious and non religious people. No doubt, world religions teach us about how people should act and behave. They make people disciplined. However, it does not mean that religious human beings are more moral than non religious people. In fact spiritual laws and values are very easy to violate through immoral behaviour, committing crimes, practicing self-destructive behaviour (abuse alcohol, and drug abuse).
No other art form has had quite the impact on our lives that the theatre has. Everybody loves a story and narrative told in visual images is undoubtedly popular with people. There can be no question about the supremacy of the visual image in the realm of story. Just how and when theatre was originated is uncertain but the earliest records of human activities suggest that by that time people had already developed rituals that used all the elements required for a fully developed theatre: a performance space, performers, masks or make up, costumes, music, dance and an audience. From these shadowy origins, the theatre eventually evolved into an activity prized for itself. It has been praised as entertaining. On the other hand it nourishes our minds, challenges the intellectuals with thought provoking ideas. However in the world dominated by film and TV theatre loses its supreme position. Still even today there are true theatre goers. The theatre is sometimes alluded to as “synthetic” art as it combines literature, music, dance, performance. Plays which are staged are written in a variety of genres. There are 6 basic genres of plays: tragedy, comedy, tragicomedy, melodrama (a play of heightened emotion in which a hero or a heroine overcome a villain), domestic drama (a play that reflects the world of the domestic, the family and the relationships that emerge out of the ordinary happenings of life), symbolic plays - in which the characters and the actions have symbolic features and the main concern is the development of ideas. Talking of theatres and plays, London must be the world's capital of drama and shows. We might say that British drama is concentrated in the capital. Around the West End there are about 40 theatres, many of which have a fascinating history. F.ex. the Globe Theatre has taken its name from the famous playhouse where Shakespeare's dramas were produced 400 years ago. (other theatres: The Royal Opera House at Covent Garden, The Royal Albert Hall, The Royal Festival Hall, Coliseum). Some words about our theatres - The Gomel Regional Drama Theatre, Puppet Theatre and some other amateur theatres. If you want to visit a theatre, you should know that matinees start at 12 am, and evening at 7p.m. You can buy tickets at the theatre box-office or book by telephone. But if you couldn't book you can pick up the tickets at the entrance to the theatre. Usually the theatre is full on 80 %, but on weekends especially when the first night is on, the auditorium which holds up 600 seats is full. Now the repertoire consists of such plays as `The forest' by Ostrovsky, `I Love You' and others. They are popular with the public. Passing through the revolving door you can put your coats off in the cloak-room, to buy a programme to know the cast, then you come into the hall and take your seats in the stalls, in the balcony or in the pit. During the interval you can have a snack at the buffet or you can go along the foyer where you find the photos of the staff. Now I'd like to tell you about my last visit to the theatre. It was the Gomel Drama Theatre. One day me and my friend made our mind to go to the theatre. We wanted to see the play “I love you”. We booked our seats by telephone, we promised to pay for them before the performance. It took us 1 hour to get ready to the theatre because I like to look smart when I go somewhere. At the entrance to the theatre itself an attendant in uniform tore our tickets in half, and then he gave us our tickets back so that we could find our seats by their numbers. We bought the programmes to know some more info about the play. The auditorium seemed to be full. The attendants closed the door and draw the curtains over them. The warning bell rang and the play was about to begin. The actors were playing excellent, their dancing didn't lack feeling and it was expressive and they were always at their best. Most of all I was impressed by the actor who played the leading part, his name was Andrey Karako. He was the man who didn't tell lie. The main idea of the play: “Is it good to lie?”. And later I understood that in some cases you have to lie. There was a storm of applause.
There is music everywhere: at home, in music halls, in concert halls, in parks. People can't live without music. They listen to music, they dance to music, they learn to play musical instruments. Music is an art, which reflects life. Music reflects people's ideas and emotions. There are lots of kinds of music: classical, folk-traditional music from a particular country, jazz, pop, rock, heavy metal, rap, hip-hop etc. Music is an international language. The most popular kinds of music among young people nowadays are: rock and pop. There are local versions but the beat and the rhythm are the same. A new technology is sweeping pop along new avenues. Band have become more proficient with their instruments, electronics and studio techniques have become more sophisticated. The huge open air festivals of music sprang from this movement.
When speaking of different forms of music I'd like to mention classical music. Classical music gives me pleasure and delight. It is always a complex of emotions, excitement. Classical music gives me the possibility to remove from tiredness and tension, to find new strength. Sometimes I prefer classical music, because it fills my mind with new ideas and makes me think. While listening to classical music I have to combine all my feelings into one and to give it name-it will be happiness. And finally it's a source of joy, inspiration and relaxation.
Only once in my life I had an opportunity to go to the concert and I would never forget it. That time I was in Moscow, in BOLSHOI THEATRE. It was so called mixed concert, performed by the grant companies: the Orchestra of the Theatre and the spectacular young traditional folk music and dance group. The Orchestra of the BOLSHOI THEATRE presented its programme first. It was a fascinated demonstration of Russian tone and Russian interpretation. They played well-known peaces of such great composers as: Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Glinka, Thaikovsky. They played robust compositions, a vigorous music that roused senses and never stood for a moment. The musicians performed on different instruments, including violin, cello, viola, even oboe, bassoon.
The epitone of everything we have come to expect was from Russian folk dance group-the endless variety of colourful and beautifully embroided costumes and most important of all-boundless energy and enthusiasm. So the concert made a deep impression on me, the music give me pleasure, satisfaction and relaxation.
Clothes and fashion
Every person all over the world dreams of being fashionable and stylish. But nobody seems to be satisfied with their appearance: make-up, clothes, manicure and so on. What is the reason of that? First of all it is surely the lack of money. Often we can't afford to buy one or another particular thing we want to. This is not the only cause. Some people who can afford it confess that they don't really know how to partner clothes. Will it be nice? Many people don't care for someone's personal opinion of their style. I just put on what I really want to, but not what others desire to see on me. What is fashion for me? Frankly speaking I can't give an explanation to this notion. But as many girls of my age I do care of my appearance from early morning of till very night. I am puzzled with the question: How do I look like? Is everything ok? and so on and so forth. I consider that no one can be perfect just if they wear good-looking or expensive clothes or the other day they did a really nice hair-cut. So let's start with hair. In my life I have never had my hair cut too short. I've always had a long hair. I like it and I do believe that your hair style is what really becoming to you. That's why many people follow their own fashion. As for my clothes, I think that I try to follow the fashion and buy more or less fashionable things. But I'd rather prefer those clothes which are likely not to go out of fashion. I want such clothes that can serve me several times. The main criterion by means of which I choose clothes for myself is comfort. I haven't created my style yet. Today it just depends on my family income. And sometimes we have to make a compromise to buy a beautiful but not all the vogue but nevertheless. As for styles in clothes I can't say that I like some certain style. I object to a classical style.
The personality of a teacher
Teaching is very specific and responsible job. Not everyone has enough courage to accept this responsibility. Most young people prefer to choose a more rewarding anв better-paid job. However there're many young people who consider teaching as a career. For them the main attraction isn't money but job-satisfaction.
The success of educating and upbringing of children depends to a great degree on the personality of the teacher, his professional skills, moral principles, erudition and cultural background. This noble and challenging profession demands from a teacher constant creativity, enthusiasm, understanding of children and love for them, complete dedication to his cause. The teacher must be a model of competence, so he is a person who is learning as well as teaching all his life. Most jobs can be done within the usual office hours, but teacher's work is never done. It's also a stressful job, because you have to encourage your pupils and keep them interested. A good teacher treats his pupils with respect and values them as individuals. He understands that every child is unique and has special talents and capabilities. That's why he educates each pupil with special attention to his or her interests and encourages each one to be the best he or she can be. He helps children to develop their critical and creative thinking, to form their views and characters, their attitudes to life and other people. A good teacher will do his best to bring up honest, considerate, patient and tactful, able to meet many challenges of adult life in a rapidly changing world.
When young men leave their schools they have a great choice what to do: to start working, continue their education or combine work with their studies. If they are intended to proceed their education and get a diploma they enter higher educational institutions. After graduating they may become lawyers or doctors, engineers or teachers, actors or economists, etc.
But before that they must pass their entrance exams successfully and be admitted. In general, the course of studies lasts 5 years at a day-time department and 6 years at the correspondence department. The academic year begins in September and ends in June. Students take their exams twice a year: in January and in June. During the terms they attend lectures, practical classes, seminars. Students are taught general and special subjects. Students have vacations twice a year. At any higher educational establishment training specialists combines theoretical studies with practical training.
The problem of learning 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. The total knowledge of mankind is known to double every seven years. Foreign languages are needed as the main and most efficient means of information exchange among the people of our planet.
Today English is the language of the world. Over 350 million 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 African Republic. As a second language it is used in the former British and US colonies.
It is the major international language for communication in such areas as science, technology, business and mass entertainment. English is one of the official languages of the United Nations Organization and other political organization. It is the language of the literature, education, modern music and international tourism.
Belarus is integrating into the world community and the problem of learning English for the purpose of communication is especially urgent today. Learning a foreign language is not as easy thing. It is a long slow process a lot of time and patience. But to know English is absolutely necessary for every educated person, for every good specialist.
It is well known that reading books in the original, listening to the BBC news, communicating with the English speaking people will help a lot. When learning a foreign language people learn the culture and history of the native speakers. One must work hard to learn any foreign language.
That's why I made up my mind to take a course of improving my language skills which was established in 2000 at the Gomel State Technical University and receive a degree of further education. After successful graduation students get diplomas of government pattern awarding qualification “consultant in translation”. To be an interpreter or translator is a fulfilling career. It's mentally challenging, linguistically fascinating, often emotionally moving and it is English that will help me in my life.
Art. Music. Theatre
The Oxford Advancer Learner's Dictionary of Current English by Hornby gives us the following definition of the notion "art". "Art" is the creation or expression of what is beautiful, especially in visual form. Drawing, painting, sculpture, architecture, literature, music, ballet belong to the fine art".
Really when something is extremely beautiful or has great cultural value, we say: "It's art". Art has always been occupation for the few, but has been admired by many. Art reflects feelings and emotions, brings delight and admiration, and makes life pure as it wakens our best hidden qualities. Speaking about arts, we connect this notion with culture. According to the dictionary culture of a community or nation includes all the arts, beliefs and social institutions characteristic of a community or nation. We can speak about either material, or spiritual culture. Art is both.
Modern world can boast its artistic and cultural traditions; art galleries attract huge crowds of tourists. For example, the Hermitage is famous all over the world for its valuable rare collections of canvases and other art objects covering a span of about seven hundreds years and comprising masterpieces of by Leonardo da Vinci, Titian, Raphael, Rembrandt, and Rubens. The collections illustrate the art of Italy, Spain, Holland, Germany, France, Britain, and Sweden. The West - European Department also includes a fine collection of European Sculpture. People come to admire the collections of tapestry, precious textiles, weapons, ivory, pottery, porcelain and furniture as well.
The Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow should be mentioned by all means. This picture gallery was founded by a Russian merchant and a connoisseur of art Pavel Tretyakov in the 19th century. He was especially fond of the works of Peredvizhniki or Wanders- the artists who belonged to the Society of Travelling Art Exhibitions such as Kramskoy, Perov, Ghe and other great Russian painters. The Tretyakov Gallery reflects the whole history of Russian Art. It has a rich collection of early Russian painting including famous icon. The world famous "The Trinity" by Andrey Rublev is exhibited in the gallery.
Speaking about art one should not forget about music, especially classic music. Outstanding Russian composers make the whole world admire their music. One can find a man, who does not know Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Michail Glinka, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov - the prominent composers of 19th century, and Sergey Rachmaninov, Sergey Prokofiev and Dmitriy Shostakovich.
But what is music? Specialists explain that music isn't only a combination of pleasant sounds. It is an art which reflects life. There are a lot of different kinds of music. Some of them appeared long ago, and some are modern. For example, folk music appeared long ago, but it is still alive. There are many local performers, choirs and folk groups. Folk songs are very tuneful and pleasant to listen to. Classical music is often associated with the music of the past. However, this style also includes music being written now, and we may speak of modern classical music. Rap is a modern musical style where the singer speaks or shouts the words in time to music with a steady beat.
Tastes differ. So people's musical interests range from pop and rock music, which are extremely popular nowadays, especially among young people, to classical music and opera. Today pop music is at crossroads. New composers and soloists have appeared. Established styles have been replaced by new ones. Some groups are trying to achieve alloys of different styles. Of course, their songs are not always polished and often contain paradoxical phrases and unusual expressions. But that is probably to be expected from young groups. A readiness to experiment, fervour and sincerity are their hallmark.
It's a pity that many young people like to listen only to modern music. As for me, I also enjoy listening to classical music. I find it tuneful and appealing. Classical music is always a complex of emotions. It gives me delight, pleasure and a sense of happiness. Some pieces of classical music are really wonderful. Not long ago I listened to the First Piano Concerto, composed by Tchaikovsky. When I arrived at the philharmonic, the house was already full. From the programme I learnt that the best musicians were engaged in the performance. I had a good seat in the first row and could have a good view of the stage. From the very first moment I was fascinated by music. The power of Tchaikovsky's music captivated me. The impression was overwhelming.
Belarus is rich also in young talents, too new culture is forming. It will appear on the basis of the old one, but its essence will be new. We can hear new voices in music and poetry, new canvases of modern artists, actors and film directors.
All of them will make their contribution into the world culture and art.
Our family lives in a new block of flats in the suburbs. It is a new nine-storeyed building which is located in a quiet district. We live on the fifth floor. There is a shop on the ground floor. Our flat is large and comfortable. There are four rooms in the flat. It has all modern conveniences: running (cold and hot) water, electricity, gas, a lift, a rubbish chute and telephone.
The flat we live in is really lovely. Though there are four rooms in our flat the living-room we like best because in the evenings we gather here, have tea, watch TV, have a pleasant chat and rest. It is the largest and most comfortable room in our flat. The big window faces the lake. The curtains on the window match the wall-paper and it makes the room lovely. The living-room is well furnished. There are two comfortable armchairs and a sofa, a small coffee-table, a TV-set in the corner of the room, a wall unit and a folding table. There's an antique standard lamp between the sofa and the arm-chair. On the right there is a large aquarium with exotic fishes. On the floor there is a lovely Persian fitted carpet. On the walls you can see two pictures and some bookshelves. There is a nice modern chandelier on the ceiling.
We have two bedrooms: one is for our parents and another one is for children. Our bedrooms are a bit smaller than the living-room and not so light. The bedrooms' windows are also smaller. They look out onto the yard. In my parents' room there is a double-bed, two bedside tables, a built-in wardrobe and some pictures on the walls. An alarm-clock and a small lamp with a pink lamp-shade are on the bedside table. At the opposite wall there is a dressing-table with a dressing stool near it.
My bedroom serves me as a study, too. There isn't much furniture in it. Here you can see a single bed, a desk with a computer on it. A desk- armchair is standing before it. There are thick blinds on the window. There are books on the shelves all round the walls of the room. In the right-hand corner there is a bookcase full of many books. Among them you can find classical and contemporary literature, detective and historical novels, lyric poems, professional and technical literature. A small table with a TV-set is standing in the left-hand corner.
The kitchen is the most important room in many houses, but it is particularly so in our house because it's not only where we cook and eat but it's also the main meeting place for family and friends. The kitchen is conveniently arranged. Here you can see a kitchen table, four stools, a cupboard for dishes, a fridge and a number of shelves for pans, frying-pans and other kitchen utensils. The gas stove is opposite the entrance door. We also have a dish washer and a microwave oven.
Then we have a bathroom. In it there is a bath with a shower and a wash basin with a mirror over it. To the right of the mirror there is a towel-rail, to the left of it there is a shelf to keep tooth-brushes, tooth-paste and soap on. The washing machine is also here.
The hall is not very large. There is a hall-stand, a wardrobe, a round mirror on the wall and a shag rug on the floor in front of the door. The telephone is on the small table under the mirror.
We try to do our best to keep our flat tidy, cosy and comfortable.
The house of my dreams
I think that everybody has imagined his dream house. Very few of us have such an opportunity to live in a house of their dreams. Sometimes I really feel bored with living in the block of flats because there isn't much space, we must get on well with our neighbours. For me, my home is the place where I can do what I want, feel safe, relax and enjoy spending my time with my family. If everyone could choose the house where he would like to live, I'm sure, it would be very different houses because we have different tastes, needs, and preferences.
Some day I would like to live in my own house, on the outskirts. There wouldn't be many houses in the neighbourhood, the place would be very calm and the landscape very picturesque. The house would be very beautiful, made of wood. It shouldn't be very big and not high. Near this house there would be a small forest and a lake or a river. There would also be a beautiful and big garden near my house, where I would plant a lot of different flowers. The forest, lake and the garden would make this house very attractive and beautiful. There would be about eight rooms in my house. First of all, there would be a modern kitchen, a big living room, decorated traditionally. I would like to have a small library full of interesting books in my house. Of course, I would have my bedroom with a magnificent view through the window. I would like to see something very beautiful like a forest, lake or river.
That's the description of the house of my dreams. I hope that some day I will be able to afford myself to live in a house like this.
In my opinion the most beautiful season in Europe is spring. In May the weather is finest, and all nature is loveliest. The trees put forth little buds and new leaves: the meadows grow green again. The first spring flowers snowdrops, primroses make their appearance. The sky is blue, the sun is bright and the air is fragrant with the sweet scent of lilacs and jasmine.
The trees break into blossom, the flowers begin to bloom, the busy bees are at work. The first birds, rooks and starlings build their nests, and every morning there is loud singing of the nightingales in the trees.
I like summer, in fact I prefer it to any other season. In June the trees, the flowers are in full blossom, I like "Leafy June", "the Month of Roses". A sweet smell rises from the blooming roses, daisies and green grass. A warm soft breeze stirs the leaves of birch-trees. How beautiful are the fields around! The wheat is golden, the grass is green.
If the heat gets too oppressive, we enjoy bathing in the river. What a pleasure it is to lie on the sandy beach and get suntanned or splash in the water and swim. August is the very crown and perfection of summer. The hot sun ripens the corn and the fruit, and the collective farmers get ready for the harvest. There are plenty of strawberries, cherries, gooseberries, raspberries, blackberries, plums, apricots, peaches which are ripe and afford a treat for old and young.
And what pleasure can be compared with that of watching the glorious sunrise and sunset! It's a real delight! Strange as it may seem, I like autumn. Is there anything more beautiful than Indian Summer! Nature looks beautiful then. The golden trees change their colour from green to dark brown and bright yellow. It is usually cool and sunny. In rainy weather there's nothing more pleasant for me than to sit comfortably in my armchair and read a book.
When autumn is over, winter sets in. It is the season of snowstorms and ice, of frozen rivers and ponds, and of slippery streets, but I don't mind it all. I enjoy skating on the ice, or skiing in the woods. In snowy weather tobogganing is my favourite pastime. Then think of the joy of the children. At the first snowfall they are out making snowmen, building snowhuts, and playing snowballs of course. If the winter is severe, one must take care not to get snow-bitten. To me, winter has its own peculiar beauty, and there's no reason to feel bored when there is such a lot of books, theatres, cinemas and concerts.
Every aspect of Nature reflects changes in the atmosphere which govern climatic conditions. Insects, frogs, bats, bees, butterflies, birds and animals by their appearance, mood or movements indicated the weather that could be expected in the day or weeks ahead.
Some animals are good weather indicators. On winter evenings when the fox is heard crying in the distance a heavy fall of snow is forthcoming. The hedgehog seen, slowly and laboriously moving on paths or gardens in early autumn, is a sign of a period of good sunny weather. In autumn, when the badger is seen making his sett and leaves and branches are strewn at its opening, an early winter is to be expected.
Our feathered friends are most sensitive to those changes, and people who study them minutely can foretell changes in weather conditions. The robin, sparrow or finch seen washing and preening their feathers in a pool of water are a sign of fine weather. If wagtails can be seen fluttering about street or farmyard, heavy rain may be expected. The magpies, for instance, when they gather together and chatter loudly presage storm and rain. In late winter or early spring the gulls flying inland are a sign of a bad season. Swallows arriving early are a sign of a good summer. When swallows fly low, rain is imminent. If they migrate in early autumn, an early winter with harsh conditions can be expected.
Insects, slugs, butterflies, bees and frogs are also sensitive to changes of weather.
Ants, known as flying ants, when seen flying in multitudes and settling on window-sills, railings, ledges, or even on roofs and bonnets of cars, are a sure sign of approaching rain. A sting from a flying ant can be very painful, and, the more painful it is, the nearer the rain.
Spiders, patiently threading their webs outside doors and windows presage bad weather, but, when they weave their webs on tops of rushes or whin bushes in early spring, good weather is on the way.
Our domestic animals, although not regarded by humans as being over burdened with brains, understand climatic conditions much better than we do. The dog eating grass is a sign of a change in the weather. The cat is very wise in forecasting the weather. If she sits with her back to the fire, cold weather with frost is imminent. If she sits at the fire washing her face with her paw, rain is approaching, but when seen washing behind and over her ears with her paw, floods are on the way. If the cat is seen clawing at the legs of chairs or door posts, high winds are forthcoming, and, that is a sign that fishermen took very seriously. If the horse is perceived heading up the hill in late evening, good weather is not far off, but if he grazes near the farmhouse, and occasionally looks over the stile, bad weather can be expected.
Trees or shrubs beginning to sprout at the end of March or early April are a sign of a good summer on the way. Early growth of grass in February or early March is a bad sign for the remainder of the spring. A heavy crop of holly berries on the holly, or rowan tree, or innumerable haws on the hawthorn predicts a severe winter with hard frost and heavy snowfalls.
Learning a foreign language
Learning a foreign language takes time and dedication. The reasons below may help to convince you to take the plunge, if such persuasion is needed. Some reasons are practical, some intellectual and others sentimental, but whatever your reasons, having a clear idea of why you're learning a language can help to motivate you in your studies.
If your work involves regular contact with speakers of foreign languages, being able to talk to them in their own languages will help you to communicate with them. It may also help you to make sales and to negotiate and secure contracts. Knowledge of foreign languages may also increase your chances of finding a new job, getting a promotion or a transfer overseas, or of going on foreign business trips.
You may find that information about subjects you're interested in is published mainly in a foreign language. Learning that language will give you access to the material and enable you to communicate with fellow students and researchers in the field.
Maybe you're interested in the literature, poetry, films, TV programs, music or some other aspect of the culture of people who speak a particular language and want to learn their language in order to gain a better understanding of their culture.
Most people in the world are multilingual, and everybody could be; no one is rigorously excluded from another's language community except through lack of time and effort. Different languages protect and nourish the growth of different cultures, where different pathways of human knowledge can be discovered. They certainly make life richer for those who know more than one of them.
Sometimes learning a foreign language helps you understand your own language and culture better through comparison, or through the relationship between the foreign language and your mother tongue.
Language is an aspect of humanity, and learning what a fellow human speaks teaches you more about humankind as a whole. The more languages you know, the more you understand our species, and that is beneficial no matter what the situation is.
Language influences culture, so learning a language helps you to understand how other people think, and it also helps you to get a general understanding of our world and the many people and cultures that inhabit it.
My reasons for learning foreign languages is because I just love to do it, it's all the different ways people express themselves, and it shows that there really are other people out there. It's also a way to learn how people interact and socialize with each other, and how each society works. Learning languages to me is much more than making myself able to communicate with others. To me it's like getting some nice new surprise and a whole new level of understanding.
Learning a foreign language is not a matter of reading some grammar rules and memorizing some vocabulary words - although those are important activities, not to be ignored. Acquiring a language is learning a skill, not a body of information. It's as much like learning to swim or ride a bike as it is like learning about the Revolutionary War. That is, you must not only understand the ideas and concepts, have information at hand, but you must also make your body accustomed to using that information in physical activity: in this case the physical activity involved is speaking, listening, writing and reading.
The most difficult thing for a person who learns a foreign language is that a foreign language is very different from his own. A person's native language has a powerful influence on him, as he has been speaking his language since before he can remember. Under such circumstances it is natural that a person has the feeling that his language is the most beautiful, the most perfect, the most logic of most languages. Therefore the first thing that one must learn as he begins to study a foreign language is that each language is the best possible language for the people who use it.
There are some other things which have to be accepted in order to learn a language successfully. The most important for these is that learning a foreign language requires constant practice. You must not think that if you have seen or heard a word or phrase one time or even five times, you really know how to use it. You must be ready to repeat new words again and again until you can really use them automatically without having to think about them. Some people have the idea that if they memorize long lists of vocabulary they will learn the language. Learning a language is much more than that. In the early stages of studying a language we must learn more important things such as pronunciation and grammar. After you can use grammatical structures, you can enrich your vocabulary. Learning new vocabulary without knowing the grammatical structures of the language is something like when you try to build a house without a plan.
And the most important thing of all in learning a foreign language is patience. If you keep working steadily, day after day, constantly practicing the language and using it as every opportunity, you are sure to learn to speak a language well.
Belarus is my homeland. It is the place where I was born. Officially it is called the Republic of Belarus, a sovereign independent state with its own government, constitution, state emblem, flag and anthem. Belarus is a member-state of the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) and one of the UN (United Nations) founder-members.
Belarus is situated nearly in the centre of Europe in the extreme western part of the East-European Plain within the basins of the Dnieper, the Western Dvina and the Upper Neman. It borders on Poland in the west, the Baltic States -- Lithuania and Latvia -- in the north-west, on Russia in the north and east, on the Ukraine in the south.
Belarus stretches for 560 kilometres from south to north and for 650 kilometres from east to west. It occupies the territory of 207.6 thousand square kilometres. It is much larger than such countries as Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, Portugal, Czechia and Slovakia. Its present-day population is about 10.3 mln people: 78% of Belarusians, 12% of Russians, 4% of Poles and 2% of Ukrainians. 68% of the population live in towns and cities. The largest of which are Minsk, Gomel, Vitebsk, Mogilev, Grodno and Brest.
Belarus is situated on a rolling plain rising to hills, the highest of which is MtDzerzhinskaya reaching 350 metres above sea level.
There are more than 3,000 rivers in Belarus. Seven of them are more than 500 kilometres long each. They are the Dnieper, Neman, Western Dvina, Prypiat, Berezina, Sozh and Vilia.
Belarus is a lake-country. There are about 10,800 lakes here. The lakes are particularly numerous in the north. The largest is Lake Naroch -- 80 square kilometres. The lakes are noted for their great depth, transparent water and beautiful scenery.
A third of Belarus is under forest. The largest forests are called pushchas. The Byelovezhskaya Pushcha is famous for its aurochs (European bisons). Fauna is rich and diverse there: one can see elks and deer, wild boars and wolves, bears and foxes, beavers and lynxes, not mentioning myriads of birds.
Forests, pinewoods, mighty oak groves, birch groves and all sorts of other mixed forest formations are the charm, wealth and pride of our homeland.
Belarus is situated in the Temperate Zone of 200--500 kilometres away from the Baltic Sea. The climate of Belarus varies from maritime to continental due to a strong influence of the maritime air of the Atlantic. This results in temperate and mild climate.
The territory of Belarus is divided into 6 regions: Brest, Vitebsk, Gomel, Grodno, Minsk, and Mogilev. The capital of Belarus is Minsk with a population of over 1.5 mln people.
History of belarus
Belarus is a unique country. Its history is a little-known page in the world history. More over the Belarusians know the history of their Motherland not better than their neighbours do. But they can be proud of their past, culture and art.
Man came to these lands in the middle Palaeolithic times. But it was only in the middle of the first millennium that Slavs settled here. East-Slav tribes of Krivichi, Dregovichi and Radimichi were the Belarusian people's ancestors. They settled around the Polota (a Western Dvina tributary) and were later named Polotchane. They had formed local principalities, such as those of Pinsk, Turov, Polotsk, Slutsk and Minsk by the 8thto 9th century. These all came under the general suzerainty of Kievan Rus, the first East Slavic State, beginning in the mid-9th century.
They took up honey collecting, fur hunting and agriculture. Trade developed as the Dieper was part of the «water road» from Constantinople via Kiev and Novgorod to the Baltic Sea. Trading settlements multiplied and many towns of the present-day Belarus were founded by the end of the 12th century. Polotsk and Turov first appeared in historical documents in 862 and 980 respectively, Brest -- 1017, Minsk in 1067.
The geographical position of the country, the development of trade attracted Dutch herring-salters, Muscovite trappers, Jewish financiers, Hungarian wine-merchants, Turkish spicers, Tatar tanners and Chinese silkmen who bought in exchange furs, dried fish, salt, linen, sailcloth, ropes, timber, tar and foodstuffs. These international contacts influenced the most distinctive features of the Belarusian national character -- tolerance and hospitality.
The advantageous geographical position -- on the cross-roads from east to west and from north to south -- more than once turned into disadvantage. Belarus was the arena of many wars, invasions and aggressions. In the 11th century the Tatar-Mongols attacked Polotsk and Turov principalities in the east and south. In the 13th century the Crusaders invaded Belarus from the west. Sweden conquered the north of Belarus. Belarus was devastated by Russian-Polish wars (16--18th centuries), the Napoleon invasion (1812), World War I (1914--1918), the Soviet-Polish war which ended with Western Belarus ceded to Poland and the World War II and Nazi occupation (1941-- 1944), the longest and the greatest fighting for freedom and independence during which Belarus lost every fourth citizen. All these tragic events slowed down but didn't stop the development of the nation. Though Belarasians belong to the East Slavic ethnic group there is a strong mixture of Baltic and Scandinavian elements in their racial, linguistic and cultural background. Belarus was part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (14th century), Poland and the Russian Empire (18th century). It was a backward province where 80% of the population were illiterate. People suffered from many diseases and there was only one doctor per 7,000 patients.
The life changed for the better at the beginning of the 20th century. On January 1,1919 the Declaration on the formation of the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic was adopted. In December 1922 it joined the Union of the Soviet Socialist
Republics (the USSR) as one of its founders. On the disintegration of the USSR, Belarus proclaimed its sovereignty on July 27,1990. In December 1991 it was one of the three Slavic republics of the former USSR to form the CIS (the Commonwealth of Independent States) with the headquarters in Minsk.
Nowadays Belarus is a country of developed industry, agriculture, science and culture. Belarusian industry produces heavy-duty trucks and tractors, large-capacity dump tracks, refrigerators, TV sets, fertilisers, meat and dairy products. They make its chief exports. Timber processing, furniture making, match and papermaking, textile and clothing manufacture, food processing are the main industries for local consumption.
Most of the country has mixed crop and livestock farming with a strong emphasis on flax growing. Grain, chiefly barley, rye, oats, and potatoes are the main field crops, a large percentage of which is used for animal feed. Cattle and pig raising are also important.
Belarus is a country of well-developed science, culture and education. There is an Academy of Sciences, 37 higher educational establishments, and a lot of theatres, museums, and art galleries there.
The long history has taught Belarusians to overcome difficulties. Today they are optimistic because their historical experience makes them sure they will do their best to preserve their unique culture, language and revive industry and agriculture. But they are anxious about the future of their children after the Chernobyl catastrophe, 1986. And still they hope for the best.
Superstition is a traditional belief that a certain action or event can cause or foretell an apparently unrelated event. For example, some superstitious people believe that carrying a rabbit's foot will bring them good luck. Others believe that if a black cat crosses their path, they will have bad luck. To yet other superstitious people, dropping a knife or a fork on the floor means company is coming. Such beliefs are superstitions because in each case the action and the event it foretells are traditionally thought to be connected. For instance, the rabbit's foot is associated with fertility.
Superstitions have existed in every human society throughout history. Most people, including highly educated individuals, act superstitiously from time to time. Many persons may joke about avoiding bad luck by touching wood or not walking under a ladder. But they have such beliefs anyway. Scholars once believed that all superstitions dated back to humanity's early history. But many superstitions have appeared in relatively recent times.
Countless human activities are involved in superstitions. They include eating, sleeping, working, playing, getting married, having a baby, becoming ill, and dying. Times of danger and uncertainty have brought many superstitions. Superstitions concern animals, clothing, lakes, mountains, names, numbers, the planets and arts, the weather, and parts of the body.
Kinds of superstitions. Many superstitions deal with important events in a person's life, such as birth, entering adulthood, marriage, pregnancy, and death. Such superstitions supposedly ensure that a person will pass from one stage of life to the next. For example, a person born on Sunday will always have good luck. A bride and groom will have bad luck if they see each other on their wedding day before the ceremony. A pregnant woman must eat the right food, or she will give her child an unwanted birthmark. After a person dies, the doors and windows of the room should be opened so the spirit can leave.
Some superstitions involve a type of magic. One form of such magic comes from the belief that similar actions produce similar results. Many people believe a newborn baby must be carried upstairs before being carried downstairs. In this way, the child will be assured of rising in the world and having success. The same principle appears in the custom of putting money in a purse or wallet being given as a gift. The giver wants to make sure the purse or wallet will always contain money.
A number of superstitions involve someone's taking a deliberate action to cause something to happen or to prevent something from occurring. Most of these causal superstitions involve ensuring good luck, avoiding bad luck, or making something good happen. For example, some people will not start a trip on a Friday, especially if it is the 13th day of the month. Friday and the number 13 are both associated with bad luck. Such superstitions vary from country to country. According to a Japanese belief, the number 4 is unlucky. This is because shi, the Japanese word for that number, sounds like the Japanese word that means death. As a result, many buildings in Japan have no fourth floor According to another superstition, wedding guests throw rice at the newlyweds to ensure that the marriage will result in many children. Causal superstitions may involve actions intended to give bad luck to someone. Witches supposedly perform some of these actions.
Other superstitions foretell an event without any conscious action by the person involved. Some of these sign superstitions foretell good or bad luck. For example, finding a horseshoe or a four-leaf clover means good luck. Breaking a mirror or spilling salt brings bad luck. Other sign superstitions foretell a certain event or condition. A ring around the moon means rain will soon fall. A howling dog means death is near. A person with red hair has a quick temper.
Some sign superstitions may be changed into causal superstitions. If a person hangs a horseshoe over a door, witches cannot enter. If a young woman pins a four-leaf clover to her door, she will marry the first bachelor who comes in the door. In some cases, a person may avoid the bad luck involved in a sign superstition by taking immediate action. For example, someone who has spilled salt may cancel the bad luck by throwing a pinch of salt over the left shoulder.
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