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).

Рубрика Иностранные языки и языкознание
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Язык английский
Дата добавления 31.10.2010
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The role of superstitions. Many people scoff at superstitions because they consider such beliefs to be unscientific. However, many scholars believe that some superstitions have a scientific basis. For example, people in England once used tea made from foxglove plants to treat some forms of heart disease. Today, doctors often prescribe digitalis, a drug made from dried leaves of the purple foxglove, for patients with weak hearts.

Most people have fears that make them insecure. Superstitions help overcome such fears by providing security. They reassure people that they will get what they want and avoid trouble. For example, millions of people believe in astrology and base important decisions on the position of the sun, moon, planets and stars. Superstitions will probably have a part in life as long as people fear each other and have uncertainties about the future.

Superstitions are related to amulet, augur, birthstone, Blarney stone, divination, evil eye, exorcism, fetish, fortunetelling, Friday, ghost, magic, mental illness, moon, necromancy, occultism, omen, palmistry, vampire, voodoo, witchcraft.

Good Luck Lucky to meet a black cat. Black Cats are featured on many good luck greetings cards and birthday cards in England.

Lucky to touch wood . Lucky to find a clover plant with four leaves. A horseshoe over the door brings good luck. But the horse shoe needs to be the right way up. The luck runs out of the horse shoe if it is upside.

Describing people (character, personality)

What characteristics do you consider to be more attractive and less attractive in terms of intellectual ability? There's no secret about the fact that every person has their merits (strengthens and weaknesses) and what pleasure it is to be friends with someone whose positive traits of character dominate. On the one hand, contacting with a person alike is always interesting and fascinating, on the other hand it makes you strive for the ideal, to develop your own character so as to adjust to your friend.

A broad-minded personality, intelligent and well-read will undoubtedly attract anyone. Interlocution with them promises to enrich you spiritually, to broaden your knowledge. And an ill-read, unreasonable, shallow man or woman, on the contrary is hardly able to produce a good impression on you. Though in fact I consider innate qualities of a man to be of importance in comparison with intellectual abilities. A heart-to-heart talk, a friendly conversation with a cheerful, amiable but at the same time serious & rational person makes you forget about troubles, to escape the boredom of life, to sooth the pain. I consider more attractive such characteristics as faithfulness, gentleness, honesty, flexibility, politeness, responsibility. Those of a hypocritical, cruel, false, vigorous nature are more likely to repel and less likely to come in contact with someone. As for attitudes towards life: easy-going, light-minded people are considered to be less reliable.

What qualities do you think are needed in a good friend? In fact I consider it to be a sort of philosophical problem. I agree with the idea that a good friend is one ready to sacrifice his well-being for happiness of a close person. I appreciate such qualities as warm-heartedness, sense of humour, enthusiasm, ability of being in high spirits.

How do you think your character has changed over the past 5 years? In fact the five years of my life has been the most interesting. And I think that my character has changed and I hope for the best, though it's evidently not up to me to judge. When graduates we're supposed to be well-read, intelligent and broad-minded. And it is a step towards a further perfection of intelligent abilities. It goes without saying and is beyond all doubts that the 5-year period left a great imprint on our characters, on us as personalities & certainly as professionals. Teachers are supposed to be calm, persistent, strong-willed, fearless, courageous to be able to influence positively on pupils' development.

Are there any aspects of your character you still don't like? Though over the past 5 years I've achieved a certain success, positive results in the sphere of acquiring the skills, abilities & qualities required of a teacher & of an ordinary man, representative of any profession still I admit that some of them need to be perfected. Sometimes I fly into extremes, either too bold or too hesitant, either cautious or too rash. It's also characteristic of me to be shy.

I'd also like to say that societies change over the time. Many things that are often regarded as typically British or typically Belorussian derive from books, songs, or plays which were written in a long time ago. Some words about British character. Who will feel a doubt that the English are materialistic people. The English gave to the world a generous account of mystics, poets, idealists. Being people of colonists they show a passionate devotion to their own country, to their own house. Being tireless seamen & explorers, at the same time they are passionate gardeners.

Their intellectual curiosity allowed them to get acquainted with the best of what other countries possess, and yet they stayed faithful to their own. Admiring the French cuisine, the English didn't start to imitate it at the country. Being an amazingly devoted to the law, they adore reading about crime & violence.


Regardless of how you view food, you need it to live. You need the right kinds of food, in the right amounts to have a healthy life. Your needs for different kinds of food change as you grow and mature. Everybody knows, that food is at the centre of our important activities. Consider all celebrations where food is important: weddings, birthdays, national holidays, etc. Food is the great ice-breaker when people meet for pleasure or business. But have you ever stopped to really think what you and your family eats every day and why? Have you ever stopped to think what other people eat? No doubt, that eating habits differ from country to country. Some people eat such things as snakes, dog meat, horse meat, eyes and insects of all sorts. Often the differences among cultures in the foods are related to the differences in geography and local resources. People who live near water tend to eat more fish; in colder climates-heavier, fatty foods. However with the development of global economy food boundaries are beginning to disappear. McDonalds is now on every continent except Antarctica, and yogurt is served all over the world. Besides throughout history food has been used as a symbol of wealth or gratitude or to demonstrate position and power. In some cultures eating lavish and exotic meals is a sign of wealth and power. In some cultures the offer of a glass of water is the greatest compliment or honour one can receive. In some cultures whenever you receive a guest whatever for business or pleasure you must offer smth to eat or drink - the more lavish the offering signifies the amount of respect or honor you give that person. For centuries food has been a key element in religious rituals. Food was used as offerings to the gods. Its common knowledge that the right types and kinds of foods the body needs to grow, develop and stay healthy. Eating the right food every day not only nourishes our bodies, but it also nourishes our spirits, our creativity, thinking and our language with other people.

Customs, celebrations and holidays

There are only a few customs kept by general public in the USA. There are some days dedicated to important persons of the past in American calendar: Martin Luther King's day, Lincoln's birthday or Washington's birthday. Easter is not a national holiday and most of Americans spend Easter Sunday with the family. Like Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny - usually a person dressed up in a large, colorful rabbit suit - brings gifts of brightly colored eggs, candy and chocolate eggs and rabbits to children. Then comes Mother's and Father's day - days dedicated to our parents because they really worth it. Between these two days is Memorial Day celebrated. It honours Americans killed in all past wars and most recently all the death. Flowers and flags are replaced on the graves of the war-death. Quite antagonistic is Independence day. It is the national birthday. There are parades, band concerts, speeches by public officials, and fireworks displays in the evenings. Labour Day, Columbus day, Veteran's day and Halloween is followed.

Thanksgiving day: The thanks were not only for the bountiful food, but also for the help of teaching them how to plant, hunt, fish, and then cook foods that were strange and unknown to them. It became a national American holiday many years later. Nowadays it is celebrated by a traditional dinner which main course is roast turkey.

Christmas: Every year on Christmas eve, the American President turns on the lights of the huge Christmas tree situated near the White house. Around the Christmas season churches, various organizations, and newspapers ask for donations of money and food for the needy, In the USA Christmas are not a family holiday, families invite friends to join them at dinner and often have give parties at Christmas-time.

In England Christmas is the most widely celebrated festival. It's the most colourful and merry holiday. Christmas meal is really traditional: stuffed turkey, boiled ham, mashed potatoes to be followed by plum pudding, mince pies, tea or coffee and cakes. St. Valentine's Day is celebrated on 14th of February. Easter is a time when certain traditions are observed. Easter eggs always grace breakfast tables on Easter Day.

Ways of learning. Learning styles

Are men and women thought processes different? The latest findings add weight to a theory that has confounded the equal opportunities. It proposes that men's and women's thought processes are fundamentally different. A catalogue of studies now strongly suggests that while there is no actual difference in male and female levels of intelligence, the sexes have markedly different patterns of ability and perception. Numerous scientists have now come to the conclusion that men are more decisive, aggressive and driven by money and status than women. They are also believeвы to tend to be more mechanically minded, better at targeting objects and better at activities which require spatial reasoning - such as playing with Rubik cubes. Women, on the other hand, are thought to have greater verbal fluency than men, though the sexes have equal vocabularies. They prefer amicable solutions to problems and perform better in non-competitive situations. They also outperform men in arithmetic calculation, can store more random info, and are far better than men at identifying matching items in a hurry. The reason for the difference is thought to be largely due to levels of the hormone testosterone in both men and women.

Scientific evidence from all over the world supports the belief - including research with a group of women born with a rare genetic abnormality which caused them to produce elevated levels of hormone. They were found to have developed skills traditionally thought of as “male”, and had entered fields such as architecture, maths, mechanics. It seems hormones create a mental divide between men and women even before teenage years. Some researches have come down heavily in favour of the theory that babies are born with mental gender differences - because sex hormones have affected the brain as it develops in the womb. It has been fashionable to insist that any differences in the intellectual thought processes of the sexes are only minimal and the result of different experiences during the development of a child. But the bulk of evidence now indicates that sex hormones take effect so early on life that from the very start the environment is acting on differently wired brains in girls and boys. For example three-year-old boys are better at targeting objects than girls of the same age. Studies show that major differences in the intellectual function appear to lie in patterns of ability rather than in the overall level of intelligence.

Does success in studying depend on how clever you are or on your organization of time?

As for me I think that a great deal of my success depends on my organization of time. The important thing is to find out what's right for you. You should ask yourself: am I a morning person or an evening person and for how long can I concentrate? Do I work best in my room or in the library and what conditions do I need? You may work with a bit of music or may need perfect quiet. Working a nine-to-five day - filling in the chunks of time between lectures - suits some people, but others prefer working early in the morning. Effective reading is the key to success to both essay writing and exam performance and it starts with identifying clearly the question you are trying to answer. You need to find the most relevant books; then read selectively with the question on mind, picking out key passages, taking down notes and quotations.

In lectures it helps to develop an abbreviated style of note-taking. You should record the most important points. It may also reinforce your understanding and memory of the lecture, if you go through the notes after each lecture, underlining key points and making summaries.

There is a difference between surface-level learning and deeper-level learning. The surface-level learning is absorbing and retaining detail and being able to reproduce it later, deeper-level learning involves engaging with fundamentals principles and adjusting your own beliefs accordingly. Deeper-level student do well both in coursework and exams and surface-level student could do well in exams if they were good at cue spotting.

When studying it's very important to choose how to approach our own learning and development, to understand whether we are a sort of people who like to take time to study or whether we like to get our own teeth into things, put the learning into practice straight away and assimilate knowledge by seeing how it works. Scientists distinguish 4 categories of learners. They are: activist, reflector, pragmatist and theorist, which correspond to 4 learning processes- activist-concrete experience (activist), reflector-observing and reflection, reviewing the experience (reflector), therist-forming abstract concepts (or concluding of experience) theorist, pragmatist-testing in new situations or planning the new steps which is a favourite pastime of pragmatists.

I consider point 4 to be my strongest point because I'm fond of trying new ideas to see if they will work not fearing to fail. I like doing things, having a concrete experience.

Radio and television

Beyond all doubts, TV and radio play an important role in our society, though the former, undoubtedly, fold the first place. “A picture speaks louder than a hundred words”. TV is a view into the world. It provides us not only with information but also with vivid visual examples which go faster to the mind than just auditory perception. That's the main advantage that TV has over radio. For decades we have seen many parts of our world rapidly going through changes in technology. Today's society has been transformed by means of communication and the available information through mass media. Most people rely on television for news, sports, and entertainment. Television is just one of the many examples of how technology has changed our lives. Since the invention of the television at the beginning of the 20th century, it has played a very important role in our lives. Having a television set at home has become very essential in today's society. We depend on it to entertain us with its sitcoms and to inform us about current world issues. The problem is that sometimes what we hear or see on television is not always accurate or correct. Sometimes news stones give us the wrong information and we believe that it is true because it is being said on television. They may give you a story, but they may leave out some details to prove their point or to make the story more interesting.

TV is powerful enough to make our shopping easier. Actually, it is making us lazier by making shopping as easy as dialing some numbers on a touch tone phone. People are also convinced to buy a certain product because a celebrity is presenting it. For example: if supermodel Cindy Crawford presents make-up, ladies will buy it and wear it because they believe that it will make them look like her. As a television viewer myself, I believe that television has us all trapped in a world where we believe everything that is being said.

The most common genres are commercials, news programs, situation comedies, soap operas, documentaries, sports shows, talk shows, action adventure programs, detective shows, science fiction shows, hospital dramas, and westerns.

The choice of program to watch depends on my mood. Commonly I prefer musical programmes which make me feel release and escape the boredom of everyday life.

The main reason why people watch TV is entertainment. When you don't have anything better to do, you just turn on your TV set and sail away where everything is different. You can rest from everything and everyone.

In the decade of crisis news is the most important segment of TV program. Politics, economy, events in the country and abroad, cultural events, sports and weather forecast are the plot of the news shows. That is, news covers everything which is significant for everyday life. Digested stories about the events in country and abroad make them inevitable.

Soups are also popular especially among women. Unlike soap operas, sport is a program segment connected with males.

Sports and games

People all over the world are fond of sports and games. That is one of the things in which people of every nationality and class are united. All kinds of physical exercises are very useful to make our bodies strong enough to keep ourselves fit and healthy. The most popular outdoor winter sports are shooting, hunting, hockey, in the countries where the weather is frosty and there is much snow -- skating, skiing and tobogganing. Some people greatly enjoy figure-skating and ski-jumping. It's so nice to go to the skating-rink or to the forest on a frosty sunny day.

Summer affords excellent opportunities for swimming, boating, yachting, cycling, gliding and many other sports. Among outdoor games football takes the first place in public interest; this game is played in all countries of the world. The other games that have firmly established themselves in favour in different countries are golf, lawn tennis, cricket, volleyball, basketball, and so on. Badminton is also very popular.

All the year round many people indulge in boxing, wrestling, athletics, gymnastics and track and field events. Scores of young girls and women go in for calisthenics. Over the last few years aerobics has become popular with young girls, it helps them to be slim, healthy and strong. The founder of this kind of sport was a well-known American actress Jane Fonda. Being a great enthusiast of aerobics she has been trying to initiate many young women all over the world into this sport.

Among indoor games the most popular are billiards, table-tennis, draughts and some others, but the great international game is chess, of course. The results of chess tournaments are studied and discussed by thousands of enthusiasts in different countries. So we may say that sport is one of the things that makes people kin. To cut the long story short, I should admit that everyone must do all he can to be healthy. Physically inactive people get old earlier than those who have plenty of exercises. If you do daily exercises you feel refreshed, have a good posture, and that makes you feel good. I can add that good health is better than the best medicine.

What concerns me, I like sport very much. I am interested in different kinds of sport, but my favourite is figure skating and gymnastics.

It's common knowledge that it's necessary for people of all ages to go in for sport because it keeps everyone fit. Going in for sport prevents from different illness and improves physical fitness. Of course it develops the strength of the body and character. It trains our skills and willpower. Finally sport makes our life more interesting and useful.

Violance. I'd like to mention that there are extremely dangerous sports such as boxing, which is a killer itself. I can't understand those spectators who come to see how one of the participants was knocked out at heavyweight. I can't understand those who come to see the murdering. I think such people are deprived of humanity. I think such kinds of sports should be banned in order not to lose our human face.

In our time, life is not so interesting and exciting as it can be. The world has become a bland and safe place. Each day is like another and we are so tired of such life. People in the past used to risk their life by hunting animals, taking part in expeditions. We need some extreme to feel that our life is going forward. Risk sports become the fastest-growing leisure activities. More and more people try anything from organized bungee jumping to illegally jumping off buildings. And people never feel so alive as when they are risking their life. The real thrill-seekers in their quest for the ultimate sensation are thinking up more and more elaborate sports. There are other opinions about why some people choose risk sports, whereas others in that time sit at home doing whatever they want. Some say that people who do risk sports are reacting against a society, which they feel has become dull and constricting. In other words people now turn to risk sports as an escape from all boring things in their life. Moreover risk sports help to overcome fears that affect us in reality. It's very important for people who work a lot and cannot cope when things go wrong, which mean that they can't control the situation. People invented a lot of possibilities to make their life more interesting and exiting. Now you can try everything: 'zip wiring', which involves sliding down a rope from the top of cliff suspended by a pulley attached to your ankle, bungee jumping and other. But of all the risk or adrenaline sports, bungee jumping is the most popular. Worldwide, one-and-a-half million people have tried it. You hurtle towards the ground from 200 metres up and, at the last moment, when you are about to hit the water or land and death seems certain, a rubber band yanks you back to life. You can decide whether to jump from a crane, a bridge or a balloon. Attached to a length of elastic rope, jumpers experience a free fall of nearly 100mph, before they're slowed by a quickly increasing pull on their ankles. After five or six bounces jumpers are lowered on to a mattress and set free. Almost inarticulate, they walk around with idiotic grins on their faces. Their hands can't stop shaking, they can only use superlatives and say repeatedly how amazing it was. You feel as if you're floating the air.

Books and reading

Reading plays a very important role in the life of people. It educates a person, enriches his intellect. Books help to mould a person's character, from his moral values. Besides, books bring pleasure and delight. It's a wonderful way of spending spare time. Sometimes we read the same book again and again. Thanks to books we learn to express our thoughts and feelings more exactly. The book is faithful and understanding friend. It can be put aside and taken up again at any moment. There are books which have been our favorites since childhood. People are fond of reading different kinds of books. Some people enjoy reading detective stories, adventure stories, novels, biographies, other prefer classics. Fairy tales are enjoyed and read by children, books about adventures and journeys are enjoyed by those who are fond of travelling. Legends and myths are read by those who are fond of history. Some people devoted much time to reading books and reading has become their free time occupation, their passion. Through out the centuries books had an enormous influence on the minds and hearts of people. Books bind together ages, personalities. Thanks to books we can talk to people who lived in different countries and ages. Through reading books we hear their voices, thoughts and feelings. The book is the surest way to bring nations together. It helps people achieve understanding, trust, cooperation and friendship. Books awaken the young reader's imagination. They develop literary taste; arouse interest and curiosity, the reader's laugher as well as his tears. They teach the readers to be truthful, friendly, honest decisive, frank, firm, fair and serious.

A Treasure Home of information is libraries. Libraries play an important part in the cultural development of people. People like reading, they have a desire to learn, they seek knowledge. Books sat this desire. There are a lot of books in our country, in our flats. But it is difficult to buy all the books which we want to read. That is why we get books in public libraries. Books shouldn't be read only for pleasure. Reading books helps us in our education. We can find all kinds of books in the libraries. Books offer romance history adventure, autobiographies, science fiction and humor in the form of shot stories and novels, poetry, prose and plays as well as reference books, encyclopedias, dictionaries and so on. In some libraries we can find books in many foreign languages. When a reader comes to a library for the first time he fills in a library card and the librarian helps to chose something to read. The reader is allowed to borrow books for a certain number of days. The catalogues help the reader to find the books and not damage them in any way. We should not make notes in library books or dog's ears in the pages. The reading rooms in the public libraries are open to all who wish to work there. We can get periodical newspapers files and magazines to read there. Readers come to the reading rooms to study and prepare materials for their reports or for their scientific work. Every school in our country has a library. A school library is a collection of textbooks and books for reading. Our pupils and teachers go for reading, to look some magazines or newspapers or to prepare for a report. Sometimes teachers prepare for the lessons at the school library.

Healthy life style

Nowadays our life is getting more and more tense. People live under the press of different problems, such as social, ecological, economic and others. They constantly suffer from stress, noise and dust in big cities, diseases and instability. A person should be strong and healthy in order to overcome all difficulties. To achieve this aim people ought to take care of their physical and mental health. The fitness boom of the past decades led to a big rise in the numbers of people participating in sports and actives. Those who pursue the latest fitness fashion are convinced that staying in good physical form requires much more that regular exercise and balanced meals. For anyone who really wants to be healthy, fitness has become an integral part of their lives. A lot of health and fitness club, and public leisure centers indicate the popularity of sports during the past thirty years.

There are many opportunities for keeping fit. The state of your body depends on how much time you spend doing sports. First of all it's necessary to do exercises. Running, jumping, swimming, bending and stretching are among the most popular exercises. Many people prefer jogging, which is the cheapest and the most accessible sport. Popular running competitions are now held everywhere. The big city marathons have become sporting events. A healthy body becomes a fashion, an ideal of the modern life.

Many sports activities have become part of daily Belarusian life. Football has always been the most popular sport among boys. Playing football is healthy, football also bring people close because in order to win people have to work as a team. The best way to avoid depression caused by the city life is doing exercises. Taking exercise is only one part of keeping fit. Healthy food is also a very important factor. Overeating causes many dangerous diseases. The daily menu should include meat, fruit and vegetables, milk product, which are rich in vitamins, fat, proteins and etc. On the other hand modern diets are very popular especially among women. Diets may be harmful, if they are used in the wrong way. It's important to get slim. Some people eat nothing but fruit for several days. But it won't be of any use without proper exercises.

To be healthy, people should get rid of their habits. It's necessary to stop smoking and drinking much.

Everyone should remember that cigarettes, alcohol and drugs destroy both body and brain. Besides according to statistics, most of crimes are committed by people under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

Besides to avoid serious disease one should give up smoking. Smoking should be banned in all public places.

In addition it is recommended to watch TV less, avoid anxiety and observe daily routine. Certainly it's hard to follow all these recommendations, but every person have to choose between healthy life style and numerous illnesses. As for me, I'm interested in different kinds of sport. At school and the University we had physical training lesson twice a week. I like to ski in winter. Sometimes the whole family foes skiing at the weekend. In summer I like to swim. I also do some cycling.

System of education in the UK

Great Britain doesn't have a written constitution, so there are no constitutional provisions for education. The system of education is determined by the National Education Acts. Schools in England are supported from public funds paid to the local education authorities. These local education authorities are responsible for organizing the schools in their areas. If we outline the basic features of public education in Britain, firstly we'll see that in spite of most educational purposes England & Wales are treated as one unit, though the system in Wales is different from that of England. Scotland & Northern Ireland have their own education systems.

Then education in Britain reflects the country's social system: it's class-divided & selected. The first division is between those who do & don't pay. The majority of schools in Britain are supported by public funds & the education provided is free. They are maintained schools, but there's also a considerable number of public schools. Most pupils go to schools which offer free education, although fee-paying independent schools also have an important role to play.

Another significant feature of schooling in Britain is the variety of opportunities offered to schoolchildren. The English school syllabus is divided into Arts (or Humanities) and Sciences which determine the division of the secondary school pupils into study groups: a science pupil will study Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, Economics, Technical Drawing , Biology, Geography; an Art pupil will do English Language and Literature, History, foreign languages, Music, Art, Drama. Besides these subjects they must do some general education subjects like PE, Home Economics for girls and Technical subjects for girls, General Science. Computers play an important part in education. The system of options exists in all kinds of secondary schools.

The national Education Act in 1944 provided 3 stages of education: primary, secondary and further education. Everybody has a right to school place for a child from age 5 to 16, and a school of college place for him or her from 16 to 18. These places are provided free of charge. Everybody has a duty to make sure that the child goes to school until he or she is 16, that means that education is a compulsory from age 5 to 16 (11 years in whole). There are grammar schools, technical schools, secondary modern schools and comprehensive ones.

There's no law which provides for education on the underfives. At infant schools children are encouraged to read, write and make use of numbers and to develop their creative abilities. In England about 47% of three- & four-year-olds receive education in nursery schools or classes. In addition many children attend informal pre-school play groups organized by parents and voluntary bodies.

In 1944 The National Curriculum was introduced. It sets out in detail the subjects that children should study and the levels of achievement they should reach by the ages of 7, 11, 14 & 16, when they are tested. The tests are designed to be easier for teachers to manage than they were in the past. Most pupils will also be entered for GCSEs (General Certificate of the Secondary Education) or other public examinations, including vocational qualifications if they are 16. Until that year headmasters and headmistresses of schools were given a great deal of freedom in deciding what subjects to teach and how to do it in their schools so that there was really no central control at all over individual schools.

The National Curriculum does not apply in Scotland, where each school decides what subject it will teach. The child is taught the subjects he or she must study under the National Curriculum. These are English, Maths, Science (the core subjects), Technology, a foreign language in secondary school, as it was mentioned, PE, History, Geography, Art, Music ( foundation subjects). The last 4 ones are not compulsory after the age of 14. But the child must be given religious education unless the parents decide otherwise. Each subject has a set programme of study and attaining levels for each subject covering the years from 5 to 16. There're 10 levels. The full requirements of the National Curriculum are being introduced gradually.

The National Curriculum itself was introduced in 1989 (until that time the schools had a curriculum supervised by the local LEA). According to The National Curriculum schools are allowed to introduce a fast stream for bright children. Actually after young people reach 16 they have 4 main 'roads' of their next life: they can leave the school, stay at school, move to a college as a full time student, combine part-time study with a job, perhaps through the Youth Training Programme. School-leavers without jobs get no money from the government unless they join a youth training scheme, which provides a living allowance during 2 years of work experience. But a growing number of school students are staying on at school, some until 18 or 19, the age of entry into higher education or universities, Polytechnics or colleges.

Schools in Britain provide careers guidance. A specially trained person called careers advisor, or careers officer helps school students to decide what job they want to do and how they can achieve that. Now let us talk about the exams the young people in Britain take during their process of education. Since 1988, most sixteen-year-old have taken the GCSE in 5, 10 of even 15 subjects. Pupils going on to higher education or professional training usually take 'A' level examinations in two or three subjects. These require two more years of study after GSCE, either in the sixth form of a secondary school, or in a separate 6-form college. Others may choose vocational subjects (catering, tourism, secretariat, building skills). Subsidized courses in these subjects are run at colleges of further education.

Students normally enter University from 18 onwards and study for an Academic Degree. Apart from a single private university, all undergraduate education is largely state financed and UK students are generally entitled to student loans for maintenance.

The typical first degree offered at British universities is the Bachelor's degree (typically three years). Many institutions now offer an undergraduate Master's degree as a first degree, typically lasting four years. During a first degree students are known as undergraduates.

Students who have completed a first degree are eligible to undertake a postgraduate degree, which includes:

Master's degree (typically taken in one year)

Doctorate degree (typically taken in three years)

Postgraduate education is not automatically financed by the State, and so admission is in practice highly competitive.

On english climate

The climate of England is milder than that of other countries. English people are apt to complain of it as being damp and rainy, and foreigners laugh at it and say, that the English summer is made up of three fine days and a thunderstorm.

British people say: "Other countries have a climate, in England we have weather." The weather in Britain changes very quickly. One day may be fine and the next day may be wet. The morning may be warm and the evening may be cool.

People talk about the weather more in Britain than in most parts of the world. When two Englishmen are introduced to each other, if they can't think of anything else to talk about, they talk about the weather. The weather is also considered a safe topic of conversation. If you do not know each other well enough to talk about personal matters, you can at least, sound friendly by talking about the weather. When two people meet in the street they will often say something about the weather as they pass, just to show their friendliness.

It is hard to say that England has typical weather because of the sudden changes that occur -- showers from what was only a few hours before a clear blue sky; sunshine that makes you want to leave off most of your clothes followed by winds that set you wishing for two overcoats.

The winter fogs in London are, indeed, awful; they surpass all imagination. In a fog the air is hardly fit for breathing; it is grey, yellow, of deep orange, and even black because of the smoke of many thousands of chimneys. In a dense fog all traffic is stopped, no vehicle can move from fear of dreadful accidents.

The three things that chiefly determine the climate of England are: (1) the position of the island in the temperature belt; (2) the fact that the prevailing winds blow from the west and southwest; (3) the warm current - the Gulf Stream that flows from the Gulf of Mexico along the western shores of England.

All this combined, makes the climate more moderate - that is, the winters warmer and the summer cooler. The winters are never cold enough to freeze the rivers and the summers are seldom hot.

The coldest part of the country is the Highlands of Scotland. It is as frosty in Scotland as in St. Petersburg. In January south-western England is the warmest part in Great Britain. The snow is rare and it never lies for long. In summer the south-eastern part of England is the warmest.

City transport

Britain has a well-developed transport service. It includes buses, coaches, trains, planes, etc. Most buses in Britain are operated by the local Council. Others are owned by companies which often receive financial help from the Government.

On many routes you will see both single-decker and double-decker buses. There is often only one man in charge of the bus and you pay him the fare when you get on. Most buses have a two-person crew: the driver, who drives, of course, and the conductor who takes your money. Keep your ticket because an inspector might want to check it.

If you want to catch a bus, you wait at a bus stop. Here there's a board with the routes, numbers and times of buses. But be careful. Sometimes there's a sign "Request stop" which means that buses only stop if you put out your hand.

`If there are other people waiting at the bus stop you must queue behind them and allow them to get on the bus first. (Some people believe that the British habit of queuing first began with the introduction of public transport.)

Quicker than the bus is the underground (called the Tube in London, the subway in New York and the Metro in Paris and many other cities). You buy your ticket at the ticket-office. Go down to the platform on the escalator. The train comes. The sliding doors open. You get on. You look at the map of the underground system. Very simple.

A taxi, sometimes called a cab is the most comfortable way to travel. Taxis in London are usually big black vehicles. Sometimes they may be ordinary cars with a "Taxi" sign on top. You can find taxi ranks (places where taxis wait) at airports, stations, and in the centre of the city. You can also telephone for a taxi or hail one in the street. A taxi can be cheaper than the bus fares for two or more people. However, long journeys by taxi are expensive -- be careful at ports and airports. You can ask the driver to give you an idea of the cost before you leave. Drivers must charge the metered fare for all journeys within London (including Heathrow) regardless of duration and distance. Taxi drivers expect to be tipped for all journeys.

For longer distances take a train or a long distance bus, usually called a coach, which is slower but cheaper. The train is very fast. Put your luggage on the rack, take your seat and wait till you arrive.

In Great Britain traffic keeps to the left. Motocars, buses and cyclists must all keep to the left side of the road. In most other countries traffic keeps to the right. There is heavy traffic in London and you must observe traffic rules.

Popular pastime activities in britain

Typical popular pastimes in Great Britain include listening to pop music, going to pubs, having and watching sport, going on holidays, doing outdoor activities and watching TV. There's almost every kind of entertainment you can imagine. You can go sightseeing, either on your own or in a group, or on an open bus, or by horse and cart, and if you like walking you can go on organized walks, which could include sightseeing too. You may simply find a seat outdoor - sit and watch people hurrying past.

If the weather is cold and wet, it needn't be a big problem because there's plenty going on indoors. You may go to different entertainment centers such as disco, pub, restaurant, bar, club, art сеntres including exhibitions, cinema, theatre, music, etc. The parts of the city or town where people go to enjoy themselves are often near the centre and easy to find. You can meet your friends at your place and have a nice time together.

If you haven't got much money to spend on entertainment, you can do much of what is cheap or even costs nothing. To begin with, lots of events that are organized outside or in the street are free! There are street festivities and public processions. Some people play modern music and instruments on the street and you can see modern theatre and dancing too.

Parks are another place where you'll often find things going on, from hot-air balloon festivals to musical entertainments of various kinds. You may simply relax on the grass, listening to a band perhaps. You can visit many museums and art galleries without having to pay, and some also show films. Some churches have free concerts, particularly at lunch-time.

There are particular days (e.g. Monday) or particular time of the day (e.g. the afternoon) that tickets for the theatres, concerts are cheaper. Prices may be reduced for students, for groups and if you buy them in advance. Pubs, clubs, wine bars and discos may have a "Happy Hour" - a time when you can buy drinks more cheaply than usual. This is often early in the evening.

If you feel like spending a night having a drink, a meal, dancing, seeing a show, or combining some of these things you can go to pubs, bars, restaurants. Pubs are important part of British social life (more than restaurants) and more money is spent on drinking than on any other form of leisure activity. A very pleasant place to visit is a wine bar. You can buy a glass or a bottle of wine and there may be a lot of different prices and qualities to choose from. Most wine bars have cold food, such as salad, cheese and pies, with perhaps one or two hot things too. These are usually comfortable, fairly quiet places where you can relax with a drink, sit and watch people hurrying past. There are other kinds of bars too, selling cocktails (drinks, made by combining spirits, fruit juice, cream, etc.) and similar drinks.

A lot of different places that offer entertainment in the evening are clubs. Most of them have two things in common: you have to pay to get in, and you may have to become a member to go there. Some are no more than discos; some are for very rich; with expensive meals and cabarets; some won't let you in if you're not wearing a suit and tie, and others won't let you in if you are!

Discos: they go on till late at night and there are plenty of them: some playing all kinds of pop and rock music, and others playing only a particular kind. Discos are usually clubs, like other places mentioned here, they are mostly for people aged 18 or over, though some discos open at special times for younger age-groups.

There's a lot of entertainment organized specially for children:

children's shows and family shows which may include singing, dancing, games, jokes, puppets, etc.;

theatre, music and dance with special plays, concerts, etc. for children;

cinema, there is lots to choose from - especially during the holiday;

museums, animals (zoos and safari parks), fun fairs (games, machines to ride, noisy fun, etc.), parks, sports centers, entertainment centres, etc.

Many people entertain themselves by taking up hobbies, millions look to television, cinema, music and reading. In Britain watching television is one of the most popular leisure activities. There are four TV stations where BBC 1 and BBC 2 do not carry advertisements, but TV and channel 4 are commercially run.

Despite the increase of TV watching, reading is still an important leisure activity in Britain and there are a very large number of magazines and books published on a wide variety of subjects. The biggest-selling magazines in Britain are women's and pop music publications.

The best-selling books are not great works of literature but stories of mystery and romance which sell in huge quantities. It has been estimated that only about 3 per cent of the population read "classics" such as Charles Dickens or Jane Austen, whereas the figures for popular book sales can be enormous, particularly if the books are connected with TV shows or dramatizations.

In most places local education authorities organize classes connected with your hobbies, such as photography, painting, folk dancing, dog training, cake decoration, local history, car maintenance, and other subjects. All this, together with the popularity of amateur dramatics, can provide some comfort for those who fear that modern mass entertainment is producing a passive society.

Other groups meet regularly for a mixture of social and religious purposes or for the pursuit of hobbies. For young people there are youth clubs, some, but not all, of them connected with churches.

Young and old spend leisure time working together for good causes, raising money for the benefit of victims of famine, flood or misfortune. All of this demands a good deal of organization and innumerable committees.

England is famous for its gardens, and most people like gardening. This is probably one reason why so many prefer to live in houses rather than in flats. Particularly in suburban areas it is possible to pass row after row of ordinary small houses, each one with its neatly kept patch of grass surrounded by a great variety of flowers and shrubs. Some people who have no garden of their own have patches of land or "allotments" in special areas. Enthusiasts of gardening - or do-it-yourself activities - get ever-growing help from radio programs, magazines and patient shopkeepers.

Although the task of keeping a garden is essentially individual, gardening can well become the foundation of social and competitive relationships. Flower shows and vegetable shows, with prizes for the best exhibits, are popular, and to many gardeners the process of growing the plants seems more important than the merely aesthetic pleasure of looking at the flowers or eating the vegetables.


Minsk is the capital of Belarus, an ancient and beautiful city with a long and exciting history.

It was first mentioned in chronicles in 1067 in connection with the battle of the Nemiga River during which it was completely destroyed. It was destroyed, burned, ruined by the conquerors many times during its 930 year history: by the Crimean Tatars in 1505, French troops in 1812, German occupants in 1919--1920, fascists during World War II. But each time it rose from the ruins and ashes as the mythical bird Phoenix. Many conquerors have passed through Minsk because it is situated on the cross-roads of the busiest trade-routes connecting the Baltic and the Black seas, the East and the West. Thus, this advantage often turned into disadvantage.

But nevertheless Minsk steadily increased in importance first as a provincial centre after 1793 and later as an industrial centre after the building of the Moscow -- Warsaw and Liepaja -- Romny railways through Minsk in the 1870s. In 1919 it became the capital of the Byelorussian republic and remained the capital when Belarus gained independence in 1991. The same year the city became the administrative centre of the CIS.

Minsk stands on the Svisloch river in a picturesque place. The present-day city is almost entirely of new construction. It is the city with broad streets and avenues, modern architecture, shady parks and some churches which have survived as relics of the past.

Minsk is the major industrial centre of Belarus. The economy is based on machine-building, particularly the manufacture of trucks and tractors. Other products include electric motors, bearings, machine tools, radio and television equipment, refrigerators, watches, textiles and foodstuffs.

The city is also a major educational and cultural centre with the Academy of Sciences of Belarus, the Belarusian State University founded in 1921 and numerous institutions of higher education and scientific research. It's the city where you can find the best pieces of Belarusian cultural heritage: museums, exhibitions, theatres and so on.

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