Let’s talk about any Enlglish-speaking country.
What English-speaking countries do you know? Tell me about any of them.
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the United States of America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand are English speaking countries. They are situated in different parts of the world and differ in many ways. The nature of these countries, their weather and climate and way of life of their people differ. Each country has its own history, customs, traditions, its own national holidays. But they all share a common language. English is the language of the people who left England to make their names in new countries. But I would like to tell you about The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
To understand fully any country’s political system, one needs to understand something of its history. This is especially true of the United Kingdom because
its history has been very different from most other nations and, as a result, its political system is very different from most other nations too.
We probably need to start with the year of 1066, when William the Conqueror from Normandy invaded what we now call England, defeated the Anglo-Saxon King Harold and established a Norman dynasty. The Normans were not satisfied with conquering England and, over the next few centuries, tried to conquer Ireland, Wales and Scotland. They succeeded with the first two and failed with the last despite several wars over the centuries.
The UK is a parliamentary monarchy and the Queen is the head of the state. But in practice it is ruled by the elected government with the Prime Minister at the head. The UK Parliament in London is at the heart of the political system in Britain and is the legislative body for the UK and British overseas territories. Parliament has two legislative parliamentary bodies, the House of Lords and the House of Commons. The Prime Minister now is Theresa May, the leader of the Conservative Party. The Prime Minister’s Office is at Downing Street, 10.
The House of Commons is the lower chamber but the one with the most authority. The Commons is chaired by the Speaker. Each of the 650 members in the House of Commons represents a geographical constituency.
The House of Lords is the upper chamber but the one with less authority. Its members are not elected and appointed by the Queen on the advice of the Prime Minster. The House of Commons consists of democratically elected Members of Parliament from various different political parties. Elections are held every five years. There is no fixed number of members in the House of Lords, but currently there are 826 members.
Today there are four major political parties in the British parliamentary system, the Conservative Party, the Labour Party, the Scottish National Party and the Liberal Democrat Party.
Great Britain is a highly developed industrial country. It is known as one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of iron and steel products, machinery and electronics, chemicals and textile. One of the industries is shipbuilding.
Great Britain is a country with old cultural traditions and customs. The most famous educational centres are Oxford and Cambridge universities. They are considered to be the intellectual centres of Europe. The education is not free, it is very expensive.
London is the capital of the UK, the greatest town and port on the British Isles. It’s a political, economic and commercial centre. London is one of the largest cities in the world. Its population is more than 8 million people. It’s more than 2 thousand years old. London is worth sightseeing. The West End is famous for its beautiful monuments and palaces, fine parks, fashionable shops and big hotels. The East End is quite different from the West End. It’s the district of factories, plants and docks. The narrow streets and poor houses present contrast to the homes of the rich people in the West End.
Sightseeing tours in London usually start in Trafalgar Square. There is the Nelson’s Column in the centre of the square. From Trafalgar Square you can go along down Whitehall and see the Houses of Parliament with Big Ben. Behind there is the Thames and Westminster Bridge. Buckingham Palace attracts attention, as well. It’s the royal residence. Westminster Abbey is famous for the memorials of many great people of Britain. The Tower of London was a fortress, a royal residence, a prison and now it is a museum. London is famous for its green parks. The greatest is Hyde Park (with the famous Poet’s Comer there). London is the centre of the country’s cultural life. There are many picture galleries and museums there. The National Gallery houses a priceless collection of paintings. The British Museum is the most famous in the world. In London we can meet the past and the present, the old and the modem. It’s a city of contrasts and no doubts it’s amazing to see and enjoy every masterpiece in architecture and art.
Let’s talk about customs and traditions of Great Britain. What famous festivals and celebrations do you know?
To begin with I’d like to point out that British customs and traditions are famous all over the world. When people think of Britain, they often think of people drinking tea, eating fish and chips, colorful royal ceremonies, soldiers in strange uniforms. In Britain customs and traditions play a more important part in the life of people than in other countries. The British are proud of their traditions and carefully keep them up.
The British celebrate such public holidays as Christmas, Easter Monday, May Day, the Spring Bank Holiday, and The Summer Bank Holiday.
Besides public holidays there are other festivals, such as Pancake Day, April Fool’s day, Halloween, Guy Fawkes night, St Valentine’s Day and others. I’d like to describe some of them.
What questions can you ask a British teenager about his best holiday celebration?
Which holiday do you enjoy celebrating?
Is it a family holiday or a national one?
What traditions are connected with it?
How do you participate in celebrating?
What part of the holiday do you like most?
What can you tell me about national cuisine of Great Britain?
Foreigners often say that food in Britain is uninteresting and plain, noting fancy, it lacks originality and excellence. But British food is not as bad as some people think. There are many enjoyable dishes which can please even a demanding eater. Fish and chips is a popular and relatively inexpensive
British dish. Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding is a traditional English family lunch on Sunday. Apple pie is a favourite sweet in England.
A special place in the life of the British is occupied by tea. They are the world’s greatest tea drinkers. They drink a quarter of all the tea grown in the world each year.
Which festival in Britain will you recommend your friend to visit?
I guess it will be exciting to visit any of the British holidays to see the culture with your own eyes. But, to my mind, it will be interesting to see Halloween. It is a holiday annually celebrated on 31 October. People often dress up as skeletons, ghosts or other scary figures. Common symbols of Halloween include pumpkins, bats and spiders. Some children go trick-or- treating. This means that they dress up and go to other peoples’ houses, knocking on the door for treat of sweets or a snack. Those who do not give out a treat may be tricked with a joke instead.