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  1. Conversational Topic: The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
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Ø 1) Read the text and answer the following questions:

a)How many constituent countries comprise the United Kingdom?

b)What are they?

c)Who is the Head of Commonwealth of Nations?

d)What is the official language of the United Kingdom?

e)How is Britannia, a personification of the UK, symbolized?

f)What scientific discoveries were made in the United Kingdom?

g)What world-famous writers and poets of the United Kingdom do you know?

Ø 2) Say whether the following statements are true or false and justify your answer:

a)The official name of the country is the United Kingdom.

b)The United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy.

c)The UK has the fourth largest GDP in the world.

d)The flag of the UK is commonly known as the “Union Jack”.

e)The image of the lion is depicted on the back of the 10 pence piece.

f)Soccer originated in the United Kingdom.

Ø 3) What comes first to your mind when you hear “Great Britain”?

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (usually shortened to the United Kingdom, the UK or Britain) is a country and sovereign state that lies off the northwest coast of mainland Europe.

Its territory is primarily situated on the island of Great Britain and in Northern Ireland on the island of Ireland, with additional settlements on numerous smaller islands in the surrounding seas. The United Kingdom is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean and its ancillary bodies of water, including the North Sea, the English Channel, the Celtic Sea, and the Irish Sea. On the island of Ireland, Northern Ireland has a land border with the Republic of Ireland to the South and West.

The United Kingdom is a political union made up of four constituent countries: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. The United Kingdom also has several overseas territories, including Gibraltar, Saint Helena and the Falkland Islands. The dependencies of the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, while possessions of the Crown and part of the British Isles, are not part of the United Kingdom. A constitutional monarchy, the United Kingdom has close relationships with fifteen other Commonwealth Realms that share the same monarch – Queen Elizabeth II – as Head of state.

The United Kingdom is a highly developed country with the fifth largest gross domestic product in the world. It is the third most populous state in the European Union with a population of 60 million and is a founding member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the United Nations (UN), where it holds a permanent seat on the Security Council. The UK is also one of the world’s major nuclear powers with its own nuclear weapons.

After the dismantlement of the British Empire, the United Kingdom retains influence throughout the world because of the extensive use of the English language today as well as through the world-spanning Commonwealth of Nations, headed by the Queen although legally this is a personal role and not the one associated with the United Kingdom.

The United Kingdom has no official language. English is the main language and the de facto official language, spoken monolingually by an estimated 95% of the UK population.

Symbols of the UK. The national anthem of the UK is “God Save the Queen.”

The flag of the United Kingdom is the Union Flag (commonly known as the “Union Jack”). It was created from the superimposition of the flags of England (Saint George’s Cross), Scotland (Saint Andrew’s Cross), and Ireland (Saint Patrick’s Cross).

Britannia is a personification of the UK, originating from the Roman occupation of southern and central Great Britain. Britannia is symbolised as a young woman with brown or golden hair, wearing a Corinthian helmet and white robes. She holds Poseidon’s three-pronged trident and a shield, bearing the Union Flag. Sometimes she is depicted as riding the back of a lion. In modern usage, Britannia is often associated with maritime dominance.

The lion has also been used as a symbol of the UK; one is depicted behind Britannia on the 50 pence piece and one is shown crowned on the back of the 10 pence piece. It is also used as a symbol on the non-ceremonial flag of the British Army. Lions have been used as heraldic devices many times, including in the royal arms of both the kingdoms of England, Scotland and Kingdom of Gwyneth in Wales. The lion is featured on the emblem of the England national football team.

The bulldog is sometimes used as a symbol of Great Britain.

Britain (especially England) is also personified as the character John Bull. He is a national personification of Britain, well-intentioned, frustrated, full of common sense, and entirely of native country stock, created by Dr. John Arbuthnot in 1712.

Science. The United Kingdom contains some of the world’s leading universities, including the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge. It has produced many great scholars, scientists and engineers including Sir Isaac Newton, Adam Smith, Joseph John Thomson, Michael Faraday, Charles Darwin, and Alexander Fleming.

The nation is credited with numerous scientific discoveries including gravity, the electron, structure of DNA, antibiotics and inventions including the chronometer, the modern railway, vaccination, television, electric lighting, the electric motor, the modern bicycle, the electronic computer, along with the later development of the World Wide Web. In 2006, it was reported that the UK was the most productive source of research after the United States; with the UK producing 9% of the world’s scientific research papers with a 12% share of citations.

Literature. Anglo-Saxon literature includes “Beowulf” which is a national epic. Geoffrey Chaucer is the first great identifiable individual in English literature: his “Canterbury Tales” remains a popular 14th-century work which readers still enjoy today.

The English playwright and poet William Shakespeare is arguably the most famous writer in the English language.

Other world-famous writers who lived and wrote in the United Kingdom include Daniel Defoe, Sir Walter Scott, Charles Dickens, the Brontë sisters, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Henry Fielding, Virginia Woolf, D. H. Lawrence, Graham Greene, and others.

Important poets include John Milton, Robert Burns, Lord Byron, Rudyard Kipling, Lord Tennyson, T. S. Eliot, R. S. Thomas, Wilfred Owen, and others.

Sport in the UK. A number of major sports originated in the United Kingdom, including association football (football, or soccer), rugby football (rugby), golf, cricket, and boxing. Tennis originated in the UK, too. The Wimbledon Championships Grand Slam tournament is held in London every July.

Ø 4) Which of the following summaries renders the content of the text more adequately?

a) The text deals with the description of the country located on the island of Great Britain and the northern part of the island of Ireland. It gives the information of its geographical position, political structure, economy, culture, scientific contribution, and the symbols which personify the country to the world. It also points out the role of Britain in the Commonwealth of Nations and the two most important organizations in Europe and the world, the NATO and the UNO.


b) This text is about one of the countries with one of the most highly developed economies in the world, the UK. It points out the political, economic and cultural role of this country in the world. Special attention is paid to English which is the official language in the UK and fifteen other countries of the Commonwealth all over the world. A short account of the history of the English language helps to understand its uniting role in the Commonwealth.

The queen

Ø 1) Who is the Queen of Great Britain? What is her role in the country? Have you seen any films or read books about the Queen?

Ø 2) Read the text and answer the following questions:

a)What does an “executive monarch” mean?

b)What does a “constitutional monarch” mean?

c)What monarch is the Queen of Great Britain?

d)Does the Queen play an important political role? Justify your answer.

e)Except carrying out constitutional functions, what is the other important role of the Queen?

f)How would you characterize the Queen’s and her family members’ visits to other countries?

g)What are the daily duties of the Queen?

h)Could you give examples of her ceremonial roles?

i)What are fairly recent ceremonial traditions associated with the Queen?

j)What role of the Queen do you consider the most important one?


Until the end of the 17th century, British monarchs were executive monarchs – that is, they had the right to make and pass legislation. Since the beginning of the 18th century, the monarch has become a constitutional monarch, which means that he or she is bound by rules and conventions and remains politically impartial.

On almost all matters he or she acts on the advice of ministers. While acting constitutionally, the Sovereign retains an important political role as Head of State, formally appointing Prime Ministers, approving certain legislation and bestowing honours.

The Queen Elisabeth has important roles to play in other organisations, including the Armed Forces and the Church of England.

The Queen was born in London on 21 April 1926, the first child of The Duke and Duchess of York, subsequently King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. Five weeks later she was christened Elizabeth Alexandra Mary in the chapel at Buckingham Palace.

The Queen is the United Kingdom’s Head of State. As well as carrying out significant constitutional functions, The Queen also acts as a focus for national unity, presiding at ceremonial occasions, visiting local communities and representing Britain around the world. The Queen is also Head of the Commonwealth. During her reign she has visited all the Commonwealth countries, going on “walkabouts” to gain direct contact with people.

The Queen is not only Queen of the United Kingdom, but Head of the Commonwealth, a voluntary association of 54 independent countries. Most of these countries have progressed from British rule to independent self-government, and the Commonwealth now serves to foster international co-operation and trade links between people all over the world. The Queen is also Queen of a number of Commonwealth realms, including Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

Visits to all kind of places throughout the United Kingdom, Commonwealth and overseas is an important part of the work of The Queen and of the members of the Royal family. It allows members of the Royal family to meet people from all walks of life and backgrounds, to celebrate local and national achievements and to strengthen friendships between different countries. Many of the visits are connected to charities and other organizations with which members of the Royal family are associated. In other cases, royal visits help to celebrate historic occasions in the life of a region or nation. All visits are carefully planned to ensure that as many people as possible have the opportunity to see or meet members of the Royal family.

The colourful ceremonies and traditions associated with the British Monarchy are rich in history and meaning and fascinating to watch. In some, the Queen takes part in person. In others – such as Guard Mounting or Swan Upping – the ceremony is performed in the Queen’s name. Many of the ceremonies take place on a regular basis – every year or even every day – which means that British people and visitors to London and other parts of the United Kingdom may have an opportunity to see some of these interesting events take place.

The Queen has many different duties to perform every day. Some are familiar public duties, such as Investitures, ceremonies, receptions or visits within the United Kingdom or abroad. Away from the cameras, however, the Queen’s work goes on. It includes reading letters from the public, official papers and briefing notes; audiences with political ministers or ambassadors; and meetings with her Private Secretaries to discuss her future diary plans. No two days are ever the same and The Queen must remain prepared throughout.

The Queen has many ceremonial roles. Some – such as the State Opening of Parliament, Audiences with new ambassadors and the presentation of decorations at Investitures – relate to The Queen’s role as Head of State. Others – such as the presentation of Maundy money and the hosting of garden parties – are historical ceremonies in which kings and queens have taken part for decades or even centuries.

In addition to the events in which the Queen takes part, there are many other ceremonies and traditions associated with the British Monarchy. Some of these have military associations, involving troops from the present Armed Forces as well as the members of the historical royal bodyguard, the Yeomen of the Guard. Others are traditions which are less well known than the colourful pageantry but are interesting in their own right. Some – such as the customary broadcasts by the Sovereign on Christmas Day and Commonwealth Day – are fairly recent in origin, but have rapidly become familiar and popular traditions.

Since 1917, the Sovereign has sent congratulatory messages to those celebrating their 100th and 105th birthday and every year thereafter, and to those celebrating their Diamond Wedding (60th), 65th, 70th wedding anniversaries and every year thereafter. For many people, receiving a message from the Queen on these anniversaries is a very special moment.

For data privacy reasons, there is no automatic alert from government records for wedding anniversaries. The Department for Work and Pensions informs the Anniversaries Office of birthdays for recipients of UK State pensions. However, to ensure that a message is sent for birthdays and wedding anniversaries alike, an application needs to be made by a relative or friend in advance of the special day.

The Queen’s congratulatory messages consist of a card containing a personalised message with a facsimile signature. The card comes in a special envelope, which is delivered through the normal postal channels.

There are four sources of funding of the Queen (or officials of the Royal Household acting on her behalf). The Civil List meets official expenditure relating to the Queen’s duties as Head of State and Head of the Commonwealth. Grants-in-Aid from Parliament provide upkeep of the Royal Palaces and for Royal travel. The Privy Purse is traditional income for the Sovereign’s public and private use. Her Majesty’s personal income meets entirely private expenditure.

The Queen pays tax on her personal income and capital gains. The Civil List and the Grants-in-Aid are not taxed because they cover official expenditure. The Privy Purse is fully taxable, subject to a deduction for official expenditure.

When a sovereign dies, or abdicates, a successor is immediately decided according to rules which were laid down at the end of the seventeenth century. The coronation of a new sovereign is a ceremony of great pageantry and celebration that has remained essentially the same for over a thousand years. As well as explaining accession, succession and coronation, this section looks at the titles which have been held by different members of the Royal Family throughout history.

Ø 3) Agree or disagree with the following statements and justify your point of view:

a)the Queen pays taxes on her personal income,

b)the source of funding of the Queen is the Treasury,

c)many visits of the Queen to other countries are connected with charities,

d)all the visits of the Queen to other countries are carefully planned,

e)the Queen takes part in all the ceremonies in person,

f)the Queen reigns but does not rule.

Ø 4) Among the following headings choose the most suitable for this text:






Ø 1) Which of these sentences may be included into the text?

a)The Queen has her own Privy Council.

b)The chairman of the House of Commons is called a Speaker.

c)By the end of the 19th century London had rightly been described as “not a town, but a province covered with houses.”

d)The British Museum comprises the National Museum of Archaeology and Ethnography, and the National Library.

e)The nation’s leading opera is Metropolitan Opera.

f)Big Ben is the nickname for the great bell the Palace of Westminster in London, and is often extended to refer to the clock or the clock tower as well.


(1)The oldest part of London is “the City.” Only 5,000 people live there, but about 300,000 people work there. Greater London has got more than 12 million people. Lots of people live in suburbs, so they have to go to work to London every day. That’s why there are many cars in the morning and in the evening during rush hour. The people use the Underground (Tube), the bus and the train to come to work. London has two main airports, Heathrow and Gatwick where many tourists arrive.

(2)The people visit London’s many famous sights. The Tower of London was first a castle, later a prison and is now a museum where you can see the Crown Jewels. Tower Bridge is the most famous bridge across the River Thames. It can also open when a big ship has to go up- or downstream. The Queen (Elisabeth II) lives in Buckingham Palace. St. Paul’s Cathedral was designed by Sir Christopher Wren. Westminster Abbey is the place where the kings and queens are crowned. The first was William the Conqueror. Hyde Park is a marvelous place for relaxing. The West End is an excellent place for going to cinemas, theatres or discos.

(3)Lots of people like to go shopping in Harrods (which is rather expensive) or in the department stores. The best is to visit the street markets in Camden. There you can get cheap and curious things as well. London Dungeon, an old underground station shows London’s violent history. Street artists can be watched in Covent Garden.

(4)The Houses of Parliament are on the River Thames next to the Clock Tower with Big Ben. The Prime Minister lives in 10, Downing Street.

Ø 2) What title could you give to the third paragraph?

Ø 3) What places of interest would you like to visit in London?

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