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What are proverbs?


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Bank holidays in Britan


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Glimpses of the history of America


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Tower of London


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Media ownership and freedom of expression


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The battle for readers


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Radio and television broadcasting


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National newspapers


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Television and satellite broadcasting


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News vs. news people


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The causes of crime


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The lost colony


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Old Hickory


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The war of 1812


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A long time ago


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George Washington and the Whiskey Rebellion


It is generally assumed and recognized, that a language like English cannot be approached by a student unless that person is quite clear from the start about which of the different registers of that language he or she is preparing to study. It is also generally recognized that the main division in terms of registers lies between the English we speak with and the English we speak about.

However, the longer we teach students in the English Department of the philological faculty of Moscow University the clearer it becomes that this neat division into the two registers must be supplemented by something which may roughly be described as the English we teach with.

The fact is that teaching a natural human language is in many ways comparable to the teaching of music - for example, playing the piano. It goes without saying that language as used by a good speaker (especially by someone reciting poetry, for example) is like a rhapsody when played by a competent pianist - that is something very complex, unconstrained and free, something that is 'manipulated' with grace and charm. But nobody has ever learned to do this wonderful thing without first long and painstakingly playing the dullest and uninteresting scales. As far as music is concerned making that kind of statement would be completely pointless - it is not an arguable point. As far as language is concerned we have to explain again and again not only to our students but also to some of our colleagues, that one cannot learn to run before he learned how to walk, that being able to play Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsodies presupposes hours of drudgery at the piano playing scales.

This is what we would like our readers to understand quite clearly - unless they are prepared to spend any amount of time and effort to find joy in repeating the same tune for hours on end, unless they derive satisfaction from dissections and analysis of recorded texts in minute detail - they might just as well give it up at once, because it is the only way to master a foreign language.


( ):

  1. ;
  2. - , :

  1. What is the generally assumed and recognized approach to studying a foreign language like English?
  2. What are the main registers of English? Can you think of examples of both registers? Which of the two registers does the given text belong to?
  3. Why is teaching a foreign language compared to the teaching of music? What does the author mean by this comparison?
  4. What must a student of a foreign language be prepared for?
  5. What is the main idea of the text? Do you agree with it? What are your own ideas about studying a foreign language?


  1. What is the difference between to study and to learn?
  2. What does the expression It goes without saying mean?
  3. What synonyms for the word uninteresting do you know!?
  4. Do you understand the difference between to assume and to recognize?
  5. What is the meaning of the word He in... the main division in terms of registers lies between..? Compare it with the Russian translation.
  6. What part of speech is the word teaching in: ... teaching a natural human language is.... and in the teaching of music; playing in... without first long and painstakingly playing the dullest and uninteresting scales and in... hours of drudgery at the piano playing scales?
  7. What is the grammatical form of the word longer (clearer, dullest)? What is the comparative degree of the word good? The superlative degree of the word uninteresting?
  8. Find the predicate in the sentence... this neat division into the two functions must be supplemented by something. What kind of predicate is it? What kind of verb is must? Do you know any synonyms or equivalents of this verb?
  9. What is the meaning and function of the verb to have in ... we have to explain again and again.... What other meanings and functions of this verb do you know?
  10. Give the morphological analysis of the word pointless (painstakingly, arguable. wonderful, etc.). Can you give any examples of adjectives with the same suffix? Is -less a productive suffix? What other productive suffixes of the English language do you know? Give examples.

no - :

  1. to study emphasizes the process of acquiring knowledge, to learn - the result.
  2. It goes without saying is an idiom meaning it is quite obvious, it is crystal clear, .
  3. dull, boring. Boring is stronger than uninteresting, dull has additional shades of meaning: not of good quality, lacking in imagination.
  4. to assume means to believe, to suppose, , ; to recognize - to admit, .
  5. to lie in this context is used in the meaning of to be. In Russian it may be , , , depending on the variant of translation.
  6. Teaching a language - a verb in the form of Gerund; the teaching of music - a verbal noun; without playing scales - a verb, Gerund, playing scales - a verb Present Participle.
  7. Comparative degree of long, clear, superlative degree of dull. Better, Most uninteresting.
  8. Must be supplemented - A Compound Verbal Predicate. Must is a modal verb: To have to, to be to, should, ought to. Must is the most common, the most general word expressing moral obligation, duty. Ought to is the mildest, rather a piece of advice. Should is very colloquial, not so strong as must, not so mild as ought to, Have to implies forced by circumstances, Be to implies by previous arrangement, according to a plan, a timetable, etc.
  9. It is a modal verb in a Compound Verbal Predicate. It may also be the main verb ( ): I have this book or an auxiliary verb ( ): I have got it.
  10. Pointless is an adjective. Point is the root, -less is a productive adjective - forming suffix. Its meaning is negative, it implies the absence of what is expressed by the root, -less is a productive suffix because new words may be coined with the help of -less: tableless, doorless, -ful in wonderful is opposite to - less in meaning as it means the presence of what is expressed by the root but it is not productive. Although it is very widely spread, it does not coin new words, -able, -ly in argueable and painstakingly - are productive adjective-forming (-able) and adverb-forming (-ly) suffixes.

Other productive suffixes are: -ness, -er, -like, -y, -ed for regular verbs, -er, -est as degrees of comparison for adjectives.