A PATTERN FOR A LESSON
“TO COMMEMORATE THE 450th ANNIVERSARY
OF DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS BETWEEN RUSSIA AND BRITAIN”
(It is advisable to demonstrate some short clips from the video films “The Royal Family” and “The Kremlin” to create an atmosphere of the lesson, ”to tune the students on a cultural -historical wave”. In the text below “T.” goes for “Teacher” and “S.”- for “Students”).
T. - You have recently visited the exhibition in the Kremlin which is dedicated to the 450th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Russia and Britain. You have also read the materials of the International Scientific Conference held in Moscow to commemorate this great event. Let’s discuss what you have read and seen, but first, say if you remember the rules of successful conversation. What are they?
S. -Speak distinctly. Don’t monopolize the conversation.
S. -Don’t interrupt, but you may throw some replicas, if they don’t stop the ball of conversation rolling. .
S. -Bring back the subject after a diversion, if it happens.
S. -Don’t be dogmatic, never speak with the expression of finality, people may think differently.
S. -Be polite, don’t criticize if it is not necessary. Don’t make any dogmatic statements.
S. -Avoid destructive talk. Show your interest in what is said.
S. -Remember: to talk well one must think well. Never speak with an expression of finality, people may have another opinion.
S. -After a diversion, if it happens, bring back the subject.
S. -Don’t abruptly change the subject.
S. -Avoid mannerism in your speech, you may look ridiculous.
S. -Consider the volume, time and the tempo of the talk.
T. -And now for our discussion. To begin with I would like to pay your special attention to the introduction made by Sir Roderic Lyne, British Ambassador to the Russian Federation. He stresses that over 450 years Russia and Britain have built up special bilateral relationship starting with Richard Chancellor’s visit in 1553 and changing dramatically over centuries.
S. -It’s really a remark to my mind, as there were ups and downs in the relationship between our two countries if you remember history.
S. -Right you are, but there’s no denying that confidence and openness in British-Russian partnership is important for both countries, as they want more extensive modern relationship in the coming years as the Ambassador underlined.
T. -Moreover, the state visit of her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to Russia in 1994 and the visit of President Putin to the UK in 2003 marked an important step forward after the break-up of the USSR.
S. -What impressed me most is that he said Britons had always been fascinated by Russia, by the Russian people, by the country’s vastness.
S. -And mind, he admires the Russian ability to survive extreme hardships for centuries-climatic or man-made! In fact, Russians are believed to be very resilient.
T. -And I’d like to add that he is attracted by how different our country is: by its endless paradoxes, by its musical tradition, its art, literature, its beauty and… its mysticism of the Russian Orthodox liturgy as he said
S. -What do you think is meant by “mysticism?
S. -Well, it may the mysterious Russian soul and its suffering and eternal longing for happiness.
S. -To keep the ball rolling let’s go back to the history of relations between Britain and Russia. I am really surprised to know that the beginning of dynastic links between our countries dates back to the 11th century when Prince Vladimir Monomakh of Kiev married the English princess Gytha, daughter of King Harold who was killed at the battle of Hastings.
S. -I should say it is of great interest, and I’d like to add that nine century English sources contain many references about the trade with Russia, and Kiev Russia was marked on English maps.
T. -While on the subject, I’d like to draw your attention to the fact that English writers quoted some descriptions of the events related to the Mongol-Tartar invasion and the devastation of great Russia. They also mentioned that those events disrupted Russo-English relations for many years to come.
S. -Well, it must be admitted as a deplorable fact in history, don’t you think so?
S. -Quite side with you. And it was three centuries before a period of new diplomatic and trade relations began.
S. -By the way, there is a unique”silver chronicle” in Armoury’s collection. Do you remember the Moscow tsars’ gifts from English monarchs? Some silverware was brought by Russian trading agents from England.
S. -It’s true to fact. And I can’t but mention the collection of early English firearms from the Armoury, the carved stones, medals, prints and paintings from Russian and British museums.
S. -And, really, those works of art, valuable documents, ship models, atlases of the past, panoramas of London and Moscow, money collections, parade muskets, loving cups, plates, dishes, orders, all the exhibits displayed in the museum are of great historical interest, no doubt.
S. -As for me, I felt as I relived those past days and imagined the English and Russian Courts and the ceremonies of those far-off days.
T. -It’s interesting to note that when Lord Chancellor arrived in the Russian state, he and those who accompanied him were highly impressed by the fabulous splendour of the Russian Court and the power of the Russian Tsar.
S. -Do you remember that Lord Chancellor became an official representative of the Russian crown and asked Ivan IV for permission to bring goods to Russia?
S. -By the way, I had no idea that Tsar Ivan was the first Russian “anglophile” and he granted the British merchants a monopoly on tax-free trade in Russia.
S. -If my memory serves me right, they imported hemp, tallow, cordage and furs. It was the real exchange of diplomatic envoys between the two countries.
S. -Undoubtedly, the English have found a vast market for their goods and also a “gateway” to Persia and China. We may come to the conclusion that Anglo-Russian trade became a true “win- dow into Europe”. Many English specialists were invited to Russia: craftsmen, naval officers, physicians.
T. -I wonder if you have read that Boris Godunov was “a great favourer” of the English and he was the first Russian tsar who sent his subjects to study at English universities?
S. -That brings me to what I am going to say. Learned Russians showed great interest in Britain, its history and it was reflected in literature.
S. -So, consequently, economic, cultural contacts between the two countries were an integral part of Russia’s foreign policy during the reign of Peter the Great.
S. -There is one more thing I’d like to mention here. Having read the materials of the conference and having visited the exhibition I have come to the conclusion that Russia had been better prepared for his reforms than we used to think.
T. - Exactly so. The facts are very convincing. Permanent diplomatic ties were established and, no doubt, it was very fruitful for both countries.
S. -And don’t forget that there is one more thing which is certain here: Peter was the founder of Russian Fleet due to British assistance and cadres training in Britain.
S. -Mind, that’s not alone! There were common scientific interests, too!
T -.In this connection it’s necessary to mention that Peter the Great had a very positive image in Britain. And, let’s hope for the best that today’s Russian leaders would also be up to the mark and would never be discouraging personalities, as sympathy in cultural and personal spheres is very important.
S. -To crown it all I’d like to stress that such events as the Kremlin Exhibition and International Scientific Conference to commemorate Russo-British diplomatic relationship is very significant as it gives impetus for future prospects and mutual understanding.
S. -As for us, students, the materials studied and the exhibition displays are very enriching. They are a treasure-house for those who learn English, as language and culture can’t be separated.
T. -Let’s round up our discussion with comments on the following statements. Tell your opinion in a few sentences how these ideas are connected with diplomatic relations, tolerance and intercultural transactions.
“Peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations-entangling alliances with none”(Thomas Jefferson)
“We are here to help one another along life’s journey”. (W.J.Bennet)
“In every deliberation we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations”. (Iroquois Confederation)
“This could be such a beautiful world if we could all care just a little more”.
“Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moments”. (B. Franklin)
T. -“Linguistic tact” is very important in human relations, in diplomatic practice, in particular, it is an integral part of any kind of effective communication, do you agree? Try to match the words from the first group with the words from the second. Find those which have acquired a new meaning for the last 20 years:
1. Poor people, old age pensioners, Negro, slums, invalid, unemployed, died, stewardess, mankind;
2. Substandard housing, senior citizens, Afro-Americans, disabled, humankind, passed away, flight assistant, underprivileged, redundant.
T. -At the exhibition dedicated to the 450th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Russia and Britain you saw many items of engraved silverware, used at reception parties. Do you think that table manners have changed greatly for the centuries? Have a look at the cards with a list of do’s and don’ts and say which necessary words are missing? You may work in groups.
“Never…over the table for something you want, ask your …to pass it.”
“Take a slice of bread from the bread-plate by …, don’t… it with … .”
“Do not bite into …slice, break it off piece by … “
“Never spoil your neighbour’s appetite by…what he just happens to be eating or by telling stories which are not… to good indigestion”.
“Chicken requires special handling. First,… as much as you can, and when you can’t use … and… any longer, use your… “.
“When a dish is placed before you do not eye it… as though it were the first time you have seen it. No matter how surprised you are take it in your …”.
“When you are being served, don’t ….One piece is as good as the next”.
“In between courses don’t make … to while the time away and do not play with …”.
“Don’t lick your … . If you really like the food, ask for a second …”.
“Sit facing the table, don’t sit … .Keep your feet under you, don’t … them all the way under the table”.
“Cut your meat into small pieces that can be chewed with ease. Cut off … … at a time”.
“If your food is too hot, don’t …on it as if you were trying to start a campfire on a damp night”.
“Don’t … your soup as though you wanted the whole house to hear”.
“Don’t talk with your mouth ….First chew and then …”.
“Don’t pick your … in company after the meal even though tooth-picks are provided for the purpose”.
The missing words are: stretch, neighbour, hand, harpoon, a fork, the whole, criticizing, conductive, cut, knife, fork, fingers, suspiciously, stride, pick, bread-balls, the silver, spoon, helping, sideways, stretch, one piece, blow, sip, full, swallow, teeth.
T. -The British and the Russians like to treat each other to their national food, can you guess the names of the British dishes?
Bubble and (------); Bangers and (----); Boxty (----); Cock-a-(------) soup; Irish (----);Lancashire
The missing words are: Squeak, mash, bread, leekie, stew, pot, hole, Cornish.
T. -What traditional Russian dishes would you treat your British guests to? What are they made from? How would you advertise them to look appetizing?
S.-We would offer them to taste our Rusian “blini” with different stuffings, pelmeni, kholodets and, of course, pirozhki. We could show them pictures in culinary books and tell them about the ingredients.
T. -Don’t you think it is interesting to consider some common linguistic features in Russian and in English? I have a good reason to believe that you can find some similarity if you translate the following expressions into Russian: “to go through fire and water”, “the rain is pouring”, ”he has not a dry stitch on him”, ”to eat like a horse”. “to add fuel to fire”, ”to wash one’s dirty linen in public”, ”to stir the hornet’s nest”, “to work like a mule”, etc.? Don’t they have the same meaning?
S. -They certainly do. Moreover, some English and Russian proverbs are the same! For instance:
“The early bird catches the worm”, ”Don’t put the cart before the horse”.
S. -“All that glitters isn’t gold”. “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you”.
T. -As for poetry, what examples from Pushkin’s works can you give, where English influence can’t be denied?
S. - He uses colourful expressions from Shakespeare, Byron, inserting quotations in English.
T. - Can you guess where they are from?
“The power and glory of the war,
Faithless as their vain votaries, men,
Had pass’d to triumphant Csar”. (Byron)
S. -Epigraph to “Poltava”.
T. -“Fare thee well, and if for ever
Still for ever fare thee well.” Byron)
S. -Epigraph in “Evgeny Onegin”.
T. -Could you recite some lines from Pushkin’s works where he uses such words as “dandy”, ”roast- beef ,”,”beef-steaks”, “Poor Yorick!” etc.?
S. -Oh, they are the famous lines that can easily be recalled:
“Острижен по последней моде;
Кaк dandy лондонский одет-
И наконец увидел свет”.
S. -“…пред ним roast-beef окровавленный”…
S. -“…затем что не всегда же мог
Beef-steaks и страсбургский пирог
Шампанской обливать бутылкой…
S. -“…Как Child- Harold, угрюмый, томный,
В гостиных появлялся он…”
S. -“…И долго сердцу грустно было
“Poor Yorick!” молвил он уныло.
T. -What other British names are connected with the name of the great Russian poet?
(John Milton, Samuel Richardson, Thomas Moore, William Wordsworth…)
T. - By the way, do you happen to know who wrote the words to the famous song “Вечерний звон”? (Thomas Moore) Pushkin’s friend translated the words into Russian. Do you know his name? (Ivan Kozlov)
T. -Thus, much water has flowed under the bridge since the time we are speaking about now…
Read some passages from “Russian Journal” article titled “Tales about “terrible Russia spun
by profiteers” and sum up the image of Russians in Europe.
“As we have found out, Western top managers view Russia neither as a far-away barbarian land,
nor as an exile destination, nor as a banana republic, but as a country offering real chances to do business, make a name for oneself and acquire excellent prospects for making a career in the parent company”.
“A strong advantage of Russian businesspeople and managers is their flair for innovation, risk, new approaches and entrepreneurship in general. Russians are ambitious, adventurous and not afraid of risk. They are critical, not prone to servility and, in appraising a person, they look at specific deeds, not positions or ranks”.
“Russian specialists and managers love to study and to achieve career growth. The best way to get a Russian interested is to present him or her with an education and career program.”
“Russia is not a barbaric country. People here are well-educated, knowledgeable and quirky. At the same time, one should not be too trusting – there are enough swindlers here.”
“Russia still lacks effective working rules and regulations as well as market infrastructures and information channels. Therefore, it is necessary to acquire contacts, connections, information sources and personal friends who will help you if and when the system comes to a crash.”
T.-Which words from the article would you choose to characterize the Russians of today? Underline them and make a short summary. Russia is integrating into the World Community. What do you think is very important for strengthening future Russo-British relations? To build walls or bridges? What is your opinion? Express it in your home composition.
1. “Russia – Britain: to commemorate the 450th anniversary of diplomatic relations.”
Москва: Издательский Дом Максима Светланова. 2003. c. 6-7, 238-243
2. Burgess G. The delightful game of conversation. English (newspaper), № 29/2003. Москва: Издательский Дом Первое Сентября. 2003. с.3.
3. Семенова Л.Н., Коренькова Л.В.“Сценарий литературного вечера: “Пушкин и Байрон”// Иностранные языки в школе, № 3. Москва. 1998. с.59
4. Shmarov A., Auzan V. Tales about “terrible Russia” spun by profiteers Russian Journal, June 1-7/2001. p.22