THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Ø 1) What comes first to your mind when you hear “the United States of America”? Have you, your friends or relatives been to the United States? What was the most memorable impression of the country?
The United States of America (the USA) is a large country stretching across the middle of North America. In 1620, a group of people left England for America. They had decided to make homes for themselves in the new land across the ocean. They hoped they would have a better life there. After a stormy voyage across the Atlantic, their small ship, the “Mayflower,” reached the shores of the new land. Those early settlers built their first colonies and began to explore the new country which they called New England. As their settlements were called “colonies,” the people were called “colonists.” Soon more and more European settlers came and more colonies were formed.
The American colonies grew bigger and bigger, they prospered, but they were for a long time ruled by England, and all the riches of the new country belonged to England. In 1776 the thirteen young American colonies united and began a war against England for freedom and independence, which was called the War of Independence. They won and a new nation was born which became the United States of America. July 4, 1776 is still celebrated as “the birthday” of the American nation, and is called Independence Day.
The leaders of the new state decided they would form a republic which would have no king but would have a President, who was to be chosen every four years. George Washington (1732 - 1799), who had led the Americans in the war, became the first President. He is now called “the Father of the United States.”
The new country was explored. Endless plains, great mountains and deserts were discovered. Settlers from all the countries of Europe moved to the West until the nation reached from the Atlantic to the Pacific. One by one new states were added to the first thirteen.
Today the USA consists of 50 states. The capital is Washington D.C.
The citizens and many other residents of the United States refer to themselves and each other as Americans, and to their country as the United States or America.
While to many foreigners “Yankees” is synonymous with the American people, Americans almost always use the term for the sports team, for New Englanders, New Yorkers, or with reference to those living in the northeastern U.S. in contrast to Southerners.
“The US” (the “U.S.”) or “the USA” (“the U.S.A.”) or “the U. S. of A.” are casual, short-hand terms. The official name of the nation, the “United States of America,” is very formal and is most often used in formal government documents, pledges, or ceremonies, but not in colloquial conversations. It is more common to hear the shortened phrase “United States.”
Ø 2) Look through the text and find:
a)the date when the first people from Europe came to America,
b)the name of their ship,
c)the date when the war between England and the American colonies began,
d)the date of Independence Day,
e)the name of the first president of the USA,
f)the number of states in the USA,
g)the name of the capital,
h)different names of the country.
Ø 1) What is the capital of the USA? What kind of city is it? What do you know about it? What places of interest are there?
The city of Washington, D. C. is the nation’s capital. D. C. means the District of Columbia. The district covers 67 square miles, and it does not belong to any state. It’s a favourite tourist place, and there is much to see.
The White House is where the President works. His office is called the oval office. He often meets important visitors such as other presidents and ambassadors in his office. The President and his family also live in the White House, but the American people own the White House. They are the landlord and the President is a tenant.
When the British invaded Washington in 1814, they burned the White House. The First Lady was Dolly Madison, and she managed to save many valuable documents before escaping. She also saved a historic portrait of George Washington.
The Washington Monument was constructed after Washington died. It is a tribute to America’s first President. It is possible to climb to the top of the monument. The view from the top is wonderful.
The Lincoln Memorial is a massive marble building. Inside is a statue of Lincoln, looking down at you. It is very impressive.
The Vietnam Memorial was created by a young woman, Maya Lin. It is a huge slab of black granite that forms a wall. The names of all the American men and women who died in Vietnam are carved into the wall. It is a moving tribute to their sacrifice.
Ø 2) Say whether the following statements are true or false and justify your answer:
a)New York is the capital of the USA.
b)D.C. means the District of California.
c)The President of the USA works in the Capitol.
d)The American President and his family live in the White House.
e)The capital of the USA in named after the first president of the USA.
f)The statue of Lincoln is located in New York.
Ø 3) Make up an outline of the text in writing.
Ø 1) Have you seen or heard of New York? Have you, your friends or relatives been to New York? What is the most memorable impression of New York? What tragic event occurred in New York on September 11, 2001?
Ø 2) Scan the text and name the ideas of each paragraph.
(1)New York is the largest city in the United States. More than seven million people live there. New York has very tall buildings like the Empire State Building. The tall twin buildings of the World Trade Centre were unfortunately damaged during the September 11 attacks.
(2)New York is the biggest port in the world. Thousands of ships come to the port of New York each year. It has Macy’s, one of the biggest stores in the world. New York also has the largest lady in the world – the Statue of Liberty.
(3)New York is a cosmopolitan city. People from many countries come to live in New York. Three quarters, or 75% of the people in New York City come from five groups. The groups are: blacks, Jews, Italians, Puerto Ricans, and Irish. The other quarter, or 25% come from all over the world.
(4)New York City is the centre for culture in the United States. It has the finest museums and best art galleries in the country. If you want to see a play, there are many theatres you can go to on Broadway. The street called Broadway is the centre for the theatre life in the United States.
(5)People call New York City the “Big Apple”. Jazz musicians in the 1920s gave New York this name. When a musician says he is going to the Big Apple, it means he is the best. Today, New York is still the U.S. centre for art, business, and education. One of the most prestigious universities, Columbia University, is located there.
Ø 3) Make a list of proper names and be ready to explain what is what and who is who.
SYMBOLS OF THE USA
Ø 1) Read the heading and the following words from the text and say what the text is about:flag, patriotism, loyalty, anthem, founding documents, emblem, the eagle, the bald eagle.
American patriotism is based more on belief in a certain set of ideals than on a geographical space. For most Americans, the spirit of their country is rooted in the concepts of freedom, and democracy.
It has become customary to fly The Flag on national holidays, and many people now fly The Flag daily from their homes. This action demonstrates patriotism and loyalty to the country and honors the sacrifice of all who have made this Great Nation possible. The thirteen stripes of the flag represent the original thirteen colonies and the fifty stars represent the fifty states.
The American National Anthem “The Star Spangled Banner” is a tribute to the American flag. In many American schools children begin their day by reciting the “Pledge of Allegiance” to the flag.
It has become customary to display replicas of the country’s founding documents including “The Declaration of Independence,” “The Bill of Rights” and “The Constitution” in libraries and offices, at home and at work. This is done in recognition of the important principles that are the basis for the establishment of American free society.
The eagle represents Freedom. The bald eagle was chosen as the emblem of the United States of America because of its long life, great strength and majestic looks, and also because it was then believed to exist only on this continent. It has become a tradition to display the eagle, or the Seal of the United States which contains the eagle, in locations where the Federal Government has offices or conducts official business. The eagle is found on U.S. currency and coins and also forms the basis for many emblems of government agencies. Many families have an eagle with spread wings above their hearth or displayed on the external surfaces of their homes above doors, entries or garages. It is often used as an ornament for flagpoles.
Ø 2) Name the statements which are true:
a)the eagle forms the basis for many emblems of government agencies,
b)the eagle represents democracy,
c)the concepts of freedom and democracy are very important in the United States,
d)the replicas of the founding documents are displayed everywhere,
e)the American National Anthem “God , save the Queen” is known all over the country,
f)it is a custom to fly the flag daily from homes,
g)every day in offices begins with the “Pledge of Allegiance”.