Материалы для подготовки к устному экзамену по английскому языку

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21. Human rights

  • What document guarantees international human rights?

  • The Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees international human rights. The United Nations General Assembly passed this document in 1948.

  • What international organizations are responsible for protecting human rights?

  • International concern for human rights has been evident outside of the United Nations. The Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe, which met in Helsinki in 1973-75, produced the Helsinki Final Act. The European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which first met in 1950, produced the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the European Social Charter; the Ninth Pan-American Conference of 1948 adopted the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man; and the Organization of African Unity in 1981 adopted the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights. There are also a number of private groups involved in human-rights advocacy. One of the best-known international human rights agencies is Amnesty International (founded in 1961). This organization is responsible for broad casting violations of human rights, especially freedoms of speech and religion and the right of political dissent.

  • When was the notion of human right worked out?

  • Human rights belong to an individual as a consequence of being human. They refer to a wide range of values that are universal for all human beings. The origins of the concept of human rights are traced to the Greco-Roman natural-law doctrines of stoicism. According to the doctrines a universal force penetrates all creation and that human conduct should therefore be judged ac cording to the law of nature, and in the «law of nations», in which certain universal rights were extended beyond the rights of Roman citizenship. From the Renaissance until the 17th century the beliefs and practices of society so changed that the idea of human (or natural) rights took hold as a general social need and reality. The modernist conception of natural law (natural rights) was elaborated in the 17th and 18th centuries. The struggle against political absolutism in the late 18th and the 19th centuries further advanced the concept of human rights. In the 20th century the notion of human rights achieved universal acceptance.

  • What are the basic human rights?

  • The right to life and liberty are the basic human rights. They are proclaimed in the Covenant on Civil and Political rights and its optional protocol. One of the most vital rights granted in this Covenant is the right of people to self-determination. This document guarantees such rights as personal security, equality before the law, fair trial, freedom of religion, freedom of opinion and expression, peaceful assembly, right to marry, participation in public affairs and elections, and minority rights. Propaganda of war is prohibited. The right to security and privacy of person is very important too. The document insures fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.

  • Do people have any social guarantees?

  • Yes. Certainly we have such guarantees. Social guarantees of people are set forth in the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural life. This document deals with the right to work, the conditions of work, trade unions, social security, protection of the family, standards of living and health, education and cultural life. The European Commission of Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights provided the most effective means for the implementation of the protection of human rights. The efforts of government in this area should be guided by these two Covenants.

  • What can you say about human rights in Russia?

  • Now, when Russia has entered the way of democracy it is directed by the international covenants in the field of human right as the rest democratic countries of the world. Despite its great economic, political, and social difficulties the fundamental rights of the people are guaranteed by the Russian government. The protection of human rights is secured by the Russian constitution. Such human rights as freedom of religion, freedom of opinion and expression, peaceful assembly, right to marry, participation in public affairs and elections are guaranteed and embodied in different political, cultural, and social institutions, religious confessions, secular organizations, in a variety of mass media productions. Although not all human rights are equally put into life in our country so far, we are moving along the way of democracy and the new generation will enjoy all the human rights which are set forth in the international covenants.

22. Culture of the youth

  • What is implied under culture?

  • Culture is known to have many meanings. One of them refers to the spiritual and material achievements of humanity. On the whole it is possible to distinguish three kinds of culture. They are elite culture, folk culture and popular culture. These cultures are closely connected with one another and one culture is part of the others. Elite culture is a highly developed sphere, it is comprised of painting, sculpture, architecture, literature, music. Folk culture is the culture of everyday life and routine relations of social life. Folk culture consists of traditional knowledge and practice. It is like a habit of people, thus this culture does not change very quickly Popular culture is mass culture. It is a professionally organized sphere that works for a large mass of people. Popular culture gives people, especially young, standards to be what they like.

  • What can you say about the culture of the youth?

  • Today the life of many young people in Russia as well as in other countries of the world is influenced by popular culture. The youth follow certain stereotypes that are imposed on them through TV, movies, and music. In their lifestyles they try to imitate the images of their idols. Other young people are sports and music fans. They frequent stadiums and huge concert halls. They follow their idols in their tours throughout the country and support them. Unfortunately they are intolerant to those who do not share their view. It is a specific aspect of the youth sub-culture that cannot be ignored.

  • Do many young people follow this pattern?

  • No, they don't. Many young people have other interests. For some of them getting knowledge is of primary importance. They are fond of reading serious books, listening to serious music. They go to the conservatory and theatres. They are engaged in Hi-Tech through the Internet.

  • What do you and your friends prefer?

  • We prefer music. It plays a very important part in the life of young men. Tastes differ, and the music scene is changing. Young people like different kinds of music. Some like disco music they can dance to. Some like loud, heavy rock music. Some like the popular reggae sound. Some like South American rhythm. Many of them are fond of jazz. Madonna and Bruce Sprigsteen from the USA and George Michael from Britain also have huge numbers of fans. As for me, my friends and I enjoy Celtic folk music. My favourite groups that perform Celtic music are «Chieftains» and «River dance».

  • Is Celtic folk music popular in Russia?

  • Yes, it is. It is very popular. For example, St. Patrick's Day, the major Irish holiday, is celebrated throughout Moscow. You can hear Celtic music everywhere on this day. It should be said that festivals of Irish music are regularly held in Russia, hosting groups performing Celtic music from Ireland, Great Britain, the USA and Russia.

  • Do you mean that there are groups in Russia that play Celtic music?

  • Yes, there are. In such groups as «Slua Si», «Pucken' Piper», and «Reelroads» Russian young men perform Irish and Scottish music.

  • What can you say about Russian rock music?

  • I am not a fan of Russian rock. But there are a lot of rock musicians in our country. Such groups as «Alisa», «DDT» and «Mumiy Troll» are very popular among Russian young people. It is interesting to note that many young people still listen to the music of the groups that do not exist any more. I mean «Kino» and «Nautilus Pompilius».

  • What books do Russian young people read?

  • Many young people are fond of stories and novels written by Victor Pelevin and Boris Akunin. Their works are examples of such literary trends as post modernism and post Constructivism. Besides, many young people like to read science fiction literature. The novels by the Strougutskys's are best read even today. Among the young science fiction writers the novels by Serge Lukjanenko are very popular. A lot of young people are fond of are science fiction and fantasy.

  • Why are science fiction and fantasy so popular in Russia?

  • These literary trends are poplar not only in Russia but all over the world. The best read foreign fantasy writer is J.R.R. Tolkien. His books really ushered in a new era in literature. J.R.R. Tolkien won fame due to his original epic trilogy «The Lord of the Rings». This outstanding work by the mid-1960s became a sociocultural phenomenon. While working on his trilogy J.R.R. Tolkien created «The Hobbit» which was an introduction to it. Both «The Hobbit» and «The Lord of the Rings» are set in a mythical past. «The Lord of the Rings» chronicles the struggle between various good and evil kingdoms for possession of a magical ring that can shift the balance of power in the world. The trilogy is remarkable for its fantasy types - elves, dwarves, hobbits - and its sustained imaginative storytelling. It is regarded as a rare, successful modern version of the heroic epic.

  • Do you know anything about urban sub-cultures of the youth?

  • It is generally held that sub-culture is the culture of those who are dissatisfied with their place in society. On the whole Teds, Mods, Rockers, Bikers, Skinheads and Punks are the sub-cultures of the politically or economically weak segments of the society.

  • What do recent sub-cultures protest against?

  • As is known, recent sub-cultures reflect a refusal to con form in post-1945 society. For example, the sub-culture of Rastafairians was based on nostalgia for a lost world. They idealized Africa.

  • Who were Rastafairians?

  • Rastafairians were Afro-Caribbean immigrants in Britain. They dreamed of golden age in Africa before the slave traders came. They viewed Britain as part of the Biblical 'Babylon', the land of slavery, and Africa especially Ethiopia as the 'Promised Land'. These Rastafairians began to wear distinctive clothes, camouflage jackets, large hats in the red, gold and green colours of Ethiopia and put their long, uncut hair in 'dreadlocks'. They took to speaking in a special 'patois' or dialect. Rastafairians were defiant until they became a recognized and legitimate minority group in Great Britain at the end of the 1980s.

  • What made the greatest impact on the development of urban sub-cultures?

  • Black music which came to Britain through the Rastafairians made its impact on urban sub-cultures. Such types as ska, reggae and 'Hip-hop' evolved in the Caribbean and the United States, developed in Britain during the 1970s, came to Russia in the 1990s In Britain reggae music is held as powerful expression of dissidents. In our country reggae is the music of the teenagers. Many sub-cultures developed as a result of music fusion of black and white cultures.

  • Can you give an example of such fusion?

  • Skinheads developed in the 1970s in England out of an older cult, the Mods. They imitated black mannerism and fashion and danced to reggae. At the same time the white teenagers who loved the music and copied the clothes of the Afro-Asian immigrants were violent to them. They wore heavy boots, jeans and braces, and shave their hair or cut it very short. They aggressively sought to recover a crude working-class identity which their parents' generation had largely abandoned. In the main, Skinheads dreamed about the revival of the traditional working-class culture. Now this movement is in decline in Britain but it flourishes in East European countries and Russia. The Skinheads in Great Britain were identified with extreme right wing views.

  • What can you say about Hippies?

  • Hippies belonged to the opposing young people of the late 1960s. Their forms of protest corresponded to the standards of their contemporaneous society. Coming against the war in Vietnam the young Americans, who associated themselves with Hippies, established their communes. The movement spread throughout Europe. Hippies led a primitive life in their own countries and then moved to the East. They rebelled against the values of their society. Their idol was J.R.R. Tolkien, who created the fairy tale of the twentieth century. His epic trilogy «The Lord of the Rings» became the guidelines for Hippies.

  • What do you know about Punks?

  • As far as I know, Punks appeared in Britain in the 1970s as a reaction to the glamour of the pop star world of the 1960s. Punks, like the Skinheads, are regressive, but inactive and politically indifferent. Their real attraction to the young has been their ability to insult middle-aged opinion, especially among the guardians of social values. They have done it by using vulgar language, wearying green and pink hair, dressing in torn clothes, mutilating their bodies with safety pins. Now Punks are in decline in Britain but are popular in our country. Punks, Skinheads and Rastafairians, each in their own way asserted that they resided in a world, as they understood it, alienated by class and race. Generally they were young people with low self-respect, who did poorly at school. Joining a gang was a means of finding a status. They opposed the traditional world in which they were settled as fiasco elements.

  • Are there other cults within urban sub-culture?

  • Yes, there are. «Heavy metal» is one of them. This music of failure is widely despised by those who enjoy pop, reggae or soul. Unlike other rebel cults the followers of heavy metal behave them selves as victims. They wear gothic script and grinning sculls, expression of disheartened interests. It is known that cults arise and disappear over periods of a decade or two. Ragga and Gothic arose in the 1980s. Raggas are American-inspired. They are clothed in baseball caps, tracksuits trousers and chunky trainers. Gothic is a blend of 1970s Punk and 1960s Hippies. «Goths» wear their hair very long and dyed black, and dress in cheap, loose clothes. They put on make-up, looking very pale with cosmetics around the eyes. They are not aggressive, and seem to feel nostalgia for the youth culture and music of the 1960s. At the end of the 1980s Acid House was a fashionable sub-culture. It fascinated thousands juveniles who had not earlier belonged to a cult. Acid House guaranteed fun and all-night dancing. It had its own music which was another variation on black music from America («House Music»). By the 1990s this movement was also in decline. It is interesting to note that sub-cultures follow a cycle. At first they shock then provoke a strong response. As soon as the sub-culture gains momentum it magnetizes youth in search of rebel unity. Many adopt it for fun, and play at rebellion in their leisure time. The sub-culture rapidly ceases to express serious dissent. In the end it becomes another recognized and colourful part of urban culture.

23. Youth and unemployment

  • What do you know about unemployment?

  • Unemployment is the condition of one who is capable of working, actively seeking work, but unable to find it. It is important to note, that to be considered unemployed a person must be an active member of the labour force and in search of work. Statistics on unemployment collected and analyzed by government labour offices in most countries is considered to be the chief indicator of economic health. In the United States an unemployment rate of two percent is often cited as a «base» rate.

  • What do you think about the problem of unemployment in Russia?

  • The problem of the youth unemployment is one of the most important ones. The number of the young people looking for job is constantly increasing In Russia young people are looking for job not only for the sake of earning money, but because they want to be independent from their parents. Moreover, job gives the young people a chance to adjust themselves to the real life of adults and stir their ambitions.

  • Is it possible for Russian school-leavers to find any job?

  • Yes, it is. But unfortunately, they are able to find employment only for shorter than normal periods. School-leavers can be part- time workers, seasonal workers, day or casual workers. In general their job is not welcomed. Very often preference is given to adult people. To ensure a balance of working groups in our society the government should work out some social employment programmes.

  • Is it easy to find a job for a graduate in Russia?

  • It depends upon the ability of the person, his qualification and an element of luck by which he or she can find a job. Sometimes the graduates are overqualified for the jobs offered to them. But if the person is persistent he will always find the job he is looking for. Unfortunately not all the required professions are well paid Underpayment can also be regarded as a kind of unemployment Certainly to find a job for a student or a graduate is easier than for a school-leaver.

  • Have you ever tried to apply for a job?

  • No, I have not. But my friend have. And the results are not optimistic. Employees prefer to hire an undergraduate than a school-leaver, who can sit with a baby or wash dishes in a cafe.

  • What are you going to do after finishing school?

  • Unqualified jobs can be good for pupils or students. But if one wants to get a good job and reach something in this life one must continue education. I am going to enter the University. I want to become a journalist. Journalists are always at the forefront of the people's activity.

  • Are your friends going to enter institutions of higher education?

  • Some of them are going to enter universities, others are dreaming about colleges, others are intending to work and study at one and the same time.

  • What do you know about the problem of unemployment in Europe?

  • In Western Europe, unemployment is by far the most important issue. When presented with the choice of 15 different areas of concern, west European nations put unemployment either first or in the top three. Europeans felt that unemployment was the main cause of poverty. Elsewhere in the world, people were likely to choose lack of education as the main reason. Europeans also put great emphasis on insufficient welfare funding. People from the former eastern bloc put slightly less emphasis on unemployment and more on drug and alcohol abuse. These countries also tend to be more concerned about the environment than about economic growth.

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