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UNIT 3. HOUSING. 3.1. HOUSING CONDITIONS READING


Topical Words:

Text 1. My Flat. (A)

Our flat is really nice but it is not spacious. It is very comfortable. It is in a new sixteen-storey house. Our flat is on the second floor. It consists of one room, a kitchen and a bathroom.

The living room is well furnished. There are two tables in it. One of them, a desk, is at the window. There is a lamp and some books on it. There is an armchair at the desk. The second table is in the front of the sofa. On the sofa there are some cushions. To the left of the table there is a bookcase. There are a lot of books in it. It is low but quite modern. There is a wardrobe against the wall. On the walls there are some pictures. The floor is covered with a soft thick carpet.

The kitchen is small but very light and comfortable. There is a nice gas-cooker, a table and some stools to the left of the window. Certainly, there is a sink near the cooker with cold and hot water taps. As the window is large, there is plenty of sunlight in the kitchen cupboard were we keep plates, cups, sauces, glasses, knives, spoons, forks and other things.

The bathroom is rather cosy. The bath is on the right and the washbasin is on the left. There is a mirror above the wash-basin and a shower above the bath. A bath-mat is on the floor near the bath.

Exercises:

1) Read and translate the text.

Put five questions to the text.

Render the text in English.

Text 2. My Home. (B)

I would like to tell you a few words about my home. To begin with, I want to tell you that I live in Kyiv, one of the largest and the oldest cities of Europe. It is one of the most ancient cities located on the picturesque banks of the Dnieper river.

Our family live in a new flat in one of the largest newly built residential areas. We moved into our flat seven years ago. It is a three-room flat on the fifth floor of an eight-storeyed building. It consists of a living room, a study, a bathroom, a bedroom, a kitchen, two closets and lavatory. There are two balconies in our flat: the first one is in the living room, and the second — in the bedroom. Our flat has all modern conveniences: central heating, running cold and hot water, electricity, telephone and gas. Besides, there is a lift and a garbage disposal in our building. The layout is very good, I must admit. The rooms are light, though not very large. In my opinion, it´s quite a modern-looking flat. The windows face the park in front of the building and the view is really wonderful.

Our living room is quite a big room of about 19 square meters. It is the largest room in our flat. As my parents don´t like much furniture in the house, so in the living room there are two comfortable armchairs and a sofa, coffee-table and a nice thick carpet on the floor. Opposite the window there is a wall unit, but it doesn´t take much space in the room. Of course there is a colour TV set, and a Stereo in the living-room. A nice chandelier is hanging from the ceiling and there is a standard lamp to the left of the sofa. During the day, the light comes in through the window, but at night when it gets dark, we switch on the light and draw the curtains across the windows. W

e like to receive our guests in this room.

And now I would like to describe our study. At first it was my daddy´s room, but as I grew older, it has become mine. To tell you the truth, 1 am very happy to have a room for myself, that´s why I always try to keep it tidy and cosy. There is a sofa, a writing table, a bookcase, a wardrobe in my room. On the wall there are some shelves full of English, Ukrainian and Russian books. There is a radio set on the shelf and, I must confess, I like to listen to the wireless in the evening. The dressing-table is next to the sofa. In the chest of drawers I keep clean linen and handkerchiefs and in the wardrobe I keep my clothes, which I hang on coat-hangers. I have two water-colours on the wall above the sofa. They are nice copies of my favourite paintings by Serov.

Our bedroom is the smallest room in our flat. At night when my parents feel tired and sleepy, they share this room.

But the most popular and favourite place with all of us is the kitchen, as we spend most of our time there. We all are not big-eaters, but use the kitchen as a place where we can have a chat about our problems and life.

In the kitchen there are some stools, a table, a cupboard, a sink with water taps, a fridge and a gas-cooker. Of course, we usually have our meals there.

We like our flat very much. It is important that our house is rather close to the underground station and we can easily get to any place we like.

Exercises:

1) Fill in the missing words:

  1. Kyiv is one of the most ancient ... located on the ... banks of the Dnieper river.
  2. Our family live in a new flat in one of the ... newly built areas.
  3. Our flat has all modern ... : central ... , running cold and hot water, electricity, ... , and gas.
  4. The layout is ..., I must admit.
  5. In my opinion, it´s quite a modern ... flat.
  6. As my parents don´t like much ... in the house so in the living- room there are . and . , coffee table and a nice . on the floor.
  7. Opposite the window there is a ... , but it doesn´t take much space in the room.
  8. A nice ... is hanging from the ceiling and there is a ... lamp to the left of the sofa.
  9. We like ... our guests in this room.
  10. I am very happy to have a room for ... , that´s why I always try to keep it ... and cosy.
  11. I like to listen to the; ... in the evening.
  12. In the ... I keep clean linen and handkerchiefs and in the ... I keep my clothes which I hang on the . .
  13. We are not big-eaters, but we use our kitchen as a ... where we can have a . about our problems and life.
  14. It is important that our house is rather ... to the underground station and we can ... get to any place we like.

Text 3. Kinds of Housing. (B)

Almost everybody in Britain dreams of living in a detached house; that is a house which is a separate building. The saying, «An Englishman´s home is his castle» is well-known. It illustrates the desire for privacy and the importance attached to ownership which seem to be at the heart of the British attitude to housing.

A large detached house is not only ensures privacy. It is also a status symbol. At the extreme end of the scale there is the aristocratic «stately home» set in acres of garden. Of course, such a house is an unrealistic dream for most people. But even a small detached house, surrounded by garden, gives the required suggestion of rural life which is dear to the heart of many British people. Most people would be happy to live in a cottage.

Most people try to avoid living in blocks of flats. Flats, they feel, provide the least amount of privacy. With a few exceptions, mostly in certain locations in central London, flats are the cheapest kind of home. The people who live in them are those who cannot afford to live anywhere else.

The dislike of living in flats is very strong. In the 1950s millions of poorer people lived in old, cold, uncomfortable nineteenth century houses, often with only an outside toilet and no bathroom. During the next twenty years many of them were given smart new «high rise» blocks of flats to live in which, with central heating and bathrooms, were much more comfortable and were surrounded by grassy open spaces. But people hated their new homes. They said they felt cut off from the world all those floors up. They missed the neighbourliness. They couldn´t keep a watchful eye on their children playing down there in those lovely green spaces. The new high- rise blocks quickly deteriorated. The lifts broke down. The lights in the corridors didn´t work. Windows got broken and were not repaired. There was graffiti all over the walls.

In theory there is no objective reason why these high-rise blocks (or «tower blocks») could not have been a success. In other countries millions of people live reasonably happily in flats. But in Britain they were a failure because they do not suit British´ attitudes. The failure has been generally recognised for several years now. No more high-rises are being built. At the present time, only 4% of the population live in one. Only 20% of the country´s households live in flats of any kind.

The most desirable home: a detached house.

This is what is usually written in a builder´s advertisement.

Notice:

the «traditional» building material of brick (the walls) and slate (the roof);

the irregular, «non-classical» shape, with all those little corners, making the house feel «cosy»;

the suggestion of a large front garden with a tree and bushes, evoking not only the country side but also giving greater privacy;

that the garage is hidden discretely away, so that it is not too obvious and doesn´t spoil the rural feeling;

that the front door is not even seen (the privacy criterion at work again).

Second best: a semi-detached.

Unless they are located in the remotest parts of the country, detached houses are too expensive for most people. So this is what a very large proportion of people live in: one building with two separate households. Each house is the mirror of the other, inside and out. These houses can be found, street after street, in the suburbs of cities and the outskirts of towns all over Britain. There is a separate front garden for each house. At the sides, there is access to the back, where there will also be two gardens. The most common building material is brick. The typical semi-detached has two floors and three bedrooms.

Less desirable: a terraced house.

This kind of house usually has no way through to the back except through the house itself. Each house in the row is joined to the next one. (Houses at the end of the row are a bit more desirable — they are the most like a semidetached). They usually have two floors, with two bedrooms upstairs. Some have gardens, back and front, others only at the back and others no garden at all. Before the 1960s Britain had millions of terraced houses, most with no inside toilet or bathroom. Many of these were then knocked down, but in some areas those that have survived have become quite desirable´ after repairs and building work have been carried out.

An exception: the town house.

These houses, which can be found in the inner areas of most cities, are an exception to the general pattern. There is great variety regarding both design and use. They often have three or more floors, perhaps including a basement or semi-basement. Although they are usually terraced, those-that are well-preserved and in a «good» area may be thought highly desirable. Many have been broken up into flats or rooms for rent. Most of the comparatively small number of people who rent from private owners live in flats of this kind. Sometimes they are «self-contained» flats (they have washing and cooking facilities and it is not necessary to walk through anybody else´s flat to get to your own); sometimes they are «bedsits» (i.e. bed-sitting rooms; residents have one room to themselves and share washing and cooking facilities with other residents). The least desirable: a flat.

Not having a separate entrance to the outside world does not suit British tastes. Although it is densely populated, Britain has the second lowest proportion of flat-dwellers in the EU (the lowest of all is in Ireland).

Exercises:

1) Read and translate the text.

2) Give your own explanations to the following: a detached house; a semi-detached; a terraced house; the town house; a flat.

3) Answer the following questions:

  1. What kind of house do you live in?
  2. What is the view like?
  3. What is there around your house?
  4. What kind of home do you have?
  5. What´s your flat like?
  6. How are the other rooms furnished?

It´s interesting to know:

Text 1. The stately home (B)

There is one exception to the rule that «homes» are more important than «houses»! This is among the aristocracy. Many of these families own fine old country houses, often with a great deal of land attached, in which they have lived for hundreds of years. They have a very great emotional investment in their houses — and are prepared to try very hard to stay in them. This can be very difficult in modern times, partly because of the death duties (very high taxes which the inheritor of a large property has to pay). So, in order to stay in their houses, many aristocrats live lives which are less physically comfortable than those of most people (they may not, for example, have central heating). Many have also turned their houses and land into tourist attractions. These are popular not only with foreign tour- sits. British visitors are also happy to be able to walk round in rural surroundings as they inspect a part of their country´s history.

Britain. The country and its people.

James O´DriscolT

Text 2. The student accommodation in Great Britain (B)

Generally British students live in «Halls of Residence». These are often newly constructed buildings with a large number of individual «study- bedrooms», consisting of a bed, a table, a chair, bookshelves, cupboards and with sometimes a washbasin. Students usually have a single room but sometimes they have to share for one year with another person. There is a bathroom, a kitchen and a laundry on each floor for communal use. There is also a «common room» (a room where students can meet), a TV room and a games room. Breakfast, lunch and evening meals are usually provided for the students in a self-service cafeteria, within the Hall. The student pays for his residence at the beginning of each academic term. Prices vary quite a lot from university to university.

These «Halls of Residence» are for «Red, Bricks» (Victorian) universities, such as Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham and Liverpool or for more modern universities, such as Warwick.

The ancient, traditional universities, such as Oxford, Cambridge, Durham and London, have a «collegiate system». In many ways they are similar to Halls of Residence, but there are a few differences. In the first place, the student lives in a college. The buildings are usually very old, some dating from the middle ages. Colleges are more traditional than Halls of Residence. For example, many college students have to wear black gowns during the evening meal! Such a collegiate student has a tutor who acts as a «moral» and «academic» adviser. Perhaps the greatest difference is that students in these traditional universities have fewer accommodation difficulties than students in newer universities: one is guaranteed accommodation in college for 3 or 4 years, if one so wishes, although many students choose to «live out» rather than «live in» as they feel they then have more independence. It must be added that many British students experience accommodation difficulties during their studies.

Usually the students study in the University Reading-Room, but those who want to prolong their working hours can work in their study-bedrooms or in specially appointed study rooms. The Halls provide a homely atmosphere conducive to studying.

Exercises:

2) Read and translate the text.

3) Answer the questions:

What is the student accommodation like in Great Britain?

What is the difference between Ukrainian and Britain kind of living?


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