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My Studies

My studies… What can I say about it? Once I took pains to look up the etymology of the word 'study'. Guess what, according to the dictionary entry I have never studied in my whole life. No kidding. The word came from the Latin 'studium' through Old French 'estudie' meaning 'zeal, affection, painstaking application'. See what I mean? Maybe, in the days of old people took studies more seriously than we – their descendants – do nowadays.

My studies began at school and I am pretty sure I'm not alone in this part of our life experience. What I was taught there I still partially remember (despite desperate attempts of my brain to forget), but for what purpose I was doing it is a million dollar question. Getting educated, some would say. Learning the basics of social life, others would add. May it be so. In any case, I recollect my schooldays with a feeling of mixed sorrow and joy – I grieve because they are gone and at the same time I rejoice for the very same reason. That's human nature, it's so inexplicable.

For the moment I study at the university. My choice was made in favour of the department of foreign languages. English department, to be precise. Hardly would anyone deny that foreign languages are absolutely necessary nowadays, because of ever growing international contacts. If you ask my fellow students why they decided to study a foreign language you will be probably told that it will help them communicate with other people who speak this language or their future career. With the help of technological development communication now is more simple and convenient, even between people from different countries. There's Internet, so in order to chat with an Englishman you no longer need to go to England. Working in any branch of science, there's a natural wish, or rather necessity, to read scientific books and magazines in other languages to raise professional level. Making business nowadays also needs the ability to speak foreign languages.

Apart from this, one can watch films and read books in the original. Of course there are translations, but that any translation loses some bits of the original information is common knowledge. Sometimes these bits are very important. Sometimes they are crucial to understanding. Take, for example, the title of O. Wilde's play 'The Importance of being Earnest'. It is absolutely impossible to render it into Russian keeping the meaning as it is, because in English 'earnest' (an adjective meaning 'serious, sincere') and the proper name 'Ernest' are pronounced the same way. The whole play is build up on this pun. Needless to say that the Russian pair of words 'serjezny' and 'Ernest' sounds a little bit different.

The great German poet Goethe once said, 'He, who knows no foreign language, doesn't know his own one'. I couldn't have said it better. Knowledge of a foreign language makes our intellectual and cultural horizons wider. Through contacts with people of another culture, their literate, art and music we come to a better understanding of our own heritage. We receive an opportunity to judge something in comparison with something else and that's truly more significant than it may seem at first sight.

Unfortunately, there's reverse side to every medal. I mean that learning a foreign language isn't an easy thing. It is a long, slow and complicated process that takes a lot of time and energy. Learning new words, grammar rules, trying to conquer your tongue to pronounce the words correctly, using the right intonation. There's much more than that to learn if you really want to master a foreign language, but it's worth it and the efforts will be repaid.


Task 4. A. Find the English equivalents of Russian words and combinations:

Занятия, словарная статья, иностранный язык, наследие, обратная сторона, произносить, жизненный опыт, потомки, стараться/прилагать усилия, крайне важный.

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