Lesson 4 - R&W, Culture - DIFFICULTIES

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Overcoming difficulties in everyday life. Writing an outline


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Read the introduction to the text of the inaugural speech by FD Roosevelt, and check some of the answers from exercise 1:

Franklin D. Roosevelt had campaigned against Herbert Hoover in the 1932 presidential election by saying as little as possible about what he might do if elected. Through even the closest working relationships, none of the president-elect’s most intimate associates felt they knew him well, with the exception perhaps of his wife, Eleanor. The affable, witty Roosevelt used his great personal charm to keep most people at a distance. In campaign speeches, he favored a buoyant, optimistic, gently paternal tone spiced with humor. But his first inaugural address took on an unusually solemn, religious quality. And for good reason—by 1933, the Depression had reached its depth. Roosevelt’s first inaugural address outlined, in broad terms, how he hoped to govern, and reminded Americans that the nation’s “common difficulties” concerned “only material things.”

Read the fragment from FDR’s first address, and spot the difficulties the USA was facing:

“One Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself”: FDR’s First Inaugural Address

I am certain that my fellow Americans expect that, on my induction into the Presidency, I will address them with a candor and a decision which the present situation of our people impel. This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing the conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—the nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life, a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential for victory. I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days.
In such a spirit on my part and on yours, we face our common difficulties. They concern, thank God, only material things. Values have shrunken to fantastic levels; taxes have risen; our ability to pay has fallen; government of all kinds is faced by serious curtailment of income; the means of exchange are frozen in the currents of trade; the withered leaves of industrial enterprise lie on every side; farmers find no markets for their produce; the savings of many years in thousands of families are gone.
More important, a host of unemployed citizens face the grim problem of existence, and an equally great number toil with little return.
Only a foolish optimist can deny the dark realities of the moment.
Yet our distress comes from no failure of substance. We are stricken by no plague of locusts. Compared with the perils which our forefathers conquered, because they believed and were not afraid, we have still much to be thankful for. Nature still offers her bounty and human efforts have multiplied it. Plenty is at our doorstep, but a generous use of it languishes in the very sight of the supply. Primarily this is because the rulers of the exchange of mankind’s goods have failed, through their own stubbornness and their own incompetence, have admitted their failure, and abdicated. The practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men.
True they have tried, but their efforts have been cast in the pattern of an outworn tradition. Faced by the failure of credit, they have proposed only the lending of more money. Stripped of the lure of profit by which to induce our people to follow their false leadership, they have resorted to exhortations, pleading tearfully for restored confidence. They know only the rules of a generation of self-seekers. They have no vision, and when there is no vision the people perish. (…)
Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort. The joy and moral stimulation of work no longer must be forgotten in the mad chase of evanescent profits. These dark days will be worth all they cost us if they teach us that our true destiny is not to be ministered unto but to minister to ourselves and to our fellow men.
Recognition of the falsity of material wealth as the standard of success goes hand in hand with the abandonment of the false belief that public office and high political position are to be valued only by the standards of pride of place and personal profit; and there must be an end to a conduct in banking and in business which too often has given to a sacred trust the likeness of callous and selfish wrongdoing. Small wonder that confidence languishes, for it thrives only on honesty, on honor, on the sacredness of obligations, on faithful protection, on unselfish performance; without them it cannot live.
Restoration calls, however, not for changes in ethics alone. This Nation asks for action, and action now.
Our greatest primary task is to put people in work. This is no unsolvable problem if we face it wisely and courageously. It can be accomplished in part by direct recruiting by the Government itself, treating the task as we would treat the emergency of a war, but at the same time, through this employment, accomplishing greatly needed projects to stimulate and reorganize the use of our natural resources.
Hand in hand with this, we must frankly recognize the overbalance of population in our industrial centers and, by engaging on a national scale in a redistribution, endeavor to provide a better use of the land for those best fitted for the land. The task can be helped by definite efforts to raise the values of agricultural products and with this the power to purchase the output of our cities. It can be helped by preventing realistically the tragedy of the growing loss through foreclosure of our small homes and our farms. It can be helped by the insistence that the Federal, State, and local governments act forthwith on the demand that their cost be drastically reduced. It can be helped by the unifying of relief activities which today are often scattered, uneconomical, and unequal. It can be helped by national planning for and supervision of all forms of transportation and of communications and other utilities which have a definitely public character. There are many ways in which it can be helped, but it can never be helped merely by talking about it. We must act and act quickly.(…) ]]]]

Source: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Inaugural Address, March 4, 1933, as published in Samuel Rosenman, ed., The Public Papers of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Volume Two: The Year of Crisis, 1933 (New York: Random House, 1938), 11–16. From: http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/5057/

Find the fragments that correspond to the questions below, and mark them in the text above:

  1. Mark the difficulties facing the American nation that FDR enumerates in the beginning of his speech.
  2. What other obstacles does FDR compare America’s contemporary ones with?
  3. Is economic wealth the ultimate target according to FDR? Does money bring happiness?
  4. What are the values that FDR refers to in his address?
  5. What is the problem that should be tackled at first, according to FDR in his address?
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  • Ćwiczenie 8 aqm

look at the example of an outline at:

http://owl.enlish.purdue.edu/handouts/general/gl_outlin5.html or


Look back at the text of FDR’s presidential address, and then do the following:

  1. In the address, find the crucial points that are pillars of the text.
  2. Look at each paragraph, and elicit the most important information.
  3. Organize the ideas by comparing them and giving paragraph headings (titles).

Write an outline of FDR’s presidential speech.

Follow-up: Read the notes about FDR and check your answers to exercise 1:

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt takes time during his busy day to visit a zoo with a young friend and Fala. One of the most famous Presidential pets was Franklin Delano Roosevelt's constant companion, Fala. Fala, a Scottish terrier, was given to President Roosevelt by his cousin, Margaret Suckley, who thought that the pup would ease some of the President's stress during the difficult days of World War II. Fala's full name was Murray of Fala Hill after a famous Roosevelt ancestor. Fala almost never left the President's side. In fact, when Winston Churchill and President Roosevelt signed the Atlantic Charter in 1941 on the U.S.S. Augusta in the mid-Atlantic, Fala was right there with the two world leaders. And at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in Washington, D.C., a statue of Fala sits next to that of his favorite companion, the President.
FDR contracted polio in 1921. Keeping this disability from the public has been called a "splendid deception." However, objectively the voters were deprived of important information about a candidate for the highest office. In May 1944, after he suffered a heart attack, doctors told FDR that if he wanted to avert death, he could not work more than four hour days. After this prescription, FDR decided to run for his 4th term. In 1944, he spent 200 days away from the White House in rest or travel undertaken for his health. From FDR's perspective, this was simply a self-serving deception, a fraud on the people. It damaged the country. He was utterly unfit for his high office long before the election. The lives of millions depended on the judgment of a man whose mind was warped by arteriosclerosis and the strong medication digitalis. It was a sordid deception. FDR also had cancer.
From: http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/5057/

Misunderstandings Resulting from Cross Cultural Differences

  • Ćwiczenie 9 aqm

a) And hello again
Years ago, I spent a week in Poland as part of a student exchange between a German and Polish school. I stayed with a very friendly and hospitable family who spoilt me rotten with the most delicious food. To express my gratitude I frequently said “dzień dobry” which I thought meant 'thank you'. The family looked bemused, but didn't correct me so I kept repeating “dzień dobry” each time they presented me with another meal.
Only later, did I find out that what I actually said was 'hello' or literally 'good day'. I don't know what the family thought of me greeting every meal with this.
The correct phrase for 'thank you' is “dziękuję” which sounds similar enough!
Sent by: Anette
From: www.bbc.co.uk

b) Hungry neighbour
When I first started learning Welsh a decade ago, I only had a smattering of verbs. One day, we were practicing making sentences in the 2nd conditional (would) tense and I said to my tutor: “I'm going on holiday, would you please bwyta'r gath”. She couldn't contain herself as “bwyta'r gath” means 'eat the cat!' By all accounts, this mistake is still being cited around Welsh classes in North Wales to this day! I should have said “bwydo'r gath”, ‘feed the cat’.
Sent by: James Goodman
From: www.bbc.co.uk

c) Response to compliments
A Polish woman, when her American friend complimented her on the new jacket she was wearing, replied “oh no, it’s old and really ugly” (even though she liked it too).
From: www.worldenough.net/picture

d) Paying compliments
I think Tom said that the Portuguese were capable of paying complements such as “You look fat”. That’s the case in Poland, as well; but nowadays it is restricted to elder people. My grandma (90 years old) says “You’ve improved,” (Polish: “Poprawilas sie”) when she sees me, which means “you’ve put on weight and you look better now.”
From: www.worldenough.net/picture

e) Being entertained
I once took my grandparents to visit a Greek Cypriot friend in the UK who is married to a British woman. We sat in the kitchen for about 45 minutes and the British wife did not offer us anything to drink. Instead she opened a can of corned beef (which my grandparents thought was dog food) and ate it at the kitchen table without uttering a word! My grandparents got so offended they wanted to leave!!! Reported by a British born Greek Cypriot; (now resident in Cyprus)
From: www.worldenough.net/picture

f) Gift exchange
An Italian woman, when offered a gift by her American friends, repeated several times: “No, no, it’s not necessary. I can’t take it”. Her friends had to insist on her taking the gift before she felt it was okay for her to accept it.

g) It is tradition in Greece and Cyprus to take a gift when visiting someone's new home. This is not the case in Britain. Reported by Armenian Cypriot (UK resident)
From: www.worldenough.net/picture

h) Stirring in public
A trap you can fall into when visiting Poland is stirring your cup of tea or coffee, or any other beverage for that matter. If you want to come across as a well-mannered person, you have to do it in such a way that there is no clinking noise whatsoever. In other words, you must not hit whatever your drink is in with your spoon. It is a feat difficult to achieve unless you have been trained in stirring from early childhood like all Polish children. What makes it more difficult is that most hot drinks are served in delicate glasses which very easily amplify the sound. Still, it is worth trying if you want to avoid Poles politely turning their heads away from you in order to show that they did not hear anything. (Reported b From: www.worldenough.net/picture y a Polish man)
From: www.worldenough.net/picture

For more: www.worldenough.net/picture


  1. Prepare a list of things that foreigners should be aware of when coming to Poland. Write it to the forum and bring the ideas to the classroom..
  2. Can you recall any similar “cross-cultural incidents” that resulted in misunderstandings? Note down some incidents and bring the story/stories to the classroom.