ESL 91 SPRING, 2002

Nadia 1
Nadia 2

Nadia Manuylidi
ESL 91
Spring, 2002

Essay topic:  Think of a time when you had difficulty communicating [because of language or cultural difference].  What did you do?  Write an essay in which you describe the difficulty and your attempts to resolve it.  Did you succeed or not?  Discuss why or why not

Five years ago I didn’t live in the United States.  I lived in Russia and I spoke Russian almost all the time.  The only exceptions were when I took English or Greek lessons.  I took English when I went to school.  And I learned Greek when I went to the cultural center.  So, that was about it. However, when I went to the cultural center I also was taking Greek dance lessons.  And with our group we had to travel a lot all over Russia.  Sometimes we were also going to some different countries.  And that’s when the real troubles happened.

Once, in the summer time, we went to Turkey with the concert.  And we had to stay in a hotel.  One day, after a concert, we were in our room when we decided to take a little walk.  And just across the street there was a police office.  We wanted to take some pictures with the police officers.  So, we walked in and told them what we wanted in English, but they didn’t understand us.  Then we explained it in Greek, they still didn’t get it.  After it we spoke to them in Russian-no effect.  Hmm, we didn’t know what else to say.  Then I remembered some words in Turkish (my grandfather speaks Turkish), they started to smile, but didn’t understand what we wanted.  After a while we finally found the best way to communicate.  It looked so funny from the side, but the fact was: we could understand each other. 

There are some words form English, some from Greek, a couple of Russian words, a little bit Turkish.  We were gesticulating like crazy, and we understood each other.  They asked us what do we do, and we showed them some of our moves.  They wondered if we would give any more concerts, and we said: Yes.  Then we showed them where it would be on the wall map (we always knew the location, where we were giving the concerts, so we wouldn’t get lost).  And they said that they would be there (and we actually saw them later).  We were wondering about the bell ringing every morning at 5 am.  And they answered that it was the mosque.  Every male in Turkey has to go to mosque and pray.  They showed it to us by getting down on their knees and pretending that they were praying. 

It was so amazing how two different cultural and language groups communicated together.  How well we understood each other without knowing the language.  In my opinion, everyone can communicate with someone if he doesn’t know the language.  It’s not that necessary to speak the same language to communicate.  The person can do it with gestures, showing something that the other one will understand.  I think in almost every country pointing your finger at your lips means “quiet”.  Of course, the more different languages you know, the more easily you can communicate with someone, because the other person may know some different languages also.  And there are few words in every language with the same meaning.

In my response anyone could communicate with the other one.  With the gestures, with showing up something, with different words from different languages.  If he really needs it, he can do it, no matter what. 

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Natalya Shmay
ESL 91
Spring, 2002

Essay Topic: We all use gestures to communicate at times, but a smile, a wink or a handwave can mean different things at different times. Write an essay in which you describe ways that we use gestures and explain why gestures are an important type of communication

Language is one of the most important gifts of nature in human life because it helps us to communicate with people who live with us, and who can talk the same language as we do. Also, language gives me feeling that I am not alone in the world. Even though you come to a country where people talk in a different language than yours, you can talk with the language of gestures. So, the language of gestures is as important as spoken language, and it can give meaning to different things at different times.

In fact, gestures are an important type of communication because sometimes it helps us to explain or show something special that we cannot explain to the world. We have the good example of how hominids communicated by using the language of gestures. When their child asked how their father got the meat for their evening diner, father or someone used his hands to explain the action that he had done before. So, it was like theatre of pantomime where every single gesture meant a whole sentence.

However, time is changed, and our society has already come into the 21st century where everything is done by machine, and we use more for communication than just grunts or squeals. New words and idioms have appeared in our language, but we also use the language of gestures. Why?

First of all, gestures, like smiles or hand-waves have special meanings at different time. For example, a person can smile when he reads a funny story, or he can have an evil smile where someone falls down on the ground. So, every gesture has a special meaning at an exact time.

Furthermore, the language of gesture helps us to have contact with deaf people. For example, some movies are translated for people who are deaf, or who cannot hear very well. So, it helps them to participate in society and not be isolated from full life.

In addition, in the article “ Was Sign Language the First Language of All?” Armstrong says, “ People who have no contact with deaf people use a whole repertoire of manual gesture, and some are identical to the sign language. We all have common stock of signs.” So, it means that we use the language of gestures, even though we are not deaf.

Gestures are an important part of my communication because that language helps me to explain better that I want to say. How does the language of gesture affect my life? I have a friend from Africa who is also learn of English as second language. We like to talk with each other, but sometimes we cannot find the exact words to explain what we want to say. As result, we use our hands for taking because hands can show pictures that you cannot explain in words. Our hands are more than just helpers for work. Our hands are like snakes that demonstrate everything and help us to talk.   

So, humanity advances every day, and each day gives our society something special that we did not know before. Who knows maybe after 50 years we will intercommunicate by using telepathic language, and we will think that the language of gestures is one of many steps for inventing a new type of communication.   

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Nadia Manuylidi
ESL 91
Spring, 2002

Essay Topic: Considering all the information you have gained from this unit, how have politics impacted efforts to contain the problem of global warming? What role have major world powers such as the United States, England and Russia played in this political process? What role have the developing nations played? Do you think that international meetings such as those held in Montreal and Kyoto have been successful? Explain your responses.

Considering all the information I have gained from this unit, I can put together some facts about how politics have impacted efforts to contain the problem of global warming. Many countries are worrying about the greenhouse effect that's taking place in our days on our planet. To do something about it these countries were called a couple of times to discuss the problem. Every call has its own name, mostly after the name of the city where the meeting was held. The most recognizable meetings are those held in Montreal and Kyoto. However there were also a lot of meetings about the greenhouse effect held in the 70's, 80's and 90's. Governments of countries all over the world have signed couple of protocols to limit the production of carbon dioxide because this gas is the major killer of ozone.

Major world powers such as the United States, England and Russia have each played their own roles in this political process. The United States, for example, "walked out" of the Kyoto protocol in July, 2001 because President Bush said that it will be bad for the US economy to limit the production. England showed everyone a good example by using wind power. "Wind power in the UK currently produces enough electricity to meet the needs of more than 250,000 households and saves the emission of almost 1m tons of carbon dioxide" (BBC News, Thursday, 5 April, 2001). Russia, however, has way too much clean air according to the Kyoto protocol, and the country can sell the clean air to some high industrial countries such as Japan and Canada. So, every country has its own strategies and goes its own way to help to reduce the emissions on the planet.

The developing nations have also played some role. They are mostly innocent victims of global warming, not the perpetrators. They face major climate changes while having per-capita emissions much lower than industrialized countries. Under the Kyoto protocol, developing countries have to report on their emissions, but many want to go further and help industrialized countries meet their targets. The protocol allows industrialized countries to plant "carbon sink" forests in the tropics, for instance, where they will grow faster.

They can also invest in clean energy technologies in the developing world, and claim carbon credits for doing so. The US has demanded, both before and after Kyoto, that developing countries should accept their own specific emissions targets - even if those targets allowed emissions to increase. While that idea was quietly dropped by the Clinton administration, it might well become a crunch issue if and when the US decides to return to the protocol." (AOL Search Engine, The Greenhouse Effect, protocol).

I think that international meetings such as those held in Montreal and Kyoto have been successful because so many countries took serious steps to prevent the greenhouse effect. At the Kyoto meeting, over 150 countries signed a document where they agreed to decrease emissions level by at least 5% for each country by the year 2010. Also, the countries agreed to met periodically and to take "appropriate action" on the basis of the best available scientific, technical, and socio-economic information." (Climate Change Information Kit, Sheet 21).

So many countries in our days are taking serious steps to prevent the Earth from global warming. To succeed in this program different countries have set up special meetings where they discuss the problems and try to find the ways to resolve them. In today’s world a lot of different countries have already taken these steps and done very successful work. By discussing all the problems and responsibilities these countries are helping a lot in saving the world from the ‘greenhouse effect’.

Works Cited

AOL Search Engine. The Greenhouse Effect, protocol.

BBC News. (Thursday, 5 April, 2001 15:54 GMT 16:54 UK). Wind farms to fight 'greenhouse effect'. Available online:

Climate Change Information Kit, Sheet 21. Available online:

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Victor Brizin
ESL 91
Spring, 2002

Essay Topic: Write about the process of learning a language, or how it feels to be bilingual. How does the language you speak affect your feelings or your sense of identity?


In the twenty-first century tens of millions of people have migrated to other places, countries, and continents. These people, when they reach their goal, must not only learn a second or third language, but also integrate themselves into another culture. When new immigrants understand that language is a key to the country, they will have a successful life in the new place.

As one of those millions of immigrants, I can share my experience with you. In 1989 I was ejected from the USSR as a political prisoner and member of the anti-Soviet organization ?Helsinki Human Rights Watch.? It happened in Budapest. In Soviet Embassy someone took out my passport and declared that I wasn?t a Soviet citizen. After one week I crossed the Austrian and German border illegally. I asked for political asylum in Germany and tried to normalize my life. I could speak English and after some time I got a job with the U.S. Army as a Russian language Instructor. Then I didn?t care about learning German, but everyday life pushed me to do it.

When my contract with the U.S. Army was completed, I got work as ski instructor in the Alps. During this work I met many problems, because I couldn?t speak German. Every day I learned about 10-20 new words and pushed myself to read children?s books. Soon, I increased my vocabulary to 800-1000 words. After that I could read whole books and unconsciously memorize the structure of the sentence. Easy reading and interesting themes made the learning process more attractive. It helped me in basics, but not as much as I wanted.

One day I decided to change my learning method to another. I thought it might be more effective than the previous. I decided to learn German through changing my personality. In a German shop I bought Bavarian apparel and dressed up as a Bavarian. The Bavarian apparel has about a 600-year history and very popular in south Germany. I wore a white shirt with a hand made decoration and short leather pants with two shoulder straps in summer. Several days later my friends gave me a very expensive keepsake and very old Bavarian leather pants (about 80-100years old). The keepsake cost around $200 and those pants had a very high value. Bavarians say ?More generations died in those pants than the pants have risen in their price.? By my calculations, I represented five generations. My head was covered with a Tyrolean hat that was decorated with big plumage and dull Bavarian shoes with knee long socks completed this image.

Moreover, I started looking for native Bavarian habits, such as mimics, movements towards with each other in everyday life and folk slang. Every people has national culture characteristics. For example, Germans are cold and official. They seem very serious and sometimes snobbish. All things that they produce usually have a high quality. German manners of expression are very logical and have few choices for compromise. Over an official conversation their faces are like masks, without any expression and their gesticulation is minimal. All German habits underline their seriousness, cleverness, and value.

Continually, when I controlled my mind, I tried not to imitate German, but to be German. Possibly my wish to change was strong enough and after a short time (about 3-4 months) my German friends said to me that I seemed like they were. On weekends I spent my time in 'Folks high school,' where I learned folk dances and Bavarian history. In restaurants I learned to eat and to drink alcohol like my friends. Every weekend we met in a beer garden where we drank about four-five ?mass? of beer. A 'mass' is a 1-liter cup especially for beer. After 3-4 'mass' of beer my German became fluent and nobody could distinguish me as a foreigner among my German friends. In Bavarian hat and short leather pants with a 'mass' of beer in hands, our company seemed happy and cheerfulness.

I think this happened because the alcohol turned off some part of the neurons in the limbic system and in both hemispheres of human brain. After that, we can use a special program, which we have created through our wishes. Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung discovered and developed the theory by which they argued that our consciousness contains only 10% of information and unconscious has 90%. According to this theory, we can through alcohol turn off a big part of the conscious control and use some information of the dark (unknown) part of ourselves. There exist many more effective methods to enter inside you, but without strong personality and powered control I would absolutely not recommend doing that, because it is death. The alcohol could help to across psychological barriers by learning, but this way is not the best.

After the 'beer lessons' my German became much better and I could change my personality depending on the situation. Sometimes Russian speakers asked me something on the street and I answered automatically in German (Bavarian dialect). It surprised and puzzled me, because I didn?t feel Russian anymore. Moreover, I started to think in German! In America I lost a big part of my German (writing and speaking), but I read some German books (mostly these are medical books) and listen to German radio on short wave. When I introduce myself to someone German, then immediately inside me something switches to the German culture and habits, and I become German.

My heart contains Russian, Ukrainian and German languages and cultures. This knowledge helps me to feel the world around me fully and that makes me happier in my life.

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