level English resource
- the biggest country in the New World
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST
COUNTRY IN THE WORLD - in terms of surface area? The USA?
NO ! CHINA ? NO
! RUSSIA ? YES !! And the second biggest
country in the world? Many people are quite surprised to
learn that it is actually Canada.
Parliament building, in Ottawa ... seen from Gatineau
CANADA - IT'S NOT the
Imagine yourself sitting in a
café one day in your home town, when on the next table you
hear some people speaking English with a strong North American accent.
Being a friendly person, you lean over and say, "Hi! Are you American?"
"No," comes the immediate answer.
Calling a English-speaking Canadian an
American can be as bad as telling a Scotsman that he's English or a
Swiss person he's German. In spite of a common language, there are
differences in culture and national feeling. "No," many Canadians will
tell you with insistence, "We're not Americans! We're Canadians"
In the same way as Quebecers are
determined to keep their identity, Canadians from the other provinces
are determined to keep Canada's identity. Although the Canadian way of
life is more and more like the American way of life, lots of details
different, and many Canadians, particularly Quebecers, are worried
about the survival of their own differences.
Canadians use metres and kilometres and measure temperatures in
Celsius; Americans use feet and miles, and measure temperature in
Fahrenheit. The USA has states, Canada has provinces.
Yet about 80% of Canadians live within
150 km. of the U.S. border
and this has had a bad effect on the Canadian
economy. Like most European countries, Canada has a national health
service, and a good social security system; but good welfare
have to be paid for by high taxes, so the cost of living in Canada is
high. Because of this, hundreds of thousands of Canadians often get in
their cars and drive over to the USA to go shopping. This is one cause
of economic problems in Canada. Over half of Canada's imports come from
the United States, and Canada has a
with the USA.
But the American influence is not just a
question of shopping. Lots of Canadians drive American cars, and cars
are almost as important in Canada as they are in the USA. There is
television too. While Quebecers tend to
watch their own French-language
TV stations, English-speaking Canadians have a choice between local
English-speaking channels, national programmes from CBC, and dozens of
American channels brought to them by cable or satellite. Unless they
specifically want to watch local stations, they're just as likely to
tune in to
one of the big
American channels as they are to a Canadian
Perhaps it is not surprising if some
Canadians are afraid that their country will soon be just like another
part of the USA. If, one day, Quebec becomes independent, many
Canadians fear that the rest of Canada could break up. Perhaps that's
an exaggeration; many Canadians feel it is a real risk.
SOME SURPRISING FACTS ABOUT CANADA
- Canada is the second biggest country in the world, but the
population is only 36 million.
- Over half of all Canadians live south
of a line that runs, in Europe, through Dijon, Zurich and Budapest.
- Winter temperatures regularly go down to -25°C all
over Canada, except on the West Coast.
- Driving for 12 hours a day, it takes 5 days to go by road
from Montreal to Vancouver.
- Ottawa, the Canadian capital, is situated in Ontario, on
with Quebec. Its biggest suburb, Gatineau, is in Quebec. A
third of the population of Ottawa are French-speakers.
- There is a Canadian version of the Loch Ness Monster,
"Turtle Lake Monster". It is said to be between 3 and 9 metres long,
and to live in the very deep waters of Turtle Lake, Saskatchewan.
A CANADIAN WINTER ...... Brrrr ! It's cold
life in Canada
If there is one thing that unites almost the whole population
of Canada, it is the experience of winter.
While in most parts of Europe, people
never know what the winter weather will be like from one week to the
next, Canadians know what winter means. When the last leaves fall off
the trees in Autumn, Canadians know that the winter is coming, and that
it will be cold; or if it is not cold, it will be very cold! When the
Arctic air blows south in the winter months, Canadians know that the
temperature will fall to -20° or lower, perhaps down to
-40°; but because they know that it is going to happen,
Canadians are ready for it! That, as they say, is half the battle of
In Edmonton, the biggest city in the
province of Alberta, the first winter snows can come in
October. When this happens, Edmontonians complain that it is
a bit early, but then just get on with normal life.
For most of the winter, which usually
lasts from November to April, daytime temperatures in the city rarely
rise above freezing; from time to time, Arctic winds howl
down from the
north, and for several days temperatures in the city may not rise above
-20° (and may drop below -40°).
But in a city where people are used to
cold winters, life carries on as usual. Canadians have to know how to
the cold; those who can't have just two options, to
or to go and live beyond the Rocky Mountains, beside the Pacific Ocean,
in "B.C." – British Columbia!
The easiest way to keep away from the
cold of a Canadian winter is to stay indoors as much as possible! This
does not mean that you have to stay at home, however! Many people keep
their cars in heated basemen
garages which they can reach without
going outside. Cars are often kept warm in winter, with electric
heaters which are plugged into
Some shopping centres have underground
or indoor parking
: and in the city centre, it is often possible to
walk from one building to another, underground or above ground, without
ever having to go out in the cold. The biggest shopping centre in town
has hundreds of shops, cinemas, an ice rink, a sports centre and an
amusement park all under one roof! The "West Edmonton Mall" is like an
indoor city — and in the heart of winter, it is a good place
to go shopping.
Outside, people make the most of the
snow, for leisure and recreation. Skiing, skating and snow-shoeing are
popular activities that can be practised in the city's parks; many
parks also have areas which are flooded
in winter, to provide natural
which are lit up in the evenings. Everyone tries to enjoy the
snow as much as possible!
Perhaps this is easier than it is in
most parts of Europe; Canadian snow tends to be dry and powdery. For
most of the winter, for example, you can't make it into snowballs, it's
too cold. There is no point in putting salt on the roads, either, as at
-10° and below, the snow just will not melt, even with salt!
The only way to clear the roads is to use snow-ploughs or snow-blowers.
Canada's official Head of State is Queen Elizabeth, who is also the
nominal head of state of 15 other Commonwealth countries. Her function
is purely symbolic. Many Canadians would like Canada to have a Canadian
head of State; but many others want to keep the monarchy. Opinion is
divided, but there is no great opposition to the Queen as head of
state, except in Quebec.
It was not until 1982 that Canada became
constitutionally an independent nation! When this happened, many
Canadians were quite surprised, as they thought that their country had
been independent since 1867. In practice they were right; the Canadian
government in Ottawa has governed Canada since that date.
The links between Britain and Canada
remain very strong, all the same. About 40% of Canadians have ancestors
from the British Isles, and about 30% have ancestors from France. In
particular, lots of Scottish people emigrated from Britain to Canada in
the 19th and 20th centuries, and the British Isles remained the main
source of immigration to Canada until the 1980's.
Today, most new Canadian
immigrants come from Asia, particularly from southern and south east
The first Canadians
Canada's Indian heritage in the centre of Calgary, Alberta.
Before Europeans came to North America,
Canada was inhabited by native Americans, known today as Indians and
the Inuit (or Eskimos).
Contrary to popular imagination,
Canada's Indians were not all nomadic people, and in eastern Canada,
many Indians lived in villages made of wooden huts. Like Europeans,
they grew crops
and cultivated small fields.
Different groups of Indians often fought
for territory, for good agricultural land, for the rivers with most
fish in them. However, there was plenty of room for everyone in such a
vast country, and food was not a real problem; the forests were full of
Indians in the western half of Canada
were more nomadic. The great prairies of Western Canada were
home to tribes of Indians who lived in teepees; these nomads lived
mainly from hunting
Today, there are about 300,000
officially registered Indians in Canada, and about a million other
Canadians who are partly of Indian origin. Indian ceremonies and
festivities are an important part of Canadian culture.
Across Canada, there are over 2000
Indian reservations, many of them relatively poor. However some Indian
reservations have rich natural resources. In Alberta, Indian groups
receive hundreds of millions of dollars each year in royalties for gas
and oil extracted from the ground in or under their reservations.
great grandparents, etc. - basement:
underground level of a building - border:
- cope with:
live with, accept - crops:
plants - flooded:
covered with water -
medical condition - howl:
very fast - hunting:
killing wild animals -
place for skating - parking
car park - plugged into: connected
to - power points:
electric current -
- tend to:
have a habit of (-ing) - trade deficit:
trade deficit is when a country imports more than it exports -
tune in to:
- used to:
accustomed to, familiar with -
services to help people who are in a difficult
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Focus on Canada
Fill in the missing
prepositions and adverbs in this extract from the section "A Canadian
Replace the missing adverbs and prepositions in this
extract from the Freeway Focus: you will need to use: to (10), in (6),
from (4), above (2), for (2), of (2) with (2), at, away, below, beside,
beyond, indoors, into, without.
_____ most _____ the winter, which usually lasts _____
November _____ April, daytime temperatures _____ the city rarely rise
freezing; _____ time _____ time, Arctic winds howl
the north, and _____ several days temperatures _____ the city may not
_________ -20° (and may drop _________ -40°).
_______ the cold; those who can't have just two options,
_____ emigrate or
_____ go and live __________ the Rocky Mountains, __________ the
_____ B.C., British Columbia!
_____ a city where people are used _____ cold winters, life
carries _______ as usual. Canadians have _____ know how _____ cope.
easiest way _____ keep _______ _____ the cold _____ a Canadian winter
stay __________ as much as possible! This does not mean that you have
stay ___ home, however! Many people keep their cars _____ heated
garages which they can reach __________ going outside. Cars are often
_____ winter, _______ electric heaters which are plugged _______ power
Preliminary oral exercise
or final written exercise (or both!) Rapid reading/ oral or written
expression. EITHER give pupils ten minutes to read as much of
this document as they can, preferably all of it. Then ask them to stop
looking at the document and suggest, orally, ways to complete these
American influence ........
In winter, ........
The Queen .......
Lots of today's immigrants ......
Canada's Indians .....
OR after going through this document in class, have students do this
in written form, adding at least EIGHT words to complete each sentence.
(reusing information in a different context): students should imagine
that they are on holiday in Canada at this moment, and write a letter
to a friend at home, describing life. They should use the following
snow, cold, warm, underground, snow-shoeing, salt, the United States,
Language and grammar
Note the use of the present participle in the first three
paragraphs of this document.
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