The family meal

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Lessons 5-6 The family meal


1 Look at the pictures and compare them.

What has changed In the way peoplehave meals? What has remained the same?



2 А. Read the first part of the article and answer the questions.

а) How could one tell who was top dog in a tribe?

б) What was once the symbol of powe' at a table? Why?

Part 1

Food has many meanings for us, but when a group of people gather together the process of eating is alwavs more about power than about nourishment. When we lived in tribes everyone may have crowded round the carcass, but you can be sure that it was the warrior man who ate first and took the best bits and thatthe women and children were served last and got leftovers, When tables and chairs first came into use, only those with power sat at the table, and then in a stnct order of importance, with a bawl pf salt showing who was top dog. The bow1 of salt might have disappeared, but the seating order still exists.


- food that is needed to live, grow and slay heatthy
leftovers (n) - food that has not been eaten at the end of a meal (be left over - verb)
top dog - the person in the highest position

B. Read the second part of the article and say how meal times have changed.

. Mention:

1 Attitude towards children,
2 Who was top dog,
3 New rules of behaviour.
4 Children's attitude to family meals.
Part 2

It has never been the tradition in Britain for children to be brought up close to their parents, If children had not been sent away to school or to work they ate in the kitchen or in the nursery. In Victorian times family meals were held on ,special occasions, but these again were occasions where power and Importance were demonstrated. The father took precedence over all others. Children were not alLowed to speak until spoken to and had to follow a set of rules relating to what was regarded as proper behaviour at the table. Today many parents still impose the rule that a child must ask-perllUSSion.1o leave the table. This rule certainly suggests that children have been forced to come to the table and would really prefer to eat elsewhere.

C. Find words or phrases in the text that mean:

1 be given food
2 food that has not been eaten
3 be arranged
4 have the right to be put before others because of greater importance
5 on different holidays and celebratIons
6 ask if one may do something
7 be made to do something
8 force somebody accept something.


nursery - a small child's bedroom in a house

Victorian - referring to the time when Queen Victoria ruled (1837- 1901)

to take precedence over somebody - to be more important than all others

D. Does anything in the texts remind you about your family meal?

Write 4-5 sentences, which characterise your family meals.

Language Work

3 A. These two sentences come from the first part of the article. Read them again and answer the questions.


B. Look at the sentences and translate them into Russian.

Answer the questions:

What is the function of may and might in these sentences?
What time do they refer to?
What do the verb forms have in common?

C. Finish the sentences using may (not) and might (not).

1 In the last century the family meal in Russia...
2 There...
3 Parents...
4 Children...
5 Food...

D. Read the answer to a question sent to a newspaper.


1 the situation which caused this question and
2 the question.

How nice to nave a child who actually asks such questions. This story remindS me of an old definition of a gentleman, as he who used a butter knife when dining alone at home. For this reason there is no distinction between "formal" and "informal" dining and I would agree with your husband.

E. Write 5 sentences to describe the situation: Example: The lelter might have been wrilten by the girl's mother.


4 A. Listen to the recording and mark in the second column the speakers who are for family meals (+), against (-), or neutral (0).

              1         2               3

B. Read the opinions and match them to the speakers.

. Put an appropriate letter in the 3rd column.

a) A child may feel happy during a meal with a family.
b) Both children and parents may misunderstand each other during the meal.
c) Children should follow a set of rules at the table.
d) A family meal is a part of a child's education.


5 Read the opinions in the box.

1 Group them according to the rubrics. Add your own ideas.
2 Get ready to explain your point of view about family meals.

   For    Against     Interesting points

a) The family meal can be a great fun.
b) Family meals reflect a country's culture and traditions.
c) Family meals are hardly a good time to talk as the atmosphere is not always calm.
d) Bringing the family together is an opportunity for parents and children to talk.
e) Children should display proper behaviour during the family meal.
f) The family meal is an opportunity to demonstrate parents' power and Importance.
g) Sometimes arguments across the table create tension in the family.

O. Л. Гроза, О. Б. Дворецкая, Н. Ю. Казырбаева, В. В. Клименко, М. Л. Мичурина, Н. В. Новикова, Т. Н. Рыжкова, Е. Ю. Шалимова, Английский язык нового тысячелентия, Учебник английского языка для 10 класса общеобразовательных учреждений. — 2-е изд. — М. Титул, 2004. — 175 с, ; ил.

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