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Rural Housing
This set of activities, produced by Andrzej Junak, lets you explore some differences between housing in Poland and Britain.

Activity 1

Read the two descriptions of typical houses found in their own countryside by a Polish and an English person.

  • Decide which is the Polish description and which is the British
To see the definition of the words in bold, place the mouse cursor over the purple ball.

Description 1

A typical house in the area where I live is a cottage cottage (n.) – a small, usually two- or three-bedroom house in the country. It is usually made of brick, although stone is often used as well. Cottages built of stone may differ in colour depending on the geological characteristics of the area where they were built. They’re small with two or three bedrooms and often quite old though very well kept up. In my area many cottages come from the 19th century and some of them are listed listed (adj.) – a house that is listed is considered to be of special historical or architectural value and therefore is protected by law. Any redecoration intended in a listed house requires permission from authorities.. They’re usually surrounded by flower gardens. A striking feature of some of them is that they’re thatched thatched (adj.) - a thatched roof is made from straw or reeds..

Description 2

In my area people live in brick houses. Some of them have their walls covered with plaster plaster (n.) - special mixture of water and binding materials used for covering walls of buildings. but most of them don't, which actually makes them look better. There is usually a ground floor with a kitchen, a bedroom and a living room, which usually also serves as a bedroom. Some people convert their attics into one or two bedrooms. The roofs are covered with tiles. Some of the houses are quite old and need a lot of redecoration. There are newer houses too which are usually cubic in shape as their roofs are flat.

For the answers click here.

Activity 2

Below you will find two photographs of houses.
  • Decide which one is Polish and which one is English.

  • Try to guess the prices of the two houses. You may find it helpful to know that the average annual income in Britain is around GBP14,000 and the average monthly salary in Poland is PLN 1,100.

Picture 1
Picture 2

For the answers click here.

Buying a house in Great Britain

The following story will help you understand why prices of houses are so high and what implications it has for the inhabitants of some rural areas in Britain. After you have read it answer the questions below the text.

Vicky Thomas, 26, a chef from St Agnes, still lives with her parents because she says she has no other option. She earns GBP14,500 a year – a typical wage in the West Country for the job she does – and that will allow her to afford a mortgage mortgage (n.) – a loan from a bank or a building society for the purpose of buying a house where the house is the security itself (meaning if you don't keep up with your repayments the house is repossessed by the lender of the loan). of up to GBP51,500. But in St Agnes she cannot afford to buy a home of her own. A suitable two-bedroom cottage in St Agnes recently came on the market, but it was priced way beyond her reach at GBP80,000. In the village’s pretty Quay Road around half of the cottages are holiday homes that lie empty during the winter but will fill up during the season. “I know plenty of other people my own age who are in exactly the same situation. They want to carry on living where they are but they can’t afford to move out and buy a place” says Vicky. An estate agent estate agent (n.) - a person whose business is buying and selling houses. in Budleigh recently sold a modest three-bedroom cottage in Otterton for GBP170,000. The cottage was snapped up almost as soon as it was put on the market. The agent said: “The prices in this area are becoming very high. Finding homes for young people who want to buy on their own is becoming increasingly difficult.”

Excerpts from "Housing crisis that is driving out the young", Western Morning News, May 14th 2001

Questions:

  1. Why can’t Vicky move out and live on her own?
  2. Is she the only one in the area who has to face this problem?
  3. Who do you think the owners of the holiday homes are?
  4. How does it influence the real estate market in the area?
  5. How do young people in Poland find a place to live?

Activity 3

British people seem to have a different idea of what kind of a house they want to live in than Polish people. Look at the two advertisements below and say what differences there are in the way the houses are advertised.

  • Contrast the language used.
  • What does it tell you about British and Polish cultures?

GORDON HOUSE LINCOLNSHIRE
FREEHOLD GBP139,000

THIS WELL APPOINTED DETACHED FIVE-BEDROOM TWO-BATHROOM HOUSE IS SET IN ITS OWN GROUNDS WITH A LARGE POND. THE HOUSE RETAINS MANY ORIGINAL FEATURES, TWO LARGE RECEPTION ROOMS, CENTRAL HEATING AND DOUBLE GLAZING. A VERY ATTRACTIVE HOUSE AT AN ATTRACTIVE PURCHASE PRICE.
REF: AS12

PHONE/DAY 01507 588288
EVENING 0777 1507 300


ULIKOWO, K. STARGARDU SZCZ.

DOM WOLNO STOJĄCY DO ZAMIESZKANIA O POWIERZCHNI 300m kw., DZIAŁKA 1000m kw. DWUKONDYGNACYJNY, PODPIWNICZONY. W PIWNICY KOTŁOWNIA, NA PARTERZE KUCHNIA Z ANEKSEM JADALNYM, 2 POKOJE. NA I PIĘTRZE: SALON, 2 POKOJE, ŁAZIENKA. MEDIA: ELEKTRYCZNOŚĆ, SIŁA, WODA, TELEFON, CIEPŁA WODA Z BOJLERA ELEKTRYCZNEGO, KANALIZACJA, OGRZEWANIE WĘGLOWE

CENA 200.000,-ZL TEL. 091 8405630

Activity 4

For economic reasons some advertisements are presented in a coded form. Look at the advertisements below. Decipher them and rewrite again using the full forms of the abbreviations.

For the the full forms of the abbreviations click here.

Activity 5

  1. You have just bought a house. Write a letter to your friend describing it. You can include a sketch or drawing of the house.
  2. How would you go about buying a house? Find out at a local real estate agent's what the prices of houses or flats are. Ask what forms of credit you can get from a bank. Prepare a presentation supporting it with facts and figures you will get from your investigation.

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