This coming Saturday will see the 95th anniversary of the brilliant composer and the musical half of the British comedy song-writing duo Flanders & Swann - Donald Swann. The duo was extremely popular in the 1950s-1960s, and should definitely be part of any country-studies course. Their songs are funny and fun to learn, and some of them (like the Gnu Song) are about the English language!
There is an interesting and totally unexpected fact in Donald Swann's biography. His ancestors were among those British people who made Russia their home country and lived in Russia for several generations. The first Swan, still with just one 'n' - Donald's great grandfather Alfred Trout Swan, a draper from Lincolnshire - arrived in Russia in 1840. Donald's father was a doctor and an amateur musician, while Donald's uncle was a composer who in 1918 worked for the American Red Cross in Siberia and was among those who saved a large group of children from Petrograd from starvation. All in all, this is a family story that certainly needs to be researched. Meanwhile, here's a great video about Flanders & Swan!
The superb Gnu Song about peculiarities of English reading rules is at 3'10"
The song about the English (who of course are always best) is at 32'40"
My name is Elena Rafaelevna Watson, I have been teaching English as a foreign language for over 25 years now. I have also been translating and interpreting (English/Russian) for over 20 years.