English Reading Practice


France is a country in Western Europe.

It is the third-largest country in Europe and has the fifth-largest economy in the world. "Economy" means the amount of money a country has.

France has been one of the most influential countries in the world. France is admired for its culture including its fashion, food, wine, and literature.

French art is also highly admired around the globe. Some of the most important artists of all time have been French and some of the most important art works of all time are in French museums.


French Painting and Impressionism

Though there were many French artists over time, French painting became most influential and popular in the 17th century (1600s).

As the years passed, the painting styles changed and French painters were often at the forefront of this change. "At the forefront" means being the leader or being in charge of making something change. French painters were responsible for one of the most loved painting styles of all time: Impressionism.

Impressionism is a style of painting in which artists use color and light to give the general feeling, rather than exact detail.


Impressionism began in the 19th century (1800s) in Paris. A group of artists began painting and showing work that was very different from any kind of painting that had been done before.

Some of the people in Paris at the time didn't like the new style of painting. They thought that it was not conventional enough. "Conventional" means traditional, not new. Many other people in Paris loved the new style of art, however, so these painters were able to find success.

What made Impressionist paintings so different from other kinds of painting was the technique used to paint them and the subject of the paintings. "Technique" means the way that the paintings were painted. Until the 19th century, artists painted indoors in their studios. They would paint from their imagination or paint a person who was sitting in front of them.

Impressionist painters wanted to paint what they saw in real life. They developed new tools and made it possible to take their paints, paint brushes, and canvases outside with them. A "canvas" is the special paper that paintings are made on. Being able to paint outside changed painting forever.

The other big difference between Impressionist paintings and traditional paintings was the subject of the paintings.

Impressionist painters tried to create a photograph. This means that they tried to paint what they really saw and not just what was in their imagination.

Impressionist painters would create paintings of people doing everyday things like playing in the park or dancing. They would paint restaurants they found on the street and ponds (small lakes) with flowers in them.

Because the subjects of the paintings were from everyday life, more people were able to enjoy the paintings. People looking at the paintings could see themselves doing what the people in the painting were doing.


Today, this doesn't seem like something very innovative (special and new) but in the 19th century it was very special.

Painting since the 19th century has evolved (changed) but still uses many of the techniques and subjects that Impressionist painting used. France and French painters were instrumental (very important) in the kind of paintings we see and do today.

And now, practice:

France - Exercises

Vocabulary Questions

1. What does "economy" mean?

a) the amount of money a country has

b) the amount of people a country has

c) the amount of land a country has

d) the amount of water a country has

2. What does "conventional" mean?

a) new and special

b) traditional and not new

c) boring

d) interesting

3. What does "technique" mean?

a) how something was made

b) why something was made

a) when something was made

b) who made something

Grammar Questions

1. France _______ a country in Western Europe.

a) is

b) was

c) has been

d) will be

2. Some of _______ most important artists of all time have been French

a) a

b) an

c) the

d) that

3. Some of the people _______ Paris at the time didn't like the new style of painting.

a) of

b) at

c) on

d) in

Comprehension Questions

1. What are some parts of French culture that are admired around the world?


2. When did Impressionism begin?


3. What two things Impressionism so different from other painting?


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