"the" vs "this" in translations from Russian
It appears in most cases the definite article "the" is not accepted as a translation for "этот/эта/это/эти", and an explicit "this" is expected, which is not how it works in English for Russian speakers tree.
In my opinion, both "the house" and "this house" are translated as "этот дом", as there is no definite article in Russian.
It seems to me that the English for Russian speakers course insists on translating это (etc.) as "the" to force Russian speakers to pay attention to the articles.
FWIW, if it were up to me, in the Russian for English speakers course этот/эта/это (etc.) modifying a noun would be translated almost always as "this" and a Russian noun by itself would be translated as "the noun," "a noun," or "noun." But I'm no expert.
English the is not used to pick an object out of many similar objects, like this is. It's used to point out that you are referring to a previously mentioned object or an object of known identity.
Russian uses этот to pick an object, not to clarify that you are not referring to an unspecified object. You do the latter by either changing the word order, changing the sentence stress, or by doing nothing.
Этот is like Japanese kono/kore, or esperanto (ĉi) tiu/tio.
Translating этот → the or the → этот is almost always worse than translating этот → this/that and the → (nothing).
I agree translating the -> этот in Russian usually sounds a bit odd most of the times. It's just one of these incompatible notions being present in one language and not present in another :)
This is why it's always a must to study grammar separately, in my opinion. Trying to learn the finer points of a grammar by looking at translations is an impossible task.
In the case of the Rus - Eng tree it could actually lead to people incorrectly 'learning' that "the" = "this".
I could live with your previous, "blunt" comment, I am not an easy insulted guy :) Anyway, I don't think and don't say "this" = "the". The thing is, Russian speaking people don't understand the notion of "the", and for them, it is as close as it gets.