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3 Things You Hear About the UK That are Not True

As with every country there are a lot of stereotypes and things that people believe are true that are simply not. Because British actors often feature on huge movies and many TV shows are exported around the world the UK perhaps suffers this problem more than some other countries. Here are just 3 things you may have heard about British people and the UK that are just not true.

Every British Person Loves the Royal Family

This is simply not true. Whilst many Brits (1) are proud of the royal family and some do have pictures up in their homes the majority of British people are really not that interested. The royal family, for a large number of British people is a rather old fashioned and expensive thing that they feel should be made smaller or given less money. For many others it is something that is a tradition but not something they love. It is quite common for people from other countries to ask if a British person has actually met the Queen. Very few people in the UK actually get to meet or see the Queen and a large number would not really want too. The Brits do not all have large pictures of the Queen in their homes and do not all follow the news about them. In fact, people in the USA are often more interested in the royal family than British people.

British People all Wear Hats

Sadly, this is not true at all. The traditional image of a business man wearing a hat to work on the underground or a lady dressing like the Queen in a hat is very old fashioned (2) and really stopped around the 1960s. Whilst many people wear baseball caps and woolly hats in the cold this is nothing you would not see in many other countries.

It Rains All the Time

This is a very common idea that it rains almost every day in the UK and the weather is very bad. It is simply not true. However, the West Coast of Scotland does get the most rain per year for any country in Europe that is just a small part of the UK. Southern England often has droughts (3) in the summer and gets far less rainfall than places like Norway or the Alps. Perhaps it is the fact that Brits talk about the weather all the time and like to moan (4)  about the rain that gives other countries this idea.

Knowing these stereotypes and ideas are not true will help you if you are learning English to work or study in the UK. It is important to understand the people of the UK if you are hoping to interact with them. If you would like to learn English or improve your existing skills then join Perfectly Spoken and take one of our online English courses.

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VOCABULARY:

  1. Brit: informal way for British.
  2. Old fashioned: opposite to modern, not contemporary.
  3. drought is long period of little or no rain
  4. To moan: to complain (often about something that isn’t important)

What is Pancake Day?

If you are living in the UK or working with people that do then you may have heard about Pancake Day. It is basically a day where people in the UK cook and enjoy thin flat cakes made in a pan But, there is a lot more to the day than enjoyable food.

If you are learning English and not sure what Pancake Day is then read this!

Shrove Tuesday

The day is actually celebrating in a number of English speaking countries including Canada, Ireland and the USA. It is also celebrated in France and Australia. In Spain, Italy and Brazil it falls at the end of Carnival.  It is called different things in different countries and the proper name in the UK is Shrove Tuesday. In other countries it is called Mardi Gras and even “fat day”.

Why Is It Celebrated?

Like many traditional festival days it is based in religion. But as much of the UK is no longer religious the meaning is sometimes lost. The day is always just before ash Wednesday at the start of lent. Lent marks the start of a 40 day period before Easter. During lent it is common to give up things that you enjoy as part of a Christian tradition. Butter, sugar, eggs and milk were often given up and so there was a reason to use them all up before lent started.

The Pancake

With these ingredients needing to be used the pancake was invented. It is a very simple recipe where eggs and milk are mixed together and fried in a hot pan in butter. The pancake is a very thin soft cake that is then eaten with some lemon juice and sugar.

The Cooking

Cooking pancakes is actually quite hard. When one side is ready you need to turn it over. This is very hard and the only way to do it without tearing the pancake is to “toss” or flip the pancake in the air and catch it again in the pan. Pancake tossing is a very traditional part of Shrove Tuesday.

Racing?

In some parts of Britain they have pancake races. This is where people run through the streets with a pancake in a frying pan, often in costumes.

Pancake day is considered a fun day and not one you need to totally understand. If you get a chance, why not try a pancake with a friend or go to a café to have one made for you.

If you are learning English online and would like to take a full online English course then have a look at the Perfectly Spoken plans and find out more!

 

Wales – A Useful Guide

If you are planning on visiting the United Kingdom for work or you are working with people from the UK then this Guide to Wales will be very useful. When learning English it can be important to understand the different countries in the UK and how the people can be different.

General Information

Wales is 1 of the 4 countries that make up the United Kingdom. Like Scotland and England it shares the main island while Northern Ireland is across a small stretch of sea called the Irish Sea.

Wales is a small but very proud country. There is around 3 million people living in Wales which is around 5% of the total UK population. The capital city is called Cardiff which is a vibrant and busy place to visit and work. Wales is, as with other parts of the UK, famous for it’s amazing beaches and beautiful mountainous scenery. The coastline of Wales has around 1300 km of beach, some of these are the most beautiful in the UK.  It is also famous for the amount of rain it gets and this is often a point of humour among people form the UK.

The Welsh flag shows a large red dragon and this is a very important symbol for the country along with a yellow flower called a Daffodil.

Language

While both Northern Ireland and Scotland do have a traditional language Wales has more people that speak theirs. The language is used on road signs and many other things although it is almost always written next to English. In certain areas of Wales, Welsh is still spoken but most people will also speak English. Around 20% of the population can speak Welsh.

Food

Lamb is a very traditional food in Wales. This is because sheep farming is very common rather like New Zealand. There is also a cheese and toasted bread meal called Welsh Rarebit which was created in Wales. It is delicious and eaten across the UK.

Sport

Football is very popular in Wales but Rugby is the sport most people watch and play. The Welsh are very passionate about it and the streets can be empty when there is a large international game being played, especially if they are playing England.

In some parts of Wales the feelings towards the English are not very positive or happy. As with Northern Ireland and Scotland England is seen as the larger country that invaded them historically. It is useful to remember not to call anyone from Wales English.

Perfectly Spoken offers a range of different online English courses where lessons can be taken any time and on any device.

 

 

Scotland – A Useful Guide

If you are planning to move to the UK for work, visit or if you work with people from the UK then this guide to Scotland will be very useful. If you are learning English it can be very useful to understand a little more about how the UK is made up for different countries. This can be very important if you are going to be working with people form the UK.

Scotland is one of 4 countries that make up the parts of the United Kingdom. Unlike Northern Ireland Scotland is part of the same island as England and Wales. It is well known for its mountains, forests, beaches and Lochs.

General Information

Scotland is north of the top of England. It is the very top part of the United Kingdom. Because it is so far north it often gets a lot of snow and you can even see the Northern Lights from some parts and has sunlight until 11:30pm in the summer. It can also rain a lot and be very cold!

Scotland has it’s own parliament which is in the capital city of Edinburgh. Around 5 million people live in Scotland which is around 8.5% of the total UK population. Glasgow is another famous Scottish city. Most people tend to live further South and the more mountainous and cold country is further north. This northern part of the country is called the Highlands.

Lochs

A loch is a Scottish word for a large lake. There is a very famous Loch called Loch Ness where a famous monster called the Loch Ness Monster is said to live. Over many years there have been photographs of this monster but most are hard to see and the monster is considered a myth; it is often called Nessy!

Music

Like other parts of the UK modern music is very popular but Scotland also has a very traditional type of music and a very famous instrument called the bagpipes. This instrument is made up of an air bag and a number of pipes. It creates a very unique and beautiful sound.

Language

In Scotland there are actually 3 languages; English, Scots and Scottish Gaelic. Around 30% of the population are able to speak Scots but everyone in Scotland will understand and be able to speak English. Scots actually has a lot of words that are the same in English but it would be very hard to understand.

Sport

Football is very popular in Scotland. They have their own large football league called the Scottish Premier League. Huge matches are played between Celtic and Rangers and it is worth remembering some fans of these teams do not like each other. Scotland also hosts a more traditional collection of sports called the Highland Games. These events include dancing, music and games involving huge tree trunks being thrown.

Food

Like other parts of the UK the food is very similar but each part has some of it’s own traditional food types. Haggis is something eaten at certain celebrations in Scotland. It is a kind of round sausage made using a sheep stomach, oats and meat. Scotland is also famous for amazing seafood because of it’s rich coastline.

Scottish people are often very friendly but also very proud of their country. As the film Braveheart shows, the Scottish and English have not always got on well so be aware of that if talking to Scottish people.

If you are learning English online then Perfectly Spoken has a number of different options to allow you to take full English courses online.

Northern Ireland – A Useful Guide

If you are hoping to move to the UK for work or visit, or even work with people from the UK it is important to understand the countries that make up the United Kingdom. Learning English is very useful but knowing a little about the countries is important too. Here is our very useful guide to Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland is one of the 4 countries in the United Kingdom, the others are England, Scotland and Wales. Ireland is important to understand for a few reasons but one is that it is different from the Republic of Ireland even though it is on the same island next to the mainland. Northern Ireland is north of the Republic which is not part of the UK.

General Information

There are around 1.8 million people in Northern Ireland which is only around 3% of the population of the UK. The capitol city is call Belfast. It is a country filled with rolling green hills, mountains and beautiful beaches. A number of big movies have been filmed there as well as Game of Thrones. It is also the home of the world famous Giant’s Causeway which is an amazing bit of coastline made up of columns of rocks that look like they have been created by man.

History

Northern Ireland was once a place of conflict. The disagreement was between people who wanted to be part of the UK and people who wanted to be part of the Republic of Ireland. For many years there were bombings and violence in and outside of the country. But in the 1990s there was a peace agreement which still stands today. It is important to be aware that people from Northern Ireland still have different feelings about the UK and could be offended by discussing these things.

Language

English is the most common language in Northern Ireland and almost everyone will and can speak it. Irish Gaelic is a traditional language that is known by a lot of people but not spoken very widely.

Music, Food and Sport

Traditional Irish music is common right across Northern Ireland and it is often very similar to the music from the Republic. This folk style music is still enjoyed by all ages even though modern popular music is available.

Much of the food is similar across both parts of Ireland and a lot of it is very common across the UK. However Northern Ireland has a special type of breakfast called an Ulster Fry. This is very similar to a traditional English breakfast with sausages, eggs and bacon. However, in Northern Ireland it is served with soda bread.

Gaelic football is very popular in Northern Ireland. This is very similar to Rugby. Most other sports are common in the country including football, rugby and even pastimes like mountain climbing. For most major events both Northern Ireland and the Republic join together but they do have separate teams for football.

Northern Ireland is a beautiful country to visit. If you work with or speak to people from this country remember not to assume Ireland is all one country as this could offend someone.

If you are looking for an online English course Perfectly Spoken offers a wide range of options and allows you to study when and where you like.

 

Everything You Need to Know About Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

The British Royal family is certainly important to a lot of people in the UK although not everyone is interested in what they do. There are also a lot of other countries that seem to be interested in what happens to the British Royal Family and America is one of them. This is even more important to the USA when an American is about to join our royal family.

Who is Prince Harry?

Prince Harry is the son of Prince Charles who is also known as the Prince of Wales. His mother Diana sadly died in an accident in Paris in 1997. Prince Harry has a brother called Prince William. Prince Harry is 6th in line to be King. He was further up the list but when Prince William had three children they become a more direct heir (1) to the throne. Prince Harry is now sixth in line behind his father, his brother and his 2 nephews and niece (Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis)  Prince Harry has been in the British Army and has done a lot of charity (2) work. He is generally well liked in the UK by most people.

Who is Meghan Markle?

Meghan Markle is an American Actress. She has been in a number of movies like Anti-Social and Horrible Bosses but has also starred in the hit (3) TV show Suits. She is 36 years old and comes from Los Angeles, California. She has been dating (4) Prince Harry since July 2016. Meghan has been married before which is very unusual for someone in the Royal Family.

The News

The news that Prince Harry was engaged was certainly a very big thing in the UK. Meghan’s parents have said “We are incredibly happy for Meghan and Harry.” Harry’s parents have said “‘We are very excited for Harry and Meghan. It has been wonderful getting to know Meghan and to see how happy she and Harry are together.”.

As soon as the news was announced the couple have been in the newspapers and online a lot. It is also something that many people in the UK are talking about and will be for a long time.

The Wedding

The wedding takes place (5) on the 19th May 2018 at St George’s Chapel in Windsor. This place is known to be very important and special to them both. It will be a private wedding but there will be a lot of celebrations across the UK and many thousands of people will be in London celebrating publicly.

Latest news

Meghan was baptised (6) and has joined the Church of England to be allowed to marry a member of the Royal family. She has also started working on becoming a British Citizen and will take the British Citizenship test after her marriage. She has now stopped her work as an actress and will concentrate on her charity work.

If you are working in the UK or you are going to be near the time of the wedding you will certainly hear and have conversations about the couple. We offer online English courses if you are working on planning on coming to the UK or other English speaking countries.

 

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VOCABULARY:

  1. Heir: legally inherit a title or position.
  2. Charity:  organization that helps those in need.
  3. Hit: successful, popular.
  4. Dating: when a couple appear in public together.
  5. Take place: occur, happen.
  6. Baptize:  ceremony to admit someone into a particular Church.

New Years Resolutions – What Are They All About?

A New Year’s resolution is simply a choice someone makes at the start of the new year to change the things they do, or perhaps to do things they have not done yet. These resolutions are common in most of the Western Hemisphere and also in the East but what the resolutions are can vary a lot.

If you are living or working in the UK or you are working with people from the UK it is useful to understand the feelings and intentions behind these resolutions and how hard it can be to stick to them. Below are some common resolutions you may hear about or be told about when working with English speaking people especially from the UK.

  1. Lose Weight

This is a very common resolution. It is a simple one to say but a hard one to do. A lot of people would like to weigh less and be in better shape. January is a very common time to start trying to exercise more and lose weight. It is often hard to go outside and exercise because the weather is so bad in the UK. It is important to be nice and to encourage people if they tell you this is there plan. Be careful not to offend anyone by agreeing they should lose weight.

 

  1. Stop Smoking

Smoking is certainly something many people want to stop doing. It is a perfect new years resolution for health and to save money. Some people choose to try e-cigarettes to help and others just stop. If you are working around people who are trying to stop smoking remember to be supportive. If you smoke it is polite to try to not remind them you are going for a cigarette as this may make things harder.

 

  1. Eat Healthier Food

This is a very common resolution in the UK and across many countries. It is not always about losing weight but about being healthier. As with smoking, eating junk food in front of people who are trying to be healthy can be a little rude. It would also be bad to invite people out with you for junk food and not think about the people trying to stick with their resolution.

 

  1. Stop Drinking

There is no doubt, people in the UK do like drinking alcohol. Giving this up forever is not a common resolution but there is a common practice where people stop drinking for January. This is called a “dry January”. As with other resolutions it is important to remember work mates and friends may be trying not to drink and it is nice to be helpful and supportive.

 

  1. Start a New Career

This resolution is certainly more extreme than the others mentioned here but January in the UK is very often about looking for a new job. It is important to know this because January and February is a great time to be looking for work in the UK.

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