In this episode we’re going to help you bust some cultural myths about the UK and British people
Comment on the website from Fleudy:
Good afternoon,I have a problem with my English.
I’ve been learning English for two years and I know a lot of words and grammar, but my big problem is the listening.
This problem have (has) been hitting (bugging) me for a long time. Please tell me what I can do to improve it.
Listen to podcasts. Search Google for your hobbies and interests and then type the word ‘podcast’ (for example, ‘football podcast’, ‘movie podcast’, ‘tech podcast’)
Also search on itunes, Google Play, ivoox, and use podcast apps like Stitcher.
Also listen to English music and films in origianl version (and this podcast!)
Listener Feedback from Ando from Mexico
Great pronunciation! Mexicans eat a lot of tacos. The Spanish dance Flamenco, go to bullfights and are lazy because they always have a siesta and leave everything until mañana!
What about the UK?
Let’s bust some cultural myths!
1. Everyone in England speaks with either a London Cockney accent or posh like the Queen.
2. We’re always drinking tea. India, Turkey, China and Ireland drink more (per head of population).
Brits drink almost as much coffee as tea. “Come round for tea” = come to our house for the evening meal.
3. We all know Sean Connery, Mick Jagger, David Beckham and The Queen personally.
4. Everyone lives in London or in houses like Downtown Abbey.
5. The food is terrible! Britain has four restaurants that have a 3 michelin stars and has the 4th, 5th and 9th best restaurant in the world, according to Trip Advisor (http://uk.businessinsider.com/tripadvisors-best-restaurants-in-the-world-2015-2015-10?r=US&IR=T) Gordon Ramsey, Jamie Oliver, Heston Blumenthal
6. It’s always raining (Britain is number 46th in a list of worldwide average rainfall,
this is above countries such as New Zealand (29th) and even the USA (25th)).
It drizzles a lot in the UK.
Brits speak about the weather a lot and it’s also common to see rain and bad weather in British art. Winters are longer than summer in the UK.
Do the British always carry umbrellas?
7. All Brits have bad teeth – a study by the OECD, published in The Economist, shows that Brits have some of the healthiest teeth in the world.
8. British people hate Europeans and North Americans.
9. The British are very reserved and unfriendly.
10 We drink warm beer.
11. The English sometimes confuse “British” with “English”, as do non-British people
Go to: inglespodcast.com/52
Improve your speaking with an italki teacher
It can be difficult to tell the difference between the accents of Canadians and North Americans and between Australians and New Zealanders
How would you stereotype the Chinese? The Germans? The Brazilians? The French? (which adjectives would you use?)
How much do you think I live up to an English stereotype?
Say some adjectives and I’ll tell you which nationality you’re stereotyping.
“Heaven is where the police are British, the cooks are French, the mechanics are German, the lovers are Italian, and it’s all organised by the Swiss”
“Hell is where the police are German, the cooks are English, the mechanics are French, the lovers are Swiss, and it’s all organised by the Italians.”
Thoughts on Cuisine:
“The Europeans have good food. The British have…good table manners!”
Quotes from George Mikes – a Hungarian writer who came to the UK for a few weeks, but ended up staying, obtaining British nationality and writing about the British –
“The British are brave people. They can face anything, except reality.”
“An Englishman, even if he is alone, forms an orderly queue of one.”
“The British – as the whole world, particularly the British, keep saying – are the most fair-minded people in the world.
After the Second World War they declared: ‘Let’s be fair. We’ve been Top Nation for centuries. We have done splendidly well once again. Now we must give others a chance. Let’s decline’.”
Audio message from Santiago from Argentina: Reverse culture shock
…and now it’s your turn to practise your English. Do you have a question for us or an idea for a future episode?
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On next week’s episode: Giving advice and using recommend and suggest in English
The music in this podcast is by Pitx. The track is called ‘See You Later’
FULL TRANSCRIPTION by Arminda from Madrid (Thank you so much!)
Do British people always drink tea? Do they carry an umbrella every day? In this episode we’re going to help you bust some cultural myths about the U.K. and British people.
Hello and welcome to “Aprender inglés con Reza y Craig”. That was Craig and I’m Reza. No! That was Craig and that was Reza, and if you are a new listener to this award winning podcast, you are very welcome. With over forty years of teaching between Reza and I we’re going to help you improve your English and take it to the next level. Reza, do we have any comments or feedback this week?
We do, we have a comment on the website from, I think it’s pronounced “Floudy” or “Fludy”. Would that be?
“Fludy” its F-l-e-u-d-y. Hello Fleudy!
And Fleudy, I don’t know if it’s a he or she, I don’t know from that name, Fleudy writes:
Good afternoon, I have a problem with my English. I’ve been learning English for two years and I know a lot of words and grammar, but my big problem is the listening. This problem have, she wrote, I think you should write has, this problem has been hitting me, mm, this problema has been bugging me, a problema bugs you. Do you think of any other way to say that, Craig? This problema has been bugging me.
You could use the verb to affect so, this problema has been affecting me for a long time.
Please tell me what I can do to improve it. Well, your main problem is your listening. We’re not trying to be funny but keep listening … to English, including our podcast but as much English as you possibly can.
You’re doing something right immediately, Fleudy, which is listening to this podcast. So listen to as many podcasts as possible, go to Google and think of the hobbies you have, the things you like, for example tennis, and then type, search for tennis plus podcast or shopping + podcast or music + podcast. So any hobby you have, search on Google, listen to podcasts related to your hobbies. Obviously search also in your podcatcher, which could be Itunes or Stitcher if you’re Android or Google Play if you’re Android and listen to as many podcasts as possible, particularly the ones that have full transcripts because then you can listen and read at the same time and make connections between what you’re hearing and what the words actually are. So do both, listen and also listen with transcripts. Any other suggestions, Reza, for Fleudy?
No, I think that’s the best advice possible.
Also, of course, films and music. Just keep listening to as much English as possible. Next, we have some audio feedback from Enda, from Mexico:
Hello guys. My name is Enda, E-n-d-a, it’s a […] common name even here in Mexico. I’m from Mexico City. It’s a pleasure to send you a voice message. I am a new listener for your podcasts and I’ve found them to be very cute, very useful and funny, so, congratulations. I’m really interested in the UK’s culture and History and stuff and I’d be really pleased if you talk soon about it, maybe the most relevant things. For example, in Mexico people who has never come usually think that this country is a huge desert. But it isn’t true, because Mexico is amazingly diverse in plants, fruit and animals. The true fact is that most Mexicans love tacos but food depends on the region, etcetera. So, something like that I’d like to hear from you. I’d like to visit the UK also, someday, maybe soon, maybe not, but, anyway, thanks very much and congratulations again. So, bye bye.
Enda: “Ándale, ándale, arriba, arriba”, that’s what I know about Mexico. The topic today is stereotypes.
That’s very stereotypical, Reza.
I know it’s not true but when I was a kid growing up, we didn’t know much about Mexico. All we knew there were “bandidos” with big hats, they had lots of beans and people shouted “ándale, ándale, arriba, arriba”. But I’m sure that’s not true, it’s a stereotype.
Yeah, by the way Enda, fantastic pronunciation, wonderful English. We were both very impressed by your message and very curious that your pronunciation seems to be more British English than American English. Did you get that too Reza?
Yes, and what’s even more interesting is that your name is Enda, E-n-d-a, you spelled it out.
Thank you for spelling it, Enda.
Yes, very peculiar in Mexico, not where I come from, it’s a fairly common man’s name in Ireland.
Is it? I didn’t know that. Is it short for something?
It’s just, It’s a name, Enda.
I’ve met quite a few Endas, but only in Ireland, it’s a man’s name in Ireland. But I’m interested to know how you got that name in Mexico.
Maybe your family has Irish roots, Enda. Is that possible? So, Enda spoke about the way that certain nationalities can be stereotyped, for example, people who don’t know may think that Mexicans eat a lot of tacos, that the Spanish always dance Flamenco, they always go to bullfights and the Spanish are very lazy, because they always have a siesta and they leave everything until “mañana”. What about the UK? We thought it will be fun to speak a little about stereotypes you might have about the British people.
So, Enda you can get your revenge now from my outburst shouting “Ándale, arriba”. You can laugh at us now.
You can, yes, this is your chance to laugh at us because we’re going to look at eleven myths about the British. How do you say myths in Spanish?
Mitos. Eleven “mitos” about the British. What’s first one, Reza?
Well, the first myth is that everyone in England speaks with either a London Cockney accent or posh like the Queen.
Here I say!
That’s very, very nicely said, Craig!
I think everybody in the UK speaks like the BBC, because I speak from the BBC, I’ve learned English from the BBC.
Well, not everybody, half the people. And then the other half are Cockney. Can you do a good Cockney accent, Craig?
Oh, we’ve done Cockney accents on another episode, haven’t we? We’ve done that before. So, obviously that’s not true. In fact, only 2.5 or 3 percent of people in the U.K. have a typical BBC Queen type accent, so a very, very small percentage. And as we’ve said before there are many regional accents in the U.K. so you need to listen to as many different accents as possible, which goes back to Fleudy’s comment about listening. It might be difficult if you only listen to the BBC, when you hear a regional accent, it might be difficult for you to understand. So, again, listen to as many, as large a variety of accents as possible.
We’re always drinking tea. That’s number two. Is that true? Do we always drink tea?
More or less, yeah! It’s exaggerated but a lot of people do drink tea very often in the UK.
Is it common in your family when you go back to visit, it’s tea the drink of the house or do some people drink coffee?
Some people drink coffee as well, but more tea. Coffee a lot, but tea slightly more, I would say. But I know, in some houses, nowadays, people prefer coffee. What about you?
I prefer coffee because Spanish coffee is really good. When I grew up in the UK the coffee was terrible, we used to use a lot of instant powdered coffee, that’s really weak and tastes disgusting because it was processed. So the tea is quite good in the UK. So, my rule is I often drink tea in the UK and coffee in Spain.
Although a lot of British people do drink tea, in fact there are countries that drink more tea. For example in India, Turkey and China, not to mention Ireland. In those countries people drink more tea per head of population than the UK.
I didn’t know that; that’s interesting. But also it’s true that British people drink almost as much coffee as tea, so there isn’t a big difference between drinking coffee and tea in Britain. An interesting thing about the word tea is that you may hear the expression “come around for tea” or “would you like to stay for tea?” That might not necessarily mean the drink because some people in the UK use tea for the evening meal, for dinner.
Like in my house, we always did. We always said tea for “la cena”.
There you go. That’s the evidence right there with Reza.
What about your house?
No, we have breakfast, lunch and dinner.
We said tea.
So you have breakfast, lunch and tea.
Yes, we always say, yeah!
Ok. If you go to Reza’s house, if Reza says to you: Come to our house for tea, then he is inviting you for the evening meal, not a cup of tea.
There was a joke in Ireland which played on a stereotype, which is not true, and at the risk of, yet again, offending Craig, I’m gonna tell the joke anyway. The joke was.
You’ve already offended some Mexicans, why not offend me?
Yeah! The joke was in Ireland, this is specifically Irish joke but I’ve since found out that in Scotland there’s a similar joke. We used to say: What’s the difference between an Irish cup of tea and an English cup of tea?
I don’t know, what is the difference between an Irish cup of tea and an English cup of tea?
The biscuit. Yeah! It was implied that don’t expect to get a biscuit in an English house. That was the implication. You might, which I know not to be true but it played on the stereotype that English are a bit stingy, you might not get a biscuit with your cup of tea.
What does stingy mean?
Stingy is mean, “rácano”. But I know this to be untrue because any time Craig has ever made me a cup of tea, he always gives me lots of biscuits. So I know it’s completely false but people often say it in Ireland. Playing into the stereotype.
Number 3. People think that everybody who lives in the UK or comes from the UK intimately knows Sean Connery, Mike Jagger, David Beckham and The Queen on a personal level. Do you know any of those people, have you had tea with those?
Have you ever, ever had dinner, or lunch or breakfast or tea or coffee with a member of The Royal Family?
Not the British Royal Family, just the Iraqi Royal Family.
When I lived in Turkey, in Ankara, I got to know a man who claimed to be the heir to the, now defunct, throne of Iraq.
What does heir mean?
“Heredero, heredero”, that’s h-e-i-r in English, heir. But, of course, there had been a revolution in Iraq many years before and they had got rid of the, got rid of is “quitar”, it got rid of the Royal Family. But if it had still existed, this man claimed that he would be the heir. And he had some kind of diplomatic problem, I think he had no nationality because he couldn’t get back into Iraq because the Iraqis wouldn’t accept him, so he was looking for asylum or nationality in different countries and he was claiming his right to be the leader of Iraq. An interesting character, he was a very nice man. I can’t remember his name, though, but he was really nice.
And he was really of the Royal Family.
Who knows, who knows. He claimed to be, claim is to say that something is true but of course it’s difficult to prove.
So we do not all know famous people, we don’t know The Beatles, we don’t know David Beckham or Victoria or any of the Spice Girls.
Number four: Everyone lives in London or in houses that look like Downtown Abby. Does your house look like Downtown Abby?
No, my family house in the UK looks like what it is, which is a nineteen sixties’ council house. A council house means a house built by the State, by the Government, owned or controlled by The Council, “El Ayuntamiento”. So you can imagine they’re not very fancy, not very posh.
Neither was our house very fancy or posh. So we don’t all live in castles and most of the country do not live in London.
Although there are some Londoners (aren’t there?) who are not convinced about that, not only foreigners.
Unfortunately there is a North-South divide in the UK, where the South of the country tends to be more prosperous, they tend to be richer than the North of the country.
In Spain, if anything, it’s the reverse. The North tends to be, or it has had the reputation of being more prosperous: the Basque Country, Catalonia.
Whereas the South, Andalucía, Extremadura, according to stereotypes, is a bit poorer. So it’s the reverse here, if anything.
Number five: The food in the UK is terrible. True or false, Reza? Do you agree with that stereotype?
Mm, no, but you know that I was tempted to say almost yes, but I didn’t.
That’s because you like Spanish food so much.
I do. And I love certain British things. However what I will say is a lot of British people choose to eat terrible food. Let’s put it like that.
Did you know that Britain has four restaurants that have three Michelin stars and it has the fourth, fifth and ninth best restaurant in the world, according to Trip Advisor? And of course famous chefs like Gordon Ramsey, Jaime Oliver, Nigella Lawson, Heston Blumenthal. So in recent years I think the standard of British cuisine has really, really improved.
Yeah! Having said that, though, Spain has won number one best restaurant in the world on more than one occasion. So, yeah, ok, fourth is pretty good but first is even better!
The best, that’s in the Basque country, isn’t it?
Well, the Basque country is also known for its cuisine, isn’t it?
It is, very famous.
But there are British things which I love. And I’m looking forward to having a fig roll biscuit later with Craig. Do you remember my obsession with fig roll biscuits, I’ve talked about it in an earlier episode.
Yes, I’ve bought Reza a package for tea today, when we break for tea.
You mention Jamie Oliver. Careful what you say Craig, we don’t wanna loose listeners from the Valencia area. Jaime Oliver recently, well a few months ago, said that he thought “chorizo”, or “choriso”, as we say in English, “choriso” is fine in “paella”.
No, no, no, no.
Many Valencians are very upset about this. Valencia, the home, the birth place, “la cuna de la paella”, a lot of people are very upset. He said: Oh! Get over yourself! Which means like Oh! Don’t take it so seriously! but a lot of Valencians are angry with Jaime Oliver.
So he’s offended a lot of Valencians […] purest when it comes to “paella”.
Our myth number six, our stereotype number six: It’s always raining, always raining in the UK. Well, Britain is number 46 in a list of worldwide average rainfall. So, we have less rain than countries like New Zealand, who are 29th, and even the USA who are 25th. So, why do people think that, Reza? Why do people think it’s always raining in Britain when we’re number 46 in the world?
Well, I’m convinced that it does rain a lot in Britain. And I don’t dispute those figures. However, I imagine that the frequency of rainfall in the UK is very high, although the quantity of rain may not be as high as other countries. In other words I’m saying it rains often but perhaps not torrential, not very heavy. Unlike Valencia which is the complete opposite, where it rarely rains but often when it rains it’s extremely heavy.
Yeah, we have heavy rains here, that’s for sure.
So I imagine in those countries, as well as raining often they get heavy rain. In Britain it rains often but it’s not always heavy, I would imagine. What do you think?
Yeah, no, I agree with that. I remember travelling around Ireland a few years ago, that’s Ireland, Northern Ireland. But we travelled around Ireland for all of the month of August and it did not rain for three days, the rest of the month it rained every day, but that very, very fine rain most of the time. It’s hardly raining but you go outside and you get wet in two minutes.
Drizzle, it was drizzling almost every day, in August, in Ireland.
“Llovizna”, I think in Spanish, or as I know it “chiri miri”.
Also, I think British people speak about the weather a lot. And also, another point, it’s very common to see rain and bad weather in British art. British artists, in the past, used to paint a lot of cloudy skies and rain and very dark scenes. Also winters are longer than the summer in the UK, so that’s another reason. What about umbrellas, do we always carry umbrellas, obviously not here, but in Ireland?
No, I don’t think so. I would say, if anything, in other countries people carry umbrellas more often than in parts of Britain because very often when it rains in the UK it’s also very windy and your umbrella is more or less useless, it’s gonna break in the wind and people know this and just don’t bother to carry it.
That’s true. I’m also always losing my umbrellas, so I’ve stopped buying them. I just buy a jacket with a hood, hood is “capucha”, so that protects me from the rain.
Number seven: all Brits have bad teeth. That’s a stereotype, isn’t it? Specially from the Americans.
From the Americans.
They have that beautiful white teeth, and always shining, it looks a bit unnatural sometimes. And they criticize us for having bad teeth.
But I don’t think many Spaniards, or South Americans or Latin Americans would have that perception of the British, because I imagine that our teeth is quite similar. I think it’s only really from the Americans who are known for their spectacularly white teeth. I’m not sure another countries, they have that perception of us.
Actually, a study by the OCDE, the dentist association, which was published in The Economist, shows that British people have some of the healthiest teeth in the world and if you are a dentist I will link to that article in the show notes, which you can find at inglespodcast.com/135.
What’s number eight, Reza?
Number eight is controversial, “controvertido”. British people hate Europeans and North Americans. Well, we’ll subdivide it if you want and say some British people hate only Europeans although they’re quite keen on North Americans but it’s a general rule we don’t like foreigners. What do you think?
Maybe because we’re an island that there’s that perception or that thought that there’s always been a little bit of friction between the French and the English, or the Germans and the English; obviously the Germans because of World War II and the French, I don’t know why.
The French, the North Americans, the Americans, the Canadians they helped us in the war against the Germans, we should be friends with them, shouldn’t we?
Yes, but we, but North America used to be a British Colony.
And now they’re the big boys!
And now they’re the big boys! And they’ve kind of taken away the power, so maybe there’s this grudging envy of North America. But no, I don’t think that’s true, I think that’s a myth, and.
We can’t let the whole Brexit thing pass, we have to bring it up. Sorry if you’re getting bored of the topic, but, you know. Sadly, in my opinion, sadly, unfortunately, it is a fact that the British have just had a referendum and voted to leave the European Union. Can you explain that?
A lot was based on immigration and the fact that they are not happy to have so many immigrants in the country, which makes me really sad.
So, does it suggest there’s some truth to the idea of the British disliking Europeans?
No, but I think that shows us that the British do not integrate very well with other cultures and societies, they’re not very accepting of people who are different. But I’m not sure if that’s a typical British stereotype or if that’s people in general. Except maybe countries who have historically been very open to immigration and mixing of cultures and religions and nationalities.
But surely Britain is just exactly one of those countries. For many, many decades it has been opened to immigration.
It’s been opened to conquering other countries and expanding the empire, because I moved into India and other countries but not so much of people going to the British isle, their island, and living among them. So it’s fine when they went to India and controlled it but it’s not fine now the Indians are living in the UK, which is very hypocritical.
For many people, though, it was fine to have those Indians and others living in the UK in the fifties because there was a shortage of labor, shortage means “not enough” and they encourage foreigners to come and be part of the labor force. But now, we have too many people and not enough jobs to […].
The key word that you said was to be part of the labor force, not necessarily, not necessarily to come to the country and integrate into the society as an equal member. Just to come and work and build the roads. Is not the same thing.
Yeah. I think you’ve got a good point there.
Number nine: The British are very reserved and unfriendly, very cold and not very open.
Well, I can tell you, of most British people I know that’s not true, not true at all. I can’t deny that I may have met a few people like that but I’ve met people like that of other nationalities too. Reserved? Possibly, some people, Yeah. But not all British people are reserved. But perhaps a higher percentage of British people than other nationalities are perhaps reserved, I don’t know. What do you think?
I don’t necessarily agree, I think that Britain in general is very cold and unfriendly, especially London. I don’t think I’ve ever had a conversation on the London underground, on the tube. I don’t think people speak if they don’t know you, very often, unless they need directions or something. And you could say that most big cities like Paris are very similar. That because they’re big cities, they’re not very open to tourist, they’re not very open, not very friendly, everybody is rushing, nobody has time. But I think that’s even more true in the UK and I found people to be much more friendly in Ireland, for example, than in the UK. And I always recommend that my students go to Ireland to study English or the North of England where people have more time, they’re more open and they’re more friendly. Yes, London has the sights, London’s great for sightseeing but if you wanna practice English and speak with friendly people go outside of London, go to the South Coast of England, go to the North of England or go to Ireland.
That’s very interesting to hear, Craig said that, because of course Craig is from the South of England, so he’s been very, very bold, “muy, muy audaz”, very bold when he says that. Of course I’m not offended in the least that he said that because I’m from Northern Ireland. But that’s a very brave thing for you to say, Craig. What if some of your friends from the South of England are listening to this. Are you worried you might offend them?
No, I think they might agree. I think, especially for foreigners travelling to the UK, for Spanish speakers, for example, who are going to learn English, I think they will find London very unfriendly.
But I know Spaniards do love London. It’s true they don’t often talk about the friendliness but they do love it.
The people or the place?
I guess more the place, yeah. Maybe it’s quite hard to get to know the people there.
Some people say that Paris would be wonderful if it wasn’t for the French.
A lot of French people say that. A lot of French even say that, yeah.
That’s another stereotype.
That’s true, yeah.
Number ten: we drink warm beer. We drink beer that is not cold, true or false?
I think there’s an element of truth to that, in the fact that it is traditional to drink traditional English beer not too cold.
Is Guinness served cold or warm?
No, cold. Guinness must be cold. Nobody wants warm Guinness and never has. But I think for English ale, a-l-e, ale, that’s traditional English beer, it’s recommended that it isn’t too cold, isn’t that true?
It’s not warm but I believe it’s a slightly higher temperature than lager, which is “rubia”. So lager is “rubia” and ale or bitter, sometimes it’s called bitter, that’s the dark beer, “la tostada”, so that is often, but not always, served at a slightly higher temperature, so a little warmer, but it’s not warm, it’s not warm beer, it’s warm ale, but it’s not as cold as lager. So, one suggestion, drink lager in the summer and bitter or ale in the winter. But it’s still cold.
I must admit I don’t like getting a very cold beer in a bar in England.
Especially in the winter, you come from the outside you’re cold, you want something …
I don’t want it really cold. I admit I played into the hands of that stereotype a bit myself.
So that’s another myth. We do not drink warm beer unless the fridge is broken.
What’s number eleven?
Number eleven was one I came up with. Craig wouldn’t come up with this, I imagine. I wrote: The English sometimes confuse British with English. I repeat that: The English sometimes confuse British with English, as do non British people, in other words, you foreigners.
Well, that’s true and I think we spoke about that in episode 52. So if you want to listen to that, that’s inglespodcast.com/52. But as a quick summary, Reza, what do we say in that episode?
We were talking about the different parts of Britain and the UK and what the UK is composed of and all that type of thing. But also, more generally speaking, I very often find that some English people sometimes slip, they have a slip, “un desliz”, and they say: Oh, you know how, you know we English like to have a cup of tea. And they’ll forget that in the group there’s a Scot and a Welsh man and a Norther Irish man and they’ll often say, because there are fifteen people or twelve or […] Hold on! Hold on! I am not English! You can call me British but not English. Have you ever been in that situation?
Yeah, I have and I think I probably offended a few Irish men, Northern Irish men and a few Scots as well, calling Scottish people English. And they hate it, they hate it! Don’t make, don’t make that mistake listeners, don’t call a Scottish or another Irish person …
Or Welsh, English.
Some of our listeners have asked for feedback about how to improve their listening and speaking.
Yes, this might be the perfect time to speak about our wonderful sponsor Italki. If you’re looking to improve your listening, your speaking, your grammar, your vocabulary or any aspect of your English, why not try our sponsor Italki. Italki is a website and it’s like a marketplace where you can meet and study with teachers from all over the world. So if you want to study with an English teacher from Northern Ireland, I mean a British person from Ireland or a British person from Scotland, or an American, or a Canadian, or an Australian or a person from New Zealand, whoever you would like to study with, Italki has the answer. It’s also very affordable because there’s no language school in the middle, so you get a slightly cheaper lesson, and you study on the internet using Skype at a time that is convenient for you. If you would like more details of Italki, please go to inglespodcast.com/italki where you will find a special offer of a free lesson if you sign up using our link. And I would like to say thank you to Italki for sponsoring “Aprender inglés con Reza y Craig”.
You could ask for a Northern Irish teacher, or Welsh or Scottish as Craig says. Another group of people who you gotta be careful with are Canadians. Do not accidentally call a Canadian an American. They don’t like it one bit and even Craig and I, native speakers, we find it hard to tell the difference between their accents. Canadians can tell, they know, but for other people it’s very hard to perceive the difference and you can really offend a Canadian if you presume he’s American.
Yeah! And I’ve made that mistake many times. I say to people: What part of America are you from? And they say: Well, I’m from the Canadian part of America. The better question is: Where are you from? And then, it’s an open question and you don’t offend anybody. Also true with Australians and people from New Zealand, [it’s] also quite difficult sometimes to make a difference of the pronunciation when they speak.
Yeah, and I guess there’s a bit of a complex, I guess, cause Canada is perhaps not as powerful internationally as America and New Zealand is not as powerful internationally as Australia and you know if you call a New Zealander Australian it’s like: I’m a New Zealander, I’m proud of it; you know, Who are these Aussies, who these Australians think they are? It might be the same with Canada. And indeed, and indeed with Scotland and Ireland and Wales, etcetera.
Absolutely. So, speaking of stereotypes, we’ve spoken about stereotypes of the British. What about the Chinese? Let’s think of some adjectives we could use to describe the Chinese. What comes to mind?
Well, I tell you some stereotypes, which sadly in this case was not true. I had an adjective in mind which, I presumed, applied to all Chinese and I discovered it didn’t, and that was hardworking.
Yeah, that’s an adjective I would give to the Chinese.
Well, you would be right as regards many Chinese but you would be wrong as regards others, as I discovered, because I’ve taught many Chinese students. Some are very hardworking some are not, it’s as simple as that. Like any other nationality. Before I ever had contact with Chinese students, I first started in 2010, I presumed that all were going to be extremely hardworking, because I had this stereotype in my mind that the Chinese love hard work and they always work and they like to achieve things through their work. No, not all of them. There are plenty of rich Chinese people now who don’t need to work very hard to achieve things and some do, some don’t.
So in some cases you were teaching the children of these rich families who were not very hardworking.
Yeah! I don’t wanna single out the Chinese, I’m not saying they’re lazy, I’m not saying that. I’m just saying that I had a stereotype in my mind that all Chinese were really hardworking, you know whereas, you know, some British or Irish people are lazy. No, I thought, I discovered that they were just as mixed as us, some are hardworking, some are lazy.
That’s the dangerous of stereotypes, isn’t it? Would you use the adjective serious to describe Chinese people?
I would have, again, until I had contact with them.
So, your students weren’t very serious.
No, some are but some have a very, very fun sense of humor. They have a very mischievous sense of humor, which I really like. It’s difficult to understand it but they do have a great sense of humor.
What about the Germans, how would you describe the Germans? Punctual, punctual I’d say.
Yeah, that’s a stereotype.
And I’d use serious for Germans as well, I think they can be quite serious. Again, we’re generalizing. Stereotyping is all about generalizing. Obviously there are exceptions and stereotypes are not always true, but when you think of a nationality sometimes some adjectives come to mind.
Would hardworking come to mind for the Germans as well?
Definitely. Although, interestingly Germany is the country with most national holidays per year in the European Union. Oh, they are very hardworking but they also have the most holiday time.
Which brings us to another adjective for them. They’re simply efficient. In the shorter period of time they get more work done because they’re efficient.
Efficient is an adjective I would definitely associate with Germans.
And, had you asked me, If you had asked me, not long ago, are Germans very honest? I would have said, yes, no less honest than anybody else. What you see is what you get. If they say it’s such a way then it’s such a way. But then, I talk to a few people with Volkswagen cars and I asked them about their emissions and I realized that I might have been wrong, what you see is not always what you get. Even with a German car! Yeah! Craig, I guess there’s a certain sponsor in the future that won’t be interested in us.
Volkswagen! I’m going to, let’s do this, I’m going to give you a list of adjectives that I wrote down previously and I’d like you to try and tell me which country I’m describing, which nationality I’m describing. These people, I think, are lively, outgoing, very fun loving people. I might say party people, they’re very musical, very friendly.
No. They love dancing and they’re really good at football.
Really good at football.
They drink coffee.
Yes, Brazilians! Well done!
There’s an awful lot of coffee in Brazil. There’s a song called that, isn’t there? “Hay mucho, mucho café en Brasil”
Why don’t you do one for me? Think of a nationality, describe them using adjectives and I try and guess who you are speaking about.
Ok. They ride around everywhere on bicycles.
Ah, could be. With, if they’re men they’ll have moustaches with a baguette under their arm and a string of onions around their neck.
French! I think the word baguette kind of gave that away. But, that’s a very strong stereotype of a French person, always smoking.
Yes, smoking Gauloises.
Very liberal about sex.
Listen to this. This is something I found on the internet describing Heaven. This is a description of Heaven, “el Cielo”:
Heaven is where the police are British, the cooks are French, the mechanics are German, the lovers are Italian, and everything is organised by the Swiss.
Would you agree with that description of Heaven?
Yes, using the stereotypes for each of those countries that would be a nice place to live!
Now, this is a similar description of Hell. What’s Hell in Spanish?
“El infierno”. This is Hell:
Hell is where the police are German, the cooks are English, the mechanics are French, the lovers are Swiss, and everything is organised by the Italians.
Oh, Yes. Yeah! That doesn’t sound like a great destination.
Someone famous once said, I can’t remember who he was, about cuisine and cooking:
The Europeans have good food. The British have … good table manners!
There’s something true to that, isn’t there? Hello, dear, could you pass the salt, please? Oh! Certainly, here you are.
Oh! This soup is disgusting.
I mean, when I was a kid and […] my mum would be very angry if I didn’t say please with anything I asked her for on the table. Could you pass the salt, please? In Spain it would sound a bit odd. I don’t know about in other Spanish speaking countries, but in Spain it would sound odd, it would sound strange if you say: “Mamá, pásame la sal, por favor”, they’d say, why “por favor”, it’s a bit unnecessary.
We were told that please was the magic word, if you wanted something you had to say please. So, can you pass the salt, please? Can I have some more, please? Can I have a drink, please? And I notice that when I’m with Spanish people they don’t say please as much. It’s just not necessary here.
I’d be interested to know about other Spanish speakers from Central and South America or the Caribbean. Can you guys give us a bit of feedback, do you say please a lot? “Por favor?” Do you? Please, write to us or send us some audio feedback and let us know.
Yeah! And you can send your emails to me at email@example.com.
Or to me, Reza, at Belfastreza@gmail.com.
Well, let’s end our discussion about stereotypes with a few funny quotes from a person who is quite famous for writing about the British and English, a gentleman called George Mikes, or it should be really Mikes, because he wasn’t originally English. He was a Hungarian writer who came to the UK for a few weeks but he really liked it and he ended up staying there and became a British citizen and he wrote books about the British. And he has some famous quotations. Here’s one:
The British are brave people. They can face anything, except reality.
Craig, true or false?
Yes. Well, they do have a reputation of having a stiff upper lip.
Ooh! What does that mean?
Well your lip is “labio”, so, years ago in the days of the Raja and the British Empire there was this idea that British people, in the face of danger or adversity or anything bad that happened in life, were very resilient, which means they resisted things with a lot of pride and a stiff upper lip would be a way of facing problems and overcoming problems. So it’s just this stoic way of being in front of danger or in front of problems in life, to have a stiff upper lip. But, I’m not sure about facing, not facing reality. Why do you think that’s true? Or, do you think that’s true?
No, I don’t. I think it’s an exaggeration myself. I kind of like it. What I think he is getting at, to get at something means to imply without saying it.
Is that the British don’t like being direct about real situations. I don’t think that it’s avoiding reality, they just don’t like to talk directly about things.
That’s true, yeah!
That’s true. They do go around things, they don’t speak straight and honestly as other nationalities. That’s very true, I think.
What’s this next one. Here it says:
An Englishman, even if he is alone, forms an orderly queue of one.
That’s very true. We love queuing, don’t we? We queue for anything. And if we see a queue, we join it even if we don’t know what they’re queueing for. We just join it. Oh! There’s a queue, I’m going to stand there.
This one is basically true, isn’t it?
Yeah, I agree with that. That’s another very, very common stereotype.
Here there’s another one, a little bit longer. Let’s see if our listeners can understand this. George Mikes wrote:
The British – as the whole world, particularly the British, keep saying – are the most fair-minded people in the world. After the Second World War they declared: ‘Let’s be fair. We’ve been Top Nation for centuries. We have done splendidly well once again. Now we must give others a chance. Let’s decline.
So, they ‘re saying that they’re stepping down from their position of power, voluntarily.
For the sake of fair play, because […] there’s a chance you can be top forever. Does that sound very British to you?
It does sound very British, very pretentious and I don’t agree with it. I think, I don’t think so.
Would you say though since the Second World War Britain has been in decline. Is there any truth to that?
Definitely, Yeah. Definitely. Economically and in many other respects.
Why is that?
I think things go through phases, for example, you can look at the rise of the Roman Empire and the fall of the Roman Empire, you can look at the rise of the American Empire and possibly now is going to fall again so certain countries through certain circumstances over History become powerful, become influential, become aggressive and take over countries and then their time finishes and it goes round in a circle. Maybe now is the Chinese who are going to rise.
It could be. So we’d better be careful with our stereotypes of the Chinese.
Ok. To finish this episode we have an audio message from Santiago, from Argentina, who speaks about reverse culture shock. A culture shock is when you go to another country and everything is so different that it’s like a shock, like you don’t really know what’s happening because it’s so different from what you’re used to, from what you’re accustomed to. So let’s hear to what Santiago has to say about reverse culture shock:
Hi Reza, Hi Craig. This is Santiago from Argentina. I have discovered you like a month ago and since then I listen to your podcast every night because I suffer from insomnia. So I use that time to improve my English. I put my headphones on and just stay there listening until the sleep comes. Well, I wonder if you can talk about reverse culture shock. I think it’s a very interesting subject because a friend of mine has passed the last three years living in Korea and he got this depression when he came back. He feels like a foreigner in his own country and I believe he wants to go back to Korea in the near future. Well, it’s just an idea to talk about. Keep up the good work with the podcast and thank you again for helping us to improve our English. Bye.
Thank you for your wonderful message Santiago! I really did enjoy listening to your excellent pronunciation and your command of English. Wasn’t that wonderful?
Yes. And what’s more, it’s a very interesting topic, one very close to my heart. As a person who spends a lot of time between the UK or Ireland and Spain, yes, I know what you’re talking about. I know the experience that your friend has had. Sometimes I feel a bit foreign in my native Belfast. Sometimes.
But the culture is not that different. I would imagine his friend who, was it, went to Korea? From Argentina, that’s a big change in culture although Ireland and Spain are that different?
No as big, yeah, I mean, yeah. Argentina and Korea must be a huge culture shock but still, you know, there are little things like, you know, bed time, eating times in Spain and Ireland, where people meet, what they do. For example, one thing that I miss about Ireland and Britain is that very often you meet your friends in their houses. It’s not so common in Spain, or in this part of Spain. It’s quite hard to get into a Valencian person’s house. You may have known them for a long time but you don’t often get into their house. You meet in cafes, bars, which is nice, but Irish people like to meet in their house and it has the advantage of being more intimate and of being cheaper, if you gonna have a drink and a meal and […]. That’s something I miss, I must say. But then, reverse culture shock, when I go to Ireland and I see people drinking huge amounts of beer without any food, almost with the objective of getting drunk. I think: Oh! Why would you do that! But then I remembered, Oh, yeah! I used to do that when I was like eighteen or nineteen or twenty and twenty-one years old. But now I find it silly. But I see that there are forty and fifty year old men still doing it, I think: this is a silly thing, a cultural thing that I don’t like about my home town. What about you?
I agree with you. And this has happened to me when I was younger and I used to travel for extended times and spend months and years in another countries, travelling or teaching or working and I agree it’s the more, I think, the more culturally different a country is then the more culture shock and the longer time it takes you to adapt or readjust when you go back to your country. I think that’s completely natural. It passes with time but one thing that I felt very sad about when I travel and I came back to the UK was I really missed the culture that I’d experienced while I was away travelling. So, either your friend could go back again to Korea, if he misses it so much or just wait in Argentina until the culture shock passes. But, yeah, it’s a very interesting topic. And I hope Santiago that your insomnia is improving. That’s horrible. I’ve had that for a while a few years ago and I’m pleased that we put you to sleep. I’m sure you’re not the first person, not the first time we’ve put our listeners to sleep. We’ll finish there in case we’ll put everyone to sleep. Now it’s your turn to practice your English. If you have a question or an idea for us, like Santiago, please send us a voice message and tell us what you’re thinking about and practice your English. You can do that on speakpipe, which is s-p-e-a-k-p-i-p-e.com/inglespodcast. There’s a link to that speakpipe in the show notes. And if you like to visit our store, our “tienda descargas” you can find courses that might help you improve your English at store.mansiongles.net. And for more show notes go to patrion.com/inglespodcast. And our lovely sponsors are:
It continues in the show notes.