British Studies Web Pages

Views of Britain


Language and Difference

What do you think the British are really like? How different are they from Polish people? What do your students think? Are you interested in exploring these issues further in class? If so, the session below could help you. Basic guidelines and teacher's notes have been included although individual teachers may wish to adapt them to suit their needs

Topic: Views of Britain
Level: Intermediate to Advanced
Time: Approximately 1 hour
Materials: Blackboard and a piece of paper for each student


  • To promote classroom discussion
  • To develop an awareness of cross-cultural issues and attitudes

Stage 1. Photocopy the chart below or get the students to copy it from the blackboard

Column A Column B
Always late
  • Ask the students in pairs or groups to fill in Column A with 7 words or short phrases that in their opinion describe the British (see example). Then ask them to consider where these ideas come from (eg. TV, books, parents etc).
  • Get Sís to fill in Column B with the opposite words or phrases (see example)
  • Get Sís to look at each other's lists to find similarities and differences

Stage 2.
  • Which of these characteristics are positive or negative? Get Sís in pairs\groups to indicate their opinions with a minus (-) for negative characteristics and a plus (+) for positive characteristics. Get them to take notes of their reasons
  • Get them to link each pair of words with a line, discuss where they feel Polish people would fall on the line and make a mark to indicate this. Get them to take notes of their reasons
  • Get them to look at other groupsí ideas and find similarities and differences
  • Hold a feedback session to bring these out
Stage 3.
  • So far the discussion has revolved around societies in terms of people. However, cultures and societies do not only differ in terms of† Ďnational characteristicsí, there may also be great variety amongst different cultures in the way we perceive the world around us.
  • The next activity uses the learnersí first language as well as English to explore cultural variation in typical aspects of daily life. The teacher can choose which lexical items to focus on, the chart below is just an example.
English word
Polish Word
Similarities of meaning
Differences of meaning
housing estate

Sís should work together to complete the chart. For each word they should try to think of ways in which the meaning of the item is similar in Polish and ways in which it may be different. For example, according to Longman Dictionary of† English Language and Culture Lunch is "a usu. light meal eaten in the middle of the day"† (p. 791). In what ways is this similar to Polish eating habits? In what ways is it different?

Sís may not necessarily know the Ďcorrectí answer but they should try to guess based on their knowledge of Polish and British culture. They should be encouraged to look in dictionaries and other reference books to support their answers.

The session can conclude with a discussion of what learners have discovered about similarities and differences.

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