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Views of Britain


Classroom Activity - Exploring Stereotypes
How others see us - case study: Scotland

Oats. "A grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people."
Dr Samuel Johnson
Dictionary of the English Language

" Sir, the noblest prospect that a Scotchman ever sees is the high road that leads him to London".

Dr Samuel Johnson

"In all my travels I never met with any one Scotchman but what was a man of sense. I believe everybody of that country that has any, leaves it as fast as they can".

Francis Lochier

"An Englishman is a man who lives on an island in the North Sea governed by Scotsmen".

Philip Guedalla

"There are few more impressive sights in the world than a Scotsman on the make".

J.M. Barrie


This classroom activity is designed to help you explore the dangers of stereotypes. The materials used to produce the activity were reproduced from "Focus on Britain" by David Maule by kind permission of Prentice Hall Publishers.

For more materials on the theme of Scotland check out the following:

P.G. Wodehouse once said, "It is never difficult to distinguish between a Scotsman with a grievance and a ray of sunshine". If youíd like to try the experiment yourself, here are seven things almost guaranteed to provoke annoyance in any Scot, regardless of sex. (Conversely, if you want to be popular in Scotland, you might treat this as a list of things to avoid.) †

1. Use England instead of Britain, or English instead of British.
There are actually four parts to the United Kingdom. England is one of them rather than all of them. If you donít believe this, have a look at a map.

2. Use British instead of Scottish.
This oneís a bit sophisticated. The trick is, when a Scot or a Scottish team actually manages to win any sort of international competition, you describe it as a great British victory. If they lose you call it another defeat for Scotland. (If you do this regularly enough, people will probably think you work for the BBC.)

3. Use Scotch to refer to the people.
Scotch is fine for whisky, terriers and various types of food, but the human inhabitants prefer to be known as Scottish or Scots.

4. Pretend never to have heard of Robert Burns.
If you really havenít heard of Robert Burns, conceal your ignorance.

5. Say it would be better if the UK had one football team instead of four.
You can get even more of a reaction if you say, "...if there was only one English team". See above.

6. Talk about men wearing skirts.
Skirts, whether made of tartan or not, are generally worn by women or male transvestites. The much more substantial garment, constructed of 6 or 8 metres of woven wool and worn by men, is known as a kilt. If you really want to raise the temperature, you could add that you think men in kilts look effeminate.

7. Imitate the local accent.
Roll your /r/ and use a very close /u/. Sprinkle your conversation with stage-Scottish expressions like "Och aye the noo", and "Hoots, mon". This works particularly well if you normally speak with a standard BBC English accent.†

from "Focus on Britain" by David Maule
reproduced by kind permission of Prentice Hall Publishers

Classroom Activity

  • Can you think of seven ways to annoy a Pole?

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