We start today a new section in our blog: students from 3rd and 4rd Secondary grade are writing interesting reviews and essays about English books, films and current topics in the Practical English subject.
On Wednesday 3rd November, a Burlington books representative called Jon (a friend of Mr.Richard in the English department) came to give us a talk on London and curious English cultural things…
We learnt quite a lot about the British way of doing things, and about London in particular.
London was founded by the Romans. Just as Valencia was. Perhaps the Romans were on their way from “Valentia” to visit “Londinium” at the time….
London is made up of 32 boroughs (large municipal district). In 2000, a giant ferris wheel was erected on the River Thames. It was known as the British Airways London Eye. Today, Coca Cola is its principal sponsor. The eye has 32 pods and each one represents the 32 boroughs of London.
Did you know that the British flag is called “The Union Jack” because it contains almost all the colours of the countries which make up a United Kingdom?
(Scotland, Ireland, England & Wales) Red, white & blue. However, Wales also contains the colour red & green, however the colour green is not represented in the Union Jack.
Ireland is the only part of Great Britain which does not use the British currency, the Pound. They prefer to use the Euro instead.
We also discovered the reason why the English drive on the opposite side of the road to the rest of Europe.
Have you ever wondered why the British drive on the left?
There is an historical reason for this; it’s all to do with keeping your sword hand free! And William Wallace! (He of Braveheart fame). And also the Roman invasion…
Today, 35% of countries in the world drive on the left. If you are a tourist or are new to the UK, when you cross the road, you have to be very careful!
Countries like India, Indonesia, Ireland, Malta, Cyprus, Japan, New Zealand, many countries in Africa, Australia, some Caribean islands like Jamaica and most recently, Samoa since 2009 all drive on the other side of the road to Spain.
Most of these countries are islands but where land borders require a change from left to right, this is usually accomplished using traffic lights or one-way systems.
Of course, most of these countries are or were part of the British Empire at one time.
We also learnt that an Englishman named Percy Shaw was driving one night and was suddenly surprised by a cat which jumped in front of his car. As he looked at the cat, its eyes where very bright…
This gave Percy the ingenious idea of inventing the reflectors which we see on the surface of any road where there are no street lights in most countries. These reflectors are called “cat’s eyes”. He invented them in the 1930s.
Another curious thing about England is the fact that you can have your car registration number personalised. So if your name is James Bond, you can have JB007 as your own registration number plate. What a brilliant idea for the “DGT”!
Did you know that in Britain it is much more common to abbreviate words? The London Underground is called “The Tube” because of the tunnels which the trains have go through. When they go underground. In Britain we like to abbreviate people’s names. So Jonathon is known simply as Jon! Peter becomes Pete. Angela, Angie.
“Mind the gap” is a common expression on the London Tube. But in the United States they say “Watch the gap” which actually means “to observe”!
Some Tube stations have platforms which have a bend, so when the train comes into the station to stop at the platform, if there is a curve, a gap will be obvious between the tube train and the platform.
Some people have fallen between the platform and the train in the past, so it is important to remember to always look carefully when boarding or getting off a tube train…
Traffic lights in England are called Stop lights. A pedestrian crossing is called a Zebra crossing in the USA! You would probably have to learn a completely new language if you went to the U.S.A as they also have their own “dialect”!
Did you know the two most common things to lose on the London Tube are mobile phones and of course, umbrellas! Make sure you look after both or you will get wet looking for a red telephone box to call home!
If you really want to see London, then a big red London bus is your best option. Jon told us that the common name is “Routemaster”. However, this original London bus had an open entrance at the back so people could get on and off when the bus stopped anywhere in traffic. The problem was, many people fell off the bus when the bus was full!
Today, the bus is simply a red two-floor double decker electric bus with an entrance at the front, and exit in the middle or at the back. But it is the best way to see all the tourist attractions in any city, not just London. Remember, you are not allowed to pay on the buses in London. You need to buy an Oyster card before you take a London bus. Going to England taks planning! First of Bachiller will have to do some serious revision before they visit London next Spring.
Most people know what “Big Ben” is. But did you know that the “Big Ben” bell in the clock tower at Westminster Palace was named after the person who helped design the clock tower and the Houses of Parliament?
We found out that there is much speculation…. And that Ben was a large man. So legend has it that there is a bell in the tower called Big Ben! We will find out next Spring… We could say that “El Miguelete” in Valencia has something in common with Big Ben…
During our cultural talk, three pupils won prizes for answering questions on English culture correctly.
They were Cova & Aitana in 4*E.S.O and Borja in 1°Bachiller. At the end of the Cultural talk Jon was so pleased with Edelweiss school pupils that he said we were very cultured…It must be something to do with the teachers!
We know that Mr. Richard like cycling so we had to mention that the typical municipal bicycle in London is called a “Boris bike”. Named after the previous Lord Mayor, Boris Johnson. Imagine giving our local municipal bicycle the name of a mayor or mayoress in Valencia!
The favourite present for a student when she or he turns 17 is driving lessons. And if they pass first time, then a car is the next present. What an excellent idea to import to Spain!
Our next cultural talk in English will be in January next year.
We will have the pleasure of meeting a very famous person from Valencia. Mr. Richard says that he cannot tell us until after Christmas. He has also told us that we have to prepare questions, in English, of course!
That was our review British culture.
4*E.S.O & 1°Bachiller.