B1 · B2 · culture · Grammar activity

Where did Christmas crackers come from?

crackers
Photo from Getty

In Britain not pulling a cracker means that something is missing! Both children and adults love them and they add more fun and laughter to Christmas dinner and parties. But where did this tradition come from? I came across this article and found it such a sweet story that I just couldn’t help not using it, so this one is to help you go over past tenses (active and passive ) and some  present tenses too.

The source is Metro.co.uk

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B1 · B2 · culture

How much do you know about British Christmas?

 

Trafalgar_Square_Christmas_tree8
Picture from Wikipedia

I say British because Christmas is celebrated almost all over the world and obviously, everybody has their way of doing this. If you’re from a country but you live in another one (like me), you will most probably blend both traditions which means that on Christmas Day you might eat a typical Majorcan soup for starters and have turkey as main dish, just to set an example. It might also mean that you have to behave extra-well if you want both, Santa and the Three Kings to call round, but it will also sound a bit awkward for relatives back in England when you tell them that you are still feasting and celebrating when they have already got back to their daily routine at the workplace and have probably been on a diet for the last fortnight (getting rid of those extra Christmas calories). Anyway, whatever you do and whatever your beliefs are, I think Christmas is a lovely moment to enjoy time with your loved ones and to reach out to those you haven’t seen for some time just to remind them how much you love and care for them. That for me is what really matters at Christmas, don’t you agree?

Here you have a Christmas quiz on some cultural aspects from British Christmas. I hope you enjoy it.

Ho, ho, ho!!!!

Take the quiz
B2 · C1 · C2 · culture · Word formation

Why do Brits talk about the weather so much?

People walikng in the rain with umbrellas, UK: Wet and windy weekend for Britain
Photo from The Telegraph

Is it actually true that the British spend a lot of their time talking about the weather, or this just another one of those beliefs like ‘we have to have tea at five on the dot or we’ll go bananas ’,  sort of stuff ?  And, if it is true, is this feature shared by other cultures?

Well, I must say that we are particularly fond of talking about the weather, although I would also say that  it’s  a common topic of conversation in Spain too. However, what I do seem to notice is that people from these countries have a different way to approach this subject even when both typically use it as an icebreaker.

Where I live, people usually make exclamations about it. Sort of like ‘Vaya frio! Where a Brit would most probably make a tactfully brief statement of one or two words and polish it off with a question tag, ‘Cold, isn’t it?

Looking into this aspect of British culture, I found this really interesting article  that I’ve used to create a word formation activity for higher levels of English (C1 more or less).

The  article is from the BBC by Linda Geddes

Read the text and focus on each blank  using the words in brackets. The missing words are either adjectives or adverbs as the focus here is to practise with the different types of prefixes (yes, there are a couple of negative ones), and suffixes used to form these words.

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culture

50,000!

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This tongue-twisting post is just to say how thrilled I am! A year and a half after having set up this blog for my English classes and it has reached 50,000 visits. Of course, this hasn’t  only been my  students, but people from all around the world and all walks of life.

Many thanks for sticking around as well as a warm welcome to all the new visitors that may find something useful in the blog.

Serena

culture

Viking words

The English language is the result of many different cultures moving into the British Isles throughout history. One of them were  ‘the Danes’. At first, when this new group of people arrived, it was only for the purpose of plunder or rather, ‘to go a viking’ and this is the reason why these people were eventually called Vikings. The people from the British Isles were terrified of the violent attacks that these people from the north raged on them. However, not all the newcomers were violent and many stayed, settled down and farmed the land peacefully. They built towns, brought their own cultural aspects into the new land and of course, their language too. Here’s a very funny video from ‘Horrible Histories’ giving some examples of these Viking words that are in present-day English.