UK Culture: Tea, tea and more tea!

19 września 2016, poniedziałek,

Fancy a cuppa?

This is a phrase you might hear on a building site, in an office, at home – pretty much anywhere. It might be one of the most commonly said phrases on any typical day in Britain. The meaning? – “Would you like a cup of tea”. And here I have to say that it is usually a question about tea, not coffee, although these days the UK is increasingly a coffee drinking nation.

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University students: free event and free advice

12 września 2016, poniedziałek,

Free event for university students: 19th September 2016

Are you a university student? Are you thinking of applying to study in the UK? Do you need to improve your English to ensure you achieve your career goals? If so, on Monday 19th September 2016 we are holding a free ‘University Students’ Studies and Career Event’ at our centres in Warsaw and Krakow. The event is an excellent way to find out how British Council Poland can help you succeed in your career and studies, register here. Today on Britit we are sharing one of our most popular blog posts for university students. It focuses on how to successfully apply to a UK university and the all-important personal statement.

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UK Flavours: Cheddar Cheese

30 sierpnia 2016, wtorek,

Cheddar, Cheddar Gorge and Cheddar man

When you say the above sub-title, I’m pretty sure you thought this is going to be a pretty cheesy piece of writing. Well, I hope it won’t be too cheesy, as cheesy means that something is not good quality and pretty bad taste. So, instead I’ll try to satisfy you in this blog post on cheddar!

The title, surprisingly maybe, is not about food at all but is actually both geographical and historical, but I will get into my favourite topic and hobby, which is eating, later on.

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Polish Mistakes with British Pronunciation

22 sierpnia 2016, poniedziałek,

A topic that starts debate – pronunciation

One of our most popular ever Britit posts was published a year ago today – Top 5 Polish mistakes in British Pronunciation.  It stimulated lots of observations and debate.  Today, we are sharing the post again and at the bottom some of the comments you, our readers made. Read through the post, then the feedback and let us know how you feel.

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UK Culture – Meat Free Mondays?

16 sierpnia 2016, wtorek,

A vegetarian living in France

A lot of the time when I reveal to my French friends that I am a vegetarian, a look of horror comes over their faces! ‘What do you eat?’ they ask me. ‘You must be so hungry!’ It has been fascinating, over my year abroad, to experience first-hand the cultural importance of food in different countries and regions. In the United Kingdom, vegetarianism and veganism are becoming very popular diets with around 3 million people in the UK currently vegetarian. The city in which I go to university, Glasgow, is known as the ‘vegan capital’ of the UK. However, here in France, I often struggle to find a meat- and fish-free option on a menu, which can make eating in restaurants a bit of a challenge.

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UK Inventions – The most brilliant one ever?

8 sierpnia 2016, poniedziałek,

‘The most brilliant invention ever?’

That sounds like a pretty massive claim, so I guess I should admit to using just half of the quote to grab your attention. The full quote is as follows: ”The most brilliant invention ever produced in the interests of road safety.” At least, that’s what the House of Commons judged it to be a few decades ago. But “what?”, you may ask. Isn’t it obvious? I mean – it’s the most brilliant. I’m talking about cat’s eyes – not the ones the furry pets are forever grateful for, but the ones a Mr Percy Shaw invented. Invented and patented, which meant he became a very wealthy man.

Percy Shaw – the King of the Road?

Percy Shaw’s cat’s eyes are 2 bits of glass in rubber housing which are seen in the middle of the road in many countries in the world . When you are driving along at night, the glass reflects your headlights and so you know where you are going. It’s probably important to say that if you are driving in England then the cat’s eyes should be to your right. If they are on your left, like in Poland, then you are driving on the wrong side of the road and will have an accident! Cat’s eyes can be lots of different colours and are used in other locations like airport runways too.

Cat's eyes; Image Credit: www.telegraph.co.uk

Cat’s eyes; Image Credit: www.telegraph.co.uk

One man’s struggle, became everyone else’s gain!

But why “cat’s eyes”? Quite simply because that was Percy Shaw’s inspiration and so that’s what they look like. The story goes that he was driving home one foggy night – this was the 1930s and roads weren’t very clearly marked back then. Normally he followed some tram lines to make sure he was going the right way, but the tram lines had been taken up for repair, so he was finding it a bit tricky. Then he noticed a cat on the side of the road, staring at him and the light from his headlights was reflecting in the cat’s eyes. It was a “eureka!” moment for Percy and after some trial and error he finally came up with a product, patented it and started manufacturing it.

Road with cat's eyes; Image Credit; dailyinterestingjournal.blogspot.com

Road with cat’s eyes; Image Credit: dailyinterestingjournal.blogspot.com

Blackouts, planes and cat’s eyes

The real breakthrough came during the second world war when Britain had blackouts – no lights could be used – even cars had to have shutters on their lights. Cat’s eyes didn’t alert German bomber planes and so were very practical and the company started producing them by the million. The rest, you could say, is history.

A Brit’s perspective in Poland

As an Englishman driving in Poland I must say I would really appreciate more cat’s eyes – especially in the wet. However, I love this new ‘noisy’ paint which is becoming more and more commonly used – it almost screams at you when you drive over it! Brilliant! Maybe this is the latest “best invention”.

So, are cat’s eyes ”The most brilliant invention ever produced in the interests of road safety.”? What do you think? Have you got any other suggestions?



The Great Scottish Summer

1 sierpnia 2016, poniedziałek,

The Great Scottish Summer

Summertime when the living is easy – yes, even in Scotland!

Summertime has always been my absolute favourite time of the year. When I was in school I just lived for the long summer holidays when I could play with my friends and my sister all day long until the sun set. Everyone has different associations of summer depending on where they live in the world or their childhood memories. For some, when they think of summer they think of the smell of freshly cut grass, for others it’s lying on a beach reading a book and for some it might be the taste of lemonade or ice cream. I am so happy to be spending this summer with my family and childhood friends here in the Highlands of Scotland after a year away in France. Even though many people complain about the weather here in Scotland even at this time of year, I can’t think of a better place to spend my summer holiday … and here’s why …

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Helping Young Children Learn Languages

25 lipca 2016, poniedziałek,

A Popular Topic for BritIt Readers – HELP!

We often get questions from BritIt blog readers and customers about how they can help their children learn English effectively. Today, we are sharing some top tips from our global British Council Voices Blog about how parents of young children can lay the foundations for success.

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UK Culture – Down the pub

18 lipca 2016, poniedziałek,

Pub Guide – history and the lingo

If you have ever visited the UK, you will know that pubs are a key feature of our British culture. Today,  I am going to take you through a historical examination of the relationship we Brits have with pubs. As an added bonus, I’ve included lots of new, useful language for you to learn and use.

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