• Olivia Halsall

Educhaos 5: Want To Understand The English? OLEA’s Top Resources.

Ah, the English. We're a funny breed ... and I promise we’re not as eccentric as everyone thinks, although the Queen does keep a marmalade sandwich in her purse. After a weekend of shameless patriotic festivities, I have collated a list of resources to understand English culture better. It is for international, non-native speakers of English who are commencing their university studies in England at the end of summer, or for anyone curious!

This list also coincides with a recent voluntary position I took up with ENGin - a non profit organisation that pairs Ukrainian youth with English-speakers for free online conversation practice and cross-cultural connection. It’s great, and my partner is awesome. Full of energy and curiosity, our first session was spent chatting and getting to know one another over a coffee. She asked for recommendations of where to start getting to grips with English culture, so here we are!

READ | Watching the English, by Kate Fox

This is an absolutely essential book for anyone looking to understand English people - and for English people themselves to understand why we struggle to talk about sex, our feelings and express any emotion other than stoicism (is that even an emotion?) … Fox is a mighty, mighty anthropology legend, and her book is an accumulation of observations in pubs, the races and bus journeys across England. A hilarious yet informative read, you will likely understand English people more than themselves after reading this.

WATCH | 1) Peep Show 2) The Inbetweeners 3) Fleabag

I would stick Peep Show and The Inbetweeers in the same category; both somewhat controversially crude in places, they shed light on the real self deprecation, awkwardness and wit shared between friends. Fleabag is in a tier of its own; created and written by the phenomenal Phoebe Waller-Bridge, it has been described as “a tragicomedy that is full of dark humour … Fleabag deals with real human problems, such as infidelity and human insecurities, but presents them in a way that can be laughed at in a fictional setting.”

BROWSE | BBC, FT, Economist

You’ll want to start with the BBC for their easy breezy syntax and vocabulary, before swiftly moving on to something a little more informative and insightful such as the Economist and/or the FT. If you’re feeling adventurous and in need of some hearty gossip, go for the Daily Mail.

GO | To London, Oxford or Cambridge

No bias, but these are my three favourite places in England. I grew up in and around Kent, which is punctuated by an abundance of National Trust properties and fields. What Kent lacks in world famous museums, clubs and restaurants, London, Oxford or Cambridge provides in abundance. Check out some of our previous articles about OLEA Residentials held in Mayfair, London and Cambridge to get more insight into these beautiful destinations.

LISTEN | To Everything

This brilliant list in the Guardian comprises Britain’s favourite 100 songs. Truly iconic, it features the Spice Girls, Queen, The Beatles, David Bowie, Atomic Kitten, Elton John, you name it. I don’t have the best taste in music, however I do know that learning a language through music can be a brilliant way to immerse yourself in cultural nuances, as well as practising perfecting that accent (whichever one you are going for).

EAT | Pie

I’ve not heard anyone but my Grandpa protest that England is renowned for its spectacular cuisine (he feeds me cow tongue soup). But, there is something incredibly comforting about a plate of beige carbs, and I will defend the ugly hunk of meat with pastry that is the staple English pie until the day I die. You can’t go wrong if you lather it with gravy and squish some mashed potato next to it … Also fish and chips, although it’s better to have them at the seaside.

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