Beyond fish and chips: If you’re new to the UK, our FAQs are just what you need!

Beyond fish and chips: If you’re new to the UK, our FAQs are just what you need!

For many people, the UK is the first port of call for international adventures. Because English is so extensively used in international business and entertainment, the total number of English speakers, including those who speak it as a second or foreign language, is estimated to be around 1.5 billion.

However, when English-speaking foreigners visit the UK, they often find aspects of British culture, lifestyle, and norms surprising. Here’s our (light-hearted) introduction  to UK that you might find useful:

Q: How can I fit in with the locals?

A: Humour is one of the cornerstones of Britishness! A dry sense of humour, including sarcasm, irony, and understatement,  will always go down well. You’ll hear a lot of English people making fun of themselves and their culture – the quirkier the better!

Try not to be irritated by British small talk. People can be reserved and use small talk as a way to ease into conversations, which can differ from more direct communication styles. Far from wasting time, it’s also used to help everyone feel comfortable and included.  Learning to join in with pub ‘banter’ over a pint will also endear you to the locals.

Q: How do I pronounce the strange place names?

A: In all honesty, it’s not always easy! For example, you’d be laughed off the Royal Mile if the locals heard you say Edin-burg. Ed-in-bruh all the way! Leicester is a city in the Midlands, but don’t be tempted to call it Lie-chester – it’s Lester, according to the Brits.

If you find those challenging, you’d best not be tempted to cross the Welsh border. Bwlchgwyn (Boolkh-gwin), Cwmystwyth (Koom-uh-stwith) and Ynysybwl (uh-nis-uh-bool) are all towns in the country which is known for its distinctive language andCeltic culture. Confused? So are their English neighbours. Those place names don’t even have vowels!

Q: Do they really drive on the left?

A: It’s true. And it doesn’t actually take too much getting used to. Just remember, the driver’s seat is on the right. When you come across a roundabout, you need to give way to coming from the right. It might seem daunting, but once you get the merry-go-round out of your head, you’ll be absolutely fine.

Q: Why are Brits obsessed with the weather?

A: The British habit of discussing the weather, despite its generally mild nature, can seem peculiar to new arrivals. They soon discover that weather in the British Isles is nothing if not changeable. You should definitely invest in an umbrella, and incorporating layers into your wardrobe is always a good idea.

Q: Is there a ‘right’ way to make tea? A: Er – yes. And if you want to get on with the Brits, you need to know how. Tea comes first, followed by milk. Sugar is optional and lemon is rare! Most importantly, the water must be boiling when it hits the leaves. Leave the microwave alone – it’s simply not fit for this purpose!

Q: What’s good to eat? A: National classics are taken very seriously in the UK. Most people have heard of fish and chips, a ‘full English’ breakfast, and Yorkshire pudding, but there’s much more on offer. Afternoon tea is back in fashion (often with cocktails as well as tea), and if you’re venturing into Scotland or Wales, you should definitely keep an eye out for Cullen skink and Welsh cakes.

Every culture has its foibles! Living and working in a big city like London will provide a really good view of the UK, its diversity, and what can be achieved here.  Pertemps Education is committed to helping overseas trained teachers, and those interested in gaining valuable and rewarding experience working in UK schools.

Our specialist overseas recruitment consultants regularly place candidates in roles such as:

  • Teachers in primary and secondary schools
  • Long term supply teachers
  • Short term supply teachers – to cover sickness or other absences
  • Early years educators
  • Cover supervisors
  • Pastoral support assistant
  • Primary pastoral support
  • Mental health support worker
  • Intervention support assistant
  • Unqualified teaching assistants
  • Special educational needs (SEN – SEND) teaching assistants
  • School receptionist or other support roles

Get in touch with Pertemps Education now to find out more.


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Pertemps Education is known for providing schools with agile, energetic and reliable temporary teachers and support staff. Get in touch to hear how we can help you find work in a UK school.