Truth behind the stereotype?
When I first arrived in France three weeks ago as an English language assistant, I think the staff and students alike expected a relation of the Queen with a plate of fish and chips in hand to arrive at their school!
Over the past three weeks I have introduced myself to and answered the questions of at least a hundred French teenagers, many of whom have never visited England. Through their questions, I have been able to form a picture of how they believe a typical English person should be and I thought I would share some of their preconceptions and my answers …
1. Have you met the Queen?
I heard this question at least once in every class I taught in! Unfortunately, the answer is no, but I was eager to mention the fact that my Dad has met her.
2. Do you drink lots of tea?
I think I disappointed a lot of French teenagers when I admitted that it’s rare for me to drink tea. I do like tea but I would never make one for myself – only if someone else is offering to be polite! (Another English stereotype?!)
3. Does it rain all the time in England?
No! Whilst it’s true that England does have a lot of rainfall on average per year, we can have incredible summer weather too! There is nothing quite like being stood at the end of a pier on the British coast with an ice cream.
4. Do you eat fish and chips and an English breakfast a lot?
Every Saturday night in my house we eat fish and chips, and every Sunday lunchtime we eat an English breakfast. I see fish and chips as a treat to have at the weekend, not a normal meal to have every day and it’s the same for the English breakfast too. They are weekend treats rather than daily meals!
Before my arrival in France, I thought that all stereotypical English behaviours were exaggerated, but after answering many questions about my culture I now see a lot of them have some truth behind them! However, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s been a great conversation starter and has allowed me to prove (and disprove) some preconceptions about life in England.