Magazine topic: 
Life around the world
Total votes: 92

Truth behind the stereotype?

29
by : 
LucyK

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.

Discussion

Do you think stereotypes help us to understand different cultures or not? What stereotypes do people have about people from your country? Are any of them true? 

Comments

Manaly's picture
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Manaly 20 July, 2016 - 01:01

People think that Saudi Arabia is just a large desert!!
Also most believe that we ride camels as a transportation this is really make me laugh and sad at the same time because they don't know how my country is really look like.

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DearSky 29 January, 2016 - 20:01

People often think that most of us know how to dance samba, we party 24/7, there's a lot of other stereotypes. None of them are true! I think stereotypes don't help us to understand a different culture because not everybody behave/do the things that most stereotypes says.

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Elsa007's picture
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Elsa007 21 October, 2015 - 14:57

Hi Gianggiang,
Wow…. you're such a keen writer,aren't you? It's very informative and you're keenly observant!
Well… about stereotypes, I often see the gap between the image made by the people shown on TV or on mass media and those who I meet face-to-face. Then, stereotypes are pushed back…! >>>>> :)

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sona's picture
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sona 27 October, 2015 - 18:35

Hi Elsa!I agree with your comment and I have read all your comments. I want to become friends,to exchange our English knowledge. In fact, I think I am absolute beginner in this language,but I loved it so much.

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Elsa007's picture
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Elsa007 28 October, 2015 - 09:39

Hi sona, thank you for your friend request! Three, two, one…!
Okay, now we're friend from now, according to my rule! :)
Keep in touch and enjoy English! :)

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sona's picture
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sona 28 October, 2015 - 17:55

Hi Elsa,thank you for accepting my friend request! You are a friendly and funny girl and your English is so impressive,so I think we should become friends. I'm from Albania.(I bet you never have listened this country).It is a small country in Europe. I love reading books,I love football,I love English and I am 14 years old. Can you tell me more about you if you like? Thanks again!

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Elsa007's picture
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Elsa007 1 November, 2015 - 12:10

Hi sona!
What's up? Did you celebrate Halloween? Is there any scaring monster in your country? We've got a monster called 'yeti'…. Mwahahaha!
By the way, did you read Giang's introduction? She's got good stuff in writing, doesn't she?! So I'll try to let you know about myself following her post out there! :)

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gianggiang's picture
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gianggiang 21 October, 2015 - 08:02

I think stereotypes help us to understand different cultures. Sometimes I'm even quite surprised about stereotypes foreigners have about Vietnamese people. They are true, false,neither true nor false.
1) Do Vietnamese people drink a lot of tea and coffee ?
Not really, tea is often drunk by old people in the morning and coffee is popular nationwide. I am very eager to tell you that my country is famous for exporting tea and coffee. Have you ever tried drinking Vietnamese's coffee? It is much cheaper and as good as Starbuck's !
2) People say that there is a " Singapore" in Vietnam. Is it true?
Yes, Da Nang is a very clean and green city in Vietnam. We are very proud of it!
3) Vietnam is believed one of the happiest country in the world.
Right, about 70% people said that they were satisfied with their life, and I am very excited to mention the fact that Vietnam is one of the most peaceful in the world.
4) Is goods in Vietnam cheap or expensive?
I have to say that it is very very cheap. 1 USA dollar can purchase 1 kilo of oranges or apples or guavas,,,,,but you should bargain before buying anything!
5) Vietnamese culture is quite similar to Chinese and both have the same alphabet and language ?
The first half of that sentence is true, the rest isn't. ( This is one of the most popular question I receive from foreigner.) There is a fact that Vietnam used to be a province of China about 1500 or 2000 years ago and Vietnam is next to China on the world map, but the alphabet of Vietnam is extremely different from the one of China. >*< A Spainish has invented the alphabet of Vietnam in the 19th century,so the letters of my country quite similar to the letters of European countries.
6) When you stay with a Vietnamese family, do you realise that every member ( from children to old
people) often uses many French or English words ?
That's right, I can't explain clearly but there are a lot of French and English words in Vietnamese dictionaries. For instance; TV, radio. cassette. video,pedal, garde baga, volant, savon,.....sometimes we even use some Japanese or Chinese words. Quite interesting!
7)" Pho" ( noodle) is the most famous Vietnamese food in the world ?
Haha, It is true but American people seem not to agree with this. They said that "Chilli sauce" is more famous and popular. They even call its Vietnamese name " tuong ot" This really takes my breath away@@.
Well, there are lots of stereotypes people have about my country. After answering those questions, I feel loving my country more, and I understand that I need to discover my country more to realise its ancient and modern beauty. I am very proud to be a Vietnamese. (^^)

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sona 26 October, 2015 - 17:51

Hi gianggiangphi,how old are you?I have written all your comments and I would say that your English is impressive,so I want to know about the way you have learned Engish. I am from Albania and I really want to know more about you.

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gianggiang's picture
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gianggiang 27 October, 2015 - 12:14

Hi sona, you make me feel extremely happy! I never think that my English is good ( There is a fact that my English is not good !). Well, I often read English funny stories to improve reading skill, that is all. The best way to "upgrade " my writing skill is writing comments on this website. ( At first, I ensure that this is very time-consuming, but keep trying, the result will make you surprised.)
About my age, from 13 to 17, there are 5 numbers, so we have 20 percents to have the same age. Can you guess how old I am ?

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sona 28 October, 2015 - 17:48

Hi gianggiangphi,
Thank you for answering my questions. I think you are 14 old years,because I think we have the same age...hahahaha. I was just kidding!However,you look older than me(I have read all your comments , your knowledge in every field is quite impressive and they made me think so).

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gianggiang 29 October, 2015 - 11:24

Exactly. I am older than you. You seem to be a very hyperactive boy and so my younger brother is. However, we shouldn't care about our ages when we write to each other because in English we only use" I "and "you".
By the way, I know a bit about your country because we had lessons about Euro in our History textbook. Do you know about Vietnam- my country? A billionaire has said that Vietnam should be the kitchen of our world. This means Vietnamese food is very delicious.

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sona's picture
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sona 30 October, 2015 - 16:48

No,I don't know a lot about Vietnam. In fact,I know a little more than nothing. However,I have readen all your comments and Vietnam looks an interesting place,that I will visit once in my life. Is that true that is a peaceful place and the school in Vietnam finishes late,as you write in your comments?

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gianggiang's picture
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gianggiang 31 October, 2015 - 04:58

Hi Sona. Tomorow I have an English exam to finish the first half of the first semester. I choose to reply your comments, I feel a bit worried but I am still eager to write to you. Yes, studying in Vietnam is very hard but I it is my great passion. And..I apply you request. I have just introduced ( a lot ) about myself. Here is my biography.
Nickname: gianggiangphi. Short name: Giang
I'm fifteen years old and I am an Aquarius.
Nationality: Vietnamese
Occupation: Student, have been a member of a very famous organization in the world
Favorite saying: Love what you do, do what you love. ( All are legal.)
Favorite jokes: Born to shine/ If I get second prize, no one get first prize.
The most complicated saying: Your biggest enemy is the person you see in the mirror.
The most poetic saying: I've stolen the sky in your eyes.
Hobbies: Listening to music and reading books ( special magazines for teens.) Hardly exercise and play sports but I had a beautiful childhood with football.
Opinion about life: Sadness and happiness are divided equally.
Character: Reserved but become talkative if someone wants to continue the conversation. Sometimes I get angry easily.
Talents: Sing English, Japanese, Korean, Chinese songs quite well. ( I am glad if you agree it is a talent.)
Persuade adults change their idea.
Write short stories about love, hope and I am good at give someone advice and encourage them.
Wish: I wish I had a million wishes,
Hope: I hope the world will be peaceful forever. The more wars our world has,the thicker our History textbooks are.
Important achievements: Have been an excellent student for ten years. I used to get Golden medal in a Math competition in 2011, get first prize in a Math internet contest in 2015, used to attend a Math national competition but didn't succeed:( Cried a lot.)
The song makes me feel proud about my country:" Bonjour Vietnam" This song was composed by a French musician. It's a special gift he gave us. This song is very popular in Vietnam and It has French, English Vietnamese version. I'm glad if you spend some minutes listening it.

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sona 31 October, 2015 - 11:31

Hi gianggiangphi
Thank you for replying my comment. I hope you will take the English exam. In fact, I am sure you will get it after reading this comment. I can't stop saying that your English is impressive and that you are a very smart,creative and hardworking person with many skills and talents. "Bonjour Vietnam" was a really beautiful song,which represents the history of Vietnam and I enjoyed it so much. Thank you for sharing it and other information about yourself with me.. Thank you also for making me your friend. I appreciate this and I am very happy to have as my fiend a future scientist.Thanks a lot!
All the best ,
Sona

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gianggiang 31 October, 2015 - 22:26

HI sona, " I am happy to have as my fiend a future scientist", I know what you said," fiend" and "friend" are very different. That's the reason why the letter R is very important to" friend" (haha) Keep listening our song and discovering Vietnam through many beautiful picture.

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Elsa007 2 November, 2015 - 08:28

Aha haha! As my fiend!! You both look happy!
Hi sona, as I said, I'll try to write my biography at the moment according to Giang's! Ready?
Nickname: Elsa.
I'm fifteen. -When you're fifteen and somebody tells you they love you, you're gonna believe them. Fifteen.This is life before who you're gonna be!-
Nationality: Singapore
Occupation: Would-be a wirier
Favorite saying: Live simply.Dream big.Be grateful.Give love.Laugh lots.
Favorite jokes: You rock!(,said a ruler) -You rule! (,said a rock)
The most complicated saying: The poet is a lier who always speaks the truth.
The most poetic saying:Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.
Hobbies: Listening to music, reading and exploring.
Opinion about life: Choose happiness!
Character: Loyal and winsome :P
Talents: A bit ditzy and………. :D
Wish: Stop wishing. Start doing.
Hope: Peace of mind
Important achievements: Pursuing my studies of the moment to help someone in many different ways.
Finally, I think, unlike Giang, life is divided by happiness (90%) and sadness(10% to support happiness)! :P Of course, I know my drawback of the character, but I'll keep it quiet for now…!
Elsa☆

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sona 2 November, 2015 - 17:52

Hi Elsa,
Thank you for sharing this information with me. I am also writing my biography as you two.
Nickname:Sona
I'm fourteen years old,so I am younger than you.
Nationality:Albania. I am very proud to be Albanian,because of the history of my country and because It is becoming a development country.
Occupation:I am a student in secondary school in a small town of Albania.
Favorite saying:Smiling is a crooked line,which rights a lot of things.
Favourite jokes: -What is this awful picture?
-Is just the mirror,sir.
The most complicated saying:Life is not created just from moments when you breathe,but even from the moments you are breathless.
The most poetic saying: Friend is like four leaf clover:hard to find and luckily to have.
Hobbies:Playing football,reading books and travelling.
Opinion about life: Life is a chance,catch it.Life is beautiful,admire it.Life is a dream,make it real.Life is a challenge,face it. Life is work,do it.Life is game ,play it.Life is a mister,find it.Life is exam,take it. Life is life,live it.
Character:I am a shy person ,but with people I have just recognized,I am very friendly and smiling. However,just like Giang I can be nervous at the same time.
Talents: I sing very well. This is my only talent.
Wish: I wish I would be the most clever,beautiful and the richest person in the world.(hahahaah).I am just kidding .I think like Elsa.Stop wishing.Start doing.
Hope:I hope I will become a succesful person and the world will become a peaceful place.
Important achievements: I am announced the best student in my country and I have won a scholarship.
This is my biography.
Sona

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Elsa007's picture
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Elsa007 3 November, 2015 - 04:26

Hi sona,
Wow, thank you for sharing our 'break the ice'!
What a wonderful person you are!☆ You're PPPP! Can you guess what I mean?
Hint: They are four haunting P (words, starts with p) that describe you after reading your info!

BTW, your opinion about life will be great to remember …..for my coming English test:P THX☆

And one more thing, I liked Ginag's "The most poetic saying: I've stolen the sky in your eyes."
It's lovely as a poetic saying, you know, but at the same time, if we figure it out literally…..
"I've stolen the pewter in your eyes" !!!!

Wow!! Zombie---! (hahahaha)
How does that sound ??
Elsa ☆

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gianggiang 3 November, 2015 - 10:00

Hi Elsa and Sona
Elsa, do you find that Sona's introduction is very impressive? Sona's complicated saying makes me laugh a lot!!!
BTW. your imitation.....I have no ideas/ (haha)
PPPP can be " Perfect Panda &Penguin& Parrot"

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Elsa007's picture
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Elsa007 3 November, 2015 - 12:59

Hi Giang!
Hahaha, indeed, sona's complicated saying is very cool! :D
And your answer also makes me LOL!!
Okay, my impression about sona describes as Prominent Person for Peaceful Place (Hope)!!
How does that sound? :) PPPP彡☆

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sona's picture
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sona 9 November, 2015 - 17:24

Hi Elsa and Giang,
I don't know why,but I like to tell you about my country Albania,that I think you haven't heard and know much about.Maybe this happens because now we will celebrate 28-29 November,the Albanian Independence And Liberty Day.
Albania is a small country in the south of Evrope.Its name(in Albanian language is Shqiperi) comes from the name" eagle"(shqiponje),that is also in our flag. The eagle simbolises freedom and pride. My country became independent in 1912 in Vlora by Ismail Qemali after being part of Ottoman Empire for about 500 years. Then, Albania became monarchy,with the king Ahmet Zogun. During the World War II,it was captured by Germany and Italy,so we fought again for protecting our country and in 29 november 1944 Albania was liberated. However,in our country was set the communist system,who excisted for 45 years . In 1990 in Albania was set the democratic system and it became Parliamentary Republic. Now,we want to be part of EU,so we are making a lot of changes to make our country a better place . Even though Albania is not a developed country,we all love it and we are proud of being Albanian. I also love Albania as much as I would shout in center of every city of world:"I LOVE ALBANIA.I AM PROUD OF BEING ALBANIAN!" and I think that everyone in my country would do the same thing. Albanians are known all over the world for their character,for hospitality,for their pride , for their strength and for their humour.
As I wrote above ,the flag of Albania has an eagle in a red background. The colour red simbolise the blood that is shed for protecting our country. One thing that make me proud that I am Albanian,is that we have never fought to conquer other country ,but just for making our country independent. You can listen to Albanian anthem by searching on youtube for short version(Albanian national anthem). Our national hero is Scanderbeg,whose sculpture is in many cities of the world. However,this belong to history and we shouldn't just look the past,but also for the future. I hope Albania will fly like eagle ahead and become a developed country. (I am sure we deserve this) :)

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ilvaii 4 January, 2016 - 11:38

I found Sona's comment really interesting,even though I am from Albania too....I liked the fact you have included all the important historical moments of Albania. I am proud of being albanian ! :)

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sona 3 November, 2015 - 18:04

Hi Elsa,
Thank you for your comment. It made me feel extremely happy and I would describe you as a VVVF person. Can you guess what does it mean?

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