5 Things English language students notice when they study English in Northern Ireland
When students come to the UK, they notice the differences between their country and here. They wonder about some of the “strange” things we do here. In this article, I will try to explain why we do what we do and the historical origin.
Driving on the left side of the road
One of the first things they notice is that we drive on the other side of the road. Usually they think that it is crazy and that people in Britain just want to be different but there is a very good reason. In the past, travelling by road was dangerous, everybody travelled on the left because that was the smartest way to prevent attacks while travelling. Most people are right-handed and swordsmen preferred to keep to the left to have their right arm nearer to their attacker.
No light switches in the bathrooms
On the first day. Our English students ask “Why are there no sockets or light switches in the bathrooms? Female students don’t understand why they can’t blow dry their hair in the bathroom. The reason is because bathrooms can be warm and humid places and you may electrocute yourself by touching a switch with wet hands. In the UK, it is illegal to have a light switch in a bathroom unless it is a pull cord. Electricians who don’t comply with the regulation can be fined £5000.
Houses in UK seaside towns have different colour of doors
When they arrive in Bangor, they are fascinated by the style of houses here. They ask “Why do houses in UK seaside towns have different colour of doors?” Well many years ago, when sailors returned home from sea after many months, they went to the pub and got very drunk which made it impossible to find their house because they all looked the same. They decided to paint the doors different colours so they could find their way home easier.
Pubs have carpet
Going to the pub is another interesting experience for ESL students. I am asked: Why do the pubs have carpet? Well there is a very logical reason. In the past, there were two types of pub, the Public bar and the lounge. Public bars had saw dust on the floor and noisy people drank there whereas lounge bars had carpet on the floors and was for quieter guests who were expected to behave in a more respectable way. Nowadays, carpet may seem like a bad decision in a bar but it actually encouraged good behaviour by creating a more desirable environment for those looking for a quiet drink.
Why are two taps necessary? Well, the plumbing system in the UK is different. Hot and cold water come from different sources by separate pipes so it is very difficult to mix both hot and cold water into one tap two taps are necessary.