By on April 26th, 2017

Understanding the Culture of English International Students

English international students may seem like some of the easiest to host seeing as how there is no language barrier (don’t be so sure). As you’re about to see, though, there’s plenty about their culture you should understand before your student arrives.

English Love (Their) Tea

You probably already know that tea is a staple of the English diet. They don’t just drink it every day; they actually stop what they’re doing once a day to have a cup. Offering someone a cup of tea is an expected form of social grace.

That being said, their tea is very different from the kind you’ll find in our supermarkets. Don’t be surprised to learn they actually packed some of their own. If you want to make your English international student feel at home, try to find (or order online) some Yorkshire Tea or Tetley’s for them.

Their Education System Progresses Faster

In America, our education system takes kids through three main phases: grade school, middle school and high school.

In England, they have six. Their last stage, sixth form, is a strictly college preparatory phase and completely voluntary. Therefore, while our students are still very much in high school, students of the same age on the other side of the pond are already getting ready for the next step.

It’s important to keep this in mind with international students from England. They may not feel especially challenged by our educational system. Just because you don’t see them studying a lot doesn’t mean they’re lazy. It might mean they’ve already been tested on this material.


This isn’t a huge issue, but it’s worth bringing up as an example of how much the English and Americans are separated by a common language.

When we say “quite”, it means “very.” For example, “That movie was quite good” means it’s something we enjoyed and would recommend.

When your English international student says “quite” they mean “somewhat.”

“Was the movie good?”


That has a totally different meaning.

Expect to run into your fair share of confusing conversations because of these quirks. Another one: “toilet” is bathroom to the English, not the specific piece of porcelain. If your English student says a point is “moot”, it actually means it’s still open to discussion.

The Legal Age to Drink There Is 18

If you’re hosting an 18-year-old student, know that back in England, they were allowed to drink. Obviously, they would know beforehand that this is not the case in American, but there still may be some times where you need to remind them.

Our Ideas of Patriotism Are Different

English people are patriotic, but it’s a lot more subtle. When it comes to the World Cup or other international sporting events, it’s not rare to see the Union Jack or Saint George’s Cross.

However, American patriotism is much more overt. Our flags are everywhere and even used in commercials. While this shouldn’t be a problem for English international students, it’s a big enough difference that it might take some explaining.

The English Understand Our History and Culture Extremely Well

It’s sometimes easy to forget how much our culture permeates the rest of the world. Hollywood movies play in every country with movie theaters and many of the decisions our politicians make affect other parts of the globe.

Therefore, you probably don’t need to explain every single thing on TV to your English student. They’ll most likely ask about your opinion on things but be very well educated when it comes to our history, politics and pop culture.

Depending on where you live, though, they may not know as much about your local culture, which you could tell them all about.

Although it’s certainly nice sharing (most of) a language with English international students, make sure you keep the above in mind when yours visits.