FAIRE SOCIETE: Unité et pluralité / Assimilation or multiculturalism?

Differences between the USA and Great Britain

words (trousers / pants, flat / apartment, bonnet / hood (capot), lorry / truck, university / college, crisps / chips, chips / French fries, (trainers/sneakers), fizzy drink / soda, biscuit / cookie, chemist/ drugstore, shop/ store, (football/soccer)

spelling (centre / center, catalogue/catalog, defence/defense, burnt /burned…)



house size

dating : In the UK, exclusivity is assumed and people don’t tend to approach strangers in public for dates. In the US however, exclusivity has to be confirmed, and approaching someone you find attractive in the US is more normal. Also, British people are more likely to ‘go Dutch’ – pay equal on a date – than Americans.

guns : In the US, it is legal (and in parts normal) to carry a gun and it’s even written into the constitution of the country. In the UK on the other hand, citizens can’t carry a gun in public, and neither can regular police officers.

drinking alcohol : The UK drinking age is 18, whereas the US drinking age is 21. In practice what that means is a lot of illegal drinking goes on in America. Still, the UK’s ‘standard drink’ is just 8g of alcohol, compared to the US, which is 14g.

Healthcare : Th UK has universal standardised healthcare in the form of the NHS (National Health Service). Although Barack Obama attempted to crate a health model similar to this, there is almost always a cost for using the health system in the US.

UK, USA: a special relationship

Main ideas

Similar language between both countries but quite a few differences.

For more than 70 years, the term « special relationship » which characterizes the bond (= tie = liens) between both countries has been used by statesmen (= hommes d’Etat).

The term was coined (= invented) by Churchill, the British PM (= Prime Minister) in 1946.

The US and British strong cultural, political and economic ties helped them face the rise (= montée) of communism as (= en tant que) allies (/ˈælaɪz/) with the creation of NATO.

Economic ties today :

– Both countries invest more money in each other’s economy than any other country.

– They share their workforce (= main d’oeuvre) with numerous (= de nombreux) American people working for British affiliates (= filiales) in the USA and vice versa.

The UK, a melting pot

Location of the district / quarter  / area (= quartier)

Urban area, located in the south of London.


– 1948 : the first British African-Caribbean community (492 individuals) arrive in England

– From 1948 : immigrants from all over the world keep coming

– 1981 : protests against police violence end up in riots

– 1985 : second major riot in Brixton

– today : gentrification* of Brixton

* /ˌdʒɛntrɪfɪˈkeɪʃ(ə)n / = the process of renovating and improving a house or district so that it conforms to middle-class taste.

What Brixton means for the people who have always lived there :

It means « family, culture and colour », « home », the place where their parents met, where they have lived all their lives, a place of political awakening (= éveil)

What people used to think about Brixton

They used to think that it was a rough (= dangerous) area so most people didn’t want to interact with it. Yet others thought it was worth it living there to get a bigger place to live in. The district was stigmatized (= discredited) because of drug trafficking and its violence and criminality rate.

How gentrification is changing the area

It has made it a more welcoming place to the point that now, it has become an exciting, lively and trendy place. People are encouraged to go there and some have started a « love affair » with the neighbourhood. Yet, some fera that Brixton might lose its multicultural appeal. Soon they might not recognize the Brixton they grew up in.

The impacts of language, immigration and globalisation on cultural identity and integration

Document 1

The Dreamers are the children of illegal immigrants and undocumented immigrants in the USA.

The Parland survivors are students who survived a school shooting in Parland, Florida, in 2018 that killed 17 people.

The Dreamers and their parents have opposite attitudes regarding their integration into the American society.

Although both are undocumented immigrants, the Dreamers are much more self-confident, self-assertive (= sûr de soi) and visible than their parents who did everything not to be noticed for fear of being sent back home. On the contrary, their children dare (= oser) ask for rights forcefully and weigh more heavily in the country’s policies thanks to social media. They are not as afraid as their voiceless parents and they have been educated in the USA.

« Changing America « : Through their determined attitude and collective rebellion, the Dreamers as well as the Parkland survivors are managing to get heard and visible. Their movements are gaining momentum (= gagner en puissance) and politicians have no choice but to listen to them. These youth have a voice that matters and are initiating a new civil rights movement.

Barak Obama’s immigration policy

Deportations of illegal immigrants increased during his first presidential term but dropped during the second one. In 2012, a temporary reprieve (= sursis) from deportation was granted to the the people who had been brought to the USA as children. More than 600,000 young people took advantage of this offer which also granted them work permits. In 2014, Obama unsuccessfully tried to expand reprieve to millions of the Dreamers’ parents.

Document 2

The text deals with the problem of Australian citizens who have a dual citizenship. The law forbids them to become members of parliament. They are considered suspiciously. This situation can also be found in other countries such as Egypt, Israel and Sri Lanka. In India, China and Indonesia, the situation is worse : dual citizenship is forbidden.

When these laws were adopted , they were consistent with (= correspondre à) strict notions of identity based on blood and soil ; at that time, inner-states conflicts were frequent and dual citizens used be considered as traitors.

According to the journalist who uses strong terms like « distasteful », « unfair » and « make no sense »‘, this discriminating system is obsolete (/ˈɒbsəliːt/) (= out-of-date). For him, loyalty should be measured by people’s involvement and countribution to their country and not by a passport. He also regards (= consider) sacrifice and respect for law as a proof of loyalty to one’s new country.

Examples of forced assimilation include the indigenous populations of the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. In all theses cases, the children were taken from their families and placed in boarding schools or in non-native families in order to separate them from their cultures and native languages

Document 3

People often fear globalisation (/ˌɡləʊbəlaɪˈzeɪʃən/) might lead to uniformisation (ˈjuːnɪfɔːrmaizeiʃən/) and standardisation ( /ˌstændərdaɪˈzeɪʃən) of culture as a result of the hegemony (/hɪˈgɛməni/) of international brands.

Yet these fears are not rational (/ˈræʃənəl/) because:

Culture is more deeply-rooted in society than brands whose values are not necessarily integrated into the country’s culture despite their visibility. Culture may be less visible but is defined by people’s attitude to time, acquaintances and their environment. So brands adapt to the local culture.

– Technologies have been adopted by people worldwide without necessarily adopting their original context and functions.

Cultures are persistent (= tenace / persévérant) and resilient (= résistant) ; they evolve thanks to innovations and borrowings but without becoming copycats (= copieur / imitateur) but new and unique subcultures.

So, globalisation is a way of enriching local cultures which select and make the most of new forms of progress.

But can globalisation be considered as a form of imperialism ?

Imperialism (ɪmˈpɪəriəlɪzəm/) = the policy or ideology of extending a nation’s rule over foreign nations often by military force or by gaining political and economic control of other areas.

Globalisation (/ˌɡləʊbəlaɪˈzeɪʃən/)= the process of interaction and integration among people, companies and governments worldwide.

Globalisation is a form of imperialism since we live under the economic control of China and the soft power* of the USA.

* The term “soft power” was coined by political scientist Joseph Nye in the late 1980s and relates to a nation’s ability to attract or persuade other nations, rather than coerce (= contraindre) using military or economic means.

Document 4

« Britishness »: it is the fact of being British or of having qualities that are considered as typical of British people. It forms the basis of their unity and identity and the expression of British culture.

Britishness : its evolution

The post-1945 era was a time of multiculturalism for the United Kingdom since people from the former British Empire, from Ireland and from other European countries migrated and settled there, contributing to the creation of a common identity. So Britishness became “Multi-identity Britishness” which means that Britishness is now a multifaceted identity ; It is in fact the sum of various identities, origins, backgrounds or cultures that merge into a unique, complex and rich identity.

The effects of Brexit on the nations that form the UK.

Brexit has led to a more fragmented identity among the Scots, the Irish and the Welsh, who find it harder now to define themselves as British. Many people dread that populist parties and xenophobic movements might seize (= saisir) the opportunity and thrive (= propérer) in the UK.

Document 5

What makes New Zealand « super diverse » ?

N.Z. can be qualified as “super diverse” because more than one quarter of the total population is made up of than 100 different ethnicities. In fact, 55 percent of the population are first or second generation immigrants, and there are 213 ethnicities represented in the country.

Actions taken in favour of inclusion and diversity

In order to be more inclusive, some companies hire people from diverse ethnic and social backgrounds, as well as different age ranges. In some organizations, more than 20 ethnicities are represented. This is an example for other companies which are shown the benefits of diversity.This way, everybody feels represented at work.

What issue should be tackled (= aborder) in order to make New Zealand a more inclusive place ?

To make N.Z. a more inclusive place, communication should become the number one priority. People should not be afraid to have uncomfortable conversations and speak their minds.

Benefits of being a diverse nation

Diversity improves creativity and innovation as you benefit from different perspectives and interactions. Consequently, a wider range of possibilities can be explored..

Document 6


– In this excerpt (= extract) of his biography, Trevor reflects on the use of languages ; they can be used to divide people as it is the case in South Africa when he was a kid.

English which is spoken at work and which helps you « get a leg up » (= avoir une longueur d’avance)

Xhosa, his mother tongue (= langue maternelle) and zulu which is closely related to Xhosa.

German which is his father’s language.

Sotho commonly spoken in Soweto, one of the largest townships of the country.

Last but not least (=le dernier et non des moindres), Afrikaans (« the language of your oppressor »= the Afrikaners)

As a mixed-race individual, Trevor is at a disadvantage because his very existence (= son existence même) is a violation (/ˌvaɪəˈleɪʃən/) of the apartheid laws which forbade (to fobid = to ban = interdire) interracial marriages.

With his anecdote in which an Afrikaner shopkeeper tells his security guard to watch out for (= faire attention à) Trevor and his mum whom he calls « those blacks » – Patricia answers in « beautiful, fluent Afrikaans » and the man apologizes , saying he « thought (they) were like the other blacks » i.e. (c.a.d. / that is to say) criminals.

This incident shows how Patricia and then Trevor use their language skills to fit anywhere and ererywhere, thus (= ainsi) expanding their possibilities.

So using different languages can bring people together since people generally trust each other when they can communicate in a shared language.

Test correction

Document 1 : Why are the Dreamers said to be changing America ?

The Dreamers are the children of illegal immigrants and undocumented immigrants in the USA.

Thanks to their education and through their determined attitude and collective rebellion, the Dreamers are managing to get heard and visible contrary to their parents who tried to remain as invisible as possible. Their movement is gaining momentum (= gagner en puissance) and politicians have no choice but to listen to them. These youth have a voice that matters and are initiating a new civil rights movement.

Document 2 : Why should dual citizenship be considered positively ?

Dual citizenship : The status of a person who is legal citizen of 2 or more countries.

Dual citizens used to be and sometimes are still considered suspiciously in numerous countries. But most of them are loyal to(wards) their new country.They countribute to its development through their involvement, their respect for law and sometimes they go as far as sacrificing their lives for it.

Document 3 : Does globalisation threaten cultural diversity ?

Globalisation (/ˌɡləʊbəlaɪˈzeɪʃən/)= the process of interaction and integration among people, companies and governments worldwide.

Despite the fact that we live under the economic control of China and the soft power* of the USA, culture is not threatened since (=puisque) it is more deeply-rooted in society than brands. Then although technologies have been adopted worldwide, people have adapted them to their own needs and purposes. Finally, innovations and borrowings have turned the original cultures into unique subcultures.

Document 4 : What do you know about the evolution of Britishness since the 1950s ?

« Britishness »: it is the fact of being British or of having qualities that are considered as typical of British people. It forms the basis of their unity and identity and the expression of British culture.

Multiculturalism started after WW2 when people from the former British Empire, Ireland and other European countries settled there, creating a common identity. So Britishness became “Multi-identity Britishness” ; the sum of various identities, origins, backgrounds or cultures setting up a multifaceted identity. But with Brexit, the Scots, the Irish and the Welsh have started to find it harder and harder to define themselves as British. As a result, populist parties and xenophobic movements have appeared threatening this “Multi-identity Britishness”.

Document 5 : What is New Zealand’s particularity in terms of diversity ?

N.Z. can be qualified as “super diverse”(more than one quarter of the total population is made up of than 100 different ethnicities./ In fact, 55 percent of the population are first or second generation immigrants, / there are 213 ethnicities represented in the country.) Indeed, many actions have been taken in favour of inclusion and diversity ; this way, everybody feels represented at work. Yet communication should be improved ; it is the number one priority since diversity improves creativity and innovation benefitial to the country’ economy.

Bonus: Trevor Noah and his language skills

He speaks several languages, switching from one to the other according to circumstances.

For him, speaking the same langage as one’s interlocutor contributes to set up trust between eachother.

Melting pot: A melting pot is a metaphor for a society where many different types of people blend (= se mélanger) together as one. America is often called a melting pot.

Grammar Time

Exercise 2 ( more exercises on : ego4u.com)


  1. She is good at (dance) .
  2. He is crazy about (sing) .
  3. I don’t like (play) cards.
  4. They are afraid of (swim) in the sea.
  5. You should give up (smoke) .
  6. Sam dreams of (be) a popstar.
  7. He is interested in (make) friends.
  8. My uncle is afraid of (go) by plane.
  9. We insist on (cook) the dinner ourselves.

Exercise 3 (more exercises on: www.englisch-hilfen.de):

  1. I can’t imagine Peter (go) by bike.
  2. He agreed (buy) a new car.
  3. The question is easy (answer).
  4. The man asked me how (get) to the airport.
  5. I look forward to (see) you at the weekend.
  6. Are you thinking of (visit) London?
  7. We decided (run) through the forest.
  8. The teacher expected Sarah (study) hard.
  9. She doesn’t mind (work) the night shift.
  10. I learned (ride) the bike at the age of 5.

Exercices 1, 2, 3 : Key

Exercise 1 -ing = le fait de

a. Does being (= le fait d’être) English mean to belong to …..

b. They don’t want to leave..

c. The idea of sharing living

d. She was interested in settling down…

E. He hopes to visit …. after graduating ….

Exercise 2

2. singing 3. to play (US) / playing (GB) 4. swimming 5. smoking 6. being 7. making 8. going 9. cooking

Exercice 3

1. going 2. to buy / on buying 3. to answer 4. to get 5. seeing 6. visiting 7. to run 8. to study 9. working 10. to ride



C’est la même chose que le prétérit simple sauf qu’il n’exprime pas une action ou un fait qui a eu lieu, mais un fait irréel ou imaginaire.

On utilise le prétérit modal combiné avec des expressions telles que :

IF ONLY …..: If only I had a green card ! (si seulement…)

– WISH : I wish I emigrated / could emigrate. He wishes she were British. (j’aimerais….)

– I‘D RATHER … I’d rather you stayed in your native country. (Je préférerais …..)

It’s (high) time…. It’s (high) time…. he were arrested (Il est (grand) temps….)

– IF…. If she asked me, I would tell her emigrating is a nonsense. (Si elle me le demandait, …)

Exercice 1 : Mettre les verbes entre parenthèses à la forme appropriée :

1. If I (have) powers, I would arrest all illegal immigrants.
2. She wishes he (be) on the other side of the border.
3. He would rather you (arrive) earlier.
4. My grandmother really wishes she (be) younger to start from scrach in the USA.
5. Suppose they (forget) their luggage, what would they do?
6. If she (fail) to become a US citizen, she would be devastated.

Exercice 2 : Reformulez les phrases suivantes

1. I’d like to have more friends! =  I wish ………………………………………

2. It’s a pity that it is so cold. = I wish ………………………………………

3. I can’t speak English! = I wish ………………………………………

4. Don’t be so secretive! = I wish ………………………………………

5. It’s a pity that I am so shy. = I wish ………………………………………

8. It’s a pity that studying in the USA is so expensive. = I wish ……………………………………..

Exercice 3 : Traduire les phrases suivantes:

1. J’aimerais qu’il soit là! (utiliser « wish ») —–>  ……………………………………………..

2. J’aimerais qu’elle vienne —–>  ……………………………………………..

3. Elle aimerait être bilingue —–>  ……………………………………………..

4. Si seulement je pouvais venir aux USA! —–>  ……………………………………………..

5. Si j’étais toi, je quitterais mon pays natal —–>  ……………………………………………..

Key to the exercises

EX 1 : 1) had / 2) were / 3) arrived / 4) were / 5) forgot / 6) failed

Ex 2 :

1) I wish I had more friends. 4) I wish you were not so secretive.

2) I wish it were not so cold. 5) I wish I were not so shy.

3) I wish I could speak English. 6) I wish studying in the USA were cheaper.

Ex 3 :  1) I wish he were there! / 2) I wish she came / 3) She wishes she were fluent / 4) If only I could come to the USA! / 5) If I were you, I would leave my native country