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Languages at work
Languages at work

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8 24!

This section aims to show you how daily routine changes from one culture to another.

Activity 31 Routine in the United Kingdom

Timing: You should allow 10 minutes

Make some notes on the following questions.

  1. What are considered usual working hours in the UK?

  2. Can you describe the typical eating pattern (e.g. time, food and place) in the UK?

  3. Can you list the general opening times (UK) of the following different shops?

    • restaurant

    • supermarket

    • banks

  4. Can you list all the UK bank holidays? Do they always fall on the same day of the week?


  1. Usual working hours are between 9:00 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.

  2. Most people have breakfast in the morning, which can consist of cereal, toast or a cooked breakfast, accompanied by a drink of tea or coffee. Lunch is normally taken around midday, and usually consists of sandwiches or a light meal and a drink. Dinner is an evening meal, and is normally the main meal of the day. This may consist of a light starter, a main course and a dessert.

  3. Restaurants are normally open at lunchtimes, between midday and 2:00 p.m., and then again in the evenings, from around 5:00 p.m. until approximately midnight. Large supermarkets can be open 24 hours. Others may be open during normal working hours. Banks have stricter opening times, normally opening their doors at around 9:30 a.m. and closing between 4:30 and 5:00 p.m.

  4. A list of UK bank holidays can be found on the Directgov website.

  5. Bank holidays normally occur on a Friday and/or Monday.

Activity 32 Your daily routine

Print out the calendar below, and fill it in according to your daily routine for a normal day.

View document. [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]

Activity 33 Around the world

Now that you've seen how much daily routines and customs vary from one person to another, have a look at the statements below and try to match them to a country.

The statements

  1. Children get their Christmas presents on 6 January.

  2. Shops are shut on Sundays.

  3. National Day is on 3 October.

  4. The legal working week is Saturday to Wednesday.

  5. There is a term that refers to death by overworking in the workplace.

The countries

  • Japan

  • Germany

  • France

  • Saudi Arabia

  • Spain



  1. Spain (Epiphany or Dìa de Reyes).

  2. France.

  3. Germany: 3 October has been a national holiday since 1990 and commemorates German reunification.

  4. Saudi Arabia.

  5. Japan: Karoshi can be a very common problem among Japanese workers, and is brought on by high amounts of stress from working 46-hour weeks. Many people feel saddened by having little time for their families, which adds to the work time stress. To counter this, many workplaces hire actors to play the roles of visiting family members to lift their employees' morale.

Activity 34 Your turn

Using the internet, can you establish the daily routine of the country of your choice, highlighting the differences with the UK? Note down the differences in:

  • working hours

  • bank holidays

  • daily routine.