The world's most comprehensive free non-profit English language course.

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ZAKWASHINGTON'S GUIDE TO ENGLAND, a cultural guide to ENGLAND, and the ENGLISH LANGUAGE, for B1-C2 level students. (Recommended age 16 or above.)

This is the true story of three days that almost changed the course of history. This is the truth that the British government tried to stop.

Watch the video introduction to LEARN ENGLISH WITH ZAKWASHINGTON here:

This is the transcription of the video:

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Here's the VOCABULARY and explanations from the introduction 

[1] Great Britain, United Kingdom, England, British Isles etc. Great Britain is the large island that is north of France, and east of Ireland. It contains three autonomous regions: England, Wales and Scotland. Great Britain and Northern Ireland, together, are called the United Kingdom (The U.K.), which is, officially, the name of the country. The official title that you can find on a passport of a person from any of these four regions is The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Ireland (or Eire) is a separate country altogether. Confused? Us natives are too. Don’t worry, it gets more complicated than this. The British Isles refers to both the large islands, and therefore includes Ireland too, but this expression is used only in relation to geography. This is all according to the ‘official’ description. Natives of Britain often think in different ways. If you ask any Englishman, or Welshman where he’s from, he will tell you England, or Wales,  not the United Kingdom. Nobody except tourists say, ‘Are you from the United Kingdom?’ We seldom refer to ourselves as British either, probably because it has political connotations. For the same reason, it is  much less common to see the British flag –the Union Jack- (the red, white, and blue one) hanging in public places, as it is to see the American flag in the US. This can be a political statement. The easiest and safest way is to refer to each individual country or nationality. Thus England/English, Scotland/Scottish, Wales/Welsh, Northern Ireland/Northern Irish. All of these people could be called Britons, Brits, British, or more unusually, BritishersBritons is uncommon outside of newspapers and formal styles. Brits is a popular word with non-Brits, and is informal; ‘He was running around drunk on the beach like a typical Brit abroad.’  Britisher is an ugly word that is only usually heard outside Britain too. British is the most universal and acceptable way of  talking about the person’s nationality. It describes the people, but can be used as an adjective for anything else too: ‘British weather is so bad, but when it rains, a lot of British men go out without their umbrellas. Why?’  Also note that there is no adjective for someone from the United Kingdom, which considering this is the official name of the country, is absurd! 

[2] Dumb (adj.) 1. Stupid, idiotic. 2. Unable to talk.

[3] (to) Over-charge to ask more money for something than the normal price. Tourist prices!

[4] Dull (adj.) boring, tedious, uninteresting.

[5] Mermaid (noun) half topless woman, half fish.

[6] Grotty (adj.) describes something that is dirty, ugly and without much charm. If someone told you about a grotty hotel, you definitely wouldn’t want to stay there, as it would be unpleasant and of bad quality. You might enjoy staying at a sleazy hotel a little more, as the meaning of this adjective is more to do with ‘immoral’ or ‘dishonest’ behaviour. There are probably prostitutes, drugs, or some kind of corrupt, illegal activity happening there. Sleazy doesn’t necessarily mean that the sheets will be dirty. Seedy is a synonym. A tacky hotel is more recommended. This would be of low quality too, but would best be described as ‘in bad taste’ and probably ‘out of fashion’. You should expect lots of gold, silver, and bright colours, flowery wallpaper, plastic palm trees, etc. The word doesn’t imply dirty or illegal. Sleazy, seedy, and tacky are commonly used to describe people too. Other useful negative adjectives for places could be second-rate (below standard) and squalid (extremely dirty, unpleasant and poor), naff  or crappy meaning ‘of disappointingly low or bad quality’.

[7] Fee (noun) the price to enter or join. Usually for schools, courses or professional services.

[8] As you know, the currency in the United Kingdom is the pound (sterling). What you may not know is that the pound has a nickname; the quid. Quid always keeps its singular form. How much is ten quid in Euros? The smallest coin is called the penny when it is in its singular form, and pence in plural. These are much more frequently known by the letter p; I remember the days when a sandwich cost 25p. 

Find all the LEARN ENGLISH WITH ZAK WASHINGTON videos on Youtube.

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This gentleman is your English teacher Zak Washington:


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CLICK below to download the latest FREE copy of ZakWASHINGTON SCHOOL OF CRIME (ZAKMAG Magazine for Learning English)

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Do the exercises. Discuss the points with your teacher, classmates or friends. Play the games. Do the activities.


Now go to PART THREE.

Find all the answersinformation, explanations, grammarvocabulary. Learn about English culture

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Use the DISCUSSION POINTS with your teacher, classroom lessons or with friends:

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Grammar and vocabulary exercise. Study the following letters and e-mails and choose the correct answer.


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Dear Raji Fred,


Hello darling! How do you do?/How have you been? This is your favourite little Queenie here. It’s been so long/so long time since I last saw you. I’m absolutely dying to get my hands on you again, and pass/spend some time together. Being/to be a monarch can be so boring sometimes. I get tired with/of/from all those stupid diplomats and tedious European royals. Yesterday, I must have/had to spend all day long with the Danish royal family. What bored/boring people! Then my usual meeting with the prime minister; I wish he’d brush his teeth occasionally. Anyway/By the way, enough of this nonsense.


Why don't you come up to my palace in Balmoral next week to talk around/talk over some of the plans for the royal wedding? What a splendid event it is going to be! I hope it’ll be even more successful than Charles and Diana’s. Between you and me, I never did care much for that Diana. My nephew/niece Lady Sara Winthorpe is so excited and nervous. The press are following her everywhere. I’m really so glad that she is getting married to your son Ali. Ali is such a charming, handsome gentleman. He’s yet/already become very popular with the British public. The only thing that really worries me is his English. He hasn’t spent much time living in this country and I’m worried about him not understanding our language and culture. Therefore/Moreover, I’ve arranged for some special classes for him, to prepare him correctly for the wedding. He will have his own particular/personal teacher, a very competent professional called Zak Washington. Ali starts studying with him tomorrow. The sooner, the better, eh?


Write me/write to me soon, and tell/say me if you want to come and see your little Queenie in Balmoral Palace. I might have to punish you for not having kept in contact for so long! Naughty little boy!

                The Queen of England.


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Listen to more musical English lessons which correspond to the exercises on this page:



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This is a LEARN ENGLISH WITH ZakWASHINGTON audio recording with a listening exercise for students of the English language. #ZAKMAG 

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English as a Foreign Language GRAMMAR PRACTICE exercise


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This is a LEARN ENGLISH WITH ZakWASHINGTON audio recording with a listening exercise for students of the English language. #ZAKMAG 

Zak Washington's Guide to England. Language methodology. Answer key

English language learners practice activity: Role Play 1

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Student A.  You are the Queen of England. Your husband is an alcoholic who spends all day chatting up the attractive chambermaids at the palace. You are good friends with a 55-year old businessman Raji Fred. He is extremely rich and influential and very attractive too. You would love to have a romance with him. You have invited him to your palace in Balmoral to talk about the wedding of your niece Lady Sara Winthorpe. She is getting married to Raji’s son. Your real intention is to seduce hunky Raji. Don’t let him distract you with talk about the wedding. You need romance, affection and possibly a new husband. But don’t forget, you are the Queen of England, and you have to keep an image of respectability. 




Student B.  You are Raji Fred, a rich, noble, decent businessman. You are extremely rich and influential. You are good friends with the Queen of England. The only problem is that she fancies you; that is, she thinks you are very attractive. You like her as a friend and businesswoman, but you aren’t considering a relationship. She is the Queen of England! She has invited you to Balmoral Palace to discuss arrangements for the marriage between your son Ali and her niece Lady Sara Winthorpe. You must insist that arrangements are made for transport, the correct ceremonial route, family photographs, press releases and other important issues. Don’t let her start talking about romance. She’s not your type, and besides, she always smells of gin and tonic.

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Information about the teachers on this course
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DESK SERGEANT REYNOLDS, a respectable police officer who likes sleazy Soho nightspots.

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THE TICKET INSPECTOR, (London Underground). 2,000,000,000 people speak English. It takes a very special talent to speak it worse than all of them. Meet the man.

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DAVE THE PICKPOCKET will have his hands in your pockets, looking for your jewels in no time. 

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ABDEL, the proprietor of the Kebab Delight Restaurant, quite possible the capital’s most horrible and disgusting restaurant. Learn English free there. 

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CHRISTOPER OFF, a lovely gentlemen with a phrasal verbs fixation.

Brush up on your English grammar with these Grammar Check-up exercises:

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English language learners practice - Role Play 2

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Student A. You are Zak Washington, a lazy and corrupt English teacher who wants to take advantage of his rich, gullible[1] foreign students. You are going to speak to an Algerian called Abdel, the owner of the disgusting Kebab Delight restaurant. You think that Abdel is the perfect man to help you make money. Talk to him about how you can send foreign students to ‘supposedly’[2] learn English. Tell him that he can make them buy a lot of his food. You only need a small commission of 40%. You need to negotiate hard. Convince him that you can put his horrible little restaurant in every student guidebook and make it an international cultural exchange centre, where thousands of students can spend lots of money.


Student B.

You are Abdel, owner of the famous Kebab Delight restaurant! You are eccentric, a little crazy even. You are going to make an agreement with a good-for-nothing English teacher. He wants to send you gullible foreign students who have too much money, and in exchange, he wants you to pay him a commission. Negotiate with him but don’t offer any more than 5%. You don’t need this fool to tell you how to run your business! You are interested in those pretty English girls that always go around with[3] him. Convince him to send some of these lovely ladies for a ‘cultural interchange’. If any students arrive, try and persuade them to spend money, but don’t tell him that you give a commission to the teacher. Be as rude as possible, but not offensive, and ask personal questions about their private lives.


Student C. (For groups of three students.)

You are a Japanese student who has recently arrived in London. You want to go to The Kebab Delight to practice your English. When you arrive, you find a disgusting dirty little take-away restaurant whose owner is mad [4]. You have spent three hours trying to find the place because you were given bad directions, and it cost you a fortune. You are cold, tired, hungry, and desperate to practice English. Talk to Abdel as much as possible, but remember you are a shy Japanese gentlemen that doesn’t like to talk about anything personal. And try not to buy any of his typically disgusting English food. Ask Abdel about his business relationship with your teacher.



[1] Gullible (adj.) ready to believe anything.

[2] Supposedly (adverb) this is a word that is commonly confused in English with supposed to. It means that something is expected to be, or is believed to be a certain way. ‘It’s supposedly a really nice clean restaurant with a lovely owner’, would mean that someone had recommended the place to you, and that it should be like their description. The confusion is caused because there is another similar structure, supposed to which can have a different meaning. ‘It’s supposed to be a nice clean restaurant…’ has almost the same meaning as the above expression. But there are times when this is more common to talk about obligation. ‘You are supposed to keep your restaurant clean’, is what a government health inspector would say when he finds a dirty, unhygienic restaurant. He means that it is the normal thing that you should or must do, and is therefore a recommendation, and quite different from the first example. Compare also, ‘He is supposedly studying, but is thinking about that girl that he likes’. (People think that he is studying) and ‘We are supposed to study from 9.30 to 12.30, but everybody usually arrives late.’ (It is the school rule that classes are at these times.)

[3] (to) Go around/round with a phrasal verb that means to be friends with, and to spend time with people. ‘She’s started going round with a bad group of people, I wish she would find some nice friends.’ To hang out with is a common, informal way of saying the same thing. ‘I love hanging out with them. We always have a good laugh.’

[4] Mad (adj.) students prefer to use the word crazy to describe mental instability, but you should understand that mad is probably a more common way of expressing the same idea. A lunatic could be called a madman, but it is improbable that a native speaker would say a ‘crazy-man’. (British slang: nutter, loony.) The noun is thus madness and the adverb madly. Also make a note of the dependent preposition ‘about’ that is used with both mad and crazyHe’s mad about her, and she’s crazy about him. 

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