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For Students: Talking about family

Updated: Mar 21

Do you look more like your mum or dad? What about when they were the same age as you, are you a spitting image of them? You could look more like your mum, but take after your dad, or you could be like chalk-and-cheese. They say blood is thicker than water, meaning family is most important. Some of us have big families with many brothers and sisters, uncles, aunts, and cousins, and some even have great grandparents. Some of us don’t! You might be an only child from a small family, so you didn’t argue with your siblings about something no matter how small when you were growing up. And, as you were the only child, you might have been spoilt.

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How often does your family get together? Depending on if your family lives in the same area or are scattered around would depend on this. Usually it takes something special like a wedding, christening, or a sadder event like a funeral to bring the whole family together. A time when you have to put things aside if you don’t see eye-to-eye with your relatives. But also these get-togethers are a time to reminisce about the good ol’ days and for you to see those family members who you get on well with, but never find the time to meet.

Talking of the good ol’ days, do you look back on your upbringing with fond memories? I do. I remember during the summer my grandparents looking after me and spending time at their house, which was in a different area of my town. They weren’t strict, but one set of grandparents were less strict than the others, so I could get away with more when I was at their house. Plus, one of the areas my grandparents lived was also the area where many of my classmates lived, so it was a chance for us to build memories as we grew up with each other mucking/messing about outside. In England, we don't always use the words my granddad and grandmother as it can sound rather formal - especially grandmother - , but we have different names like, nanny, nan, grandma, and for grandfather we have grandpa, and granddad. I actually used to call one grandmother 'nan' and the other 'grandma', weird eh?

I was lucky growing up, my mum and dad were together and I had both grandparents around who could take care of me if I was ill or my parents were away, but not everyone was lucky. I had friends who were from single-parent families, broken homes and a few cases of their dad - one case of when the mum - walking out on them when they were young leaving their mum to take care of them and be the breadwinner. Some of those mums found love again and those kids got a step-dad and some step-brothers and sisters....

As we get older we start our own families and need to make decisions of our own on how we bring up our children. Is it OK to smack them if they keep misbehaving? Do we let them make their own mistakes even though we have made the same one before? And how much pressure should be put on them when it comes to family traditions. If being a doctor runs in the family, should pressure be put on them to keep this tradition going? One thing is for sure, you can choose your friends, but you can't choose your family, and remember at times like this they need you.

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Are you from a big family?

Should parents smack their kids?

Does anything run in your family?

What do you think about celebrities adopting orphans from other 3rd-world countries?

Who helped look after you during the summer?

Do you have a godfather/mother or a godson/daughter?

Do you have any informal names for grandmother/grandfather like in England?


Uncle – your dad’s/mum’s brother

Aunt - your dad’s/mum’s sister

Nephew - your brother's/sister's son

Niece - your brother's/sister's son

Cousin - your dad’s/mum’s siblings' children

Great Grandparents – your grandparents’ parents

Step brother/sister/mother/father – your dad’s/mum’s children or wife/husband from another relationship

Mother/father/brother/sister-in law – your wife’s/husband’s family

Ex-husband/wife - someone you used to be married to

Godfather/godmother - usually your parents' best friend

Godson/daughter - usually the children of your best friend


Spitting image of – to look very similar to someone

Take after – to act and behaviour in a way similar to one of your parents

Chalk-and-cheese - to be completely different

An only child – when you don’t have any brothers or sisters

Argue with S/O about S/T – to disagree with someone in a strong way

Note: Ukrainians / Russians will often use the word quarrel. This word is very old-fashioned and should be replaced with argue/argument or simply disagreement if the argument is light.

Growing up – the stages from a child to an adult

To spoil a children - to give a child everything they ask for and let they do everything they want

Family get-together – an event when all the family come to one place

Scattered (around) – in many different places at different distances

Christening – when a newborn baby is christened in the church

To put things aside – to forgot any previous problems to focus on something

Not to see eye-to-eye – to disagree and not have the best relationship with someone

Reminisce – to think about the past

Get on well with - to have a good relation with someone

Look back on – to think about certain times in the past

Upbringing – how you were treated by people and your parents as a child until you became an adult

To look after S/O – when you monitor and make sure everything is OK with a person or thing

Strict – to be full of rules and restrictions

Get away with something – to not be punished for doing something you shouldn’t

To grow up with S/O - to be childhood friends

Mucking/messing about - doing things you shouldn't be doing

Growing up - the process of being a child and

Around - someone who lives close and is available to help

Take care of S/O – to make sure they are OK medically and financially

Single parent – a man or woman with a child and no support in the house from the parent

Broken home – an upbringing where the parents are separated or divorced

To walk out on – to leave and never come back

The breadwinner – the person who earns most of the money in a household

To bring up S/O - to take someone as a child until an adult

To smack a child – to hit a child with the palm of your hand.

Runs in the family – something that each generation in the family has or does. It can also be used for medical problems.

To adopt - to FOSTER a child who doesn't have any parents or their parents are incapable of taking care of them.

Orphan - a person without a mother or father

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