A very popular activity on the C1 English language course is a spoken activity where students describe a member of their family from the past. Everybody loves talking about family and you don’t need to be a member of the Royal Family to have interesting ancestors. Here we look at genealogy (the study of family history) and family vocabulary.
Family trees can show a family history clearly and easily. The most famous family tree in the UK is of the House of Windsor. House of (name) refers to a particular family who are (or were) important in society. The House of Windsor is another name for the British royal family. Did you know that Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip are both related to Queen Victoria? Queen Elizabeth is a direct descendant of Victoria on her father’s side of the family tree. Queen Victoria is Elizabeth’s great-great-great grandmother. Prince Philip is also related to Victoria from his mother’s side.
Family histories are also included in famous stories. Game of Thrones is now on its final season and it is a story about the relationships between different houses; House Stark, House Lannister and House Targaryen as well as others. In Game of Thrones lineage (direct descendent from an ancestor) is one of the most important parts of the story.
Tracing (or discovering) your own family history is a very popular pastime in the UK and the USA. With a little effort most people in the UK can trace their family back to Victorian times and discover things about how their ancestors lived. Many years ago researching your family would mean trips to churches, cemeteries and government buildings to look at official registers for births, marriages and deaths. These days it is much easier with website such as FamilySearch.com and ancestry.com. It is an interesting journey and you never know what you might find!
There is a famous TV series called “Who do you think you are” that traces the family history of famous people. It has a channel on YouTube where you can watch episodes for free and use English subtitles.
In this video the actress Olivia Coleman, who plays Queen Anne in The Favourite, discovers that her ancestor was one of the first people in the UK to divorce.