Наш первый визит в Шотландию (Our first visit to Scotland)

Visiting a new country for the first time is always an exciting experience. For us, as two English language academics from Novosibirsk in Russia, it was particularly interesting as we were in Scotland to meet Andrew Lennox, the President of three schools of English, based in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

We arrived in Glasgow on 28th of January and stayed there for nearly a week, with various excursions to Edinburgh and other Scottish cities and also had time to travel around the beautiful countryside (it really is a very beautiful place). During our time in the city we were really taken by the warm welcome we received: everyone is very friendly and helpful.

On the 29th, we went with Andrew to Stirling University, to see the purpose-built campus (see picture below) where Hamilton School of English holds its summer programme for young learners.

Close by Stirling University is the Wallace Monument, an impressive tower that celebrates William Wallace, the Scottish patriot who led the war of independence in the 13th century (he is the central figure in the movie Braveheart). We climbed the steps and from the top (see next photo) there is an amazing view of the surrounding countryside, including Stirling Castle (in the background on the lower ridge behind Andrew), which is also well worth a visit.

The next day we visited Glasgow School of English and then on the 31st we went to Edinburgh to view Global School of English (see next photo) where we met Duncan Fitzhowie, the Director of Studies.

We were able to spend some time in a class in each School and were very impressed by the classrooms and the quality of teaching on offer. In both cities we went on “hop-on/off” tourist buses, which gave us a good idea of the range of buildings, museums, parks and other sites that are available for students to enjoy.

Finally, on our last day in Scotland we went to Oban, north of Glasgow on the west coast and also visited Loch Lomond and the countryside around it. It really is very scenic and it’s no surprise that Scotland was last year voted the most beautiful country in the world.

Throughout our stay we were very well looked after and had some lovely meals (see photo above!), with Andrew and a few of his colleagues. We took away an impression of a very safe and secure place where our students would feel at home and where they will be able to improve their English to a high standard.

Ekaterina Kostina,
Dean of the Faculty of Foreign Languages,
PhD, professor of the English Language Chair,
Novosibirsk State Pedagogical University.

 

Three things you need to know about Glasgow!

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum pic
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

If you are coming to study with us at Glasgow School of English then we hope you’ll enjoy your time in our city.  Our students tell us that the people here are very friendly and helpful and we are sure you’ll have a great time in Glasgow, but, like any big city, there are some things that you need to know before you arrive.  Here are three of the more important!

Buses

The buses in  Glasgow don’t give change: you have to pay the exact fare.  The driver will expect you to know the correct fare, but ask nicely and they ought to help you!

Underground railway

Glasgow is one of only two cities in the UK that has an underground railway (metro). The other is London but their underground is much bigger than ours.  Our underground is called the Subway and it’s very quick and efficient.  However, don’t travel on the  Subway when there is a football match at Ibrox (usually every second Saturday, from lunchtime onwards) as it gets VERY busy.

Free Arts and Museums

Most of art and culture in Glasgow is free. There are lots of great museums and Art Galleries,  The Transport Museum/Riverside Museum and  (see picture above) are among our favourites. We organise trips to many of the museums for our students.

 

 

 

St Valentine comes to Glasgow

Although obviously a Christian Saint, St Valentine’s Day is celebrated in many countries around the world and tonight many couples will have romantic dinners and quite a few people will propose marriage to their partner.

However, did you know that the actual St Valentine’s mortal remains are (probably) in Glasgow?

However, did you know that the actual St Valentine’s relics (bones/mortal remains) are – probably – in Glasgow?

Saint Valentine was an early Christian martyr (someone who is killed for his or her faith) from northern Italy. A French family is said to have given his bones to the Franciscan monks who had established a church in Cumberland Street in Glasgow in 1868. Now we have to be honest and say that churches in Terni, near Rome, and in Dublin also claim to hold the remains of Saint Valentine, and it’s also said that the bones were divided between the three locations.

Most people in Scotland had no idea about St Valentine’s remains and it was only when the Franciscans moved with the relics to the Blessed John Duns Scotus Church in Ballater Street in 1999 that the existence of the Saint’s remains became well known. Nowadays, anyone can go and see the small wooden casket in which St Valentine’s remains are kept. If you want to know more about this, or to go and see them, you can find out more at this link.

Burns Night and the “Address to a Haggis”

Today, the 25th of January, many Scots will celebrate “Burns Night” in honour of our national Bard (poet), Robert Burns, who lived in Ayrshire and Dumfries. He was born on this day in 1759.

All over the world, Scots will meet to enjoy a “Burns Supper,” at which the main dish is haggis (see picture below – and nowadays vegetarian haggis is available), accompanied by a glass (or two) of whisky, bagpipe music and often dancing as well. The one of Burns’ poems that is always read out is called “Address to a Haggis.” You can find out more about Burns Night here.

Address to a Haggis is quite a long poem and written in the Scots’ dialect of the time, so it is quite hard even for advanced students of English to understand. However, we’ll have a go! Here is the first verse, followed by a “translation” into modern English.

Original words

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o the puddin’-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye worthy o’ a grace
As lang’s my arm.
 

Translation

Good luck to you and your honest, plump face,
Great chieftain of the sausage race!
Above them all you take your place,
Stomach, tripe, or intestines:
Well are you worthy of a grace
As long as my arm.

 

Tongue Twisters

 

Tongue twisters are fun because they difficult to say and you often get the words and letters all mixed up! However, they are a good way to improve your pronunciation. Often they are hard to say because they feature alliteration, which just means using a lot of words together that have the same letter or sound at the beginning of each word, such as in the tongue-twister “Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers.”

Tongue twisters exist in many different languages. Here are some examples.

 

 

Maltese

Toni tagħna tani tina talli tajtu tuta tajba
Our Tony gave a fig because I gave him a good berry.

Japanese

豚は豚の歌を歌う。
Buta wa buta no uta o utau.
The pig sings the pig’s song.

Croatian

Hrvoje sa Hvara hrani hrčka
Hrvoje from Hvar island is feeding a hamster

Latin

Quantum materiae materietur marmota monax si marmota monax materiam possit materiarii?
How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

This last one, in Latin, is also a tongue twister in English. Here are a few more in English.

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!

Seven slick slimey snakes slowly sliding southward.

What noise annoys an oyster most?
A noisy noise annoys an oyster most.

And finally, our favourite, and, we believe, the most difficult. Try saying this three times, quickly!

“The Leith Police dismisseth us.”

 

Glasgow listed in New York Times “Top Ten places to visit in 2018”!

We’re pleased  to say that the prestigious American newspaper, the New York Times, has published its list of the top 52 places to visit in 2018 and Glasgow features in the top ten – the only British city to do so.

The New York Times article mentions the huge increase in whisky production in Scotland.  There are two new distilleries being built in Glasgow, the first for over 100 years.  These include including the $12.3m Clydeside Distillery, which will be in a restored pump house near Zaha Hadid’s Riverside Museum.  The article also mentions the quality of the food  available in Glasgow’s restaurants, cafes and bars.  If you are already studying here then you’ll know all about this.  If you are thinking about coming to study at Glasgow School of English then you’ll not only be coming to one of the cities that the New York Times recommends you visit this year, you’ll also be coming to a high quality English school with a great reputation, friendly teachers and a fantastic city centre location.  You can find out more about our courses here  -and lots of useful information about Glasgow here.

The quick brown fox

When you learn English, or any other language, the first thing you do is learn the alphabet. In English we have 26 letters in our alphabet, from A to Z.

Nowadays, lots of people type on a keyboard rather than write words out in longhand (longhand just means writing by hand using a pen or pencil). Did you know that there is one sentence that is often used when people are learning to type? It is, “the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.”

Do you know why this sentence is important for those who are learning to type?

The answer is simple. The sentence “the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” contains all 26 letters in the English alphabet, used only once!

New Year means different things to different countries and cultures

Well, we trust that, if you celebrated it, you have had a very enjoyable New Year. In our country, there are lots of traditions associated with Hogmanay, as we call the 31st of December, and the New Year. Perhaps the best known is “first-footing,” when neighbours and friends call round to each other’s houses to be the “first foot” – the first person that their neighbour sees on New Year’s Day. Traditionally, lumps of coal were brought, along with (as you might expect in Scotland) a bottle of whisky!

However, as a major language school, we are well aware that there are many different ways of celebrating the arrival of the New Year and, of course, different countries and cultures celebrate it in different ways and at different dates. We believe that in Poland there is a legend that Pope Sylvester captured a dragon which would have eaten everyone on earth and set fire to the skies. For the Polish people, New Year’s Eve is “St Sylvester’s Eve,” when they celebrate this story that the world did not end at the end of the year.

In Russia, it’s good luck to start the New Year without any debts, so people try to pay off their bills and other debts. In the last 12 seconds of the old year, Russians make secret wishes for the coming year.

The Chinese New Year is, as you probably know, not at the same time as ours. Instead, they celebrate between January 21st and February 20th, depending on the Chinese calendar. Some Chinese paint their front doors red, because red symbolises good luck and happiness. They also put all knives away for 24 hours, because if someone cuts themselves that would cut the family’s good luck for the New Year.

In Denmark, people like to smash plates at New Year. This is said to bring good luck for the next 12 months, so if you are in Denmark don’t be surprised to find a broken plate on your doorstep on January 1st!

In Brazil, lentils are associated with money, so at New Year you might see someone eating lots of lentils!

In Korea, the first day of the lunar New Year is called Sol-nal and it’s the day to renew family ties. You might also see rakes and sieves on the outside doors and walls of homes: they are put there to protect the families inside from evil spirits. On New Year’s Day people wear new clothes made with five colours (red, white, blue, yellow and green), symbolising a new start.

Finally, New Year is also a time when people make resolutions which they try to keep in the months ahead (most people break them, but that’s sometimes part of the fun!). However, no matter what country you are from, this is a time for looking forward and thinking about all the good things you can do in 2018. And if you thinking of coming to the UK to study English why not make a resolution to come to Glasgow School of English – we’d be delighted to see you and it could be one of the best decisions you’ve ever made!

 

 

Ali and Ahmed and their thoughts on Scotland and Glasgow School of English

 

Ali Mohammed Alasiri (above on the left) and Ahmed Alkhathlan (on the right), both from Saudi Arabia, have been studying at Glasgow School of English for several months. As a result, their English is very good and they were happy to meet me recently to tell me about their time in Scotland and at Glasgow School. Ali is from Abha, in the south of the country and Ahmed is from Riyadh, the capital city. Ali is a mechanical engineer and Ahmed an architect with an interest in sustainable engineering and both are studying English to help them in their careers. Ahmed is going to enrol at a course on sustainable engineering at Strathclyde University in Glasgow next year.

Ahmed told me that, in his opinion, the teachers here are very good. Ali agreed, saying that they have a good manner and take time to speak to everyone individually. They both also said that all the admin team were also extremely helpful and friendly.

I asked why they had chosen Scotland to study. Ali’s three older brothers had all been at Glasgow School of English before and that was why he was here, while Ahmed said he had come to Scotland because he wants to study that particular course at Strathclyde University.

Finally, I asked what has surprised them about Scotland. They both said that they enjoy the weather as it’s so much cooler than their own country. In addition, they both agreed that the Scottish people are very warm and friendly. Ali said that people are patient in the shops when they can see that you are just learning English, which is especially helpful for students whose level of English is not as high as his or Ahmed’s. Ahmed explained that he didn’t need to buy a car in Glasgow because the public transport system is really good.

Finally, I asked them if they would recommend Glasgow School of English. I’m pleased to say that they both agreed and would certainly recommend that if you are a Saudi student who is thinking about coming to study English in the UK, come to Scotland – it’s cheaper, better and far more friendly than London!

Did you know that Scots invented the modern way of playing football?

It is well known that England is the home of modern football. When Scotland played in the first international football match, against England, in Glasgow in 1872, both sides did not really pass the ball the way footballers do nowadays. Instead, the players tried to dribble the ball past opponents and then get near enough to the opposition goal to get it over the line. In England, some clubs began to pass the ball, but the greatest exponents of this new style of football were the Scots, who had developed a way of playing that encouraged the team to play the ball to each other rather than individuals trying to dribble with it.

 

 

Professional football (where the players are paid for playing, as they are today) had been introduced in England in 1885, but in Scotland many clubs were still amateur (this means they were not paid for playing). The English international team lost heavily a number of times to Scotland between 1878 and 1882 and this was due largely to the clever passing play of the Scots.

As a result, many English professional clubs signed Scots’ players. These Scots were called “Scotch Professors” and their influence led to a change in the way football was played which has continued up to the present day. Also, many of these Scots, and many English players too, introduced football across the then British Empire and beyond, particularly to countries such as Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil.