Interesting things at the end of the M8 Motorway.


The M8 motorway connects Scotland’s two largest cities, Glasgow and Edinburgh. When you come to study here at Glasgow School of English, we often have an official trip to visit Edinburgh, but you can easily go on your own: it only takes about 50 minutes in a train.

As well as being an ancient city, Edinburgh is home to lots of fascinating places, people and things. One of the most interesting of these is what is probably the only penguin in the world that has been knighted (given the rank “Sir”) by a king.

This penguin lives at Edinburgh Zoo. The zoo is very big and is a really interesting place and well worth a visit if you go to Edinburgh. Their penguin enclosure is amazing, with a huge glass wall where you can see the penguins swimming under the water.

One of these penguins is the Colonel-in-chief and mascot of the Norwegian Royal Guard. When he was knighted in 2008, he was also given the name Sir Nils Olav. After the ceremony when he was knighted he then “inspected” the guard of soldiers who attended the ceremony. When the Norwegian Royal Guard soldiers visit Edinburgh, as they sometimes do for the Edinburgh International Festival, they always pay Sir Nils a visit!

A statute with a traffic cone on its head

Glasgow, like all very old cities, has quite a few statues in its public squares and other places. However, while most Glaswegians probably can’t name many, if any, of the statues in George Square (the main square in front of the City Chambers – the magnificent Council [local government] offices), just about everyone knows the statue of the Duke of Wellington (the famous British soldier, politician and Prime Minister) seated on his horse, in Royal Exchange Square.

The statue of the Duke is in front of the Gallery of Modern Art. When you come to study at Glasgow School of English, you will have the opportunity to go to see the modern art in this Gallery and when you do make sure you have a look at this statue.

The reason why everyone in Glasgow knows this statue is because it has, for many years, had a traffic cone on the head of the Duke. Originally put there as a joke, it’s now regarded as an essential part of the statue and if it’s ever removed then it’s soon replaced.

A few years ago, the Council decided that they would raise the plinth (the block on which the statue sits) a few feet so that no-one would be able to get the cone back on the Duke’s head. The Glaswegians were not pleased and the Council changed its mind! However, as this video shows, it’s not easy to get the cone up there!

Three more things you need to know about Glasgow

Link sausages on a grill

In our last blog we told you about three things you need to know about Glasgow before you come here to study with Glasgow School of English. Here are three more important things that it’s worth knowing about our city.

East is east but west isn’t west

The first of these is a bit silly!  Every Glasgow area to the east of the city centre is the east end, but not every area to the west is the west end. Ask your teacher and he or she will explain!


Glasgow is a fantastic place for shopping. The city centre (downtown) is usually listed in third place in the UK shopping charts, behind London and Manchester. However, in Glasgow, the majority of shops are very close together, around Argyle StreetBuchanan Street and Sauchiehall Street. There are lots of buses into the city centre and there are two underground stations right in the middle of the town. You’ll find everything you might want!

Fizzy juice , lemonade and sausages

In Glasgow fizzy juice/lemonade is called “ginger.” Don’t ask us why, it just is! We also call a sausage sandwich “a piece and links.” This is different from a hot dog.  A piece is a sandwich, of any type. Links (see picture) are sausages (sausages are usually “linked” together in a string of sausages). However, just to confuse you, we also have square sausage, which is what is says – a square sausage! If you don’t eat meat, you can also get vegetarian link sausages.

The tallest cinema in the world

Whether it’s Star Wars, James Bond or a romantic love story, everyone loves a good film. Not only that, but while you have to have a reasonable level of English to watch most of them, there is no doubt that “going to the pictures” (as we say in Scotland) is a good way to improve your English.

To make things even more interesting, Cineworld’s cinema in Renfrew Street, just a few minutes walk from Glasgow School of English, is the tallest cinema building in the world. It has 18 screens and six floors and can accommodate up to 663 people.

We know that many of our students like going to the movies and there are lots to choose from at Cineworld. There are also other cinemas in Glasgow, including the Odeon Luxe and the Vue at Glasgow Fort in the east end of the city.

If you like films then you’ll be spoiled for choice when you come to study here in Glasgow.

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!


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.


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.




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


Buta wa buta no uta o utau.
The pig sings the pig’s song.


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


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.