Swiss cheeses, Scotch mist, ghosts and Nessie!

Fransoise Loup, Brigitte Chanson and Katia Nidegger are the leaders of a group of Swiss young learners who recently spent a week in Edinburgh with Hamilton School of English. They live in Lausanne (by Lake Geneva) in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, and had previously brought another group to Scotland, so this wasn’t a new experience for them (although it obviously was for most of their students!). We met in Global School of English in Edinburgh while the students were in classes there and had an interesting chat about Scotland and Switzerland.

Most Swiss associate Scotland with whisky, rain, kilts, Nessie (the Loch Ness Monster) and, perhaps slightly surprisingly, ghosts and tattoos. The students in this group were aware of Edinburgh and some aspects of its history, including Greyfriars’ Bobby, Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace and, of course, JK Rowling and the Elephant House café (where she began writing the Harry Potter books!).

Despite everyone’s concerns about the weather, since the Swiss Group had arrived, the sun had shone almost unceasingly. There had been no sign of ‘Scotch Mist’, that persistent light rain for which the country is famous. Instead, for virtually every day of their stay in Scotland, the sun had shone and the weather had been extremely pleasant and warm. This made it much easier for the students to enjoy a number of interesting excursions, to see, amongst other things, the Royal Mile, the Castle, the statute of Greyfriars’ Bobby and, naturally, to go to the Elephant House for a cup of coffee and a cake or two.

Their students are studying English at an intermediate level and all three of the leaders were unanimous in their praise for the School and the teachers (“good, very good, and in a nice building that’s more like a house than a school”). They also noted that the host families were excellent.

We then chatted about some of the differences between Switzerland and Scotland. The biggest difference for the Swiss is that prices are much cheaper here than they are in Switzerland, closely followed by the fact that (for them), we drive on the ‘wrong’ side of the road here! Also on the roads, some of the students had not seen ‘double-decker’ buses before, as in Europe buses tend to be ‘single-decker’.   As well as being used for public transport, some double decker buses in Edinburgh are used to advertise the ‘Ghost Tours’ of the city (see picture).

Food is different too. We discussed the merits of Scottish haggis and Swiss Gruyere and Emmental cheeses (all very nice!) and also the fish and chips, which many students from all over the world say is the meal they like best when they come to Scotland.

In French-speaking Switzerland, children at school learn German first and then English second. Apparently, they find English easier, helped by the fact that classical languages (Latin and Greek – which form the roots of many English words and grammar) are still popular school subjects there. Moreover, western culture, especially pop/rock music, is underpinned by the English language, which makes it more appealing to many young Swiss students than German.

Finally, we discussed the benefits of coming to study in Edinburgh as opposed to London, where many overseas students go to learn English. The leaders said that one of the main reasons they come back to Scotland is that it’s different from London. In particular, it’s less expensive and also a lot quieter than the UK’s capital city. All of which means they expect to be coming back again with another group in the future!

What do our students REALLY think of Global School?

When students and agents are considering which school of English to study at in the UK, they take a lot of different things into account. Is the school accredited, is it in a big city, does it have a programme of events and activities, is it a cheap place to live and study and, of course, does it have a good reputation for the quality of its facilities and teachers?

It is, of course, easy for any school to make claims about the city in which it’s based or its programme of activities, but, important as these are, the key factor in any decision to come to the UK to learn English is the quality of the school and the teaching it provides. Reputations are hard won, and equally hard to maintain.

To that end, Global School of English in Edinburgh is not just subject to the full round of official inspections, but we also make a point of asking our students to fill in a quarterly survey, where they can be as honest as they like about their experiences with us.

Our last survey covers the first quarter of 2017, from January to March, and we’re delighted to say that we have received excellent reviews and comments from our students. The full details are shown below, but, briefly, 100% of our students either agree or strongly agree that their English has improved after studying here, 100% like our teaching style and 96% of our students would recommend us.

 

Some students added comments. A representative sample of these is shown below.

Great method for teaching. Kind. Very good! Thanks! (Colombia)

Great and fun. (Spain)

The best! (Thailand)

Very friendly teachers and helpful office staff. ( Switzerland)

I am very satisfied with all the teachers. (Russia)

I really love the Global staff. Global School is the best school in Edinburgh. Great prices, great teaching and an amazing staff! (Italy)