France and friendly Scotland

Global School of English has recently enjoyed the company of another group of French students from the Business School at Strasbourg University.  The students, all around 18 years old, have been with us from 14thJanuary and will leave on 20thMarch to return to France. For all of them, it was the first time they have visited Scotland.

I caught up with them in a break in one of their lessons and we discussed a wide range of things, from their opinion of Edinburgh and Scotland to which football teams in France have the biggest rivalry.

The latter was interesting (it’s PSG and Olympique de Marseille if you want to know) but I was more keen to find out what they all made of Edinburgh.  As there were 10 students and my French is limited to “Oui” and “Non,” I was pleased to discover that their English was pretty good.  I was equally pleased to find out what they thought of Scotland.  Here are a few of their comments:

“Edinburgh is a new city for me. It’s interesting and friendly.”

“It’s very friendly. You can talk to anyone and they’ll speak with you.”

“The weather is a bit wet.” (no surprise in March!)

“It’s beautiful, very beautiful.”

“The pubs here are much better than in France.  In Edinburgh, everyone is very friendly and will speak to anyone, but in France you go to a bar with your friends and just talk to them.”

“Much more friendly than England.”

“We went to the pub to watch the France v Scotland rugby match.  We stood to sing La Marseille (the French national anthem) and everyone loved it and showed us so much respect.  There seems to be a lot of respect between people in Scotland.”

“French food is better than Scottish food.”*

“A big surprise for me was the number of monuments and statues and the history of the city.”

“We all like fish and chips!”

“Learning English is very important for business.”

That last comment was one that several of the group made.  They are all business students. I asked them what they want to do when they graduate and while many do not know yet, quite a few of them want to start their own businesses.  Famously, a US President^ said “the French have no word for “entrepreneur,” but in this case he could not have been more wrong!

Interview, Alastair Blair

*       Scottish food is good, but to be fair, the French have a superb reputation for quality food!

^       George W Bush.

My Experience at Global School of English

I found the lessons at GSE to be well prepared and structured. The teachers are conscientious and are able to respond to the needs of individual students and adapt lessons accordingly. This ability to prepare seriously and adapt spontaneously is, in my opinion, the sign of teaching efficiency. At the beginning of the class the lesson aim is written on the board, which is separated into three parts; one for new vocabulary, one for pronunciation and one for the lesson content. The board is also used to highlight common mistakes students make, and have to self-correct. I think it’s an effective system to identify what we need to work on.

I think the teaching system in the school has the right balance between, speaking, reading and listening.Perhaps the writing system could appear a little boring at first glance, however it’s not the case. A topic is given and we have ten minutes to write about it. Then we count the number of words, and we are able to compare our improvement every day. We also have some time to check and correct our mistakes.

Another exercise I particularly enjoyed was a presentation exercise: PechaKucha. The topic is open, and it requires lot of work, but without any work there isn’t any improvement. It’s a good exercise to improve fluency. When we learn new vocabulary, we have to make sentences with the new words, which gives us the possibility to properly check our understanding.

The staff also have a good attitude when faced with extenuating circumstances, and they can adapt quickly. This shows without a doubt the efficiency of the staff at GSE. My two weeks here were a great experience and I am happy to be returning to the school in a few months.

Daniel Daras
(seen, on the right in the photo above, chatting to one of our teachers).

Mon expérience à la Global School of English

J’ai trouvé que les leçons chez GSE étaient bien préparées et structurées. Les enseignants sont consciencieux et capables de répondre aux besoins de chaque élève et d’adapter les leçons en conséquence. Cette capacité à se préparer sérieusement et à s’adapter spontanément est, à mon avis, le signe d’une efficacité pédagogique. Au début de la classe, l’objectif de la leçon est écrit au tableau, qui est séparé en trois parties; un pour le nouveau vocabulaire, un pour la prononciation et un pour le contenu de la leçon. Le tableau est également utilisé pour mettre en évidence les erreurs courantes que les élèves commettent et qu’ils doivent corriger d’eux-mêmes. Je pense que c’est un système efficace pour identifier ce sur quoi nous devons travailler.

Je pense que le système d’enseignement de l’école a le bon équilibre entre, parler, lire et écouter. Le système d’écriture pourrait peut-être paraître un peu ennuyeux au premier abord, mais ce n’est pas le cas. Un sujet est donné et nous avons dix minutes pour écrire sur ce sujet. Ensuite, nous comptons le nombre de mots, et nous sommes en mesure de comparer notre amélioration chaque jour. Nous avons également du temps pour vérifier et corriger nos erreurs.

Un autre exercice que j’ai particulièrement apprécié est un exercice de présentation: Pecha Kucha. Le sujet est ouvert et demande beaucoup de travail, mais sans travail, il n’y a aucune amélioration. C’est un bon exercice pour améliorer la fluidité à l’oral. Lorsque nous apprenons un nouveau vocabulaire, nous devons faire des phrases avec les nouveaux mots, ce qui nous permet de vérifier correctement notre compréhension.

Le personnel a également une bonne attitude face aux circonstances atténuantes et peut s’adapter rapidement. Cela montre sans aucun doute l’efficacité du personnel de GSE. Mes deux semaines ici ont été une expérience formidable et je suis heureux de pouvoir revenir à l’école dans quelques mois.

Daniel Daras
(vu, à gauche sur la photo ci-dessus, en train de bavarder avec l’un de nos professeurs).

This visit to Edinburgh will certainly improve our English

Iryna Mateychenko Iryna Mateychenko (pictured here with Duncan Fitzhowie, Director of Studies at Global School) is the Group Leader for a small number of young teenagers from Kharkiv, the second largest city in Ukraine. Although Iryna has been to Scotland twice before, none of the students have, although one girl has been to England.   They are here for one week only, but she kindly spared a little bit of her time to chat about Edinburgh, the School, the food and (or course!) the Scottish weather.

The first thing I’ve got to say is that the School has been very welcoming.  We have a mixed-ability group in terms of their level of English – some are intermediate and some pre-intermediate – but location of the School in the heart of the city centre is excellent and the staff are friendly and professional. While it’s obviously not possible to master a language in just one week, this visit will certainly improve the kids’ English and they learn so much more just by being here.  As well as improving our English, we have done lots of cultural things, been to Edinburgh Castle and Stirling Castle, and discovered just how interesting a place this is and how much variety there is here. Edinburgh is very different from Kharkiv, but then it’s also different from Newcastle, London, Brighton and the other English cities I’ve been to in the past. 

“The students have also noted how friendly all the people are in Edinburgh.  In my opinion, this is one of the city’s (and the School’s) biggest strengths and it sets Edinburgh apart from most big cities in England. I had noticed this during my previous visits to Scotland – whatever you ask, someone will help – and the kids have been similarly impressed by how nice everyone is to them.

“The food it not the same as we have in Ukraine and that’s taken a bit of getting used to and although they don’t complain they also say that we have more salads at home, there is no cheese for breakfast in Scotland and they would prefer more mashed potatoes than chips. However, they haven’t tried your famous fish and chips– perhaps that will change their minds!

“The weather is also different from at home.  I think we have had what you call “four seasons in one day” for a few days in a row!  We don’t normally have snow, rain and sunshine all within 24 hours.  

“Overall though, this is a great city for a group looking to improve their English.

Everything is fine, well organised and I wish we could be here for longer – perhaps in the summer.  The kids have definitely had a good time and will leave with a positive impression.  I think we’ll be back!

Interview by Alastair Blair