St Valentine comes to Scotland

Although obviously a Christian Saint, St Valentine’s Day is celebrated in many non-Christian 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 relics (bones/mortal remains) are – probably – in Glasgow? Glasgow is only about 50 minutes away from Edinburgh by train and it is a very big city with a lot of things to see, including the box containing St Valentine!

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.

What do (French) students think of Global School of English?

It’s very important to language schools like ours to make sure that every aspect of our service – the teaching, naturally, but also accommodation, food, course materials, etc. – is of a very high standard.

We do surveys every three months, but we don’t have many opportunities to get feedback from a number of individuals sent from the same partner agency such as Nacel our partner in France, so when we received a report from the Nacel agency we were interested to see what they said.

They marked us against a number of different categories: rooms, comfort, food, the course, the teaching methods, the course materials and organisation plus the information provided by the School. We were scored out of a maximum of five for each category and the results were as follows:

  • Accommodation – 4.64
  • Room – 4.55
  • Comfort – 5.00
  • Food – 4.91
  • Course – 4.73
  • Method – 4.91
  • Materials – 4.55
  • Organisation – 4.73
  • Information – 4.64

In addition, some of the individual comments were particularly pleasing. Some representative comments from the students are shown below:

“A big thank you to my host family who were really great.”

“My host family gave me an extremely friendly welcome and the organisation of the school and the family was perfect. It was difficult to leave.”

“I had a good stay.”

“everything runs perfectly well.”

Finally, Aurélie Boudon from Nacel told us in an email, “The mark is really excellent, congratulations!!  Please thank all your team!! Very good job regarding homestays too!”

Duncan Fitzhowie, Director of Studies, Global School of English

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.”

 

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.

 

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 and each letter is only used 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 don’t be surprised if  you see someone eating lots of lentils at New Year!

 

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 Global School of English – we’d be delighted to see you and it could be one of the best decisions you’ve ever made!

 

 

What does, “the proof of the pudding is in the eating” mean?

The English expression, “the proof of the pudding is in the eating” means that, even if it looks very nice, until you have tried something for yourself it is impossible to know whether it is any good.

This applies not just to puddings but also to English language schools. That’s why, every term, we always ask our students for their feedback on Global School of English. For our third term of 2017, from July to September, the results are, we are delighted to report, extremely good.

There are three statistics we would particularly like to highlight. Firstly, 100% of those who gave us feedback said that they like the friendliness of the School. This is very important to us: we want our students to enjoy their time in Scotland and to feel welcome here.

Secondly, 99% of our students would recommend the School. That reflects the third, and most important, statistic; that 99% agree or strongly agree that their English has improved as a result of studying with us. That really is the proof of the pudding!

You can see the table with all the results below. If you are thinking of studying English in the UK then we hope that this encourages you to come to Global School of English in Edinburgh.

 

 

 

“We’d heard a lot of good things about Scotland”

Zhenya Komarenko is the leader of small group of Ukranian students who have recently visited Global School of English in Edinburgh. She and her students were here in October and she agreed to meet to tell me about their experience of Scotland and the School.

We began by discussing that most British of subjects – the weather! Zhenya said that they had hoped it would be warm here and, luckily, it was mild and pleasant!

I asked why they had chosen to come to Scotland and Global School and this is what she told me.

“We’d heard a lot of good things about Scotland, especially that it is a beautiful, friendly country. We had been to England twice in the past, once to London and once to another city, but I felt that London is not quite as safe as I’d like and that our students would be better trying Scotland for a change.

“We came to Global School because Study British English Agency, who is based in the UK, recommended it. I’m pleased to say that they were right – it’s been a good experience – nothing bad at all and I’d certainly recommend this school. The programme they have organised for us is excellent and the price is very good too.

“I’ve not visited the lessons, but the kids tell me they love the teachers and the classes are very good, with lots of opportunities to practise their English and the teaching materials are excellent.

“What I really like about Edinburgh is that it’s safe. The kids can go for a walk at lunchtime and I know they’ll be OK. Everyone in the shops and at the tourist attractions is friendly and they try to help you if they see you are struggling to speak English. I also really like the combination of the Old and the New Towns. The views are amazing, even just travelling around the city on a bus.

“We also had a trip up to the Highlands and I really enjoyed that. It’s such a beautiful country and the views are amazing. If you’ve not been here then I really would recommend you come and see for yourself!”

 

 

 

How the Scots taught the world to play 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.

Scotland and the first international football match

Football is the most popular game in the world, played constantly everywhere across the planet. The World Cup, where international football teams compete to be the best, is one of the biggest sporting occasions in the world. Yet did you know that Scotland was where the first official international football match was played?

International football began in Glasgow. On 30th of November 1972, Scotland played England at Hamilton Crescent in the Partick area of the city.   This wasn’t a football ground: it was actually West of Scotland Cricket Club’s pitch! It is shown in the picture here and you can still go and see it today as it’s still used for cricket.

All eleven Scottish players came from Queen’s Park, who were at that time the best club side in Scotland. The English side was selected form nine different clubs. Around 4,000 spectators attended, paying one shilling (5 pence) each to do so.

Scotland had a goal disallowed in the first half when the umpires (there were not modern referees in those days) decided it had gone over the tape that was stretched between the posts (the crossbar that we know today wasn’t invented yet!). When the game ended, the score was 0-0, and international football, as we know it today, had been born.

 

Photo, Chris Upson, Wikipedia