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.
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!”
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.
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
Just like many other parts of the world, here in Scotland we have lots of wedding traditions. A few of the best known are the “Scramble,” where after the wedding has taken place, and as the bride is about to get into her wedding car, her father will throw a handful of coins for any watching children to scramble for, which just means they rush around excitedly trying to collect as much money as possible. This is supposed to bring financial luck to the newly married couple.
Another Scottish wedding tradition, more common in the east of the country than in the west, is for the bride to have her feet washed, either by a woman who has been married for a long time or by her friends, using water in which the long-married woman has dropped her wedding ring. There is also an equivalent tradition for the bridegroom, where he has his legs blackened with coal or soot and water. Sometimes, if he’s really unlucky, he’s made to sit in a tub of water too!
This is definitely one of the most peculiar Scottish activities! Tossing the caber is one of the sports that take place at a Highland Games event. If you come to study here during our summer you may be able to go to a Highland Games. Highland Games, which originated in the Scottish Highlands and are now celebrated all over the world, are a wonderful day out, involving Highland dancing, bagpipe music and various athletic events. We’ll write about Highland Games in another blog soon.
Tossing the caber is a ‘heavyweight’ sport. It’s for large, very strong men, who have to pick up and then ‘toss’ a long, very heavy wooden pole, called a caber. In fact, it’s a tree trunk that has been cut and had the branches trimmed off it. The length of the caber can be from 16 feet to 22 feet (about 4.8 – 6.7 metres). One end is trimmed so that it’s slightly smaller than the other.
The caber is held upright and the thrower cups his hands under the end and lifts it up vertically, before ‘tossing’ it forwards. It’s not a question of throwing it as far as you can: you also have to try to ‘toss’ it so it goes in a straight line in front of you (imagine it going straight out like 12.00 on a clock). Marks are awarded for how straight you toss it. The distance it goes is not actually important and no marks are awarded for this.
It’s also very difficult, as this YouTube video, from a Highland Games in Nova Scotia in Canada, shows!
A warm welcome to Jocelyn Lin
– our new Agent from Taiwan!
Although we know that a lot of our students Google us and find out more information about the School from our website, we also know that a lot of our students come to us from agents in their home countries. That’s why we are always pleased when we start to work with a new agent.
Andrew Lennox, the School’s President, recently met with Jocelyn Lin, our latest agent in Taiwan, in our Edinburgh office.
Jocelyn told Andrew, “Please accept my great gratitude for all your kind help. I do appreciate it and am very much looking forward to co-operating with you and your Schools.”
Thank you Jocelyn – we are really looking forward to working with you and we hope that we’ll see some students arriving from Taiwan to study at our Schools in Scotland in the very near future.
Most people who come to study at Global School of English know that haggis is the one food for which Scotland is most famous. For those who don’t know, a haggis (several haggis are pictured here) is a sort-of sausage, a minced mixture of sheep heart, lung, oatmeal and seasoning wrapped in a sheep’s stomach. It’s definitely not suitable for vegetarians, but for those who do eat meat it is very tasty indeed. However, not many of our students know that we do other things as well as eat it!
Haggis hurling is exactly what it sounds like – hurling (throwing) a haggis. Although it has been claimed to be an ancient ‘sport’, in reality it is a modern invention, going back to the 1970s when an advert was placed in a newspaper at the time of the Gathering of the Clans (historic family groups under the same name, such as the Clan MacLeod or the Clan Campbell) in Edinburgh. This advert announced a ‘revival’ of the ancient Scottish sport of haggis hurling. The intention was simply to see who can throw a haggis the furthest.
Nowadays, there is even a World Haggis Hurling Championship, with all the money earned going to charity. The ‘sport’ has strict rules: the haggis must be cooked and of a specific weight; it must be inspected to make sure it is a proper haggis, with all the traditional ingredients; and when it has been thrown it must remain intact when it lands.
The most recent annual competition took place in Ayrshire, south of Glasgow, at the place where Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns, was born. This year it was in January and a new world record was set, as you can see in this YouTube video. Haggis hurling has become famous in different countries, with Canada and Australia also holding competitions. Even if you don’t manage to see haggis hurling competition taking place when you are studying in Scotland, you should (unless you are a vegetarian or vegan), try to eat it at least once when you are here!
The town of Moffat in the Scottish Borders (south of Edinburgh and Glasgow and north of the border with England) has a long-standing association with sheep. The hills around Moffat have lots of farms with lots of sheep and there is even a huge statute of a ram (a male sheep) in the town’s Market Place.
A few years ago, it was decided to have an annual sheep race through the streets of the town and this has proved so popular that many visitors come to see it. As well as the sheep race, which you can see on this YouTube video, there is a farmers’ market where local produce is sold.
The sheep race with knitted jockeys on their backs and there are several races held before the winners in each of these compete in a Grand Final. The ‘jockeys’ are very colourful creations, as you can see in the video. Some people place bets on which sheep they think will win (which we think must be a real lottery!) and the whole event is a great day out.
This year’s Sheep Race is being held on Sunday the 13th of August and you can find more details on the official website and Facebook page. If you would like to go to see the Sheep Race, it only takes about an hour and half to travel to Moffat from Edinburgh by road.
Most people across the world know the Mars Bar (see picture above). It was “invented” in 1932, in the town of Slough, England, by an American called Forrester Mars. Since then it has become one of the most popular snack bars or sweets (or candy bars as the Americans call them) in the world.
People in Scotland are famous for having a “sweet tooth” (this means we like sweet, sugary foods) so Mars Bars are very popular here. However, in 1995, a fish and chip* shop in Stonehaven, in north-east Scotland, decided to deep-fry Mars Bars and sell them to customers. This means coating the Mars Bar in batter (a mixture of flour, eggs and milk) and then frying them under very hot fat or oil (see picture below).
Although these Deep Fried Mars Bars attracted a lot of publicity in local newspapers they never really became very popular until they began to attract the attention of big newspapers and TV stations. The combination of sugar, chocolate and deep-frying means that they are VERY unhealthy (and very sweet and sticky). You can get them at a number of fish and chip shops, especially in Edinburgh, and while we wouldn’t actually recommend them, one probably will not do you too much harm. However, depending on your religion, be aware that some fish and chip shops use beef fat to deep-fry their products.
* If you haven’t had fish and chips, most of our students all love them!