The teachers are very good, especially the way they engage with the students

Uzbek students

Dostonbek Nuraliev and his sister, Shokhsanam Nuralieva (pictured above) live in Uzbekistan, where they run a small but growing education centre and agency.  They are keen to expand their markets and recently spent a week with us at Global School of English in Edinburgh.  I met up with them on the second day of their visit and spent a very enjoyable half an hour listening to their views about Edinburgh and the School.

They have both been to Scotland before (Dostonbek studied at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh), and their other sister has actually studied with us at Global School last year. It was her recommendation that made them want to come and see for themselves.

Shokhsanam told me that she thinks “the teachers are very good, especially the way they engage with the students,” and she particularly liked the fact that the teachers, “as well as helping us improve our vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation, also tell us lots of interesting things about Scotland and its culture.”

Both Dostonbek and Shokhsanam have also been to London, which they enjoyed, but they did say they found that Scotland was a much friendlier place – and also cheaper, especially when, like most students, you only have a little money.  However, it was really the friendliness that impressed Shokhsanam the most.  She said, “I think London is very, very busy, but Edinburgh people are very nice, very helpful and if you ask them anything they will help you.”  Dostonbek added that he thinks Scottish people are more friendly than those in many other countries he has visited, where, he said, “they don’t try to help, but here, in Edinburgh, even the bus drivers say ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’ to the passengers.’

In fact, the public transport generally was another thing they both commented upon, with Dostonbek saying, “The buses are very good, here, very frequent so you don’t have to wait very long, even if you are living on the outskirts of the city.   The public transport system works very well and the cost is good – much less expensive compared to London.”

Finally, I asked Shokhsanam what she would say to any student in Uzbekistan thinking of coming to study in Scotland – Why come to Scotland to learn English?  – She replied, “Everyone knows about the Scottish kilt – although we still think of it as men in skirts! – but you really need to come here to experience the unique culture. There is a lot of ancient history, some big and impressive castles and outstanding architecture.  But most of all, it’s the politeness and friendliness of the people that stand out.”

Interview by Alastair Blair