January 2011 issue

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Scotland’s dramatic scenery

A warm and friendly people and magnificent unspoilt scenery await students interested in studying English in Scotland. With an excellent reputation for education it gives neighbouring England a run for its money. Jane Vernon Smith reports.

With its wild and rugged coastlines and its mountainous interior, Scotland is a place where you are never far from nature. Even in its major cities, you are never more than a short journey away from some of the UK’s most beautiful and dramatic scenery.

Take Aberdeen, for instance. According to Malcolm Davidson, Marketing Coordinator at International House, Aberdeen (formerly English for Everyone), this is a small, lively and friendly place, with arguably the best access to the dramatic Scottish hinterland of any of Scotland’s major cities. “Within 10 minutes from the town centre, you can be out in the countryside taking in the stunning mountain scenery, or the spectacular coastlines,” he points out.

For lovers of outdoor pursuits, there are, he notes, countless walking and hiking possibilities, ranging from a gentle walk through the rolling hills of the Dee Valley, or a mountain-climbing expedition in the Highlands. In the winter, it’s also an excellent base for skiing, boasting five winter ski-resorts within driving distance of Aberdeen, with slopes to suit all levels. Furthermore, “Scotland is the home of golf, and, for golf lovers, there are few better destinations,” he declares. “With 45 golf courses within easy reach of Aberdeen, you could play on a different course every week of the year.”

Focusing on the city itself, Aberdeen boasts two universities, and is, says Davidson, a prosperous and cosmopolitan city, with excellent shopping and dining opportunities, as well as a lively cultural and nightlife. “What I really like about Aberdeen is its rich history, which is reflected in the unique and bold architecture throughout the city,” he enthuses. “Possibly the only city in the world to be built almost entirely from granite, Aberdeen is an imposing and unusual sight for the first-time visitor. From the grand Victorian and Georgian granite buildings of the city centre, to the quaint and atmospheric cobbled streets of Old Aberdeen, this city never fails to make an impression.”

The International House school is itself located in an elegant Georgian-period townhouse in the heart of the city, with “the bustling commercial main thoroughfare, Union Street, on one side, and the charming, cobble-stoned Belmont Street and Back Wynd behind it, home to a variety of independent cafés, pubs and shops”.

“IH Aberdeen was a huge surprise for me,” relates Davidson. “It was unlike any school I had worked at before. I was impressed immediately by the warm and welcoming atmosphere. It’s a small, friendly, family-run school with a hugely supportive team of highly experienced staff always on hand to help teachers and students alike,” he comments.
At the heart of the country, Scotland’s largest city of Glasgow is known for a number of attributes, according to Jackie Furneaux of city-based language school, Live Language, including “its interesting and eclectic range of architecture, its shopping facilities and its music scene”.

In terms of architecture, she points out, you can see many different influences throughout the city. “Charles Rennie MacKintosh is one of the most famous of Glasgow’s sons, and there is plenty to do and see relating to MacKintosh and his contemporaries,” she notes. “The Lighthouse Museum has a permanent exhibition dedicated to his work. The Glasgow School of Art is [among] his most famous work, as well as the House for an Art Lover and the Hill House in Helensburgh.”

There are also many interesting buildings in the city centre, illustrating its rich architectural heritage from the Victorian era and earlier. Among them is Live Language’s own premises, which occupies three floors in an old Victorian town house. “Live Language is in a perfect location within the city of Glasgow,” comments Furneaux. “On the one hand, we are only 10 minutes walk from the trendy, vibrant, cool West End, yet only 10 minutes walk from the centre of Glasgow. So you can even shop in your lunch-break, in between classes.” She adds, “We are situated next to Kelvingrove Park, where students and staff often play football against each other, or one of the other schools in Glasgow, or they can just relax on the grass and take in the atmosphere of the park and its goings-on.”

The school is also convenient for visiting the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, which is, according to Furneaux, the largest civic museum and art gallery in the UK with collections of international importance. “A must-see for anyone visiting Glasgow, this free-entry attraction hosts an outstanding collection of paintings and natural history… My personal favourite piece is the museum’s curator’s reconstruction of what a haggis might look like. See if you can spot it in the Scotland section of the museum,” she suggests.

Also worth a visit is the Glasgow Science Centre. “It has something for everyone,” according to Furneaux, including three floors of interactive science activities and educational facilities, and an iMax theatre showing films in 3-D, with wraparound sound. Next door is the Glasgow Tower, which can rotate 365 degrees on a single axis, thanks to its unique engineering, and is a great place to go for an aerial view of the city, she recommends.

Music-wise, Furneaux adds, Glasgow has been nominated Europe’s Secret Capital of Music by Time Magazine, and, she highlights, “the city has a legendary music scene that stretches across the whole spectrum from contemporary and classical to Celtic and country. Its venues are equally varied, with an average of 130 music events each week.”
Peter Niklewicz from Into Scotland at Glasgow Caledonian University says that Glasgow was voted one of the top 10 cities of the world in the Lonely Planet Guide for 2009. “Students can get involved in a wide range of social events and trips around Scotland,” says Niklewicz “Excursions to Edinburgh castle, the Wallace Monument in Stirling, Loch Lomond and cycling around the beautiful Isle of Cumbrae are the norm for Into Scotland students.”

All the charms of Scotland’s outdoors also lie within easy reach – not least, the famous Loch Lomond, with its many possibilities for canoeing, boat trips and even a flight in the Loch Lomond Seaplane, offering a bird’s eye view of the spectacular scenery – as well as the national capital, Edinburgh.

Located less than 50 miles east of Glasgow, Edinburgh is a relatively small city, but one which offers all the amenities of a larger one, according to Suzanne Grossman, Sales and Marketing Executive at Regent Edinburgh. For Richie Morgan, Marketing Director at EAC Language Centres, “Edinburgh is a fabulous mix of culture and tradition.” As he explains, “Scottish dance and music are a big part of our culture [and] EAC organises ceilidh dances for the students. These are traditional Scottish dances accompanied by violin and accordion music. The dancers follow instructions called out by the band-leader, and dance in pairs or small groups.” The school also arranges evening excursions to a local folk music club, where students can enjoy traditional Scottish music. And, in the past, says Morgan, it has also even organised bagpipe lessons for students!

Another of Edinburgh’s charms, according to Grossman, is that “it is filled with architecturally and aesthetically beautiful buildings.” Indeed, all three Edinburgh schools mentioned are housed within historic city centre buildings. EAC is spread over five floors of a high-ceilinged Georgian building, situated just five minutes from central Princes Street. Overlooking Queen Street Gardens, it enjoys views across the Firth of Forth to the Fife coast from the top floor. Just a few minutes walk away in the heart of Edinburgh’s so-called New Town, and close to major bus routes is European Communication Services (ECS). Here, says spokesperson, Laura McKinlay, “teaching takes place in an A-listed eighteenth century building, which maintains many of its original features, such as the fireplaces, staircase and doorways.” Regent Edinburgh also enjoys a central location in “a beautiful Georgian building over four floors”, and most tourist attractions are within walking distance, as Grossman points out.

Although Edinburgh is a small city, there is never a shortage of things to see and do, according to Morgan. Tourist attractions within the city include the imposing castle, the Royal Yacht, Britannia (moored at Leith), Holyrood Palace, the Whisky Heritage Centre and the Botanic Gardens, whose glass houses “are lovely, a perfect tropical retreat during the winter months,” notes McKinlay.

Beyond the city centre, there are many other attractions, as Sarah Gore from Stevenson College in Edinburgh highlights. “If you are a fan of islands but only have a short time available, you can always take the bus to Cramond Village – 30 minutes from Edinburgh city centre – and if the tide is out you can walk approximately 1km across the causeway to Cramond Island. You can have a picnic with a view of the famous Forth Rail Bridge but make sure you walk back across before the tide comes in.”

“Another lovely walk,” McKinlay recommends, “is along the Water of Leith, departing from Stockbridge and passing through the Dean Village and entering the grounds of the Modern Art Gallery through the back gate. You forget you are still in the heart of the town, when wandering along the leafy path by the river.”

Of course, the popular sport of golf is never far away. The city itself boasts six good-quality, inexpensive, public golf courses, according to McKinlay, with another 25 within half an hour’s travel. “It is easy and practical for students to participate in English classes in the mornings, and then head off for a round of golf in the afternoon,” she comments. “It is also possible to organise a round of golf with a one-to-one English teacher, so you can not only improve your swing, but your speaking and listening skills at the same time.”

Agent viewpoint

“The clients I placed [in] Scotland in the last two years appreciated [the] Scottish countryside and natural beauty, particularly Edinburgh. They found it nicer and more peaceful than London. Those of them who took courses in summer liked the festivals, when Edinburgh becomes [a] more vibrant city. Students also found Scottish people more friendly.”
Karel Melzmuf, English Language Consultancy, Czech Republic

“Students from Iran have found Scotland to be a beautiful country, with stunning sights, wonderful wildlife and friendly people. They enjoy coming to Glasgow, as it is Scotland’s only true metropolitan city. Glasgow displays a perfect blend of modern and historical architecture; the Clyde Auditorium (Armadillo) and Victorian-style Kelvingrove Art Gallery are great examples of this mix. Glasgow is culturally diverse, and lives up to its reputation for being a friendly city. The students have found it very easy to settle in here. You can’t get bored in Glasgow, there is so much to do!”
Ali Salamati, Oxfordian Higher Education Consultants, UK (inbound)

“[Students] absolutely love the ultimate hospitality experience in a Scottish host family. They like the way of life…and the humour of the Scots. They like hiking and visiting the Highlands. They love the rough cliffs and the mystic atmosphere in and around Edinburgh. [They comment on] the Scottish humour, and how easy-going the Scots are. They are extremely helpful…you will never feel alone in Scotland. The Swiss love the way they express their positive thinking in their music – and almost every Scot can sing!”
Claudio Cesarano, GloboStudy, Switzerland

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The following language schools, associations and accommodation providers advertised in the latest edition of Language Travel Magazine. If you would like more information on any of these advertisers, tick the relevant boxes, fill out your details and send.






International House
      World Organisation  
MEI Ireland  
Quality English  

Alphe Conferences  
IALC International  


Dr. Walter GmbH  

LTM Digital  
Student Marketing  

Malta Tourism

Twin Group  

Bond University  
English Australia  
Impact English
Language Studies
Pacific Gateway
      International College  
Perth Education
Shafston International
English Language &
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University of New
      South Wales  
University of

Banff Education
College Platon  
Global Village  
ILSC - International
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       of Canada  
MWS Student
      Camps International
Richmond School
      District #38  
School District
      No.42 Maple Ridge
      & Pitt Meadows  
Vancouver English

Active Learning  
Bell International  
      Education Group -
Camp Beaumont  
English Studio  
Hampstead School
      of English  
Harrow House
Hove College  
      House London  
International House
      World Organisation
INTO University
King's Colleges
Language Studies
London School
      of Business &
Malvern House
      College London 
Millfield School 
Quality English 
Queen Ethelburga's
Sedbergh School  
St Giles Colleges  
Study Group  
Twin Group  
University of
      Essex -

International House
      Berlin - Prolog  

MEI Ireland  

      Language School
Malta Tourism

Otago Polytechnic  

EAC Language
      Centres and
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Live Language  
University of
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      Spanish Courses  
Malaga Si  

EF Language
      Colleges Ltd  

ELS Language
UC Berkeley
University of
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Zoni Language

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