A boat ride to an island covered in flowers

 

boat ride, english course, edinburghOn the boat ride across the beautiful Lake of Menteith the boatman told us the story of the lake and its famous island. Mary Queen of Scots once took refuge there as a baby. The Abbeyabbey, english course, edinburgh dates from 1238. A wonderfully peaceful island, covered in bluebells.bluebells, english course, edinburgh

abbey, english course, edinburgh

Easter Day

Our Easter Day this year featured a lot of chocolate…

family english course

After eating their chocolate eggs at breakfast time, Naomi and our 9 year old visitor from Sweden found that the Easter Bunny had hidden some more eggs in the garden. He’d done a good job of hiding them, and it took them some time to find them.family english course

 

 

 

 

family english course

 

In the afternoon, we paid a visit to Annie the Donkey, who lives next to Crieff’s glorious bluebell wood.

donkey, family english course

An English learning holiday as a family – a good idea?

donkey, family english course

We run language homestay holidays for children, adults and families. But our family holidays are the most popular. What’s the attraction?

• I want to spend my precious holiday time with the people I care about – my wife/husband and my children.
• Ok, I can manage without my husband for a week or 2 – but my children are definitely coming with me!
• I need to improve my English for work. My children need to improve their English for school.
• If we all go together, I don’t have to worry about the children – I know they’ll be safe and will have a good time.
• My children are too young for a child homestay or language exchange – but they can come on a family homestay with me, and start learning English at the age when it’s easiest to learn (primary school age).
• We’ll be staying with a family. There’ll be lots of opportunity to improve our English outside of lessons – chatting over family meals and on all the trips we’ll go on.
• The lessons are 1 to 1, and will be designed around what each member of our family needs. We can share lessons if we want – it’s the same price for 2 people.
• I can learn business English – designed around my industry and job position.
• My child can learn English at the right level for them. Using fun games, debates, presentations, role plays. Even a complete beginner can make a start. It’s so much more intensive than at school.
• I’ve never been to Scotland. And apparently it’s very beautiful there. Especially the Highlands.
• I’ve always wanted to visit Edinburgh. Now I can.
• My child is obsessed with Harry Potter. He can’t wait to do a Harry Potter tour.
• We can live as part of the family – but I won’t have to do the cooking (unless I really want to…).
• If we want to, we can do activities with the family, like river swimming, badminton, family games, movie night, a local concert.
• We’ll see the beautiful parts of Scotland that tourist buses miss.

Which nationality does best at learning English?

According to the British Council, by 2020 English will be spoken by 2 billion people – over a quarter of the world’s population. It’s the one truly global language – with non-native English speakers far outnumbering those of us who use it as a first language.

Which countries are most successful at teaching English to their citizens? And which trail behind?

The international education company Education First ranks countries according to adults’ English language skills.

I’ve had a look at the most recent list, produced in October 2018.  Which country comes top, and which bottom?

The answer is:

Top: Sweden

Bottom: Libya

It’s no secret that the Scandinavians speak excellent English. But what about other European nationalities?  And does the EF list reflect my experience in hosting English learners at English Language Homestay Scotland, and as an online English teacher?

To date we have hosted homestay visitors from: France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Luxembourg, Russia and Oman. As it happens, our next visitors are from Sweden, but speak Swedish as a second language.

Online I teach students from countries including France, China, Mexico, Brazil, Russia and Greece.

We talk a lot about how they learn English, and how English is taught at school in their countries.

My impressions are confirmed by Education First.

German schools teach English well. They’re helped by the fact that English and German are in the same family of languages – and that English is grammatically easier than German.

France, Spain and Italy have been less successful at producing good English speakers. That may be about to change though.  I’ve been interested to learn from some of our Spanish students that Spain has recently made important changes to its English teaching methods, and that young Spanish children now speak better English than older ones.

So what are those countries’ Education First rankings?

GERMANY – 10

SPAIN – 32

ITALY – 34

FRANCE – 35

This is out of 88 countries.

If you have been let down by your school’s English lessons, and need to improve your English, you’re very welcome to stay with us.  With full English immersion in a friendly family, as many 1:1 English lessons as you need (general and business), and trips and activities in the beautiful Scottish Highlands.  I hope to see you soon!

Our trips – 15 – Whisky Distillery

Whisky distillery - english course, Edinburgh

We’ve visited Crieff’s own Glenturret Whisky Distillery – which claims to be the oldest whisky distillery in Scotland. And there are a lot of them – 109!

Whisky has another name – which is simply Scotch.

To be classed as Scotch Whisky, it must be produced in Scotland and matured in oak casks for a minimum of 3 years. Its 4 ingredients – water, malt, yeast and peat – are refined through fermentation, distillation and finally maturation. Each step having a subtle impact on the overall taste.

So why not try our local whisky – with a guided tour of the distillery, including a whisky tasting.

I can’t show you any internal photos – taking a photo in that environment could cause a fire – but here are some external shots.  The statue of the cat is to commemorate the great Towser – she lived in the distillery for 24 years, catching almost 29,000 mice. She’s the world record holder!

whisky distillery - english course, edinburghwhisky distillery, english course, edinburgh

 

 

 

 

Burns’ Night celebration in Perth

 

Burns' Night in Perth - english language course, scotland

The riverside park in our local large town of Perth was beautifully lit up, in celebration of the birthday of the great Robert Burns.  Burns was Scotland’s greatest poet and songwriter, born  in 1759. He is to Scotland what Shakespeare is to England, and Scots around the world celebrate him on 25th January every year, with performances of his poems and music, as well as traditional Scottish food (the Haggis).

I’ve now become a fan of this group of bagpipe players – the Red Hot Chilli Pipers:

 

Weekend trip

English homestay - Cairngorms
A view of the Cairngorm Mountains

 

For adults and families – why not add a weekend trip to your English language holiday with us?

Last weekend we drove north through the impressive Cairngorms National Park.  You can ski there in season.  We stopped off at a beautiful lake, surrounded by mountains.

Then on to Moray.  It’s a beautiful open landscape, with pine forests and wonderful beaches. We saw some ancient relics left by the Picts (over 1000 years ago), and visited some pretty seaside towns, as well as Elgin with its ancient ruined cathedral.

Moray is only 3 hours from Crieff, and the whole drive is through the wild Scottish countryside. As ever in Scotland, the local people are extremely friendly. We saw a very friendly seal too – it swam right up to the beach, and looked us in the eye.english homestay - Moray

english homesay - Moray

english homestay - Moray

Edinburgh’s Christmas Market

Edinburgh Christmas market - learn English

Christmas is almost here! We went to Edinburgh’s enormous Christmas market yesterday. It’s in the centre of the city, in the park under the beautifully lit up Edinburgh Castle. There are a huge number of beautiful stalls, with lots of things suitable for Christmas presents or souvenirs of your holiday.

Unlike a lot of Christmas markets, this one includes fairground rides, for young children and for teenagers and adults. Naomi chose the scariest one of all – see the photo. There’s a skating rink too.

There’s a big choice of wintery things to eat.  We chose cheese fondue poured into a loaf of bread.  There were pancakes, waffles, grilled salmon, German sausages, and lots more. And of course Gluhwein and British punch.

A great night out. We’ll be making another trip there soon with our New Year visitors.

Edinburgh Christmas market - learn EnglishEdinburgh Christmas Market - learn English

Edinburgh’s Georgian House

Edinburgh, English course
Helena had great fun posing in different costumes from 1800

We visited this 1800 style house last weekend.  Next door is the First Minister’s official residence (she’s the head of the Scottish Government). You can learn about the life of a wealthy family 200 years ago, and try on clothes from that time. Of particular interest to those of us who love Jane Austen’s novels and the TV and film adaptations.

Edinburgh, english course

Edinburgh, learn English

Edinburgh, English course

 

 

 

 

Blair Drummond Safari Park

safari park - english language homestay

We spent an exciting day at this wonderful safari park. This is probably the closest I’ll come to an African safari. We drove past all kinds of animals – including lots of lions, monkeys (some jumped onto cars) and a huge male rhinoceros that came very close to our car.

We spent the rest of the day going to talks by the zoo-keepers, including an impressive diving and leaping display by one of the sea-lions, and flying displays by several of the birds of prey, flying so close to us that we had to duck!  There were elephants, giraffes, zebras, lemurs, penguins, a tiger and lots of other favourites. There were fairground rides, a boat trip and a zip-wire across the river too.  This is now our favourite local day out.

safari park english language homestaysafari park, english language homestay