March, April and May are some of the sunniest months in Edinburgh with the least rainfall. There may be a winter chill in the air but spring is definitely one of the best seasons to get out and explore the cities streets and parks.
The city is in full bloom
Spring is one of the rare occasions to see Edinburgh’s beautiful cherry blossom trees in full bloom. Take a walk through the Meadows and enjoy a flurry of pink petals in the sunshine.
It’s not too busy
Spring is still well before the mega tourist influx August so you can enjoy the city’s best attractions without having to queue (as much).
There is plenty to do
The International Science Festival, the Hidden Door Festival and World Whisky Day all take place before the summer months arrive.
And lastly… you can see the spectacular Beltane Fire Festival
The Beltane Fire Festival event takes place every year on the 30th April and celebrates the beginning of the summer season. This ancient Gaelic pagan tradition involves dazzling fire displays and (probably quite cold) painted performers. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime spectacle!
If you want to make real progress in your target language, it’s important to practice it regularly. The best way to do this is by doing things you enjoy doing in your native language. If you are a busy person, it’s also great to be able to learn by doing something that doesn’t feel like work.
Here are some ideas for fun things that will help you improve:
1. Listen to a radio station in your target language
You can listen to radio stations from all over the world online, so it’s easy to find one you enjoy listening to. Plus, if you listen to stations from different regions, you can experience a range of accents and cultural variations.
Tip: the TuneIn app (www.tunein.com) lets you access international stations from your smartphone or tablet.
2. Watch videos on YouTube
You can find countless videos on virtually any topic on YouTube, so it should be easy to find something you like in your target language. By practising this way, you can also choose the level of difficulty based on the content you watch. For example, one person speaking for the whole video against a blank wall can be more difficult to understand that a more visual video where you can actually see the things they are talking about.
Tip: Make sure someone is speaking in the video (you won’t learn by watching funny videos of cats!)
3. Watch a soap or TV series
If your favourite shows are normally dubbed in your native language, you can watch the original versions in your target language or vice versa.
Watching soaps gives you an insight into the kind of dialogue used in everyday life and there are many great, addictive TV shows that will encourage you to keep watching and improving your language skills.
4. Read a book or watch a film in your target language
If you are under an Advanced level, it may be best to read or watch something you already know the story of as this makes it easier to understand the plot and guess vocabulary.
Reading a series like the Harry Potter books can be a great motivator as you will be able to see your improvement in the language with every book.
5. Change the language setting on your smartphone and social media
Surrounding yourself with your target language in your everyday life is one of the best ways to improve. Even if you are not in a country where the language is spoken, changing the settings on your smartphone and social media can help you to feel more immersed if you use them regularly.
Tip: try speaking with voice-activated applications like Siri to see how much they understand when you speak in your target language
6. Make friends online
Using chatrooms can be a good way to practice your target language if you don’t have the chance to do it in real life. The language is informal and close to real-life speech but it can contain a lot of spelling errors and abbreviations.
Tip: speak to people on Skype to practice your spoken language skills
7. Listen to music
By listening to songs in your target language, you can enjoy new music and practice your listening skills at the same time.
Tip: read the lyrics to the song so you can have a better understanding of the meaning and improve your reading skills
8. Do an exercise video
This way you can practice your target language and get fit at the same time! It’s also a great way to pick up some new vocabulary as you learn by listening, watching and copying.
9. Speak to yourself
Say or think what you are doing in your target language as you go about your day. Try to make up sentences such as, ‘I am washing the plates’ or ‘I will meet my friend for lunch later’. This will get you used to thinking in your target language and is a good way of identifying any vocabulary you need to learn.
10. Go on holiday
This is a great motivator to study your target language seriously in the weeks and months before your trip. Try to practice as you are booking the holiday, e.g. contact hotels, arrange transport, and organise guided tours in your target language.
Tip: avoid using travel agents or booking package tours that operate in your native language.
We are very excited to launch our new format for our evening English courses. This new format has been designed for people with a busy schedule. The class will take place once a week from 18:00 to 20:00 and costs only £130 per term!
Speaking another language can open the door to a new world. We already know of famous actors who learned English to break into Hollywood, but many celebrities continue to surprise us with their impressive language skills. Here is a list of celebrities who can speak multiple languages:
Mark Zuckerberg can speak Chinese
Last year Mark Zuckerberg surprised and delighted audiences at a university in Shanghai by speaking and answering questions in Mandarin and, this year, he and his wife wished a Happy Lunar New Year in the language.
Gwyneth Paltrow is fluent Spanish
Gwyneth fell in love with the Spanish language and culture when she travelled to Spain as a teenager and has been speaking the language ever since.
Ben Affleck speaks Spanish
As a teenager, Ben Affleck spent a year living in Mexico with his brother, Casey. Since then, he has been able to put his language skills to good use, especially when filming in Spanish-speaking locations.
Shakira speaks Portuguese English and Italian
Aside from her native Spanish, Shakira can speak three languages. She learned Portuguese after touring Brazil at the beginning of her career and perfected her English skills while she had an American boyfriend. She learned Italian just for fun but likes to practice whenever she is able to visit Italy.
Bradley Cooper speaks almost fluent French
After being inspired by an actor speaking French in ‘Chariots of Fire’, Bradley Cooper was inspired to study French. He spent six months studying in France whilst living with a French family and has kept up his language skills ever since.
Colin Firth speaks Italian
When Colin Firth met his wife, Italian film producer Livia Giuggioli, he decided to learn Italian as a romantic gesture.
Diane Kruger is fluent in English and French
As well as her native German, Diane Kruger speaks fluent English and French. She learned English through studying in the UK via student exchange programmes and started speaking French when she moved to Paris at the age of 15.
Will Smith speaks Spanish
Will Smith has been giving Spanish-language interviews since 2000 and is received praise for his Spanish-speaking role in the movie, Seven Pounds.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt speaks French
The actor studied French poetry at Colombia University and still gives occasional interviews in French.
Tom Hiddleston speaks French, Spanish and Greek
The Avengers actor is a fan of learning languages and can often be heard giving interviews in Spanish, French and Greek.
Natalie Portman is fluent in Hebrew and also speaks Spanish, German, French and Japanese
The actress was born in Jerusalem and grew up speaking both Hebrew and English but she also speaks Spanish, French, Japanese, German and Spanish to different levels.
Originally the word Ceilidh (kay-lee) descended from the Gaelic word for ‘gathering’ or ‘party’… However, these days when people think of a Ceilidh, they think of a fun-filled night of wild dancing, good music and great company!
A ceilidh is a Scottish social event which involves traditional folk music and dancing. You will normally come across ceilidhs on special occasions such as weddings, birthdays and anniversaries. However, there are several venues across Edinburgh and Scotland which regularly host ceilidhs all year round such as Summerhall and the Ghillie Dhu.
To start this article we’d like to have you in the mood. Here is a super nice video that you can play in the background while reading to feel the Sottish spirit.
How does this Ceilidh thing work?
So one of the band members walks us through each dance. He explains each part of it until it seems like we understand. We try it once without music before doing it “full out”. Then, the music starts, he gives us the cue so we all start at the same time and you just hope you remember the moves! Each dance lasts between 5 and 10 minutes. The dance moves aren’t really hard, you just have to remember them!
Here’s an example:
Where does Ceilidh come from?
Dating back to 1875, Ceilidh originates from Scotland and Ireland although its name comes from Gaelic; it’s a combination of Scottish, Irish and English folk music.
Ceilidh music and dancing (pronounced “kay-lee” and meaning “visit”) is becoming more and more popular! We are getting a number of enquiries from brides and grooms to be as well as others planning a celebration, requesting a Ceilidh band for their special event. As so many people are asking all about it we thought it would be useful to tell you what it is, where it came from and why it makes an electric party atmosphere with plenty of fizzing excitement!
Traditionally it is a gathering or social event, and it didn’t necessarily involve any dancing. These days a Ceilidh is a sociable way to bring people together involving Scottish music and dance.
Join us every Friday
We go the Ceilidh every Friday >> http://inlingua-edinburgh.co.uk/social-programme
A Ceilidh band normally consists of two or three people, a fiddler, an accordionist and a ‘caller’ to help everyone get into the swing of things and learn the dances. But, line-ups may also include guitarists, drums, keyboards and whistles amongst other instruments.
Nowadays, the music isn’t always traditional either, it can be very contemporary as there are a number of new-style Ceilidh bands bringing a fresh slant on the old folk songs and even putting a twist on current music. This makes it funky, modern and gives you a brand new sound. There’s plenty of rock and roll influence now as well, so if you really want your guests to get down and groove check-out some of Warble Entertainment’s Ceilidh bands – they are absolutely guaranteed to get even the most reluctant dancer strutting their stuff!
Here a wee list of the usual Scottish dances that you can enjoy at a Ceilidh:
– Virginia Reel
– Military Two-Step
– Cumberland Reel
– Flying Scotsman
– Canadian Barndance
– Cumberland Square 8 (the one with the baskets)
– Circassian Circle
– St. Bernard’s Waltz
What is its role in Scottish culture?
Most people in Scotland know how to ceilidh dance. They were taught in gym lessons at school. It is often used to bring together two sides of a family at a wedding to start the party, or as a celebration at a work, Christmas or corporate party.
Who is a Ceilidh Suitable for?
The beauty of a ceilidh or Barn Dance is that everyone can take part, young or old, experienced dancers, to beginners and even those with two left feet! No experience is necessary! It doesn’t matter what age, ability or personality type a person is – everyone loves to get involved and no experience is necessary! It is very easy to pick up.
The dances are all varied and there are plenty of paces available, fast, slow and even mid-tempo – so if some of the dances are hard to keep up with that’s your cue to take a break and perhaps enjoy a glass of champagne or wine before you get involved again. Party-goers love the flexibility of a Ceilidh because you may get moving when you want and take a break when your feet can’t keep up any more.
If you ever get the chance to go to a Ceilidh, don’t hesitate and just go! This will be the best memory of your time in Scotland! It may seem intimidating to go to a Ceilidh, but don’t worry if you don’t know the moves, somebody will help you!
Ceilidhs are a lot of fun and they play a regular part in our social programme, so you will have plenty of time to practice once you’re here!