Read All About It – Improve Your English and Discover Scotland at the Same Time

Read All About It – Improve Your English and Discover Scotland at the Same Time

Learning a new language can be tricky, we all know it. Besides learning grammar rules and studying endless list of vocabulary words by heart, there is no better way to learn than to actually practice. There are many ways to practice a foreign language other than going abroad and talking to locals. If you do not feel ready to talk to other people just yet, you could start by watching movies or reading books in the language you are trying to learn! This will help you improve your receptive skills and put you one step further to mastering the language!

My advice would be to start with a book you have already read in your own language! You will know the story, which will allow you to spend more time on learning new vocabulary and memorizing recurrent grammar structures!

Here are a few suggestions of books featuring Edinburgh or Scotland in general to get you in the Scottish mood!

Outlander, Diana Gabaldon

 

 

How can I write an article about Scotland in literature without mentioning Diana Gabaldon’s series?! Dive into the Outlander books and travel through time and space, visit the Highlands, discover the daily life of 18th century Scotsmen and women, and even learn a few words of Gaelic! Gabaldon certainly does a beautiful job of transporting you all across Scotland.

One Day, David Nicholls

 

 

The novel retraces the intertwined lives of the two protagonists, Emma and Dexter, every year on the same day, July 15, for 20 years. The story begins with the two young students graduating from the University of Edinburgh and follows them throughout adulthood. Fall in love with this story and the city at the same time!

44 Scotland Street, Alexander McCall Smith

 

 

44 Scotland Street is an episodic novel that was first published as a serial in the daily newspaper The Scotsman. Now the series already counts 12 books, of which 44 Scotland Street is the first. The novels tell the story of the tenants of a building located at 44 Scotland Street in New Town, Edinburgh. You will certainly love the humour and the insightful observations about Edinburgh society portrayed through the author’s recurring characters!

Trainspotting, Irvine Welsh

 

 

Scottish writer Irvine Welsh wrote a series of short stories collected in Trainspotting about residents of the Leith neighbourhood in Edinburgh. The story revolves around heroin users, friends of heroin users and people engaging in activities linked to different addictions just as destructive. It has become a worldwide phenomenon and many tourists now walk the streets of Edinburgh retracing the steps of Welsh’s characters.

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Muriel Spark

 

 

First published in The New Yorker magazine, the 1961 novel is now featured on the 2005 list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. The novel follows a young teacher in her ‘prime’ namely, Miss Brodie and the relationships she forges with her pupils. Set in the Edinburgh of the 1930s, it’s certainly a book you do not want to miss!

Get reading and start learning!

Top 5 english Idioms You Should Start Using Right Now (Part 2)

Top 5 english Idioms You Should Start Using Right Now (Part 2)

Learning a new language isn’t just about learning grammar rules and vocabulary. Knowing how to get your message across is already a great start, don’t get me wrong! But there is a way to go one step further and help you sound like a native English-speaking person: idioms.

An idiom is a phrase, an expression or a group of words used together, the meaning of which is not directly understandable from the meaning of the individual words. For example, in the sentence ‘This car cost me an arm and a leg’, I don’t really mean that I exchanged an actual arm and leg for my new car. Here, the phrase ‘an arm and a leg’ means ‘a very high price’. Every language in the world has its own idioms, which often can’t be translated literally to another language. They can be tricky to master but they will definitely help you sound like a native speaker!

Here is a list of 5 frequent idioms of the English language you should start using right now!

Speak of the devil

When you say speak of the devil, it means that the person you were just talking about enters the room you are in.

 

Person A: “Did you know that Patrick just got engaged?!”

Person B: “Speak of the devil! He just came in, let’s go congratulate him!”

Once in a blue moon

When you say that something only happens once in a blue moon, it means that it happens very rarely, almost never.

 

“Since she moved to London, I only see Jane once in a blue moon. She’s just so far away now.”

Add insult to injury

When you add insult to injury, you make a bad situation even worse.

 

“First, they took our free coffee and tea in the break room, and now they just reduced our break time from 15 to 10 minutes. That’s just adding insult to injury!”

A no-brainer

When you say that something is a no-brainer, it means that this decision or choice is really easy to make and quite obvious.

 

Person A: “What should we do for Jane’s birthday?”

Person B: “Well, that’s a no-brainer! Let’s just bring a cake to work on Friday and surprise her!”

To be/sit on the fence

When you are on the fence about something, it means you can’t decide between two different options, you are indecisive.

Person A: “What are you having for lunch”

Person B: “I’m on the fence. I can’t decide between the chicken salad or the soup!”

Let’s Get Tattoed

Let’s Get Tattoed

Pictures by CJCS via Flickr – All rights reserved.

If you’re a fan of the City of Edinburgh, you probably know all about its summer festivals. The Edinburgh Fringe is most probably the world’s largest arts festival and usually runs throughout the entire month of August every year. Among the hundreds of shows offered to the public stands the exceptional Tattoo set-up.

Did I say tattoo? Why, yes indeed! But it might not be exactly what you have in mind. By tattoo, you should understand a military music performance or display of armed forces. The term originated in the 17th-century and comes from the old Dutch phrase “doe den tap toe” which means “turn off the tap”. It refers to the ancient drum signal for tavern owners to stop serving drinks to soldiers at a reasonable enough hour. Later on, the term “tattoo” was used to talk about evening musical entertainment played by soldiers.

During the Edinburgh Festival, the Royal Military Tattoo performs every night in front of up to 8,800 people and brings together performers from over 45 different countries. The show has been taking place since 1950 and now allows around 220,000 lucky spectators to enjoy the live performance every year. It takes place on the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle and combines everything from military music to dance, theatre performances, and even amazing firework displays!

If you’re planning on coming to Edinburgh this summer, don’t miss out on this breath-taking performance. Be sure to book your ticket in advance because they sell like hotcakes every year! It would be a shame not to go, but don’t take my word for it: if you’re still unsure, check out the videos below from previous years!

 

 

 

Top 5 English Idioms You Should Start Using Right Now (Part 1)

Top 5 English Idioms You Should Start Using Right Now (Part 1)

Learning a new language isn’t just about learning grammar rules and vocabulary. Knowing how to get your message across is already a great start, don’t get me wrong! But there is a way to go one step further and help you sound like a native English-speaking person: idioms.

An idiom is a phrase, an expression or a group of words used together, the meaning of which is not directly understandable from the meaning of the individual words. For example, in the sentence ‘This car cost me an arm and a leg’, I don’t really mean that I exchanged an actual arm and leg for my new car. Here, the phrase ‘an arm and a leg’ means ‘a very high price’. Every language in the world has its own idioms, which often can’t be translated literally to another language. They can be tricky to master but they will definitely help you sound like a native speaker!

Here is a list of 5 frequent idioms of the English language you should start using right now!

A piece of cake

When you say that something is a piece of cake, it means that it is very easy.

“The exam was a piece of cake. I got everything right!”

 

To draw the line

 

When you draw the line, you stop and put a limit on something, usually because you feel it isn’t right.

“I’m okay with doing some overtime at work, but there is no way I will work for more than 40 hours per week. This is where I draw the line!”

 

To cry over spilt milk

To cry over spilt milk means to be sad and upset over things from the past you cannot change anymore.

“Stop being upset about what happened last week at the meeting. There’s no point crying over spilt milk. What is done is done.”

 

To be/feel under the weather

When you feel under the weather, it means you are feeling unwell or sick.

“I’m afraid I won’t be coming in to work today. I feel a bit under the weather and I need some rest.”

 

The last straw

When you say that something is the last straw, it means that it is the last in a series of unpleasant events that finally makes you want to change the bad situation you are in.

“This is the last straw! Patrick just asked me to prepare his meeting for him. I cannot accept this situation anymore, things need to change!”

 

 

Edinburgh Craft Beer Festival 2018

Edinburgh Craft Beer Festival 2018

It’s a well-known fact that the City of Edinburgh offers an abundance of festivals all year long to its citizens and countless tourists and May is no exception. A couple of weeks ago, the Leith-situated Biscuit Factory welcomed the second annual Edinburgh Craft Beer Festival. And it delivered!

 

 

The London-based company is all about promoting and celebrating modern beer culture: with some 40 different breweries, around 3,500 visitors over three days, music, DJs and incredible street food, the key word of the weekend was: “discovery”. The organiser, Greg Wells, tells it himself in the preliminary note to this year’s magazine: “Please feel free to try everything on offer. You are a kid in a sweet shop”. … And try, we did!

 

 

With the sunny weather on our side, we entered the festival with smiles on our faces, received our wristbands, magazines and glasses, and boldly made our way into the amazing venue. Take a look at the pictures and videos below for a sneak peak of what was on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

For those who missed this year’s festival, do not despair; the Edinburgh Craft Beer festival WILL be back in June 2019! In the meantime, for the most impatient of you, you can still get tickets for this summer’s London Craft Beer Festival (3rd-5th August). Hurry up before they are all gone!