Most English learners will find that they reach a plateau at some point. This is where you can speak English well enough to communicate with others but you notice less improvement in your language skills than you did at the start. Many find they have reached a comfort zone where there is a danger of becoming demotivated as they can already get by using the English words, phrases and tenses with which they are comfortable.
If you want to progress in English, this can be the most difficult stage on your learning journey but it’s important to push past this. Here are some tips on how to stay motivated when learning English:
1. Picture yourself in the future
Imagine what you could do if you could speak English as fluently as your first language. Would you be able to get your dream job? Get promoted in your current work? Delve deeper into English-language culture? Whatever your motivation was to learn English in the first place, try to remember it throughout your language-learning journey.
2. Go on holiday
Go on holiday somewhere where you don’t speak the language. If you’re living in an English-speaking country, you will be able to see how far you have come by going to a country where you hardly understand anything. You can then come back refreshed and motivated to keep going.
3. Get into an English-language TV series
There are a number of great TV shows in English that are addictive and will keep you coming back for more. You will also be motivated to improve in order to increase your understanding of the storyline.
4. Join a local club or try volunteering
Local clubs and societies are a great way to meet new people and can be great motivators to improve your English. Try to join a group or volunteer in something outside of your comfort zone. That way, you can improve your vocabulary and speak about subjects that would normally never come up in your everyday life. Meetup.com is a great way to find groups like this.
5. Challenge yourself
Set yourself a goal such as taking an official English exam. This will put pressure on you to improve before the date of the exam and will allow you to measure your success in a formal context.
6. Imitate your favourite celebrity
If your favourite celebrity is a native speaker of English, or if they have learned English as a second language, you can use their story as motivation to improve your own language skills.
7. Take a course
By taking an English language course, you are committing yourself to taking the time to improve. It’s also the best learning environment as you will consistently learn new things and your mistakes will be corrected by the teacher.
8. Improve your relationships with native speakers
A great motivator to improve your language skills is to build on your relationships with your English-speaking friends and/or colleagues. Native speakers will sometimes subconsciously change they speak when speaking to non-native speakers (think of the way you communicate with people who are learners of your own language). Get to know people in a new light by improving your English to a stage where native-speakers will speak to you as they would other natives.
9. Remember there is still a lot to learn
Those with the ability to speak English at a native level generally have one thing in common – they never stop learning. Even if you are comfortable at the level you can communicate in, learning a language is a life-long process where there is always room for improvement.
10. Take action
By improving your English, you are opening doors to more opportunities in your career, social life and personal development. There is no better time than the present, so take the first steps towards improving your English today!
At inlingua Edinburgh, we offer evening and part-time General English and Exam Preparation courses to fit around your work and life here in Edinburgh. Lessons are led by qualified, native-speaking trainers in small groups to maximise speaking practice. We have classes to suit each level and there are no mixed level groups. Why wait? Take the first step towards improving your English and contact us now!
Pancake Day is also known as Shrove Tuesday in the UK and takes place on Tuesday 13th February this year. It marks the last day before the Christian festival of Lent which is generally a period of abstinence. It is customary to eat pancakes on this day as pancake recipes used up food that was traditionally given up for Lent such as eggs, milk, butter and sugar.
Wherever you are in the world, join us in making the perfect pancakes with this recipe:
- 100g plain flour
- 2 eggs
- 300ml milk
- 50g butter
1. Pour the flour through a sieve into a large mixing bowl and dig a little hole in the centre. Add the eggs into the hole and pour in about 50ml milk. Start whisking the mixture together from the centre and beat until you have a smooth, thick paste. Then, continue to whisk whilst steadily pouring in the rest of the milk until you have a batter that is the same consistency of a relatively thick single cream.
2. Grease the frying pan with some of the butter and heat over a moderate temperature. Then, pour a small part of the mixture over the pan, tilting it to allow the mixture to settle in a thin and even layer. Return the pan to the heat and allow the mixture to cook for around 30 seconds.
3. To cook the pancake on the other side, you can either turn it over carefully with a spatula, or if you’re feeling adventurous, you can flip it using the pan (we only recommend this flipping technique for more experienced pancake-makers!). Cook for a futher 30 seconds and you should have the perfect golden pancake! Repeat stages 3 and 4 for each extra pancake. If you follow this recipe, you should have enough mixture to make around 8 pancakes.
4. Add your favourite toppings! For this section, you can add savoury toppings such as ham and cheese for a lunchtime snack or sweet toppings to make a dessert. We love to top our pancakes with lemon and sugar, jam and ice cream or Nutella and strawberries.
Our resident photographer, Louison has been exploring Edinburgh since the beginning of February and has managed to capture the essence of its beauty in these breathtaking photographs. Even in the winter months, it’s easy to see why Edinburgh is frequently voted one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
Here is a selection of some of our favourite photographs of Edinburgh:
With its grizzly history of battles, grave robbers, serial killers and executions, it’s no wonder that Edinburgh is a hotbed for paranormal activity. It regularly comes top in the list of the UK’s most haunted places and has attracted TV production companies and paranormal specialists from all over the world. With Halloween around the corner, now is the perfect time to explore these spooky places and see for yourself!
It has been the site of several bloody battles, sieges and executions over its 2,000 year history so it’s no surprise that Edinburgh Castle is one of the most haunted places in the city. There have been reports of unexplained noises such as knocking, drumming and footsteps, as well as sightings of mysterious orbs. In 2001, a team of scientists carried out an investigation into the paranormal activity and their findings appeared to confirm the stories.
Often described as Scotland’s most haunted pub, part of The Banshee Labyrinth is located in some of the city’s underground vaults. It is also rumoured to be occupied by a banshee! The story goes that a group of workmen once heard a blood-curdling scream coming from the depths of the pub and a few hours later one of the men found out that a member of his family had died. There are also reports of drinks flying off tables and smashing into walls.
It is said to be the oldest pub in the centre of Edinburgh with parts of the building dating back to 1516. With so much history, it’s no wonder that patrons and staff have experienced some paranormal activity over the years! Reports of shadowy forms, unexplained banging noises and slamming doors are just some of the incidents attributed to this pub’s spooky reputation.
4. Greyfriars Kirkyard
This has been a graveyard since 1562 and is the resting place of numerous notable Edinburgh residents, including poets, historians, architects, inventors and the much-loved Greyfriars Bobby! However, the hauntings are only said to have occurred since the late 1990s when a homeless man broke in to the tomb of Sir George Mackenzie. Since then, there have been reports of visitors leaving with bruises scratches and cuts, leading to rumours of a poltergeist living in the Kirkyard.
There are many ghost tours, which explore the city’s underground vaults, and numerous reports of paranormal activity. A live investigation on the Vaults was carried out by the TV show, Most Haunted in 2006 and it is rumoured that the infamous Burke and Hare stored the bodies of their victims here before selling them to the medical school.
So, if you’re a seasoned ghost hunter or a complete sceptic, make sure you check out these most haunted spots!
Edinburgh is the top festival city in the world and it’s easy to see why. There are festivals taking place all year round but the summer season is jam-packed with fun and interesting things to do and see. So, if you’re visiting at this time of year, make sure you take advantage of these top 10 summer festivals!
Hidden Door (26th May – 4th June)
This multi-arts festival is currently in its fourth year and is completely run by volunteers. This year it aims to transform a derelict theatre into a creative hub by putting on 10 days of music, theatre, visual art, film and spoken word performances. It’s free to explore every day until 6pm when tickets a required for the evening events.
Meadows Festival (3rd – 4th June)
This is a perfect chance to meet local Edinburgers and international students alike as everyone comes out in force for this chilled-out, cheerful festival. It takes place in one of Edinburgh’s largest green spaces and showcases performances by musicians, comedians and other artists alongside rows of market stalls where you can buy everything from local farm produce to a second-hand piano.
Edinburgh International Film Festival (21st June – 2nd July)
Immerse yourself in film this summer at the world’s longest-running film festival! The Edinburgh International Film Festival takes place in various venues around Edinburgh and features critically acclaimed films of all genres from the UK and wound the world.
Edinburgh International Magic Festival 30th June – 8th July 2017
Sit back and be amazed by some of the world’s most spectacular magicians at the Edinburgh International Magic Festival. This year’s theme is “Levitations” so be prepared for some jaw-dropping illusions and stunning circus acts.
Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival (14th – 23rd July)
Edinburgh’s Jazz & Blues Festival is the biggest of it’s kind in Britain and is guaranteed to please music-lovers of all generations. Don’t miss Mardi Gras in the Grassmarket where many of the acts showcase their music for free in the open air!
Edinburgh Art Festival (27th July – 27th August 2017)
This is the UK’s largest annual celebration of visual art and the good news is that it’s mostly free to attend! Last year’s festival showcased the work of 250 artists in over 40 venues around Edinburgh.
Edinburgh Military Tattoo (4th – 26th August)
This world-renowned performance combines music and dance, Massed Pipes and Drums, Massed Military Bands, cultural troupes, singers and the iconic Lone Piper with a spectacular display of lights and fireworks, all against the stunning backdrop of Edinburgh Castle. The show sells out every year so don’t forget to book in advance!
Edinburgh Festival Fringe (4th – 28th August)
It’s the largest arts festival in the world and it takes place every year right here in Edinburgh. The city is completely transformed over 25 days in August with thousands of performance flocking to showcase their work in hundreds of venues around the city centre. A once in a lifetime experience!
Edinburgh International Festival (5th – 29th August)
Running parallel to the Festival Fringe, the Edinburgh International festival presents the finest music, theatre, opera and dance from some of the world’s most esteemed creators. Don’t miss the spectacular fireworks display marking the end of the festival!
Edinburgh International Book Festival (12 – 28 August)
The Edinburgh International Book Festival presents over 750 events involving everyone from brand new authors to to some of the most famous names in world literature. Previous participants included Al Gore, George R. R. Martin and J. K. Rowling!
The Edinburgh Mela perfectly closes Edinburgh’s summer festival season with a celebration of Edinburgh’s ethnic minorities. It regularly attracts over 20,000 visitors and features an extraordinary programme of theatre, dance, music and art.