Finding it hard to improve your English? Tips to keep you motivated!

Finding it hard to improve your English? Tips to keep you motivated!

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

back view of Travel man with backpack sitting on tail of the boat with lake and mountain view, Travel concept

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. 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 take 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.

>> All our options here

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!

Lights, Camera, Action! Scotland and Edinburgh through the big screen

Lights, Camera, Action! Scotland and Edinburgh through the big screen

When learning a language, it’s always best to combine business with pleasure! Watching movies or TV shows is actually a very good method to improve your receptive skills and expand your vocabulary in a new language! The best way to work your way up to an almost-perfect understanding of an English movie is to take it slow. Try watching movies in English with subtitles in your own language at first. Then, when you feel comfortable enough, switch to English subtitles. Finally, the last step would be to watch them without any subtitles! It’s a great exercise and your English will thank you for it!

Here’s a list of a few movies and TV shows set in Scotland, full of magnificent scenery and shots of this beautiful country!

One Day (2010), Lone Scherfig

Based on the novel of the same name by David Nicholls, the story follows the lives and relationship of Emma and Dexter, respectively played by Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess. The movie was partly filmed in Edinburgh: it opens and ends in the beautiful Scottish capital and features, amongst others, breath-taking views of Arthur’s Seat, Parliament Square, Calton Hill and Victoria Street.



Braveheart (1995), Mel Gibson

There is no doubt the infamous movie recounting the tale of Willian Wallace, a 13th century Scottish warrior and leader of troops against Edward I of England has brought countless people to the Highlands. The movie offers wonderful shots of the Scottish countryside including the areas near Glen Coe and Loch Leven. Another highly popular location for fans of the movie these day is the Glen Nevis Valley, which is where the crew built the village of Lanark, Wallace’s childhood home.

Ironically enough, there aren’t many other parts of Scotland featured in the movie, as the rest was shot … in Ireland (including the big battle scene).

Outlander (2014), Starz

There is no denying that Outlander has taken over the small screen in the past couple of years. The great acting and carefully though-out plotting are certainly part of the reason why, but the cinematography is undoubtedly a big part of it as well. Set in 18th century Scotland, the locations they used in the series are simply too numerous to be listed exhaustively here. Beautiful shots of landscapes, castles, lochs and villages will make you fall in love with Scotland instantly. To name but a few, Doune Castle was used for Castle Leoch, Black Castle stands in for Fort William, they set up the standing stones circle in Rannoch Moor and Midhope Castle was used for Jamie’s family home, Lallybroch or Broch Tuarach.


Skyfall (2012), Sam Mendes

The 2012 action movie and 23rd James Bond film contains some spectacular shots of the Scottish Highlands. In the movie, the Bond family estate is located in the Highlands and although the actual house they used was a mock up, they still filmed the Scottish landscape around Glen Etive and used it as the way leading up to that house.


Trainspotting (1996), Danny Boyle

Just like the book, the movie is set in Edinburgh. Nevertheless, almost all of it was filmed in Glasgow. However, you can still spot a few shots of the Scottish capital, especially in the opening chase scene of the movie.  You can see Princes Street, Edinburgh Castle, Hanover Street and Calton Road under Regent Bridge.


Honorary mention: Brave (2012), B. Chapman and  M. Andrews

Although not a live-action movie, I could not let this one slip. The 2012 Disney Pixar adventure film is 100% set in the medieval Scottish Highlands, and 100% inspired by Scottish culture. From the Highland Games to tartan and bagpipes, this one is a must see for a real Scottish feel. Merida’s family castle, Dunbroch, was heavily inspired by Dunnotar Castle in Aberdeenshire, south of Stonehaven. The landscapes seen in the movie when Merida travels through the countryside on her horse Angus were also inspired by real locations such as Glen Affric. Finally, some might recognise the Calanais Standing Stones on the Isle of Lewis as the inspiration for the movie’s standing stones circle.

200 Common phrasal verbs with meanings and example sentences

200 Common phrasal verbs with meanings and example sentences

Phrasal verbs are an important part of learning the English language. Most phrasal verbs consist of two words (verb + adverb or verb + preposition) but a few consists of three words. Think of them as you would any other English vocabulary. Study them as you come across them, rather than trying to memorise many at once.

You can use the list below as a reference guide when you find an expression that you don’t recognise. The examples will help you understand the meanings. Like many other verbs, phrasal verbs often have more than one meaning.

Download the PDF version here


200 phrasal verbs with meanings

Phrasal Verb Meaning Example
Act on To take action because of something like information received. The police were ACTING ON a tip from an informer and caught the gang red-handed.
Act out Perform something with actions and gestures.. They ACTED OUT the story on stage.
Act up Behave badly or strangely. My computer’s ACTING UP; I think I might have a virus.
Add on Include in a calculation. You have to ADD the VAT ON to the price they give.
Add up To make a mathematical total. We ADDED UP the bill to check it was correct.
Agree with Affect- usually used in the negative to show that something has had a negative effect, especially is it makes you feel bad. I feel terrible- that food didn’t AGREE WITH my stomach.
Aim at To target. The magazine is AIMED AT teenagers.
Allow for Include something in a plan or calculation. You should ALLOW FOR delays when planning a journey.
Allow of Make possible, permit. The rules don’t ALLOW OF any exceptions.
Angle for Try to get something indirectly, by hinting or suggesting. He’s been ANGLING FOR an invitation, but I don’t want him to come.
Answer back To reply rudely to someone in authority. Her mother was shocked when she started ANSWERING her BACK and refusing to help.
Argue down Beat someone in a debate, discussion or argument. The teacher tried to ARGUE the girl DOWN, but she couldn’t.
Argue down Persuade someone to drop the price of something they’re selling. She ARGUED him DOWN ten percent.
Argue out Argue about a problem to find a solution. If we can’t ARGUE our differences OUT, we’ll have to take them to court.
Ask about Ask how someone is doing, especially professionally and in terms of health. He ASKED ABOUT my father.
Ask after Enquire about someone’s health, how life is going. Jenny rang earlier and ASKED AFTER you, so I told her you were fine.
Ask around Ask a number of people for information of help. I have no idea, but I’ll ASK AROUND at work and see if anyone can help.
Ask in To invite somebody into your house. Jon’s at the door.’ ‘ASK him IN.’
Ask out To invite someone for a date. He wanted to ASK her OUT but was too shy.
Ask over Invite. They have ASKED us OVER for drinks on Friday.
Ask round Invite someone. We ASKED John ROUND for diner.
Auction off Sell something in an auction. They AUCTIONED OFF their property as they were heavily in debt.
Back away Retreat or go backwards. The crowd BACKED AWAY when the man pulled a knife.
Back down Retract or withdraw your position or proposal in an argument. She refused to BACK DOWN and was fired.
Back into Enter a parking area in reverse gear. He prefers to BACK his car INTO the garage.
Back off Retreat. The police told the protesters to BACK OFF.
Back out Fail to keep an arrangement or promise. He BACKED OUT two days before the holiday so we gave the ticket to his sister
Back out of Fail to keep an agreement, arrangement. She BACKED OUT OF the agreement at the last minute.
Back up Make a copy of computer data. You should always BACK UP important files and documents so that you won’t lose all your work if something goes wrong with the hardware.
Bag out Criticise. Don’t bag out BAG OUT Australian English.
Ball up Confuse or make things complicated. The new project has BALLED me UP- I have no idea what to do.
Bargain down Persuade someone to drop the price of something they’re selling. I BARGAINED her DOWN to half what she originally wanted.
Bash about Mistreat physically. If you BASH your monitor ABOUT like that, it won’t last long.
Bash in Break, damage or injure by hitting. The burglars BASHED the door IN to enter the house.
Bash out Write something quickly without much preparation. I BASHED the essay OUT the night before I had to hand it in.
Be after Try to find or get. The police ARE AFTER him because of the theft.
Be along Arrive. The next bus should BE ALONG in the next quarter of an hour or so.
Be away Be elsewhere; on holiday, etc.. She’s AWAY on business for three weeks.
Be cut out for Be suitable, have the necessary qualities. She’s not CUT OUT FOR this kind of work.
Be cut up Be upset. She was very CUT UP about coming second as she thought she deserved to win.
Be down Be depressed. He’s BEEN DOWN since his partner left him.
Be fed up Be bored, upset or sick of something. I AM FED UP of his complaints.
Be taken with Like something. I WAS very TAKEN WITH the performance- it was superb.
Be up Be out of bed. She’s not UP yet.
Bear down on Move towards. She spotted him on the other side of the room and BORE DOWN ON him.
Bear on Influence, affect. The judge’s character may well BEAR ON the final decision.
Bear out Confirm that something is correct. Statistics BEAR OUT the government’s positions on the issue.
Bear up Resist pressure. How are you BEARING UP under the strain?
Bear up under Cope with something difficult or stressful. He’s BEARING UP UNDER the pressure.
Bear with Be patient. Please BEAR WITH me a moment while I finish this email.
Beat down Strong sunshine. The sun WAS really BEATING DOWN and we couldn’t stay outdoors.
Beat out Narrowly win in competition. The marathon runner barely BEAT OUT his rival at the tape.
Beat up Attack violently. The mugger BEAT him UP and stole his wallet.
Belong with Be in the correct or appropriate location with other items. Does this disc BELONG WITH those on the shelf?
Bend down Lower the top half of your body. I BENT DOWN to pick it up off the floor.
Big up Exaggerate the importance. He BIGS himself UP all the time.
Bitch up Spoil or ruin something. I BITCHED UP the interview.
Black out Fall unconscious. He BLACKED OUT and collapsed on the floor.
Blast off Leave the ground- spaceship or rocket. The space shuttle BLASTED OFF on schedule yesterday.
Block in Park a car and obstruct another car. I couldn’t drive here this morning because someone had BLOCKED me IN.
Block off Obstruct an exit to prevent people from leaving. The police BLOCKED OFF the road after the murder.
Blow away Impress greatly. Her first novel BLEW me AWAY.
Blow down When the wind forces something to fall. A tree was BLOWN DOWN in the storm.
Blow in Arrive, sometimes suddenly or unexpectedly. He BLEW IN from Toronto early this morning.
Blow off Not keep an appointment. We were going to meet last night, but she BLEW me OFF at the last minute.
Blow up Explode. The bomb BLEW UP without any warning.
Boil up Feel a negative emotion strongly. The anger BOILED UP in me when I saw what they had done.
Bone up on Study hard for a goal or reason. I need to BONE UP ON my French grammar for the test.
Book in Check in at a hotel. WE took a taxi from the airport to the hotel and BOOKED IN.
Call up Telephone. I CALLED him UP as soon as I got to a phone to tell him the news.
Calm down Stop being angry or emotionally excited. When I lose my temper, it takes ages for me to CALM DOWN again.
Cancel out Have an opposite effect on something that has happened, taking things back to the beginning. The airport taxes CANCELLED OUT the savings we had made on the flight tickets.
Cap off Finish or complete, often with some decisive action. She CAPPED OFF the meeting with a radical proposal.
Care for Like. I don’t CARE FOR fizzy drinks; I prefer water.
Carried away Get so emotional that you lose control. The team got CARRIED AWAY when they won the championship and started shouting and throwing things around.
Carry forward Make something progress. They hope the new management will be able to CARRY the project FORWARD.
Carry off Win, succeed. She CARRIED OFF the first prize in the competition.
Carry on Continue. CARRY ON quietly with your work until the substitute teacher arrives.
Decide upon Choose, select. Jane spent a long time looking at houses before she bought one, but eventually DECIDED UPON one near her office.
Die away Become quieter or inaudible (of a sound). The last notes DIED AWAY and the audience burst into applause.
Die back When the parts of a plant above ground die, but the roots remain alive. The plant DIES BACK in the winter.
Die down Decrease or become quieter. It was on the front pages of all the papers for a few days, but the interest gradually DIED DOWN.
Die for Want something a lot. I’m DYING FOR the weekend- this week’s been so hard.
Die off Become extinct. Most of the elm trees in the UK DIED OFF when Dutch elm disease arrived.
Die out Become extinct or disappear. Some scientists say that the dinosaurs DIED OUT when a comet hit the earth and caused a nuclear winter.
Dig in Start eating greedily. We were starving so we really DUG IN when the food finally did arrive.
Dig into Reach inside to get something. She DUG INTO her handbag and pulled out a bunch of keys.
Fawn over Praise someone in an excessive way to get their favour or something from them. She FAWNED OVER the inspectors in the hope that they would give her a good grade.
Feed off Eat a food as part of an animals diet. The gecko FEEDS OFF mosquitoes and other insects.
Feed on Give someone a particular food. He FEEDS his cat ON dry food.
Feed up Give someone a lot of food to restore their health, make them bigger, etc. She’s been ill for a fortnight so we’re FEEDING her UP.
Feel up Touch sexually, grope. Someone FELT me UP in the club as I was trying to get to the bar.
Feel up to Feel capable of doing something. I’m so tired. I don’t think I FEEL UP TO going out tonight.
Get ahead Progress. Nowadays, you need IT skills if you want to GET AHEAD.
Get ahead of Move in front of. I work at home in the evening to GET AHEAD OF schedule.
Get along Leave. It’s late; we must be GETTING ALONG.
Give up Stop doing something that has been a habit. I GAVE UP taking sugar in tea and coffee to lose weight.
Hit on Have an idea. I suddenly HIT ON the solution
Hold off Stop someone from attacking or beating you. Chelsea couldn’t HOLD their opponents OFF and lost the game.
Hold on Wait. Could you HOLD ON for a minute; she’ll be free in a moment.
Hook up Meet someone. We HOOKED UP at the conference.
Hunt out Search until you find something. It took me ages to HUNT OUT the photos.
Jack up Increase sharply. They have JACKED UP the price of oil this month.
Jam on Apply or operate something forcefully. Jack JAMMED ON the brakes when the rabbit ran in front of his car.
Jaw away Talk just for the point of talking rather than having anything to say. That shows that your interest is not in helping the student, but in JAWING AWAY.
Jazz up Make something more interesting or attractive. The show was getting stale so they JAZZED it UP with some new scenes.
Keep around Keep something near you. I KEEP a dictionary AROUND when I’m doing my homework.
Keep at Continue with something difficult. She found the course hard but she KEPT AT it and completed it successfully.
Keep away Don’t allow someone near something. Medicines should always be KEPT AWAY from children.
Keep back Maintain a safe distance. The police told the crowd to KEEP BACK from the fire.
Key to Plan things to fit or suit people or situations. Promotions are KEYED TO people’s abilities.
Key up Make someone excited or nervous. The noise got us KEYED UP.
Kick about Discuss. We KICKED the idea ABOUT at the meeting.
Kick in When a drug starts to take effect. Her hayfever didn’t feel half as bad once the antihistamines had KICKED IN.
Kick out Expel. The family KICKED the au pair OUT when they found out that she was planning to move to work for another household.
Knock off Finish work for the day. We KNOCKED OFF early on Friday to avoid the rush hour queues.
Lash down Secure something with ropes or cords. We LASHED the tarpaulin DOWN to stop the wind blowing it away.
Lash into Criticise someone strongly. He LASHED INTO them for messing thins up.
Lash out Suddenly become violent. He LASHED OUT and broke the man’s nose.
Lay on Organise, supply. They LAID ON a buffet lunch at the conference.
Lay out Spend money. They LAID OUT thousands of pounds on their wedding reception.
Let in Allow someone to enter. The doorstaff didn’t LET him IN the nightclub because he was wearing jeans.
Let off Not punish. The judge LET him OFF with a fine rather than a prison sentence since it was his first offence.
Line up Arrange events for someone. We have LINED UP a lot of meetings for them.
Link up Connect, join. The train LINKS UP the cities.
Live by Follow a belief system to guide your behaviour. He tries hard to LIVE BY the Bible.
Live down Stop being embarrassed about something. If I fail the test and everyone else passes, I’ll never be able to LIVE it DOWN.
Live with Accept something unpleasant. It’s hard to LIVE WITH the pain of a serious illness.
Log in Enter a restricted area on a computer system. I had forgotten my password and couldn’t LOG IN.
Log into Enter a restricted area of a computer system. I LOGGED INTO the staff intranet to check my email.
Log off Exit a computer system. When she’d finished working on the spreadsheet, she LOGGED OFF and left the office.
Log on Enter a computer system. He entered his password for the college intranet and LOGGED ON.
Log out Exit a computer system. Danny closed the programs and LOGGED OUT when it was time to go home.
Look up Consult a reference work (dictionary, phonebook, etc.) for a specific piece of information.. I didn’t know the correct spelling so I had to LOOK it UP in the dictionary.
Magic away Make something disappear quickly. He MAGICKED the bill AWAY and paid for us all before I could get my wallet out.
Make after Chase. The police MADE AFTER the stolen car.
Make away with Steal. The thieves MADE AWAY WITH the painting.
Make it Arrive or get a result. I thought you weren’t coming, so I was really pleased you MADE IT.
Make it up to Try to compensate for doing something wrong. He tried to MAKE IT UP TO her, but she wouldn’t speak to him.
Make of Understand or have an opinion. What do you MAKE OF your new boss?
Make off Leave somewhere in a hurry. They MADE OFF when they heard the police siren.
Mash up Mix sources of audio, video or other computer sources.. She MASHED UP the songs into a single track.
Melt down Heat something solid, especially metal, until it becomes liquid. They MELTED the gold statue DOWN and turned it into gold bars.
Mess about Not be serious, not use something properly. The children were MESSING ABOUT with the TV remote control and broke it.
Mix up Confuse. I always MIX those two sisters UP because they look so like each other.
Move into Start living in a place. They MOVED INTO the house as soon as it was ready.
Move up Move to make space. Could you MOVE UP and let me sit down?
Nail down Succeed in getting, achieve. They are having trouble NAILING DOWN the contract.
Name after Give someone a name to remember another person. I was NAMED AFTER my uncle who died in the war.
Narrow down Remove less important options to make it easier to choose. I am not sure which university to apply to, but I have NARROWED my list DOWN to three.
Nerd out Play safe and avoid taking a risk. I’m going to NERD OUT and not go on the river trip.
Opt for Choose. I OPTED FOR an endowment mortgage and lost a lot of money.
Opt in Choose to be part or a member of something. If you want them to notify you of updates, you have to OPT IN.
Opt into Choose to be a member or part of something. I OPTED INTO the scheme.
Opt out Choose not to be part of something. The UK OPTED OUT of a lot of EU legislation on working hours and conditions.
Pack in Stop doing something. I’m trying to PACK IN smoking.
Pack off Send someone away. His boss PACKED him OFF to a regional office.
Pack out Fill a venue. The stadium was PACKED OUT.
Pack up Stop doing something. You should PACK UP smoking.
Pad down Sleep somewhere for the night. I’m too tired to come home; can I PAD DOWN here tonight?
Pad out Make a text longer by including extra content, often content that isn’t particularly relevant. I couldn’t think of much to write, so I PADDED the essay OUT with a few lengthy quotes.
Pal around Be friendly and spend time with someone. We PALLED AROUND at university.
Pal up Become friends. We PALLED UP when I started working with her.
Pass away Die. Sadly, Georgia’s uncle PASSED AWAY yesterday after a short illness.
Pass back Return. I felt awful when the teacher started to PASS BACK the exam papers.
Pass by Go past without stopping. I was just PASSING BY when I saw the accident.
Patch up Fix or make things better. I tried to PATCH things UP after the argument, but they wouldn’t speak to me.
Pay back Repay money borrowed. I PAID BACK the twenty pounds I’d borrowed.
Pay off Produce a profitable or successful result. Their patience PAID OFF when he finally showed up and signed the contract.
Peel away Leave a group by moving in a different direction. Some of the crowd PEELED AWAY to get out of the crush.
Peg out Put washing outside to dry. I PEGGED the washing OUT after it stopped raining.
Phase in Introduce gradually. They are PHASING IN the reforms over the next two years.
Phase out Remove gradually. They have introduced a compact edition of the newspaper and are PHASING OUT the broadsheet edition over the next few months.
Pick at Eat unwillingly. I wasn’t very hungry so I just PICKED AT my food.
Pick up Collect. While you’re in town, can you PICK UP my trousers from the Dry Cleaner?
Pig out Eat a lot. The food was great, so I really PIGGED OUT.
Pile up Accumulate. Work just keeps on PILING UP and I really can’t manage to get it all done.
Pin down Discover exact details about something. The government can’t PIN DOWN where the leak came from.
Pin on Attach the blame to someone. The police tried to PIN the crime ON him.
Pin up Fix something to a wall, or other vertical surface, with a pin. I PINNED the notice UP on the board
Pine away Suffer physically because of grief, stress, worry, etc. He’s been PINING AWAY since his wife died and is a shadow of his former self.
Pipe down Be quiet (often as an imperative). The lecturer asked the students to PIPE DOWN and pay attention.
Pipe up To speak, raise your voice. At first, no one answered, then finally someone PIPED UP.
Play along Pretend to agree or accept something in order to keep someone happy or to get more information. I disagreed with the idea but I had to PLAY ALONG because everyone else liked it.
Play around Be silly. The children were PLAYING AROUND and being annoying.
Play up Behave badly. The children PLAYED UP all evening and drove the babysitter mad.
Plug in Connect machines to the electricity supply. He PLUGGED the TV IN and turned it on full blast.
Plump down Put something in a place without taking care. He PLUMPED his bag DOWN and kicked his shoes off.
Plump for Choose. I PLUMPED FOR the steak frites.
Point out Make someone aware of something. He POINTED OUT that I only had two weeks to get the whole thing finished.
Poke about Move things around or search in a casual way to try to find something. I POKED ABOUT in my CD collection to see if I could find it.
Poke around Move things around or search in a casual way to try to find something. I POKED AROUND in my desk to see if the letter was there.
Polish off Finish, consume. She POLISHES OFF half a bottle of gin every night.
Polish up Improve something quickly. I need to POLISH UP my French before I go to Paris.
Pop in Visit for a short time. He POPPED IN for a coffee on his way home.
Pop off Talk loudly, complain. He’s always POPPING OFF when things don’t suit him.
Power up Turn a computer or electronic device on so that it is ready to use. I POWERED UP my laptop and started work.
Price up Charge more for something. In rural areas where they have a monopoly, some garages PRICE UP fuel because there’s nowhere else to buy it.
Pull ahead Overtake, move in front. The lorry was going slowly but we managed to PULL AHEAD.
Pull out Move into traffic. The traffic was so bad that it took me ages to PULL OUT.
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 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!”



Cambridge Exam VS IELTS: What is The Difference & Which One is For You

Cambridge Exam VS IELTS: What is The Difference & Which One is For You

Did you know that we offer exam preparation classes? Nowadays, it is not rare for universities or employers to require a certain test score proving your level of English. But which test should you take? What are the differences? Here’s a quick guide to help you understand the differences between the Cambridge exams and the IELTS.

Here at inlingua Edinburgh, you can prepare for the FCE, CAE, CPE or the IELTS. But what do these letters stand for?

  • FCE = First Certificate in English, (aka Cambridge English: First)
  • CAE = Certificate in Advanced English (aka Cambridge English: Advanced)
  • CPE = Certificate of Proficiency in English (aka Cambridge English Proficiency)
  • IELTS = International English Language Testing System.

While both the Cambridge exams and the IELTS test all four major English skills – reading, writing, listening and speaking, there are quite a few differences between them.

The main difference between the Cambridge tests and the IELTS is that while there is only one IELTS for every level, the Cambridge tests are level-oriented. FCE is for an upper-intermediate, B2 level qualification, the CAE is a C1 qualification exam and the CPE is for a C2 proficiency level.

Now let’s look at the ways in which they are assessed.

Despite their differences, one test is not more difficult than the other. You might find the Cambridge tests more interesting than the IELTS, which is a bit more academic, but it doesn’t mean that one is easier than the other.

Whether you need to do it to apply to the university of your choice, to get that job you have been after for a while or just because you want to boost your CV, book a class now at inlingua and pass that exam with flying colours!

All our Exam Preparation packages here

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