Scotland is a small country and yet throughout history it has produced people with big ideas – freedom fighters, poets, playwrights, inventors, actors and novelists. It is a place for learning (indeed it has some of the oldest and best universities in the world) so why shouldn’t it also be a premier destination for learners of the English language? It has so much to offer.
Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh, is an incredible city, where old meets new and tradition and modernity go hand in hand. On one side of the main street, Princes Street, is a row of trendy high street shops and large traditional department stores. On the other side is a quaint but proud castle on a hill, at the foot of which lies a valley of beautiful gardens. The history of the Castle is one thing – it is a medieval fortress, being both fought in and fought over. But the history of the gardens is something else, a gruesome past that Scottish people delight and revel in, tales of great plagues, witchcraft and folklore which characterise the Old Town. The famous Royal Mile leading up to the Castle is full of bars, places to eat and shops selling tartan clothes, cashmere and whisky, and off this, are the many wonderful ‘closes’, narrow, atmospheric lanes which reveal glimpses of Old Edinburgh in their shadows.
By contrast, Edinburgh’s New Town boasts 18th century architecture and ‘urban grandeur’, large houses, smart offices and long-established hotels. The bar, shops and restaurants here have a different vibe, a sort of laid-back luxury to indulge in. The Old and New Town and in fact the whole of Edinburgh’s city centre, is easily explored on foot. There is so much to see and all the attractions are close together. You can visit museums and galleries or one of the premier attractions, such as Camera Obscura, the Edinburgh Dungeons, Dynamic Earth or the Castle itself. Take your time wandering, enjoying shopping, food, art or history in the centre and then hop on a bus to practically anywhere. Edinburgh has one of the best local bus services in the world. Buses are fast, frequent, reliable and safe and they connect the entire city and surrounding areas. It is a capital city accessible to all. It also has a great night-life; you can enjoy a traditional ceilidh (Scottish dancing), visit the theatre, see some live comedy, read a book in a coffee shop or hang out with friends in a bar.
It is also a fantastic base for exploring the rest of Scotland, from tranquil, haunting and beautiful landscapes to fabulous and unspoilt beaches and even more castles and ruins, as well as Scotland’s other cities, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Inverness. All of this would be reason enough to visit, but the real reason is the people. Scottish people are naturally warm and friendly - and funny! They like to talk, eat and laugh. They poke fun at themselves and they don’t care about the weather, which is actually a lot better than international visitors expect. Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t rain all the time in summer and winters are mild. The Fringe Festival in August is world famous but the winter festival (‘Edinburgh’s Christmas’) is also enchanting as the city centre is transformed into a winter wonderland. In a word, Edinburgh is worth a visit all year round, with every season contributing to its charm in a unique way. It is this unique charm, along with the amiability of the local people that makes all visitors take a little piece of Scotland into their hearts. There is nothing greater to spark or re-ignite the love of language learning like the love of a place that speaks that language, therefore Scotland really should be on the ‘bucket list’ for all EFL learners.
There are three Quality English schools in Scotland: