Language courses in Edinburgh


Edinburgh is a popular destination for language students. Most schools offer a "homestay" option where accommodation is with a local family, which can be a great introduction to Scottish life.


There a variety of schools to choose from and you should consider factors of: price, your current knowledge of the language, time you have available, and how fast you want to learn. There are full-time and part-time courses, as well as residential courses (where they offer accommodation). It is recommended to take a course at a school that is a member of Association of Recognized English Language Schools. Its members follow a certain code of conduct and regulations that guarantee high academic standards. Their site offers a listing of schools in your area.

There are also many universities which offer English courses for students, and other courses for the general public. Check with the staff for courses and options.

Private Lessons

Private lessons are another option. More expensive than language courses, these can be very effective. Expect to pay between 15 to 30 GBP per hour depending on the tutor's qualifications and experience.

You can search for opportunities in a local newspapers, on message boards at pubs, copy centers, supermarkets, universities, and cafes, or on online boards such as EasyExpat's . You can also find friends on the forum to work on language exchange. A list of accredited schools can be found at EducationUK.



The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is the leading academic English proficiency test in the world. Most institutions require a 500 points minimum for the paper test, or 250 points for the computer test.


The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is a practical and valid English language assessment primarily used by those seeking international education, professional recognition, bench-marking to international standards and global mobility. The test covers all four areas of language skills: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. The test has two formats - Academic and General Training.


Tests of English for Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) are assessed each year by about 1.5 million of people in more than 135 countries. This exam is suitable for English teaching and is recognized internationally.

Scottish Dialect

Though the Scottish speak English, it can be one of the hardest accents to understand, even for other English speakers. Below are some common pronunciations and colloquialism to help non-natives navigate the language.

  • Auld - "old". It is often used to refer to old people, such as "ye auld bastard".
  • Aye - "yes". Commonly used.
  • Bairn - "little child"
  • Blether - "is to have a long talk"
  • Bonnie - "beautiful"
  • Bide - "where you live".
  • Cannae - "cannot".
  • Dyke - "wall"
  • Fae - "from". As "I'm fae Aberdeen"
  • Faur - "where".
  • Fit like min - this phrase basically means, "how are you?".
  • Havering - "to talk a load of nonsense"
  • Neap - 2 meanings: 1. "turnip" or "swede". 2. an "idiot".
  • Wee - "small" or "little"
  • Ya Bas - "you Bastard"
  • Ye - "you"

There is also Scottish Gaelic, which is a Celtic language native to Scotland. Though not an official language, there are about 58,000 people in Scotland with some Gaelic ability. The census shows a decline of 7,300 Gaelic speakers, but there are efforts to revive the language.

A few Scottish and some Irish universities offer full-time degrees including a Gaelic language element, usually graduating as Celtic Studies. The Scottish Qualifications Authority offer two streams of Gaelic examination across all levels of the syllabus: Gaelic for learners (equivalent to the modern foreign languages syllabus) and Gaelic for native speakers (equivalent to the English syllabus).

An Comunn Gaidhealach performs assessment of spoken Gaelic. They issue a Bronze, Silver, or Gold Card on ability.

Update 8/04/2011


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