Focus on Aberdeen

Aberdeen is Scotland’s third most populous city with an official population estimate of 196,670 for the city of Aberdeen and 229,800 for the local authority area.

Nicknames include the Granite City, the Grey City and the Silver City with the Golden Sands. During the mid-18th to mid-20th centuries, Aberdeen’s buildings incorporated locally quarried grey granite, which can sparkle like silver because of its high mica content. Since the discovery of North Sea oil in the 1970s, Aberdeen has been known as the off-shore oil capital of Europe. The area around Aberdeen has been settled since at least 8,000 years ago, when prehistoric villages lay around the mouths of the rivers Dee and Don. The city has a long, sandy coastline and a marine climate, the latter resulting in chilly summers and mild winters.

Aberdeen received Royal burgh status from David I of Scotland (1124–53), transforming the city economically. The city’s two universities, the University of Aberdeen, founded in 1495, and Robert Gordon University, which was awarded university status in 1992, make Aberdeen the educational centre of the north-east of Scotland. The traditional industries of fishing, paper-making, shipbuilding, and textiles have been overtaken by the oil industry and Aberdeen’s seaport. Aberdeen Heliport is one of the busiest commercial heliports in the world and the seaport is the largest in the north-east of Scotland.

Aberdeen has won the Britain in Bloom competition a record-breaking ten times, and hosts the Aberdeen International Youth Festival, a major international event which attracts up to 1000 of the most talented young performing arts companies. In 2015, Mercer named Aberdeen the 57th most liveable city in the world, as well as the fourth most liveable city in Britain. In 2012, HSBC named Aberdeen as a leading business hub and one of eight ‘super cities’ spearheading the UK’s economy, marking it as the only city in Scotland to receive this accolade.

Aberdeen area has seen human settlement for at least 8,000 years. The city began as two separate burghs: Old Aberdeen at the mouth of the river Don; and New Aberdeen, a fishing and trading settlement, where the Denburn waterway entered the river Dee estuary.

During the Wars of the Three Kingdoms of 1644–1647 the city was plundered by both sides. In 1644, it was taken and ransacked by Royalist troops after the Battle of Aberdeen and two years later it was stormed by a Royalist force under the command of the Marquis of Huntly. In 1647 an outbreak of bubonic plague killed a quarter of the population. The council began major road improvements at the end of the 18th century with the main thoroughfares of George Street, King Street and Union Street all completed at the beginning of the 19th century.

Union Terrace, Aberdeen, circa 1900

The increasing economic importance of Aberdeen and the development of the shipbuilding and fishing industries led to the construction of the present harbour including Victoria Dock and the South Breakwater, and the extension of the North Pier.

Aberdeen was in Pictish territory and became Gaelic-speaking at some time in the medieval period. Old Aberdeen is the approximate location of Aberdon, the first settlement of Aberdeen; this literally means “the mouth of the Don”. The Celtic word aber means “river mouth”. The Gaelic name is Obar Dheathain, and in Latin, the Romans referred to the river as Devana. Mediaeval (or Ecclesiastical) Latin has it as Aberdonia.

Bon Accord Square, designed by Archibald Simpson and dating from 1823

Lamp-post bearing the city coat of arms

The arms and banner of the city show three silver towers on red. This motif dates from at least the time of Robert the Bruce and represents the buildings that stood on the three hills of medieval Aberdeen: Aberdeen Castle on Castle Hill (today’s Castlegate); the city gate on Port Hill; and a church on St Catherine’s Hill (now levelled).

Bon Accord is the motto of the city and is French for “Good Agreement”. Legend tells that its use dates from a password used by Robert the Bruce during the 14th century Wars of Scottish Independence, when he and his men laid siege to the English-held Aberdeen Castle before destroying it in 1308. It is still widely present in the city, throughout street names, business names and the city’s Bon Accord shopping mall.

The shield in the coat of arms is supported by two leopards. A local magazine is called the “Leopard” and, when Union Bridge was widened in the 20th century, small statues of the creature in a sitting position were cast and placed on top of the railing posts (known locally as Kelly’s Cats). The city’s toast is “Happy to meet, sorry to part, happy to meet again”.

Top 10 Things to Know About Scotland


  1. Scots are known for giving a warm welcome to visitors, making it a safe place. The locals are friendly people who like to blether (Scottish word for talk), which is great for practicing English as you go in everyday situations, as well as learning in the classroom.
  1. It’s easy to get here with 4 international airports close to our member schools and only around an hour flight from London. There are also good train and road networks.
  1. 2016 is Scotland’s year of innovation architecture & design. 2017 will be the year of history, heritage and archaeology.  A great time to come and celebrate Scotland’s modern environment and historic past.
  1. Each part of the UK has its own local accent, such as the London’s Cockney or Newcastle’s Geordie.  Scottish people also speak in many wonderful accents, but they are no harder to understand than an accent from anywhere else in the UK.  In fact, the Perthshire accent is often said to be the clearest in the whole country.
  1. Average temperature is 5C in winter and 15C in summer. Because Scotland is further north than the rest of the UK, we have longer hours of daylight in summer, so more time to get out and enjoy our beautiful country.
  1. English UK Scotland has 13 member centres located all around Scotland. All are British Council / English UK accredited and regularly inspected, so you can be sure of excellent standards of teaching, facilities and accommodation.
  1. We offer courses for all ages and abilities at competitive prices. Search our course database on this website and find out more about our member schools.
  1. English UK Scotland host an Agent visit each April/May. Email if you would like to be invited next year.
  1. Amazing landscapes and ancient stories are everywhere. You can enjoy the stunning scenery of hills, lochs (Scottish word for lake) and glens that Scotland is famous for.  Exploring castles and soaking up the history all around you is what makes any visit to Scotland so special.
  1. There are so many activities to do in and around Scotland’s beautiful cities – from international festivals to mountain biking. We have schools in 4 cities: Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Perth.  Like our Facebook page facebook/ to keep up to date with what is going on.

Beautiful Autumn in Scotland

red-deer-stagThere has never been a better time to discover Scotland’s two beautiful National Parks. Uncover stunning scenery, fascinating wildlife and a variety of outdoor activities in the Cairngorms and Loch Lomond & The Trossachs.

At the heart of the UK’s largest National Park, the Cairngorms National Park, is the astonishing Cairngorms plateau. During the last Ice Age, 10,000 years ago, this landscape was scraped, carved and gouged by ice to create deep high altitude valleys and corries in this vast wilderness. At over 1,000 m high, this is the largest and most extensive range of sub-arctic mountainous landscape anywhere in the British Isles.

The Cairngorms National Park, which celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2013, and visitors can find everything from castles, historic sites, breweries and distilleries and great attractions and adventure sports including mountain biking and white water rafting.

Remember to bring your binoculars and camera as this striking area is home to 25 percent of the UK’s threatened species. Look out for majestic ospreys, red squirrels, the Scottish wildcat, pine martens, the Scottish crossbill, Cairngorms reindeer and beautiful tundra and arctic plants like twinflowers and the lesser butterfly orchids.

Further south, near Glasgow, lies Scotland’s first National Park, Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park. A focal point of this charming area is the stunning Loch Lomond, the largest inland expanse of freshwater in Britain and one of the most popular destinations for windsurfing in Scotland.

The picturesque loch also offers excellent sailing, canoeing, waterskiing and a number of companies offer cruises across the loch and around its many islands. Back on dry land relax amongst the gorgeous flora and fauna of Queen Elizabeth Forest Park, Go Ape! or spot red squirrels at The Lodge Forest Visitor Centre at Aberfoyle.Take in the amazing scenery from one of 40 summits over 2,500 feet or enjoy gentle forest walks and coastal trails. Keep your eyes and ears open to see if you can catch a glimpse of otters, capercaillie, water vole and red deer.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2014 Review

Fringe bus

Following 49,497 performances of 3,193 shows in 299 venues across Scotland’s capital city, The Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2014 has had yet another wonderful year.

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society  announced an estimated 2,183,591 tickets had been issued for shows and events in 299 venues across the city, reflecting the continuing popularity and cultural significance of the Fringe.  This is 12% more than the overall number of tickets estimated to have been issued last year.

Kath M Mainland, Chief Executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society said:

“Once again audiences from Edinburgh, Scotland, the UK and across the globe have been exposed to a completely fantastic cultural experience. Performers, writers and artists have given their all on stages across Edinburgh in a truly international celebration of culture and entertainment.

 It’s wonderful that after 67 years the Fringe remains the ultimate destination for audiences to embrace the arts.  In a year that places Scotland on the world stage, the Fringe has once again responded by being the greatest explosion of arts and entertainment on the planet.”

Now planning begins for an even bigger and better 2015 Festival Fringe –  come here to study in Scotland in August next year and you can experience it for yourself.

Glasgow Games Best Ever



Summer 2014 saw Glasgow welcome the world to the biggest sporting and cultural event in Scotland’s history – the XX Commonwealth Games.

With the construction of new state-of-the-art venues and the transformation of iconic buildings, Glasgow looked stunning. The real star of the Games though was the people of the city.  Glaswegians gave their famously warm welcome to the athletes and visitors and were as inspirational as the sporting champions who broke records and won medals.

Mike Hooper, Chief Executive of the Commonwealth Games Federation said:

“I have no doubt that these have been great Games, and, in my view, are the stand out Games in the history of the movement.”

Experience for yourself the city and spirit that really did make Glasgow 2014 the Best Games Ever.

English UK Scotland Boosts Scottish Economy


In the year January – December 2012, English UK Scotland members taught 13,749 students in total.  7,866 were juniors, while 5,883 were adults.  Although we had more junior students through our doors, the adults stayed in Scotland for longer, with 19,153 student weeks being recorded at junior level opposed to 32,233 adult student weeks.

Our students come from all over the world.  In Europe we attract the highest number from Italy (12,537) followed by Spain (7,278).  While in Central and South America, Brazil (5,738) by far outperforms all other countries in sending students to Scotland to learn or improve their English.  We also welcome students from the Middle East, with Saudi Arabia (3,333) being the top area for us in that particular region.  In the Far East, we are a popular destination for students from China / Hong Kong (1,119) and Japan (596).

Our 12 member schools have reported that in total these students spent almost seven and a half million pounds on their course and tuition fees overall, followed by four and a half million pounds on their accommodation.  £718,993 was spent on leisure activities arranged through the schools and £23,516 on transport.  These figures are actuals spent through our member schools, so don’t take into account the extra money students will spend outside of their language school in the local area on items such as food and drink, other entertainment and sightseeing activities as well as other travel.

In total English UK Scotland members contributed just under thirteen million pounds to the Scottish economy in 2012. 

Focus on Glagow

Glasgow 2

Have you considered visiting Glasgow for your English language studies? It’s Scotland’s  largest city and a vibrant and energetic place famous for its culture, style and friendly people. Glasgow offers a blend of internationally-acclaimed museums and galleries, stunning architecture, vibrant nightlife, fantastic shopping and a diverse array of restaurants and bars.

In fact Glasgow is so good it’s won awards!  It was European City of Culture in 1990 and also the UK’s City of Architecture and Design in 1999. Its architecture is an attraction in itself.  The city centre has countless impressive Victorian structures and then there are the unique masterpieces of one of the city’s most celebrated sons, the legendary architect and designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

Exiting times are ahead for the city, which is due to play host to the Commonwealth Games in 2014.  The buzz is already building, as Glasgow gets ready to welcome some of the world’s top athletes and throw a huge party to celebrate sport in style.  Make sure you don’t miss out and make your plans now to get great at English in Glasgow.

Focus on Perth


Perth is ideally located right in the heart of Scotland, surrounded by some of the country’s  most beautiful scenery.  It is a compact, easily navigated city and proud of its safe and friendly environment. Perth boasts excellent shopping, eating out, entertainment, attractions and sport, all within close proximity to the city centre.  The city itself is very attractive and regularly wins awards from Beautiful Britain for its floral displays, with streets and public gardens filled with stunning flowers and colour from Easter to Autumn.

You won’t have to travel far to explore some ancient Scottish history, as Perth and the surrounding area is filled with heritage attractions. Scone Palace is the ancestral home of the Earls of Mansfield and the crowning place of Scottish Kings.  Two Historic Scotland properties are also to be found in and around Perth. Elcho Castle is a handsome and complete fortified mansion of 16th-century date, with three projecting towers. Huntingtower Castle has two fine and complete towers, built in the 15th and 16th centuries and joined by a range in the 17th century.

When you need some relaxation from your English language studies, Perth Leisure Pool is one of the best leisure swimming pools in Scotland, and is right next door to Dewar’s Centre where you can curl, skate or bowl.  Visitors can also enjoy golf, walking or fishing. The surrounding area has a wealth of walks and trails to suit all abilities. Whether it be a stroll in the park or an energetic hike up Kinnoull Hill on the outskirts of Perth.

Focus on Edinburgh

Festival Fireworks 1

Lets take a closer look at Edinburgh.  7 of our member schools are located in this city.  Summer is a great time to visit Edinburgh, as not only can you improve your English language skills with us, you will also have the chance to experience some amazing arts and culture.

The world famous Edinburgh International Festival takes place in August and is an unforgettable three weeks of the very best in international opera, music, dance and theatre.

Festival 2013 explores the relationship between artists and their contemporary innovations, materials and technologies in a rich and diverse way taking in early examples from around 500 years ago right through to the modern day in all artforms both classical and contemporary, chamber and large scale. Don’t delay, start planning your summer in Scotland and make sure you’ve chosen your English course and booked your seats for one of the greatest arts festivals in the world.


Tradition of Innovation

3130670-scottish-flag-waving-in-the-windScotland is well know for being one of the most inventive nations on Earth.  Scots themselves, as well as the talented international research teams working in our world famous universities, have made many breakthroughs that have changed the way we live and work today. Where would we be without the telephone, television and penicillin?  It’s thanks to Scots that we have these innovations that change and save lives.  This tradition continues on today. Exciting new developments coming out of Scotland in recent years have included the development of 3D computer games and the first ever cloned mammal – Dolly the sheep. So if you want to learn or improve your English in the home of some of the most inspiring and enquiring minds, then Scotland is the place for you.  During your time studying in Scotland you can explore the fascinating past, as well as being part of an exciting future.

What Our Students Say

Our member schools stretch right across Scotland, from the cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow in the Central belt to Perth and Aberdeen further north.  Where would you choose to study?  To help you decide, here’s what some previous students have to say about their time learning English in Scotland:

Luisa from Colombia spent 5 months studying at IH Aberdeen.  Aberdeen is a wonderful city to be in, whatever you’re doing. It has something very special and I loved every detail of the city, the landscape, the peace and the people who live there. On my first day, I knew right away that the experience was going to be amazing and productive. I remember all of you with great joy and I really appreciate your kindness and all the good moments, the motivation and the support you gave me to achieve my goals and improve my English.  I would like to let you know that thanks to your dynamic and enjoyable classes, I scored 7.5 in the IELTS exam.”

A student from Japan, who studied at Perth College, said “I had a good time this summer.  It was exciting – all the social programmes, and I was happy to stay in my host family’s house.  It was a good experience for me”.

Lorenzo from Italy had this to say about his choice to study at St Andrew’s College in Glasgow “It’s a very good college, a beautiful area, and the staff were very nice.”  While Antonas from Lithuania thought it was “Absolutely fantastic, fun, entertaining, and most importantly very good educationally.  Teachers were very friendly and easy to communicate with.  Thanks for a great time, I loved it here!”

Have you studied here in Scotland to improve your English?  If so, why not visit our Facebook page to share your story.

Image courtesy of Freedigitalimages.

Friendly by Nature

Year of Natural ScotlandA new survey has shown that you can be sure of a warm welcome if you choose Scotland for your English language studies.

The Scotland Visitor Survey, the biggest of its kind produced by the Scottish national tourism agency VisitScotland, reveals that Scots were the perfect hosts in the summers of 2011/12 with 80 per cent of visitors agreeing they were made to feel welcome by the locals.  A further 88 per cent of visitors went on to say they would definitely recommend Scotland to others.

Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland, said:

“The warm Scottish welcome is renowned across the world, but our survey shows the hugely positive impact local people have on the overall visitor experience. 

With 2013 designated as ‘Year of Natural Scotland’, it’s a chance to experience not just our friendly locals, but also Scotland’s great natural assets.  There are many special events running throughout the year to celebrate our reputation as a land of outstanding beauty and biodiversity, and promote ways in which visitors can enjoy our beautiful landscapes, wildlife and heritage responsibly.

So why not join us in Scotland in 2013?