Erasmus+ Teacher Training course in Edinburgh

Course Programme
Introduction to Edinburgh and Scottish culture
Scottish People  ❤   and the Prize Giving Ceremony
Brexit and Scotland

 

 

I chose to attend a two-week teacher training course in Edinburgh, Scotland between 20th June and 1st July 2016. The full name of the course was “Effective Communication and Practical Teaching Skills with an Introduction to Scottish Culture”. The course was given by the language school Inlingua Edinburgh, which is a small school situated in the main street of Edinburgh’s new town. In our teacher training group there were only six English teachers, and the total number of students in the whole school during my stay was only about 20, so it was relaxed and we got to know each other, and all the teachers knew our names by the end of the first day I think! In our course there were two English teachers from Poland (upper secondary school),  one from Spain (nursery school), one from Germany (senior citizen education), one from the Reunion Island / France (secondary school) and I.

Course Programme

We had teacher training lessons every morning from 9.30 to 12.45, and after lunch we had our 90-minute spoken perfomance class, and the afternoons we spent exploring Edinburgh with one of the teachers as our expert guide. So our days lasted full eight hours and sometimes even more, when the afternoon tours took longer than expected :).

We had four Inlingua teachers training us in the mornings, so we were offered a wide range of teaching techniques and resources. We learnt about adaptable teaching, teaching grammar creatively, using Cuisenaire rods in language teaching, teaching speaking, listening and phonology, activating vocabulary, teaching reading and writing, how to teach grammar creatively, the use of games and drama, and the use of web resources in the classroom. On the last day of the course we had to plan a lesson and present it to the group.

We were also taught the Scottish national poet, Robert Burns, and we read his famous poem  “To A Mouse“, which he wrote in Scots, the Scottish dialect of English spoken in Lowland Scotland. We then had to write a poem of our own using the Burns stanza, which was quite fun. We also picked up a few words in Scots, such as:

Aye = yes (in every day use still)

wee = tiny, little (also in everyday use in Scotland)

loch = lake

glen = valley

och = oh!   (and there are many more)

I must say I just loved the Scottish accent! It was always different depending on the speaker, but everybody rolled their Rs, which made them “rhotic speakers”. All our classes were conversational, and we had lots of chances to speak English with native speakers. I did not say a word of Finnish in three weeks :).

Introduction to Edinburgh and Scottish culture

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As I told before, we spent our afternoons visiting various sights in Edinburgh and its surroundings. I think this was something extra compared to other courses, as there was always a teacher with us who could tell us about the places we visited. And all explained in the beautiful Scottish accent ;).We also did quite a bit of walking around the city!

We visited the old and new town of Edinburgh, the Georgian house which is a town house from the late 18th century, the Royal Botanic Gardens (we learned that the thistle 330px-Milk_thistle_flowerhead is the national symbol of Scotland), The National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery of Scotland, the Calton Hill, the Scottish Parliament and Rosslyn Chapel and the Edinburgh Castle. The school also organized a pub night with teachers and we were given some expert advice on Scottish whiskies. We were not able to visit the Palace of Holyroodhouse because it is the official residence of  the Queen when she is in Scotland, and she was there to give some garden parties and open the Session of the Scottish Parliament.

All in all, I learned a lot about the history of Scotland, its kings and queens, the Jacobites, the history of the old and the new town of Edinburgh, about the Scottish politics and the Scottish national identity.

 Scottish People  ❤   and the Prize Giving Ceremony

I stayed with a family in Edinburgh, because I wanted to practise English and get a real insight into life in Scotland. The house was a 45-minute walk from the city centre and the school, and I bought a bus pass because the walk in the morning was uphill. The buses were quite slow on the busy cobbled streets, the ride to school took some 20 minutes. I stayed with Carolyn and her daughter Katherine, who were just lovely and made me feel like a member of the family!

I found all the people I met extremely friendly and polite. That is something we Finns could learn from the Scottish people. I did not hear any swear words either. It is considered very rude to swear in Britain, especially to people you don’t know well. I am going to tell my students that there is no need to sound like gangsta rappers in my classes 🙂

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Katherine received four or five awards!

I had a chance to visit Katherine’s school, Drummond Community High School, with her mom and grandmother for a prize giving ceremony. Students received prizes for their achievement at school. The ceremony was for their families. There were a couple of speeches and musical perfomances, so it resembled our end of term festivities, but it was two weeks before the end of term and the beginning of summer holidays. There were prizes in different categories: “General award for effort and commitment” in various subjects,”overall year winners”, “100% attendance and excellent punctuality” but also “strive to succeed award” which was for those who had improved their performance. All the names of the students were printed on a leaflet, a copy of which I got, too. This ceremony made me think that in Finland we do not want to make a great fuss about good achievement at school, perhaps because we fear that it might cause bad feelings among those who do not get any prizes, but maybe the students find these prize giving ceremonies motivating instead?

 

Brexit and Scotland

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During my stay the UK had the referendum whether to leave or remain in the European Union. I stayed up on the 23rd of June until about 3 in the morning and went to bed thinking that the remain side would win, but woke up to Brexit. It was a shock to many people in Scotland, as Scotland and also Northern Ireland had voted for staying in the EU. It remains to be seen if there is  a second vote on independece (indyvote2) after this.

The Scotsman on Brexit

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Last, I did a little bit of travelling on my own and visited the Higlands and the Isle of Skye. I left a piece of my heart there ❤

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by Erja Rantanen

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