The summer continues at ELA…

As the summer has gone by, we have seen more groups of students from around the world come and go. It’s always such a joy to share our days with such a diverse group of people! We strive to provide our students with a comfortable balance between class time and activities that allow them to really explore the beautiful city of Edinburgh. This means lots of outings to Arthur’s Seat, Calton Hill, and all the other sites of interest mentioned in our previous blog post.

One of our Italian groups enjoying a beautiful afternoon on Calton Hill

One of our Italian groups enjoying a beautiful afternoon on Calton Hill

Our Hong Kong group enjoyed a picnic at the foot of Arthur's Seat after a hike around Saint Anthony's Chapel and Saint Margaret's Loch

Our Hong Kong group enjoyed a picnic at the foot of Arthur’s Seat after a hike around Saint Anthony’s Chapel and Saint Margaret’s Loch

We also strive to make sure our students feel welcome and at ease when they are here, particularly our younger ones – it can be quite daunting to travel abroad at any age, but it can be especially trying if it is your first time travelling alone.   When our students leave, we often feel quite sad as it is easy to get attached to their lovely smiles and laughter.  We decided to surprise one of our students (whose birthday was a couple of days after he left) with an early birthday cake to share with his classmates, which was great fun!

Celebrating an early birthday at ELA

Celebrating an early birthday at ELA

We have three more big groups from Italy arriving in the next couple of weeks, which will keep us on our toes and then into Autumn mode for our mini-stays.  These offer an insight into Scottish culture and the variety of seasonal activities available.  More of this in my next blog.

What’s more, we have some very exciting plans for the Autumn! We’re also developing specialty courses that focus on English in specific fields, such as Legal English, Academic English, or English for the Financial World. If you’re looking to deepen your knowledge of speciality jargon, look no further! ELA has you covered.

ELA is more than just an English language school though. We also accept students who want to learn a new foreign language. Want to brush up on your Spanish, French, Italian, Russian, Portuguese, or Mandarin? Again, ELA has you covered. If you’re interested in finding out more about what ELA can offer you, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We’re here to help you explore the world of language!

English Summer School at ELA

What a terrific start to our summer… great students and the teaching always soars. Our activities have been second to none, with Rosslyn Chapel (for Da Vinci Code aficionados), the Royal Yacht Britannia, Holyrood Palace, the abundance of Edinburgh museums, Stirling and Edinburgh Castle… the list is endless. Our highlight has been the Harry Potter tour with Grayfriar’s Bobby incorporated, a blissful irony of one story of being of extreme success and happiness to the other of joyous woe. We could not have asked for better students. Hong Kong graciously accredited the school with their Chinese culture, Italy has re-romanticised what it is like to learn and to be young, Saudi Arabia has educated the few (in oil industry especially!) and Turkey has grasped our intellect and taste buds with how to make a proper kebab! Cyprus made a journey to see us, educating us with Ancient Greek Gods and Russia has been just simply amazing, especially with their literature. You have all taught the teachers on a daily basis and are dearly cherished. Not only do we teach you, but you teach us, which is priceless. Long may our cultures blossom together and may you continue to learn English in a great and rewarding way so you are able to communicate and thrive. The Summer has just begun!!! Please, don’t thank us at ELA….we thank you.

Cramond Beach 2 Gerogian House costumes Going on a trip Royal Yacht Britannia 2 Restaurant meal Russian Students at ELA Russians at Edinburgh Castle Scottish Parliament visit Lesson with Ranald

Top 5 reasons for downloading an audiobook



You might have heard this term, which started circling the web over 5 years ago, but didn’t know what the fuss was all about. Well, let us introduce you to this modern way of ‘reading’ or learning a language.

Please meet audiobooks, professionally narrated recordings of different kinds of literature, ranging from classical novels to modern sci-fi, including biographies and even recipe books. They are usually the exact version of a book, but sometimes they are shortened to further simplify the reader’s or in this case the listener’s life.
Now that we know what audiobooks are, we will find out why they are so popular and where to download free audiobooks in English.

Here are top 5 reasons why you should listen to an audiobook.

1. Audiobooks are great for those who do not like reading. We all have different learning techniques, some prefer reading while others prefer listening, so if you are one of the latter team, then audiobooks are your perfect match. Also, they are amazing for when you are feeling too lazy to read or just too busy to spare some of your time to reading.

2. You can take your audiobook wherever you want. It will substitute your boring date on your walks in the park, sunbathing sessions by the pool and many other activities like going to the gym, travelling and so on. Whether you are on the move or lying in your cosy bed, they can be downloaded straight to your phone or other smart device and be available within minutes.

3. When learning a new language, for example English, audiobooks will help you improve your pronunciation and boost your vocabulary. Furthermore, listening is proved to be an efficient way of memorising important facts, so stack up on books and get learning.

4. If you haven’t seen yet, there is a huge list of audiobooks available to suit everyone’s taste. And since they do not take up any space in your bag you can download several books at a time and enjoy listening to different stories and scenarios.

5. Another advantage of audiobooks is that you can set your own pace and regulate the speed of the recording. You can set it on low speed, to allow your brain to consume and process new information, or you could speed it up and learn more in an hour.

And if you are still not convinced, I suggest you give it a go and let us know what you think.

Big fans of audiobooks, who I am sure are members of Audible, will most definitely recommend to sign up and explore the rich collection of books that Audible has to offer.

At last, all I have to say is, audiobooks are wonderful! Even if you prefer reading books, you should at least once, try listening to your favourite novel.


As promised, here are a few websites where you can download free audiobooks in English:

Edinburgh is Calling

Get 20% off our social program

Edinburgh is an astonishing place, where you will find a perfect contrast between the old medieval town and Georgian town. It is a place, on the streets of which you will come across exceptionally beautiful architecture that organically coordinates with the traces of magnificent volcanoes, which are located in the heart of the city.

Edinburgh is home to world know philosophers, writers, academics, scientists, doctors, artists and many more famous people, like Alexander Graham Bell, Arthur Conan Doyle, Charles Darwin, David Hume, Peter Higgs and J.K. Rowling.

Here it seems like a long time ago the clouds from heaven have occupied the skies above the city, creating ever wonderful sunsets that cannot be compared to anything else. Here, every street is filled with rich history and possess a unique story, which is waiting to be revealed. Here, (spoiler alert) you will not find a lot of sunshine, but this place is famous for dramatic landscapes, mysterious legends, beautiful greenery and wonderful people who will make your visit to Scotland unforgettable.

ELA has gathered some of the most iconic places of this wonderful city, where you can immerse yourself in a fairy tale of this magical land. I can guarantee, that by looking at these photographs you will set off on an adventure to Edinburgh and there is no better place than ELA, who will help you find suitable English courses and comfortable accommodation, as well as organise tours and excursions.

scott monument

The Scott Monument is a Victorian Gothic monument to Scottish author Sir Walter Scott. It is the largest monument to a writer in the world.






Here’s just a glimpse of some of the country’s top architectural feats.

During the last lunar eclipse, the Earth’s main shadow didn’t cover the Moon. As the Earth’s shadow (umbra) missed the Moon during a lunar eclipse, there were no other locations on Earth, apart from Edinburgh where the Moon appeared partially or totally eclipsed during this event.

castle south

Edinburgh’s sunsets are simply the best.


Edinburgh Castle is a historic fortress which dominates the skyline of the city of Edinburgh.

calton hill

The panoramic views from Calton Hill have astonished and inspired visitors for centuries.


We are not lying when we say that the region bursts with historical attractions.


Come and see for yourself!
Get 20% off our social program, when you book a minimum of 2 weeks of English classes with ELA.

What you have to do is, share this post on your wall, get as many likes as possible and write a very short story- ‘I would like to visit this wonderful place, because…’

(The story has to be no more than 150 words)
The offer is valid until the 20th of June 2016*
The winner will be announced on the 22nd of June.

*Terms and conditions apply
Please contact ELA for more information.

The EU Referendum


A hot topic in the UK today! Also, a good excuse to practice listening comprehension and less common vocabulary items.

These are the cornerstone “four freedoms” of the single market:
• The free movement of people
• The free movement of goods
• The free movement of services
• The free movement of capital (money)
How does each of the four freedoms potentially benefit individuals, consumers and businesses within the EU?

I. Match the words and expressions (1-8) with their definitions (a-e).

1. to ship off 2. privilege 3. to facilitate 4. to benefit 5. turnover
6. employment 7. GDP 8. When it rains, it pours!

a. to be helped by something or to help someone
b. the fact of someone being paid to work for a company or organization
c. Gross Domestic Product: the total value of goods and services produced by a country in a year
d. to send something somewhere
e. to make something possible or easier
f. the amount of business that a company does in a period of time
g. said when one bad thing happens, followed by a lot of other bad things that make a bad situation worse
h. an advantage that only one person or group of people has, usually because of their position or some legal considerations

II. Fill in these sentences with words (1-8)above. You may change the word.

a. I feel that I have greatly _______________________ from her wisdom.
b. The machine was __________________________ to the nearest repair facility.
c. If the ______________________ continues to shrink, the country will be in a recession.
d. The company’s annual _______________________ is somewhere around £70.7 million.
e. The new ramp will ____________________ the entry of wheelchairs.
f. ___________________ levels are unlikely to rise significantly before the end of next year.
g. I have a new supervisor at the office, three new assistants to train, and enough work to keep me busy for months — _____________________________.
h. Senior management enjoy certain ____________________, such as company cars and health insurance.

III. Watch this video and do the following activities:

A. Is the tone of the report positive or negative about Britain’s future if it decided to leave the EU?

B. Watch the video again. Fill in the notes about what leaving the EU, would mean for Britain

Positive impact because:
• Independence from Brussels’ 1. __________________________________
• Funds that would normally go to the EU, could be used for British 2. ___________________
• The UK would not be forced to give money to other 3. _________________ when their economies fail
• Britain could get its own 4. _______________________________

Economic disaster because:
• The UK could lose all the trading privileges that accompany 5 _____________________
• British customers may not be able to shop at 6. _______________________
• Corporations would have to pay higher rates to 7. ___________________ their products
• Turnover, demand and employment would be 8. __________________
• GDP would 9. ___________________
• The savings made by not having to give money to the EU would not 10. __________________ for the GDP losses
• Less trade means the UK would have 11. ___________________ and 12. ___________________________

EFL exam advice


Because Edinburgh Language Academy is a computerised test centre, I thought it might be useful to offer advice on which level tests are best for you. With the many different level tests available in the EFL marketplace that may be required by UKVI, UK and USA Universities or UK employers, it can be confusing to decide which one to take.

Below is a brief summary of the different English exams you can take that are recognised by most government agencies and academic institutions in English speaking countries as an indication of your English level and ability. Please click on the links to find more information.

We offer four of the exams in our own ELA Exams Centre , which is actually right here in our school. Students who prepare with us don’t even need to leave the school to take the exams.

If you have ever studied the Cambridge Suite of Exams in your own country, this path may be open to you. If you were to sit the CAE exam and gain a pass at A or B, then you would never have to take any English level test again to prove that you have A’level standard English. Once you achieve a grade in a Cambridge exam it has no expiry date. It should be noted though, that Cambridge exams are a qualification and a a certain amount of preparation is required in order to cover the content of these exams. You are expected not just to be able to communicate in English but also analyse the language itself.

Other exams which can be used as proof of your overall level of English, and for which you can sit an exam at the ELA Test centre, are: the TOEFL test, the Pearson PTE Academic or Trinity GESE or SEW. The first two are computer based tests. Both of them are taken on the computer and you do not meet an examiner. ELA is a Trinity Secore English Language Test approved centre. These tests can be used for UKVI applications for visas, leave to remain and citizenship. The formats of these exams are very different and its advisable (though totally optional) to take a short preparation course before any of them.

ELA also offers preparation courses for the IELTS exam, which is currently a written paper. This exam does require a certain amount of specialist preparation.

At ELA we teach you necessary language content but also strategies for each task on any of these exam papers. We also teach you effective revision and exam room techniques. Classes start each Monday.

Tests fall on global exam dates throughout the year. To book a Cambridge or Trinity exam in Edinburgh with ELA please fill out the application form. For TOEFL and Pearson dates please check their respective websites by clicking here and here.

How to Build a Time Machine

Start here

Work with a partner. Answer these questions:

1. Is it illegal to break the laws of physics? Can you give an example of one law of physics?
2. Do you think time travel is possible? What do you know about Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity?
3. If you could open a portal to the past, where and when would you go?
4. What about a shortcut to the future- would you jump ahead in time? Why (not)?
5. Look at these two images. How are they connected to the idea of time travel?

1 2

A. Match these words ( Black hole, Wormhole, Dark energy, Quantum mechanics) with a definition:

1. a theory that explains the behaviour of elementary particles, both separately and in groups

2. a theoretical form of energy postulated to act in opposition to gravity and to occupy the entire universe, accounting for most of the energy in it and causing its expansion to accelerate.

3. a region in space where gravity is so strong that nothing, not even light, can escape

4. a special type of structure that some scientists think might exist, connecting parts of space and time that are not usually connected

C. Play a fun game! Falling into a Black Hole!


A. Watch the first part of the video (0.00-1.00) and fill in these sentences:

Time travel is 1 _________________________________________
Einstein’s 2 ______________________________________ claims that the stronger the gravity the slower 3 ________________ moves.
This means that by linking two parts of 4 ____________________ that have different gravity you would in theory be able to travel back and forward in time between the two planets.
Gravity is the strongest close to a black hole, which means that time moves slower close to the black hole than it does on 5__________________________.
The problem is that right now scientists don’t know how to get space explorers from Earth to the black hole 6___________________ because they have not been able to build anything that travels faster than the 7___________________________.
Wormholes are claimed to be the only 8_______________________ that would allow people to travel back and forth in time.

B. Watch the next part of the video (1.00-1.57) and fill in this diagram that summarises how to build a time machine.


C. Watch the last part of the video and take notes in order to answer the following questions:

1. According to the video, how far back in the past would a traveller be able to go?
2. How much energy would a time machine actually require?
3. What is the Grandfather Paradox?
4. In your opinion, will time travel ever happen?

The Art of Learning

GRIT Poster

Below is a link to an article that refers to some of the things that are at the core of our academic strategy at ELA. Students are regarded as a complex mixture of content knowledge/skills and psychological, emotional, and cultural factors. They are constantly encouraged to get involved and think about their own learning. While the end result is particularly important in the context of an exam preparation class, we also focus on the learning journey, and helping student develop skills to cope with the various challenges that they may come across when leaving and studying in an English speaking country. The academic manager together with the class teacher follow students’ progress at a customized level to quickly identify student priorities and to offer targeted academic support. Short tutorials are used to boost motivation and resilience.

What Does It Mean to Have ‘Grit’ in the Classroom?


How much clean air do you need?

Today, two listening comprehension activities based on a real news story from a couple of weeks ago. As unbelievable as it may seem, this is a true story!!! Watch this video from Sky News and do the exercises below:

A different kind of family business

1. Fill in this text
A family in Dorset is showing how to make money out of 1.………………………..

Leo De Watts’ mother and sister collect hillside air and then put it into jars to sell them for 2…………………….. each. Clients in 3………………… have already bought more than 100 jars, because pollution levels in this country are among the highest in the world. Leo says part of the idea behind the venture was to raise awareness that millions of people around the world don’t have access to clean air.

The De Watts collect and sell air from a variety of UK locations: Yorkshire, Dorset and Somerset, and Leo’s sister Francesca explains they’re all different. She says: “Some of the air may pick up different notes of 4 …………………. , or near the sea it would pick up some 5…………………… in it as well.” Melanie De Watts, Leo’s mother, is adamant that it is not a 7…………… and all the air is collected to order. She told Sky News: “It’s got no pollutants in it at all. It’s fresh, it’s good for you and it’s freely available. It’s a …………….. product. We’ve never shipped a jar that was just filled in 8……………………..or at 9………………………home.”

The product is being advertised and sold as a high-end product, ” 6……………….. air”.

2. Answer these questions:

a. What is the problem the journalist points out?
b. Why wouldn’t the man buy the product?
c. How many people die of pollution in China each year?
d. How many jars would a single individual require in a single day?