Introducing….. IELTS

There can be no doubt; IELTS has largely cornered the market for universities and visas. It’s a safe bet that if you want to study in the UK, or move here from the outside the EU, IELTS will help you on your way.

IELTS is recognised at universities and governments all over the world. In the UK it is one of only two exams recognised by UK Visas and Immigration. Students; IELTS will help you get your tier 4 visa to come to the UK and enjoy our fantastic colleges and universities. Remember that ELA is always happy to arrange short term Visa and TIER 4 Visa letters for candidates who qualify for them!

Clearly IELTS is more important than ever. So what is it????

Unlike most other exams IELTS can be taken by students of various levels, the exam is designed to evaluate a range of abilities. As such there is no pass or fail; instead there are bands from 1.0 to 9.0, with half scores also possible. You can see how it compares with the Common European Framework below:


IELTS tests the four skills of reading, listening, writing and speaking. Most candidates are relieved to find there is no grammar section! You also have the luxury of choosing from General or Academic IELTS, though the vast majority of people take the academic exam as it’s what universities and colleges want. Although the language in IELTS reading and writing can be quite formal there is plenty of room to produce phrasal verbs and idioms in the speaking! Just remember not to beat around the bush!!!

At ELA we have had a decade of teaching IELTS to highly motivated students. We have had the pleasure of seeing countless students from all backgrounds achieve the score they needed to progress in their academic or professional lives. As teachers this gives us the kind of job satisfaction that keeps us motivated!

We have a library stuffed with IELTS materials


  • Various different course books
  • Official IELTS practice tests
  • Listening materials
  • Interactive smartboards in classrooms
  • Writing and speaking guides
  • Vocabulary books

All of these resources are put to good use by our experienced teachers to make sure you’re given support in the areas you need. At ELA you can study for five hours a day. In the morning (9-1230) you’ll focus on expanding your language skills as well as academic English. In the afternoon you can produce the language you’ve learnt in our IELTS course (1330-1530.) Longer-term students will have regular tutorials with our director of studies, who will keep an objective eye on your progress.

If you’re ready to take on the challenge of IELTS then we’re ready to help. Contact us at to get started!


Completed your Trinity CertTesol at ELA??? Here are some fabulous TEFL destinations where there are no shortage of jobs (check out for an exhaustive list)


Czech Republic

Yes, Prague is still beautiful and still cheap! Go on, name another European capital city that is so affordable, liveable and has so many job opps. That’s right, you probably can’t.


Good for:

* money; you can probably earn the average Czech monthly wage very soon in your career.

* architecture, choose from one of Prague’s painfully cool but beautiful inner city areas or go for communist chic in one of the outer neighbourhoods

Will it be Žižkov or ....

Will it be Žižkov or ….


Jižní Město (south city) ???







* Sport, there are teams galore for football and ice hockey fans. Kick off times range from 1800 Friday to 1000 (yes AM) Sunday. Don’t worry, good beer is always available.

* Film, the vast majority of cinemas use Czech subtitles so gorge on the city’s independent cinema scene

* Gigs, most bands feel obliged to add a central European leg to a tour. Tickets are normally very easy to come by.

*public transport, highly efficient and highly subsidized. You’ve really no excuse not to explore the capital and the rest of the country

* Language, the locals know it’s difficult and appreciate any sort of effort you make in murdering it


But hold on:

* Czechs think nothing of having lessons at 0720 before work! Few teachers can afford to turn down these pre-morning

Winter commute- tram style

Winter commute- tram style

classes so get your beauty sleep

* You will travel a lot, from company to school to private home. In the winter this can be tiring

* it’s an employers’ market and many schools want self-employed teachers. Plus, as most TEFL managerial

roles are occupied by Czechs you may need to look elsewhere for career progression

* Whisper it to your students but Czech food can be a tad monotonous. And stodgy.





Boasting a thriving TEFL market, a dizzying selection of beautiful places to live and noticeably more money than Italy (the other major European destination).


* if you want a relaxed lifestyle with good public services look no further

* the Spanish know how to party, keep up with them if you can

In Spain even your grandparents stay up all hours

In Spain even your grandparents stay up all hours

* Village or city? Mountains or beaches? Andalusia or Asturias? The range of destinations can be daunting, in a good way

* Contracts, most academies in Spain offer proper 10 month contracts with paid holidays. The work tends to dry up in the summer.

*Tapas, go to the right part of the country and you will effectively eat for free


As tasty as it looks

* Spanish and English share a number of Latin based words. Save time by asking ‘Is it the same in Spanish?’

* Region rules. You may have dined on Galician sea food but you haven’t tasted paella if you haven’t had it in Valencia. Which region is most        Spanish? Visit them all to decide!

* Quite simply: the people. Your classroom will never be dull. Your town center will never be quiet.




It’s not all tinto de varano :

* The climate is not all it’s cracked up to be. Madrid and Granada can be cold in winter and stifling in summer. Many rental flats in the south don’t have any heating at all!

White Madrid, a more common sight than you might expect

White Madrid, a more common sight than you might expect

* Be aware that not all private academies are of the same quality. Do your research before you commit to a school!


* Learn the lingo to 1) make local friends and 2) enhance your promotion chances. Academies tend to want managers who can speak with parents and clients

* Remember the locals’ language skills may not be up to much, especially in more regional towns and smaller cities

* Fix a smile on your face, grab a strong a coffee and be prepared to teach kids!





Always an attractive option for the more adventurous TEFLer; teachers who go normally come back with tales of an unforgettable experience.

Get going for:

* the high salaries Westerners, especially those with relevant degrees, are often offered in big cities

* the buzz of International cities like Beijing and Shanghai with the thriving expat scenes

Enjoy the buzz of Beijing

Enjoy the buzz of Beijing


* Shenzhen in the tropical SE, a booming city close to some of China’s best beaches

Dameisha Beach, Shezhen

Dameisha Beach, Shezhen

* the challenge of a different script. Remember you can get by without speaking the language initially and there are lots of handy apps to help!

* the typically warm Chinese welcome

* a truly different society and a different world view






* The air quality in some of the bigger cities famously leaves a lot to be desired


* There’s a big difference between teaching in private academies and public schools, make sure you know what you’re letting yourself in for

* Chinese work places tend to have a different mentality to their Western counter parts. Bosses are rarely questioned and saving face can be all important

* to carefully consider the reputation and location of the school/academy. Finding yourself as one of a handful of foreigners in a provincial city working for a poorly run organization….is best avoided

Have you got what it takes to be a TEFLer???

If you’re looking for a way to live abroad and enjoy helping people, keep reading: ELA’s Trinity certTESOL courses could be for you.

TEFL can take you anywhere in the world but you have to be up for the challenge.

Where will you go???

Where will you go???

Moving abroad into the unknown is sure to get the heart pumping. Most expats vividly remember their first few days abroad and it takes some time for that initial buzz to wear off, if it ever does. As you rise to the challenges of finding our way around your new city, shopping in strange surroundings or figuring out how to get wifi, you will feel a sense of accomplishment out of all proportion to such mundane tasks.

Added to the undeniable thrill of living abroad is the sense of satisfaction that you are there to contribute to local skills and education. Whether it’s in public schools, language academies,italian-classroom companies or even private homes1-1-lesson you have a unique chance to get to know, understand and help local people. Along the way you will meet characters you would never otherwise have been exposed to, some of these will become good friends.

If these benefits appeal to you then perhaps it’s time to consider if you’re ready for, or content with, your 9-5 office world. Flexibility is certainly a key attribute TEFL teachers must have in bucket loads. Always remember: it’s the students’ lesson not the teachers’! You don’t have to be the expert but you do have to exploit different parts of your personalities with different groups.

Mind your Teacher Talk Time!

Mind your Teacher Talk Time

Flexibility doesn’t just extend to personalities or lesson types. The green TEFLer must also be culturally adaptable. If you expect a mini super-market open from 1000-2200 on every Italian street corner, stay in Blighty. If you have to have your tapas before 9, stay home. ‘Normal’ and ‘right’ are truly subjective matters.

Can you learn to adapt?

Can you learn to adapt? 

Embrace the strangeness of your new home  and learn more about your own as you go!


Hello, fellow lovers of language!

This week, we’ve asked one of our talented teachers here at ELA to speak about the IELTS Exam, a topic that we have frequent questions about. If you have more questions about this popular exam, you can visit the ELA website. You can also find great practice materials on the British Council’s  page. And, of course, if you have more in depth questions, or would like to know how to enrol, visit us here.


And now we bring you Jonny’s introduction to IELTS:

What is IELTS?  Do I need it?

Well, there are two ‘parts’ to this English Examination, and students choose the exam based on whether they are doing Academic IELTS  or General IELTS.

Most students choose Academic IELTS, as they are preparing for an undergraduate or Postgraduate University course, either in Britain or abroad. Students choosing General IELTS usually require it as a VISA requirement or as a quick (but very appreciated) test of their English for an employer, or perhaps because they simply want to test themselves. In reality, the Speaking and Listening exams are exactly the same, while Writing and Reading are slightly different, but we’ll talk about that if you join the course.

You might ask what we do to prepare for these exams. The truth is that it isn’t all Exams Exams Exams.  To do well, you need to have a good appreciation of grammar and a wide vocabulary, while also possessing other skills and abilities, such as comprehension, written and fluency skills, with clear pronunciation, for example.  You also need to be able to understand the nature of Academic English.  So, yes, everyone does practice exams but it is much more than just exams.

At Edinburgh Language Academy, our classes take place from 13.30 to 15.30 every day, although we do intensive courses too – and, if you prefer 1-1 classes, we can be arrange this at a time to suit you.

Thank you for your interest in ELA! We look forward to welcoming you soon!

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.