Learn to Learn to with ELA-Edinburgh

Here at ELA-Edinburgh we see helping our students become better students as one of our main goals. With this in mind we include ‘learning to learn’ sessions at the start of all of our courses and the feedback from them is always great.

Make sure this isn’t you!!

Earlier this year we brought you tips on how to study more effectively, just look back in our blog to check out the details. Today we present some advice on how to learn vocabulary. If you sit at your desk and repeat irregular verbs to yourself, we are here to help!

  • Flash cards

You can make them at home and study them on the bus, at lunch or in front of the TV. Here is an example to get you started that shows some of the information you might want to include.


Don’t forget to mix up the order of the cards and take a moment to guess before you turn over your card!

If you’re more into technology you can try some of the great learning apps, such as Quizlet, which let you build your own personalized vocabulary lists



  • A notebook
  • Perhaps the next stage from flashcards is a notebook with your organized class notes. Teachers often notice that students write down vocabulary in a lesson but then do not organize it. Successful students generally have a well ordered notebook with different sections for phrasal verbs, idioms or grammar notes. This involves re-writing your class notes at the end of every week but you will soon notice the benefits.
  • Dictionaries

    Whether online or print, dictionaries will define a word, help you spell it and explain how to pronounce it.


  • Word Maps

Word maps give you the freedom to link words in groups or categories and the chance to illustrate your diagrams. If you’re a visual learner and enjoy learning through pictures, they could be             perfect for you.

  • Learn ChunksMany people find it easier to learn phrases rather than individual words. For example, ‘do homework’ or ‘make your bed’ are chunks of language. Other examples of chunks might be phrasal verbs, ‘to get on well with somebody’, or idioms, ‘to get on like a house on fire.’
  • Learn to take words apartMany language students find that analysing a word helps them to guess it’s meaning without turning to a teacher or dictionary for help. For example; the word ‘unimaginable’ might look long and complicated but let’s try taking it apart:

    Viewed like this the word has three clear parts; the prefix, the stem (or route) and the suffix. If we remember that ‘able’ refers to ability and that ‘un’ is a general prefix to make something negative, we can guess that unimaginable means impossible to imagine. This technique is particularly useful for speakers of other European languages.

  • Review OftenYour goal is to transfer your new vocabulary from your short term to your long term memory. There’s no point learning words in class today and not being able to use them a week later so make sure you look back over your notes regularly. With the help of a well-organized workbook you can make sure that vocabulary doesn’t slip out of your head.


Phrasal Verbs Practice

This week, a couple of quick exercises to help you practice some common phrasal verbs. Start with a short word search puzzle, then, use the phrasal verbs from the puzzle to fill in the empty spaces in the text below. Enjoy!

Click here for the word search activity: word search

Fill in the gaps with the correct phrasal verb. You will need to put the verb in the correct tense.
Old man Peter Reid was famous, and many (1)_________________ to him because he was particularly talented at (2)_________________ with his wife and then (3)_________________ with her by playing the bagpipes under her windows. His friends would need (4)_________________ for a night or two in between. Peter and his wife had never really (5)_________________, and his wife only (6)_________________ him because he was so famous. Peter made a good living by playing the bagpipes at weddings and parties, and he had also had a hit on Scottish radio back in the 1950s. So they never (7)_________________ of money. People loved Peter because whenever they (8)_________________ a lot of work, his serenades in the city centre would give them an excuse to stop working. He would never (9)_________________ of tunes, and it was a mystery to everyone where he (10)_________________ so many of them. Sadly, one day he died. His wife (11)_________________ telling the town about it at first, but then she (12)_________________ some newspapers to tell all his friends at once. So she went to the Aberdeen Evening Express and said, ‘I’d like tae place an obituary fur ma late husband.’
The man at the desk said, ‘OK, how much money dae ye have?’
The old woman replied, ‘£5’ to which the man says, ‘Ye won’t get many words for that but write something and we’ll see if it’s ok.’
So the old woman wrote something and handed it over the counter. The man read ‘Peter Reid, fae Kincorth, deid.’ He felt sad at the abruptness of the statement and encouraged the old woman to write a few more things, saying, ‘I think we cud allow 3 or 4 more words fer ye money.’ The old woman pondered and then added a few more words and handed the paper over the counter again. The man then reads – ‘Peter Reid, fae Kincorth, deid. Bagpipes and Ford Escort for sale.’

Click here for the key to the gap fill activity: Answer key

Let’s prepare for IELTS (Writing test advice)

IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is probably the world’s most popular English language test.

You might need to take this exam for various reasons, among which are life abroad, education and work around the world. A lot of companies worldwide accept IELTS, including government, academic and employment institutions. IELTS is the only English language test accepted for immigration purposes by all countries that require one.

In less than three hours, it will help you to assess all of your English skills: listening, reading, writing and speaking.

Today we would like to share with you some writing tips that might be useful, if you decide to prepare for this exam.

  • During the exam you can write your answers in pen or pencil.
  • Carefully analyse each task and spend some time making notes
  • Plan your answers.
  • Write using paragraphs; put one idea in each paragraph.
  • Try not to repeat ideas using different words.
  • Avoid copying whole sentences from the question – you will receive no marks for this.
  • Always remember to stick to the topic; do not write about unrelated subjects.
  • It is important to manage your time; remember, Task 2 is worth twice as much as Task 1.
  • Spend about 20 minutes on Task 1 and about 40 minutes on Task 2.
  • Word count matters; pay attention to the number of words required for each task; you  need to write at least 150 words for Task 1 and at least 250 words for Task 2.
  • Your answers should be written in full; answers written in note form or in bullet points will lose marks.
  • It is recommended to avoid informal language.
  • Make sure you have time to check your spelling, grammar and punctuation; you will lose marks for mistakes. Spend just several minutes re-reading and correcting your answers.

Follow this link to listen to more tips from IELTS test takers: http://takeielts.britishcouncil.org/prepare-your-test/tips-candidates

Have you ever taken IELTS test? What advice can you give to those who plan to take this test soon?


Edinburgh Castle – Comprehension

The One o’clock Gun is fired at 13:00 hours every day except Sunday – you can join the crowds to experience its roar.

The tradition began in 1861 to provide ships in the Firth of Forth with an audible time signal to accompany the visual signal of the time-ball dropping at the top of the Nelson Monument. This helped shipping set the maritime clocks needed to navigate the globe long before satellite navigation was available. You can hear the gun clearly from our classrooms at Edinburgh Language Academy.

You can hear daily news about Edinburgh Castle on Edinburgh Castle’s Blog


Questions true or false?

1) The gun is fired every Sunday at 1pm.

2) The gun used to be fired from Nelson’s Monument.

3) GPS wasn’t available in 1861.

4) You can’t hear the gun from our classrooms.



What is being tested here?


Phrasal Verbs

phrasal verbs

Here are some phrasal verbs that come up when you speak English to a native English speaker.

All of these phrasal verbs begin with the letter ‘A’

agree to I wish she would agree to my proposal.
agree with I agree with him on that point.
ask after Mr. Smith asked after John.

Can you make three sentences using each phrasal verb correctly?

How to say GOODBYE without actually saying GOODBYE

Uncle Tom's Cakes

1. Cheerio = A funny and friendly way to say goodbye in English.

“I have to go home for dinner, cheerio!”

2. Toodle-OO = This is a very silly and funny way to say goodbye, you will make people laugh by saying Toodle-oo!

“OK see you soon, Toodle-OO!”

3. Toodle-pip = Another hilarious way to say goodbye in English. This is the funniest and silliest one!

“OH NO!!, it’s late, I’d better go home, toodle-pip!”

4. See you later aligator = This is a fun way to say goodbye in English and is often used by children (although I use it all the time), it also has a really fun rhyming response.

A: “I’m going home, see you later alligator!”
B: “In a while crocodile!”

5. Laters! = A very cool and relaxed way to say goodbye to your friends in English.

A: “OK, see you tomorrow!”
B: “Laters!”

6. Catch you later = Another relaxed and very informal way of saying goodbye to somebody when you know you will see them again soon.

“Catch you later, man!”

7. Take care = A more formal way of saying goodbye to somebody that you care about.

A: “I’m going home now, Tony. Thanks for your help today!”
B: “No problem, take care and see you soon”
A: “Thanks, you too!”

8. Take it easy = A nice way to say goodbye to a friend who you care about, but when you don’t want to show too much emotion. It means, don’t work too hard, enjoy your life.

“See you tomorrow, mate. Take it easy!”

9. Bye for now = A more formal way of saying goodbye to somebody when you know that you will see them again, but when you don’t know when.

A: OK, I’d better go, the last train leaves in 5 minutes. I’ll be back next month but I don’t know exactly when.”
B: “OK, well have a great train ride and bye for now!”
A: “Yes, bye for now!”

10. I need to scoot = A fun way of saying I have to go! Not to be used in formal situations.

“OK it’s like so I need to scoot, toodle-oo and see you soon!”


So you tell me! How can you say godbye in your own language without actually saying goodbye (answers in English please).


Gary xx