False friends! Can they really be your friends?

First impressions.  It’s a topic that is explored by a number of course books at a variety of levels and it is often interesting  how different people contextualise it.  Most people think of a professional environment – such as a job interview or starting a new job.  This is not always the case.

“I made a bad impression when I met my boyfriend’s family.” 

Having spent time with this particular student, I found it difficult to comprehend that such a positive person would make anything less than an exemplary first impression.  So I asked her how.  The answer is not too surprising.  There was a discussion between her and one of the members of her boyfriend’s family and she translated a Spanish phrase into literal English where the meaning was the opposite of what was intended.

Está bien si yo no te caigo bien‘ she said, which translates (literally) to ‘It’s ok if I don’t like you’ but what it actually means is ‘It’s ok if you don’t like me.’ A small difference, but one which drastically changes the meaning.  Needless to say, the conversation went downhill after that.

It got me thinking about other situations where there could be a potentially catastrophic misunderstanding. One of the most common culprits are False Cognates (false friends) and they can lead to some difficult situations.  Here are some that have appeared in class:


One the student’s friends was embarazada, but she wasn’t ’embarrassed’ by anything.  In fact, she was pregnant.  I asked her if she had recently bought a new carpet and she said yes, and pulled out her carpeta – which turned out to be a ‘folder’.


We learnt about a brav friend of one of our students.  We asked her why she was brave, and she told us that was wasn’t, she was ‘honest’. We asked her if she ever gave her friend a present, or a gift, and she was shocked!  She wanted to know why she should ‘poison’ her friend.


One student remarked how his friend was very educato, so we asked if he had a PhD.  It turns out that he left school early but was very ‘polite’.  He had some dry skin on his wrist and another student asked him if he wanted some moisturizing ‘cream’.  He laughed, wondering why he was offered crema (custard) for his skin.


At the end of class, we were told to have a bonne journéebut we weren’t going on a journey.  We were just told to have a nice day. One of the other students remarked that he was going to have a grand day, which caused confusion. Why was his day big?

To recap:

Original Word English False Cognate Meaning
embarazada (Spanish) embarrassed/ashamed pregnant
carpeta (Spanish) carpet/rug folder
brav (German) brave/courageous honest
gift (German) gift/present poison
educato (Italian) educated/schooled polite
crema (Italian) cream/ointment custard
journée (French) journey/trip day
grand (French) grand/expensive big



“10 Things to do in Edinburgh” by ELA-Edinburgh students, Matteo and Paola


Two of Paola and Matteo’s star attractions: Edinburgh castle and the grassmarket

Let’s say you just arrived in Edinburgh. You still have time before returning to the Hotel, but is getting late and you are a little bit tired. Still, you want to take a walk around the city and get something to eat. The perfect place to aim for is the Grassmarket. It is an old square in the Old Town, just south of the Royal Mile, so you can get a glimpse of old medieval Edinburgh. They used to hang people there, and a lot of pubs are “in theme” (you can even have a pint at The White Hart, the oldest pub in town).


The Rose street is the perfect place to visit some pubs and restaurants with local food. There are a lot of different places where you can go for local specialities like ginger beer, haggis or whiskeys. Rose street is pedestrianized zone, so it is quite easy and relaxing to go through.


The Edinburgh Old Town is probably the best place to understand how the life in the 16th century was. The best place to do it is Mary King’s Close, which is on the Royal Mile. Situated below the Edinburgh City Council, it’s perfectly preserved, and the spooky mood certainly adds something to the experience, if you are into that kind of thing. Mind that the tours are usually pretty crowded, so booking a spot in advance could be a good idea.


The Edinburgh castle is the second highest point in the city and you can see it from a great distance. It looks impressive because you can see it from all over the town and if you walk the way up to the castle on the hill you can enjoy a beautiful view of the city.


All the way down the Royal Mile you can find the modern center of power for Scotland. The most recent center of power, the Parliament of Scotland, was built in the last decade, following the Devolution, so if you appreciate contemporary architecture you will probably enjoy it. Also, since the Scottish are pretty proud of their fight for freedom, you can learn all the details of their parliamentary quest. The most interesting part of the exhibition is visiting the Debate Chamber (you can also watch a public debate).


The Scottish parliament in front of Arthur’s Seat


The Wellington coffee shop is a lovely place for recover from the first daily english session. The great Italian coffee and the tasty scones with his different ingredients makes the life easy going.


The other seat of power down the Royal Mile is Holyrood Palace. Built during the 15th century, it was the residence of Scotland’s Royal Family. Now it is the Royal Residence during official visits of the British Royal Family. When the Queen is not visiting Scotland, you can visit most of the palace, and in summer also the gardens. In particular, in the gardens you can visit the ruins of the St. Augustine Abbey.


One of the most beautiful and famous streets is Royal mile. The architecture of the buildings is typical for Edinburgh with its old churches and houses with the gothic style. You can also look for some souvenirs or some pretty little things to buy. Furthermore there are some fudge kitchens where you can buy the best homemade fudge in very different flavours. They also show you how they produce this special Scottish candy.

The Royal Mile: home to Mary King’s Close and Holyrood Palace


The sleeping volcano just behind Holyrood Palace is the highest point of Edinburgh (ca. 250m), and the potential panoramic view that this fact implies should be enough to convince you to climb all the way up. You can actually see all of Edinburgh, south to the Borderlands, the Kingdom of Fife and all the way out to the North Sea. Also, if you appreciate archeology and paleontology, you can find the remains of three Prehistoric Forts. The tracks are easy, but remember to bring a jacket (it’s very windy) and sturdy shoes.


The Portobello beach is a few miles away  from the city center and if you are there you have a beautiful view over the sea. You can go there if you need some variety from the crowded city. If you are as crazy as some Scottish people you can do some sunbathing.


Business English at ELA-Edinburgh from 13/2/17

Here at ELA-Edinburgh we’re excited about starting our new Business English class next Monday. The course is planned and our students are raring to go; there’s no reason why you can’t join them.


Why ELA-Edinburgh?

ELA is the perfect location to study Business English. With our fantastic interactive smart boards and extensive library of materials we are perfectly equipped to meet our students’ needs. Our wealth of experience in the corporate sector has shown us that our policy of small classes and experienced teachers means each student gets plenty of individual attention. We have learnt how to

We use a range of business materials

plan our classes to suit the needs of our students in their current or future careers. To do this we use a range of materials, from coursebooks to podcasts and newspapers.  But what is it that actually distinguishes business from more general English classes?


What is Business English?

Of course many features are the same in Business English as in other classes. As always at ELA you will learn lots of vocabulary and practise plenty of grammar. However the vocabulary that we teach in business courses is particularly suited to the world of work. This language tends to be more formal than the vocabulary found in

Learn the language you need for the work place

general or exam preparation course books. In any work situation the right language is vital to communicating with colleagues, Business English gives our students experience of what language is most appropriate for the office. As a result most of our students tell us that they feel much more confident after completing our business course.


Skills and Functions

The two main differences in Business English are the skills and tasks that we focus on. Our course equips our students with the language tools they need to progress and impress in their professional lives. Among the many tasks we practise are:

  • Presentations- get the skills you need to stand up in front of colleagues and deliver a talk
  • Emails- learn how to compose work emails quickly and logically
  • Telephoning- this is a difficult skill for many learners but vital in business. Practise in the safety of our classroom!
  • Interviewing- let’s make sure you get your dream job
  • Negotiating- get your message across in often stressful situations. We’ll use dynamic case studies to give you experience
  • Cultural Etiquette- we’ll teach you the unwritten office rules of English speaking countries


Why not join our happy students?

Our Course

Our Business English course runs from Monday 13th February every weekday, 1330-1530. We welcome students of all ages from all over the world throughout the year. All of our students benefit from regular testing and individual tutorials to focus on their progress. If you would like more information on our Business English course please get in touch by emailing us at info@elacademy.co.uk

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!

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.
website: http://www.elacademy.co.uk/
email: info@elacademy.co.uk
facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EdinburghLanguageAcademy
twitter: https://twitter.com/E_L_ACADEMY

The Price of Happiness

1. Can happiness be bought? To find out, author Benjamin Wallace sampled some of the world’s most expensive products, including 8 ounces of Kobe beef, white truffles and silver nano-particles soap. Watch this video based on a TED.com talk and say whether he thinks expensive things are generally better than cheaper ones.

2. Watch the video again. Fill in the table below.

Table blog

3. Essay:

In most developed countries shopping is not only about buying the goods you need, it is also perceived as entertainment. Is it a positive or negative development? Give your own opinion and examples based on your experience. (250-300 words)

Enjoying Edinburgh

We love the capital city of Scotland for its beauty, unique atmosphere, fantastic architecture and great history.

We organise weekly excursions around Edinburgh and introduce it to our students coming to ELA from all over the world.

There is nothing more rewarding than showing them all the sights of our city, helping them to immerse themselves into its atmosphere and observing their enthusiasm when they learn about Edinburgh and Scotland.

Photo 2_edited

Edited Collage


PicMonkey Collage

PicMonkey Collage

Social Programme Photo 5_

Join us to learn more about ELA and our social programme.





How to study when you have hardly any free time?

Today we’ve decided to look at one of the most popular topics discussed by many ESL students. Almost all adult learners work full time nowadays and as we all know, there is hardly any free time left for learning or improving a foreign language.

However, we do believe that motivation is crucial for any type of activity including language learning.

Let’s look at some ways that can be used to learn or improve your language skills in the situation of almost zero spare time:

1) Find and arrange lessons via Skype.


It is the most convenient way of studying as it has lots of benefits for both parties.

• You don’t have to spend time getting to a language school or your private tutor’s house, nor do you have to spend time returning home. Such lessons can be held in absolutely any place where a computer and stable Internet connection are available (your home, cafes, libraries, etc.).
• You don’t have to cancel your lessons when you’re on a business trip or otherwise away.
• All study materials such can be transferred instantly or right before the lesson begins. Therefore, you save money by not purchasing expensive books.
• You can have lessons with a teacher from any part of the world, including native speakers from an English speaking country.
• Some professional teachers record their lessons and send them as an mp3 file to the student who can listen again and again to the lesson.

2) Listen to authentic materials online.


There are loads of websites that offer users to download or stream various genres of recordings like podcasts, video clips, educational video, seminars, etc.

3) Use your e-readers.


Almost all of us have an e-reader. Yes, some people might find it hard to read an e-book as the whole reading experience is slightly different to the one with a paper book. However, advantages of such devices are really hard to ignore: you can download any book you like and as many books as you wish; you can find authentic texts and also their adapted versions, which is great for those who have just started learning foreign languages.

4) Practice speaking and writing via forums.


There are a great number of forums online that provide a unique opportunity to chat with native speakers as well as other language learners. You can share your ideas on learning techniques, discuss topics that interest you and even arrange a video chat and practice speaking skills.

5) Listen to songs and audio books.

audio books

If you commute to work by car, you can listen to a CD or an mp3; if you travel by train or bus, you can use your mp3 player and enjoy an audio version of your favourite book.

6) Travel and communicate.


If you love travelling or you have to travel a lot due to your business arrangements, use this opportunity to get acquainted with people and practice speaking with them.

So, now we have at least six ways of learning and improving a foreign language.

What learning tips do you usually use?

Share with us.

Team ELA


Céilidh at ELA

At ELA we understand how important it is for our learners to become familiar not only with the English language but also with some aspects of Scottish culture. This is why we regularly organize ceilidh evenings for our students. A cèilidh or ceilidh /ˈkeɪli/ is a traditional Gaelic social meeting, which usually involves playing folk music and dancing. The term is derived from the Old Irish céle (singular) which means “companion”. It later became céilidhe and céilidh.


Originally, a céilidh was a gathering where stories and tales, poems and ballads were rehearsed and recited, and songs sung. Similar story- telling meetings and festivals took place among all the Celtic people as a way to facilitate courting and marriage prospects for young people. The dancing portion of the event has become popular in recent decades, though in some areas there are still story and poem telling events. Ceilidhs were originally hosted by a fear-an-tigh, meaning Man of the House, though in modern céilidhs the host is usually referred to more simply as Host or Master of Ceremonies. Privately organized céilidhs are common in Scotland, where bands are hired, usually for evening entertainment for a wedding, birthday party, celebratory or fundraising event. These may be more or less formal, and very often omit all other traditional Gaelic activity beyond the actual music and dancing.

The ELA céilidhs are not formal affairs, and although we encourage our students to wear highland dress, the only compulsory rule is to enjoy themselves, as the pictures show. Knowledge and use of the basic dance steps is not strictly necessary, and dances often alternate with songs, poetry recitals, and story- telling. The music is cheerful and lively, and the basic steps can be learned easily; a short instructional session is often provided for new dancers before the start of the dance itself.

Dancing at céilidhs is usually in the form of céilidh dances, set dances or couple dances. A “Set” consists of six to eight couples, with each pair of couples facing another in a square or rectangular formation. Each couple exchanges position with the facing couple, and also facing couples exchange partners, while all the time keeping in step with the beat of the music. However, about half of the dances in the modern Scots céilidh are couple dances performed in a ring. These can be performed by fixed couples or in the more sociable “progressive” manner, with the lady moving to the next gentleman in the ring at or near the end of each repetition of the steps.



Tips for Autumn Fashion

It is August and according to our calendar, it is still summer 🙂

However, the weather is no longer pampering us with nice and sunny days, and amazingly gorgeous and warm evenings. It is getting colder every day and we can feel the breath of Autumn every time we cross the threshold and step outside.

So, it high time to introduce our next lesson, during which you are going to learn more about autumn fashion trends.

1. Match the words and the expressions on the left with their definition. Form a sentence with each word and expression.

a) in full swing

b) earth tones

c) slather

d) mulch

e) gravel

f) fashionista

i. to spread a large amount of something over something else

ii. an individual obsessed with following trends in fashion

iii. moving rapidly

iv. a mixture of little stones and sand used on driveways

v. brownish colours

vi. straw used sometimes to keep moisture in the soil

2. Using concessive structures (“while, whereas, whilst; however, nevertheless, nonetheless”) form 6 sentences contrasting summer and autumn fashion in terms of colours, clothes, accessories (bags, scarves, hats) and essential items.

3. Watch the video and fill in the table below:



Tip #1 Earth tones are a classic fall look. Before leaving the 1.________, remember to slather yourself 2_________ of mulch and 3________.


Tip #2 5______ your summer clothes. It’s time to put away those flip flops and 6______.

7________of your summer clothes.

Tip #3 Create your own 8______ backpack. All 9_______ fall fashionistas can create a backpack by 10_______a pumpkin.
Tip #4 Find your perfect colours. Send in pictures.
Tip #5 11_______are a great accessory. Be careful not to get your 12_________ accessory caught as you could 13_________ hang yourself.
Tip #6 Avoid shopping 14________. 15_____ Just  stay at home. Let yourself become totally 16___________.

4. To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement: “Fashion is made to become unfashionable” ? 

We would be happy to know your favourite autumn fashion trends! 🙂