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University of Edinburgh: EFL Programs?
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Shakey



Joined: 29 Aug 2014
Posts: 199

PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2016 3:29 am    Post subject: University of Edinburgh: EFL Programs? Reply with quote

Would the University of Edinburgh be a good choice for Asian students wishing to do a 4 week ESL program? How about life in Edinburgh for a foreign Asian student? When I was in Edinburgh, I noticed a lot of Chinese, many of whom were likely students at one of the universities in the city. I need to recommend some possible schools in the Anglosphere to students wishing to do a short English program in the fall or next spring.

Last edited by Shakey on Sun Feb 21, 2016 10:21 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Dedicated



Joined: 18 May 2007
Posts: 972
Location: UK

PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2016 7:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Edinburgh is a very beautiful city but probably not the best choice for a 4 week course for Asian students, who would really struggle in adjusting to the strong Scots accent.

Whilst there are now many Chinese students at every UK university these days, this is not going to help their English, as they will just stick together in a 'Chinese bubble'.

Have you thought about places such as York, Exeter, Brighton, Chester, Bournemouth, Liverpool...
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grahamb



Joined: 30 Apr 2003
Posts: 1945

PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2016 9:10 am    Post subject: Edinburgh no go? Reply with quote

According to the 2011 census, there were 58,000 white settlers living in Edinburgh (JK Rowling et al), accounting for 14% of the population. Plenty of native English speakers for Johnny foreigner to converse with!
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Shakey



Joined: 29 Aug 2014
Posts: 199

PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2016 9:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dedicated wrote:
Have you thought about places such as York ...


In fact, University of York is on my list of schools to look at, too. I have already sent them an e-mail. Thanks.

I agree regarding the Scottish accent. As an American, I had an extremely difficult time understanding people in very common situations like interacting with clerks or staff at the train station. I really had to strain to catch what they were saying. So, good point about that.

I'll have a look at the other schools you mentioned also, thanks.
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grahamb



Joined: 30 Apr 2003
Posts: 1945

PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2016 10:56 am    Post subject: Unintelligible? Reply with quote

Quote:
I agree regarding the Scottish accent. As an American, I had an extremely difficult time understanding people in very common situations like interacting with clerks or staff at the train station. I really had to strain to catch what they were saying. So, good point about that.


And of course everyone in England and the US is perfectly intelligible with no trace of an accent. Do you really think that Liverpudlians are devoid of accents? Or Alabamans or New Yorkers? For goodness' sake, it's simply a question of exposure; the more you're exposed to a form of a language, the easier it becomes to understand. More than anyone, EFL teachers should be aware of that, but perhaps I'm being a trifle optimistic.
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Kofola



Joined: 20 Feb 2009
Posts: 159
Location: Slovakia

PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2016 1:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Edinburgh is a very beautiful city but probably not the best choice for a 4 week course for Asian students, who would really struggle in adjusting to the strong Scots accent.


These days the idea that students shouldn't be exposed to different accents is a very minority view (so is the idea that people who live in Edinburgh have strong Scottish (you'd be hard pushed to find many with a strong Scots accent!) accents - it's a very cosmopolitan city with many non-native English speakers). Most EFL courses are geared to exposing students to as wide a range of accents as possible in the belief that this aids overall language learning.

If I were choosing a course I would focus on the course itself, the teaching techniques, curriculum etc, experience of teachers... and not the location (unless of course the students have particular interests that would be better met in a particular location). Get some feedback on the courses. Find out how much experience the teachers have with Asian students. One problem that often comes up is that some courses attract many students from the same language group, so that's worth checking as well. Plus are efforts made to ensure that students have ample opportunity to spend time speaking English? Accommodation can also be an issue so it's worth checking what options are available.
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Dedicated



Joined: 18 May 2007
Posts: 972
Location: UK

PostPosted: Sat Feb 20, 2016 7:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
These days the idea that students shouldn't be exposed to different accents is a very minority view so is the idea that people who live in Edinburgh have strong Scottish accents



I totally agree that students should be exposed to different accents as they learn English, but this is only a 4 week course, and it might be very daunting for learners at elementary levels.

As a non-native speaker, many years ago I spent a year living in Edinburgh and for the first 6 weeks or so I totally struggled to follow the local accent. For example, being asked in a shop ' Would you like a wee poke'.
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grahamb



Joined: 30 Apr 2003
Posts: 1945

PostPosted: Sat Feb 20, 2016 12:07 pm    Post subject: Struggling Reply with quote

There are differences in vocabulary in every English-speaking country, and Scotland is no exception. Language learners face challenges wherever they go; I started learning Spanish in Cuba and was reasonably fluent by the time I went to live in Madrid, but it took me three months to get used to the different accent and vocabulary there. It takes time to adapt.
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 15335

PostPosted: Sat Feb 20, 2016 2:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Barnsley, Birmingham and Middlesborough have quaint local accents Try them.
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Dedicated



Joined: 18 May 2007
Posts: 972
Location: UK

PostPosted: Sat Feb 20, 2016 3:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

graham wrote
Quote:
It takes time to adapt


That is exactly the point. On a 4 week course, the students will scarcely have time to get over jetlag, let alone adapt to a new accent.
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grahamb



Joined: 30 Apr 2003
Posts: 1945

PostPosted: Sat Feb 20, 2016 3:35 pm    Post subject: Accents Reply with quote

You suggested York, Exeter, Brighton, Chester, Bournemouth and Liverpool as alternatives to Edinburgh. What makes you think that students on a four-week course won't struggle with the accents in those places? Have you ever been to Liverpool and experienced Scouse in full flow?
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Dedicated



Joined: 18 May 2007
Posts: 972
Location: UK

PostPosted: Sat Feb 20, 2016 5:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I chose the other places as alternatives to Edinburgh as they all offer 4 week EFL courses, not for the local accents.
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grahamb



Joined: 30 Apr 2003
Posts: 1945

PostPosted: Sat Feb 20, 2016 6:52 pm    Post subject: Accents Reply with quote

You suggested alternatives to Edinburgh because of your experience there and your assumption that Asian students wouldn't be able to cope with the local accent:

Quote:
Edinburgh is a very beautiful city but probably not the best choice for a 4 week course for Asian students, who would really struggle in adjusting to the strong Scots accent.


Quote:
As a non-native speaker, many years ago I spent a year living in Edinburgh and for the first 6 weeks or so I totally struggled to follow the local accent. For example, being asked in a shop ' Would you like a wee poke'.


Poke, by the way, is a lexical item, whereas accent is a manner of pronunciation.
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Dedicated



Joined: 18 May 2007
Posts: 972
Location: UK

PostPosted: Sat Feb 20, 2016 7:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK, if you want to split hairs, I know that in addition to distinct pronunciation, grammar and expressions, Scottish English has distinctive vocabulary.

eg. It's a sair fecht
That's a right scunner
I caused a real stooshie


I made no assumptions. I currently teach at a high ranking London university with many Asian students and they have virtually all mentioned the language difficulties they faced when visiting Edinburgh. Some went there for postgraduate study and struggled for the first term.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 11525
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Sat Feb 20, 2016 9:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have to agree with Dedicated in this case.
While upper-class and well educated Edinburghers speak a very understandable English, much of the population - including many in service positions - can be quite difficult to understand.

For a 4-week program that can indeed be daunting. I'd go for somewhere with a more neutral local accent in this case if it were an option.
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