Archive for December, 2013

Distinguishing Between the Dialects: Three Great Cities to Visit in England

Posted on December 18th, 2013 by Melanie in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Are you planning your trip to England? Have you decided where you want to go? Here, three of the major cities are recommended for you, with one being in the south, one in the middle and one in the northern part. While taking in the sights, try and take in the differences between the areas’ accents and dialects; you´ll be surprised at just how different they are.


Top of the list for the best cities to visit in England is the cosmopolitan city of London. Rich in culture and packed with entertainment, there’s something to suit everyone. The sightseeing musts await you: Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, the London Eye and the Cutty Sark, to name a few. Visit the British Museum, the National Gallery or the Royal Opera House for a spot of culture then relax in one of the magnificent parks. If something a bit livelier is more your style, then why not grab a show in the West End followed by dinner and drinks at the popular venues around it. For shopaholics, you can’t beat London for its huge department stores, traditional custom shops and quirky markets.

1.5 million of the resident Londoners actually originate from abroad, and around 300 languages are spoken throughout the city. However, you need to polish up on your English skills so, as your plane lands or the Eurostar docks, have your phrase book at the ready! Home to the Queen, what better place to practice the Queen’s English than in London?


Slap bang in the middle of England, Birmingham is considered to be the true capital of England by the Brummies, as the locals are affectionately known. This vibrant city is full of exciting things to see and to do. Satisfy your sweet tooth with a trip to Cadbury World and take some choccies away as gifts for your family and friends when you get back home. Shop ’til you drop in the Bullring shopping centre and pop into the NEC (National Exhibition Centre) to see what’s on. Enjoy the thrilling rides at Alton Towers or a quiet boat trip on the canals. Famous for their love of curries, you can’t visit Birmingham without having dinner in the Balti Triangle, which has a plethora of Indian restaurants to choose from.

Not just Brummies by name, the dialect and regional accent is also known as Brummie. Very distinctive in its sound, the accent is much easier to understand than the dialect which has various terms unique to the area it’s from.


A bustling hub of activity, Manchester is filled to the brim with theatres, galleries and museums with a nightlife scene to match the cultural one! The ‘first modern city’ has a dramatic cityscape that you’ll want to take plenty of pictures of. Feeling sporty? Then head for Sportcity – Manchester’s dedicated sports district – and visit sports facilities such as the National BMX Arena and Manchester Velodrome. Football fans can’t leave without paying a visit to Old Trafford. Or get rid of some energy by skiing or snowboarding at Chill Factore, the UK’s longest indoor real snow slope.

Mancunians have a very distinguishable dialect from other Northern English dialects, and their accents highlight the over-enunciation of their vowels.

Travelling from city to city throughout England you´ll soon notice the differences between the accents and dialects, becoming more marked from one end of the country to the other. See which accent you can understand better and try to work out why. Then listen to some local phrases and try to work out what they mean. Get a head start before you go with a refresher course and make the most of all the help you can get!

Have you been to any other cities in England? Which ones would you recommend?

Using Technology to Talk for the First Time

Posted on December 7th, 2013 by Melanie in Uncategorized | No Comments »

We all know how much technology is able to help people with languages, whether it’s learning a new language (such as translation devices) or helping with our own language (an online dictionary and thesaurus, for instance), and how technological advances are continuously being made in other areas of language learning (such as with sign language).

A recent breakthrough has been the ability to teach autistic children to speak who have never previously spoken with the exception of just a few words. It was previously thought that if autistic children of 5 or 6 years of age hadn´t already begun to speak, then it was unlikely they would ever acquire spoken language.

How did this breakthrough come about?

During a study funded by Autism Speaks, researchers tested speech-generating devices on children aged between 5 and 8 years old. The idea was to see whether these devices could teach the children more words than other interventions – and the results were conclusive. All of the children tested learned to say new words, and many were even able to construct sentences. The results were staggering and for many parents it was the first time they’d ever been able to talk with their children.

How can technology make a difference?

The most successful device for this form of language learning was found to be an iPad. Whilst many communication and teaching devices have been used for decades in this field, the iPad has proved successful with its apps, its user-friendliness, the fact that it’s cheaper than alternative means, and that it’s more accessible. It also removes the stigma that autistic children often face from peers as the device is more commonplace amongst their age group as opposed to other communication devices. Researchers discovered that the voice generating programmes the iPad offered were more effective than others previously used due to the tone and clarity. When people speak, the words are pronounced slightly differently every single time, with different inflections in the voice depending on the use of the words in a sentence, becoming more blended into each other if speaking faster, and generally sounding acoustically different. For a child with autism, that difference is vast, and they rely on consistency to learn. The speech-generating apps on the iPad are always consistent; every word is pronounced in exactly the same way every single time. In this way, the child can gradually identify the words and begin to speak them.

How are these findings being used?

A five-year long study has begun to test two language teaching methods on autistic children who have minimal spoken language capabilities. For the direct-teaching approach, the children are taught basic communication skills, such as motor and verbal imitation, and requesting and matching objects. The children are then prompted to use the iPad between 5 to 10 consecutive times to request objects. For the naturalistic-teaching approach, the iPad is used during play and conversation, combined with communication gestures, turn-taking and social interaction with others.  Both methods include the use of the iPad as well as words to communicate; children are encouraged to repeat the words after listening to the device, and to touch the symbols displayed on the screen.

What does this research mean for traditional teaching methods?

The new study will continue until Spring 2017, but we now know that it is possible for autistic children who have minimal language use to be able to learn new words and develop speech patterns at a later age. Using the findings from the original study, language lessons can now be structured to accommodate those findings, enabling more children to be able to communicate where it was previously not thought possible.

What other cases of physical or psychological disorders have you come across where language learning is impeded and new advances are now being made in this field?

Can You Stomach It? Top 5 Tasty Eats From Scotland

Posted on December 2nd, 2013 by Melanie in Uncategorized | No Comments »

When travelling abroad, one thing that can excite many people but worry others is the food. Some look forward to trying new dishes and experiencing new tastes, while others worry that they’re going to go very hungry. The UK is known for its fairly ‘safe’ food with normal ingredients that won’t give any nasty surprises and instead has a variety of tasty traditional dishes that have a well-deserved good reputation. Each part of the UK also has its own specialities, and here we´ll take a look at Scotland. Not so obvious from the names of the dishes, we thought we’d give you a helping hand!

1.      Haggis

Perhaps the most famous Scottish dish, and not for everyone, Haggis is the national dish of Scotland that you really should try. It’s a savoury ‘pudding’ (actually eaten for a main meal) that contains offal from a sheep or calf that has been minced with oatmeal, suet, onion, spices and seasoning. And here’s why it’s famous…it’s then traditionally boiled and served in the animal’s stomach!

2.      Cullen Skink

The name might make you wary but there’s really no need as you’ll see for yourself when you try this warming, hearty dish. Smoked haddock, potatoes and onion are mixed together to form a creamy and chunky soup with a delicious smoky flavour. A fantastic comfort food, this hot soup will warm you right through on a cold Scottish day.

3.      Cock-a-leekie soup

Called ‘Scotland’s National Soup’, Cock-a-leekie soup is a chunky chicken and leek soup that’s thickened with barley. The traditional version contains prunes and many garnish the soup with a julienne of prunes, although this ingredient is not for everyone. When you try a steaming bowl of this tasty chicken soup, you’ll soon realize why it’s the nation’s favourite.

4.      Stovies

Ever wondered what to do with your leftovers from last night’s dinner? Stovies are the solution! Traditionally made from leftover roast beef, potatoes and onion, stovies can also be made with corned beef or minced beef and is a predominantly potato based dish. The key is to stew the potatoes in fat or stock before adding the meat. Stick to tradition and serve your stovies with oatcakes for mopping up the juice and some whisky to wash it all down with!

5.      Deep-fried Mars Bar

Time for dessert and this one can’t be missed! Invented in Scotland and now famous worldwide, the deep-fried Mars bar is calorie-filled treat you’ll want to try. It’s exactly what it says, a Mars bar that’s deep fried in a light batter and it’s best served with ice cream…or chips if you prefer!

So now your taste buds are tantalized and your curiosity for Scottish fare has been aroused, you can travel to Scotland and get your tongue around the language as well as the food! Are you ready to jet off and indulge? Send a quick enquiry to get you started!

Are there any other famous Scottish dishes you’d like to see added to this list?