You can’t learn English in Scotland

Isabella Massardo in Taccuino di Traduzione reports on a story in today’s Guardian.
The Foreign Office turned down a young Russian’s application for a 12-week course on English in Scotland, apparently on the grounds that she might not understand the language.

bq. Among the reasons for her rejection was one which said: “Given that you state you will need to resit your English exam in November, you cannot satisfactorily explain why you have chosen to attend an English course in Scotland rather than your other options of Oxford or Cambridge, where you should face less difficulty understanding a regional accent.”

Of course, it’s actually easier for foreign students to understand most Scottish accents than English ones, perhaps with the exception of Glaswegian. When a colleague and I took a group of German students to Britain many years ago, and the man in charge of the hostel near Edinburgh spoke Glaswegian, they thought he was joking.

The Foreign Office is now backpedalling. Apparently this reason is not one of those permitted by law in any case.

5 thoughts on “You can’t learn English in Scotland

  1. Interesting. I always thought – or had it drummed into me by Scots – that the best English is spoken in and around Inverness. One explanation: Scots around there used to learn English as a second language, Scots Gaelic being the native tongue. Therefore the English spoken is grammatically superior i.e. to London Cockney.

  2. Well, I really would have thought the accents in most of Scotland with the clearly pronounced R would be much easier to understand than standard British English spoken fast. But is it a surprise that this hasn’t filtered through to the government, I ask myself?

  3. Yes, odd. Because, even after the creation of a Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, there are still plenty of Scots – NB with clear Eng. diction – left in Eng. Parliament at Westminster, the PM himself having been born in Scotland, as well as in Eng. & Welsh law South of the Border.

    Not so easy, though, for a Sassenach politician or lawyer to gain acceptance North of the Border…

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