Scottish traditions - and sunburn – contribute to a successful inward mission for agents from Central, South East and Eastern Europe
2 June 2014

Haggis, kilts, and poetry were among some of the Scottish traditions introduced to a group of agents from Central, South East and Eastern Europe on English UK's spring 2014 inward mission.

Less traditionally, some of the party also got a touch of sunburn from an open-top bus tour of Glasgow - proving that Scottish weather is not as bad as people imagine.

As well as taster lessons and classroom tours, the six Scottish centres involved as showcases were keen to give the agents a taste of the nation's culture. Duncan Johnstone, Experience English's activity leader, donned his kilt to lead a special walking tour through Edinburgh's Old City and the Royal Mile. And at the Mackenzie School of English director Chris Moonie taught the agents some typically Scottish phrases, such as how to ask for "a wee cuppa".

"They had a brilliant time seeing the best that Scotland has to offer to students of English, including some very impressive language centre buildings," said Laura Underwood, English UK's international officer who led the trip.

"We also managed to correct the idea that the Scottish accent is difficult to understand. None of the agents on the trip had any trouble at all, but said some of their students were worried about this. They will now be able to go back to their clients with first-hand knowledge that it's not a problem at all."

"I was reconvinced that the Scottish accent is no obstacle at all. I met fantastic people during the mission and I will put all my efforts to promote Scotland and schools," said Tatiana Blinova of the Anima Project in Russia.

Karel Klusak of Czech Republic agency Intact added: "Thank you so much! Perfectly organized, smooth and the weather was an unexpected bonus. I enjoyed the mission tremendously."

During their tour of Scotland, the party visited six English UK member centres in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen. The group included thirteen agents from Czech Republic, Georgia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Turkey, Russia, Slovakia, Ukraine and Poland, plus a representative from the British Council in Poland.

In Edinburgh, TLI Edinburgh's showcase included a short walk in the grounds of the Scottish Galleries of Modern Art and Dean Village. The group then moved on to junior specialists OSCARS at Newbattle Abbey College where the 700-year-old building and extensive grounds impressed the agents. 

Later, the group enjoyed an afternoon at the Mackenzie School of English where they learned some useful Scottish phrases and sayings. The day ended with a dinner hosted by English UK Scotland, at a traditional restaurant, with the chance to meet representatives from a further three English UK member centres. Everyone had the chance to sample haggis, hear verse written by Scottish national poet Robert Burns, and to meet English UK's new chief executive, Eddie Byers.

The next day began at Experience English in central Edinburgh, where two students gave the agents their view of the school before everyone enjoyed a taster Business English lesson. The group then enjoyed a walking tour of Edinburgh before travelling to the City of Glasgow College, a state sector college accredited last year with impressive facilities, library and gym. The party spent the remainder of the afternoon on an open top bus tour around the city, leading to mild sunburn for one or two of the group.

On the final day in Scotland, the party travelled north to International House Aberdeen, which specialises among other things in English for the oil and gas industries. They met students at lunch, who talked about how happy they were at the school, before joining a bus tour of the city and the surrounding countryside

The mission began and ended in London, with workshops and the opportunity to meet English UK member centres from outside Scotland and hear presentations on English UK and the Partner Agency Scheme, and Accreditation UK and its agent training scheme,.

"We really enjoyed the mission. We know that we can rely on English UK to organise friendly and professional events with quality agents," said Malcolm Davidson, of International House Aberdeen.

Andrew Fisher of OSCARS added: "The whole trip was well-organised and the time spent with each educator gave plenty of opportunity to be able to explain in detail our organisation, and build an initial relationship with each agent for us to take forward on their return to their offices."

Click here to see photos from the English UK spring 2014 inward mission, and click here to see the gallery on our Facebook page.

The next inward mission will take place in October 2014, for agents from the Asia Pacific.

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