Annual Burns Supper and Ceilidh

We, at the Stirling School of English, held our Burns Night ceilidh on the evening of 24th January 2019 at Stirling’s Albert Halls to celebrate the birthday, life and achievements of Robert Burns, who is widely considered to be Scotland’s national poet.

To start our celebration, the haggis for our dinner was ceremonially piped into the hall, with Hugh reciting the poem “To a Haggis” as he cut it up. Our meal consisted of  a cock-a-leekie soup, haggis, neeps (which are a kind of turnip) and mashed tatties (potatoes), followed by a chocolate-and-cream topped fruit trifle, which is a sweet and traditional dessert. We all had great conversations around the tables and made some international friends.

Margaret then delivered the ‘Immortal Memory’, a speech talking about the life and achievements of Burns, about his birth into a farming family and his rise to his status as Scotland’s national bard, with word of his poems spreading and putting his work in high demand. Catherine Burns recited his famous poem ‘To a Mouse’ and we were also told how he, of course, very much liked the ladies and would write love poems and record traditional songs across Scotland.

After this, our band for the evening played us some songs by Burns and fully engaged the assembled crowd, also adding the Proclaimers’ “500 Miles” to the list of songs, as this is a firm favourite.

This was followed by ceilidh dancing, expertly taught to us by Duncan and Margaret. It was a very successful evening and had a great attendance of people from around the world to celebrate this occasion.


Around the World: Laughing Through Text

They say you learn something new every day, but today’s piece of knowledge is sure to make you smile as it did me. One of the wonders of modern technology and social media is the ability to interact with our students outside of the classroom. And through this, I’ve noticed things that I’ve never thought about before….one of my favorite being how we laugh through text.

For an English speaker like me, I prefer to use the simple ‘hahaha’. There are a few of us that prefer ‘lol’ (which, in my opinion, normally stands for I-say-I’m-laughing-but-I’m-not). I’ve even seen a few ‘hehe’s’ here and there. But a few months ago I noticed a Spanish friend using ‘jajajaja’ and it only took me a few seconds to realize it was in place of ‘haha’. It’s a clear representation of the language and I was thoroughly amazed that I’d never thought about it before.

Of course, Spanish and English aren’t the only languages that laugh differently through text. After doing my research on the matter, I noticed that I’ve been in contact with a few of them before without realizing what they meant.

For example – kkkkkkkkkkkkkkk
And the mysterious ^^ and ~~

Of course, it’s easy to explain why Spanish speakers use ‘jaja’ and Russian speakers may use ‘xaxa’ – linguistics. But textual-laughter like the Japanese “~~~”  or Korean and Chinese “^^” required a bit more research. Upon looking, I learned that they are the western keyboard equivalents for the Chinese character 笑  (laugh).

Just can’t explain kkkkkkk, wkwkwkw, and rrrrrrrr. Any help, guys?

Here are all of the examples of international laughs in text that I was able to find (credit to Fiona’s ESL Blog)…

Swiss – hehe or hihi
Spanish – jajaja
Portugese, Arabic (?) – kkkkkkk, hhhhhh
Japanese – ~~~ or ^^
Korean, Chinese – ^^
French, English – hahaha
Greek, Russian – xaxa
Indonesian – wkwkwkwk
Ukranian – rrrrrrrr

Hope you were as amused as I was. Please leave a comment or any other laughter from around the world!

SSE Alpha Course Classes 2013


On 18 April 2013, Stirling School of English will be offering English classes focusing on spirituality and religious matters. Our aim is to help your English and answer any questions you may have through DVD-based learning and relaxed discussion. Classes begin at 10 am, coffee/snack break at 11:00, and end at noon. For any further information, email us at

Easter Bonnet Competition 2013


Spring is right around the corner, so naturally, that means beautiful pastel colors, wee animals, and Easter Egg hunts! For those of you who love this time of year like I do, these things have all been done before. But what you might not have experienced is an Easter Bonnet Competition! What is an Easter Bonnet Competition? It’s a chance to get creative! Grab a few friends and a table full of the materials we provide and show us the best hat you can make!

At the end of the morning, our judges will choose who have the best bonnets and the winners will receive assorted prizes.

We hope to see you there!

Event: February Workshops

2012 SSE February Workshop

As some of you know, last year in February, we held a Writing Workshop for all of those contributing your story to the Stirling School of English booklet. This year, after much consideration, we have decided that instead of another year of creative writing, we are going to turn our booklet into a cook book!

The idea of putting together recipes from so many different countries and regions seemed like such a wonderful keepsake for our students and tutors as well as something to lure the attention of prospective students, workers, and sponsors.

We will be holding two different workshops at The Rock Centre for two different groups. The first workshop will be for Beginner through Pre-Intermediate classes, this Wednesday, 27 February at 11:30 at the Rock Centre. The second workshop will be for Intermediate through Advanced classes, the following week, Tuesday, 5 March at 11:30.

Classes will still be held from 10-11, then groups will combine to discuss their recipes, the layout of the cook book, and any questions they may have. We hope this will be another chance to bond with your tutors and classmates as our other events.

If you have any questions, please email