Real English: The New Town of Edinburgh

27 Jan 27th


The month’s Real English lesson is about the New Town of Edinburgh . Learn about why it was built and find out how to use some great expressions and vocabulary

This month we have chosen to talk about Edinburgh’s New Town. The image most people have of Scotland is the romantic Highlander, but the New Town was home to the Scottish Enlightenment, a period of thinking and creativity that resulted in some of the most important philosophical and scientific discoveries of the 18th century. In this video we discuss why and how the New Town was built, what was special about it, and we consider why it’s not associated with the popular image of Scotland.

Make sure you read through the vocabulary on the Quizlet card set we made before watching, this will help you understand the video better. 

When was Edinburgh’s New Town built?

The New Town was built in stages between 1767 and around 1850. It was needed due to the over-crowded, unhygienic and often dangerous conditions of the buildings in the Old Town. It took a long time to get the New Town built due to a fairly inefficient local government, but the project finally went ahead thanks to Lord Provost George Drummond. The design by an unknown architect called James Craig was chosen because of the simplicity of the design, but also because it celebrated the relationship between Scotland and England, and most importantly to the Haonverian royal family. This was quite recently after the battle of Culloden and the final Jacobite rebellion. You can read more about the Jacobites here. Edinburgh’s New Town is now considered one of the best examples of Georgian architecture in the world, and along with the Old Town is a UNESCO world heritage site.

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Learn some functional language!

Here is the functional language that we featured in the video along with some more example sentences. Why don’t you try using them in your speaking this week!


This expression means “not in any way”, and it’s used to emphasize a negative statement. Here are some more examples

  • ​It’s not by any means certain that he’ll come.
  • I was not happy about the arrangements by any means, but I agreed to do it


This is a synonym of “in addition to”, especially used to talk about something unpleasant. We use this to add more information and build an argument. Here are some more examples 

  • We missed the bus, and on top of that it started raining.
  • He didn’t tidy up the kitchen, and on top of that he forgot my birthday!


This means that you believe something is probably true. We use it to speculate and hypothesize. Here are some more examples

  • I imagine John won’t be coming to the party, he has a lot of work this week.
  • I imagine Sarah is really tired, she ran a marathon yesterday!


This means “it is not important if”. It’s used to introduce two or more possibilities. Here are some more examples:

  • Whether you like it or not, you have to go to school.
  • We are going to have a picnic whether it rains or not


This is an informal phrase we use when you are trying to explain or describe something but you can’t be exact. 

  • Have you seen my pencil case? It’s kind of egg shaped.
  • It was kind of strange to see him again.

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