Learning English and making friends: Tomasz’s story

Hi. My name is Tomasz and I am from Poland. I work in hospitality.

Although I attended college to study English and I have been trying to meet as many native speakers as possible I have not felt satisfied with progress of my English. I was simply not confident. Native speakers talking to me with full speed often made me feel uncomfortable. I did not understand everything they were telling me and often I felt embarrassed to ask for explanation or even repeating.

Then Tomasz joined one of our Chatabout ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) Reading Groups. 

Discovering that I am able to read a whole book in English changed things  a lot. Well, books we read at Chatabout group are written in a  simple language, are not too thick, neither scientific. But all in all I read books in English not in my native language, and this is a fact. And even more importantly,  I can talk afterwards about it in English too. The book and discussion are adjusted to our level of English but it builds my self-esteem greatly.

The social aspect is also important

At our monthly meetings we not only chat about a book but also there is a space to learn new words and we are encouraged to ask for meanings of  the difficult ones.

In a friendly atmosphere we also find  time to talk about any interesting topic, and to share our views. For me it is like meetings with friends, a lot of fun and I am assured I will always learn something new and have a great time.

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Thansk to Tomasz for sharing his story.

There are three Chatabout Reading Groups where you are most welcome to join us and improve your English, gain confidence and meet new friends: at Fountainbridge Library on the second Tuesday morning of each month, at McDonald Road Library, on the last Thursday morning of each month, and a new group starting at the Central Library, meeting the first Wednesday afternoon of each month. The groups are ideal for those learning English at Intermediate Level. To find out more details please contact Wendy.pearson@edinburgh.gov.uk

esol chatabout

Meet the author: Gordon Anthony

On March 18th McDonald Road Library hosts a visit from a remarkable author.

Registered blind, Gordon Anthony found himself with time on his hands after retiring.

With the aid of special computer software, he returned to his hobby of writing. This was a wise move.

Gordon’s debut novel, “In the Shadow of the Wall”, was published in 2010 to critical acclaim, including a four star review in The Scotsman.

Gordon then ventured into crime fiction, and has attained a worldwide following for his “Constantine Investigates” series of spoof murder mysteries.

Book online to hear Gordon talk about his latest work and his experiences as a blind author.

Don Paterson OBE at McDonald Road Library


Acclaimed Scottish poet, writer and musician Don Paterson will be speaking on the theme of ‘Journeys’ for this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day (Monday 27th January).

As a sign of respect we will be asking guests to help us recreate ‘Path’ in line with the Journeys theme by writing a message, poem or quotation on a memorial brick.

Contact mcdonaldroad.library@edinburgh.gov.uk or call 0131 529 5636 to reserve your place at this event.

What is a Social Media Surgery?

McDonald Road Library hosts Edinburgh’s latest Social Media Surgery on Wednesday 14th August from 5.30 – 7.30pm. We caught up with James, one of the “surgeons”, to find out more

A previous surgery at McDonald Rd Library. Photo courtesy of Lilly Hunter (@lillylyle)

What are social media surgeries and who are they for?

Social Media Surgeries are informal sessions aimed at helping people make the most of the web and social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. They take place across the UK and are run by volunteers (the “surgeons”) offering their time and expertise to help individuals, local voluntary or community organisations, charities, clubs or societies looking for a bit of advice. They are completely free and very relaxed. You don’t need any particular skills or knowledge of using the web – our surgeons can help you whatever level you’re at.

Why are you doing this?

The web and social media sites have opened up new worlds of communication for millions of people worldwide. They are a powerful tools for campaigning, collaborating and engaging others; helping charities to spread their message, allowing volunteers to come together, and empowering citizens to become more active in their community. The surgeries aim to help more people make use of these wonderful tools – our surgeons have all found ways to use social media to improve their lives and the lives of those around them, and they want to share that!

What’s been your experiences of the surgeries you’ve attended?

Every surgery is different, and each person who comes along brings something new – whether it’s a surgeon with a great tip for a useful new website, or a patient with a challenging question that makes us all stop and think! But what they’ve all had in common is the wonderful buzz in the room – the excitement of the surgeons not knowing what they’re going to be asked next, and the genuine appreciation of the folk who come along and get all this great advice and support for free! It’s so rewarding to start with someone who knows nothing about any of this, and to have them tweeting or blogging just a hour or so later!

What if I want to be a surgeon?

The surgeries rely on the goodwill of those who come and offer their time to help others. The surgeons don’t have to be “experts” – in fact, we strongly believe there’s no such thing as a social media expert! If you think you could spare a couple of hours to come along and help someone to discover the world of social media, visit www.edsms.org.uk to see when our next dates are and follow the links to sign up to say you’re coming – this helps us to ensure there are enough chairs and biscuits!

Thanks James!

Helping you make the most of social media

Edinburgh’s Social Media Surgeries are back!

Would you like some help and advice on social media and the web? Come along to McDonald Road Library next Monday evening (21st January) any time between 5.30 and 7.30pm and get the heads up from the experts.

The surgeons are especially keen to help any local voluntary or community organisations, charities, clubs or societies who are interested in making the most of the web and social media.

Of course, everyone is welcome so sign up today and we’ll see you there.

Prepare for the British Citizenship Test

If you or someone you know is preparing for the citizenship test and have reached Intermediate level English or above this will be of interest.

Starting 23rd January we’ll be holding drop-in sessions for applicants where an ESOL tutor will be on hand to give help and advice on the test. This will run from 5.30 – 7.30pm every Wednesday from 23rd January through to 20th March.

Come along to as many sessions as you like or come along when you can – it’s up to you.

You can of course also practice from home by using your library card number to log on to Life in Great Britain online.

These sessions will take place at McDonald Road Library. For more details and to book your place contact sandra.wright@edinburgh.gov.uk or call  0131 529 5636.

World Aids Day

Some facts about HIV:

  • More than 90,000 people are currently living with HIV in the UK.
  • Between 1981 and 2012 more than 35 million people have died from the virus, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history.
  • Despite advances in the treatment and understanding of HIV and AIDS, many people  do not know the facts about how to protect themselves and others from HIV, and stigma and discrimination remain a reality for many people living with the virus.

This Saturday (1st December) is World AIDS Day, a timely reminder that HIV has not gone away. Here’s how we’re getting involved.

Volunteers from Waverley Care, Scotland’s leading charity providing care and support to people living with HIV or Hepatitis C, will be manning information stalls at Central, McDonald Road and Portobello Libraries this Saturday.

Libraries will also be stocking material from the HIV Aware campaign, and you can find out about other local and national organisations and sources of help and advice on Your Edinburgh, our community information site.

We’ve also put together a list of books which look at HIV and AIDS from a range of interesting perspectives, all available to collect from your local library.

Finally, look out for a new Scottish awareness and anti-stigma campaign called ‘HIV Always Hear‘. It captures the stories of people living with HIV in Scotland in 2012 and 4 people tell their story through 4 short films.  The website goes live on Friday.