Learn English Speaking As We Discuss Scottish Kilts Ep 380

A photograph of Lochan na Stainge at Glencoe in the Highlands of Scotland, it seems apt for a conversation about Kilts.

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How We Learn English Speaking At Adept English

Adept English helps people learn to speak English fluently. We do this using a technique you are all familiar with, as you have already used this language learning approach to learn your first native language. We all learned our first language by listening and interacting with our parent or careers.

Adept English uses this basic understanding of how languages are acquired in all of our lessons, and it underpins our listen and learn approach to language learning. It’s the move away from this approach to language learning that confounds us with modern classroom language learning.

If listening to a language being spoken is so intrinsic to learning, it seems odd that the focus of most classrooms is reading and writing. I mention this today because my son came home from school with some language homework. The teacher gave out a passage of text in Spanish and he was to learn it and recite it in class. He had only heard the teacher speak through the passage twice. With some emphasis on one or two words.

Now nobody is expecting this to end well. But the point is, if the teacher had handed out an audio recording of the text being spoken correctly, and I asked my son to listen to it at least 20 times. To look up words he did not understand, and to practice speaking the words, first silently in his head, then eventually out loud.

Which approach do you think would have worked best?

Most Unusual Words:


Most common 3 word phrases:

In A Skirt3
Five Hundred Words3
Didn’T Become Popular2
We Give You2
You Might See2
Part Of The2

Listen To The Audio Lesson Now

The mp3 audio and pdf transcript for this lesson is now part of the Adept English back catalogue . You can still download and listen to this lesson as part of one of our podcast bundles.

Transcript: Learn English Speaking As We Discuss Scottish Kilts

Hi and welcome to this podcast from Adept English. Do you need to improve your English? Our podcasts help you with English language learning know-how. Learn English speaking through listening – it’s the best way! We give you interesting material to listen to, so that you can practise your English language skills.

And we give you tips on how to speak English well. And if you find the podcasts are a bit difficult, if it takes you a long time or if you only understand parts of the podcast, then why not give your English a boost by buying our Most Common Five Hundred Words Course? In this English speaking course, you learn and practise the most common five hundred words in English – and all their forms.

Boost Your Learning With Adept English

So actually, it’s a few more than five hundred words, but it will give you a really, really, really good lot of listening practice so that you know all the common words and you don’t forget them! Have a look for this and other Adept English products on our website at adeptenglish.com.

It’s not often that you see a man in a skirt

Well, it’s not often that you see men in a skirt, that’s S-K-I-R-T. So skirts are mostly worn by women, but you might see a man in a skirt in certain situations. Quite famously our own dear David Beckham wore a skirt some years ago, influenced no doubt by his fashion conscious wife. You can still find photographs of this on the internet.

It was more like a sarong, S-A-R-O-N-G – a wrap for the lower body, like you might wear on a beach. And not surprisingly, this didn’t catch on, as a fashion, it didn’t become popular. And if you were to watch something like RuPaul’s Drag Race – very popular in the UK and the US at the moment - you would see more men in skirts there. But that’s a different kind of thing.

In Scotland, you do….

Scotland is a country where men wearing skirts is part of the national dress. Actually, if you call it a skirt, they get quite angry with you. But to the unfamiliar, that’s what it looks like. So this item of clothing, worn by Scotsmen is called a kilt, K-I-L-T. And although you might see kilts worn in the famous film about Scotland called Braveheart, which stars Mel Gibson, they are something which in reality didn’t become popular until much later than the film is set. Scotsmen didn’t really start to wear kilts until the 1600s. So actually kilts were no more part of the life of William Wallace, than Mel Gibson is Scottish. He is however, half-Irish, so part Celt, I guess!


A photograph of a handsome redhead man with stylish hair and beard in studio wearing a kilt, with a sporran.

©️ Adept English 2020

What is a kilt?

So if you’ve not seen a kilt, it’s a skirt-like piece of clothing, which is worn mostly by men. They come in different colours and they’re pleated around the back. A pleat, P-L-E-A-T, is a word which describes a fold, F-O-L-D in a piece of cloth. If you look at pleats in a piece of cloth from the side, it will look like a zigzag. If you’re not sure, do a search online with the word ‘pleat’, P-L-E-A-T or ‘kilt’ to show you the kinds of folds I mean. So the kilt is flat, without pleats at the front and it has pleats at the back.

What is a kilt made of?

And the material that kilts are made from is wool, W-O-O-L – what you would collect from a sheep. And the kilt usually wraps around. There’s a double layer at the front and it’s secured at the waist and with a pin, a kilt pin. The length, that’s L-E-N-G-T-H meaning how long the kilt is – the length should finish on the knee. And the pattern it is woven in is called tartan, T-A-R-T-A-N. And there’s a lot of tradition around tartan.

Sometimes tartan is called plaid, P-L-A-I-D. There is a difference between tartan and plaid. Plaid is the name of any pattern with coloured lines which cross each other, with coloured squares in between – it’s what you might see on a wool scarf perhaps. But tartan refers to particular patterns, particular types of plaid – those which have a history. And these belong historically to particular families in Scotland – and if that’s the case they’re called tartans. Sometimes these families are called clans, C-L-A-N.

How to wear a kilt

So how does one style a kilt? What do you wear with it, if you’re a Scottish man? Well, it’s not that most Scottish men go round every day in their kilts. It’s more for special occasions, like a wedding, or for going to the Highland Games. Or for Burns Night. Burns Night is a special night in January when Scots celebrate the birth of their poet, Robbie Burns. Well, thick socks up to your knees are important with a kilt.

You won’t often see a Scot in ankle socks or short socks, with his kilt. I think that might be the wrong look! Thick leather boots or dressy shoes – again as would be worn in the UK to a wedding. And on the top? Well it can be quite dressed up. A waistcoat – that’s like England manager Gareth Southgate is famous for, and a formal jacket and tie. And a shirt called a ‘Ghillie’ is common, if you want to look smart and go the whole way. But you do also sometimes see Scottish mean wearing a plain old T shirt with their kilts!


Don’t forget the sporran

And the last important part of the look? Well that’s the sporran, S-P-O-R-R-A-N. This is effectively a ‘man-bag’. But again, that’s like calling the kilt ‘a skirt’. You won’t make yourself popular in Scotland if you say this. But it is a bag to put your things in, because in a kilt there are no pockets.

So a sporran is where you put your keys, your money and maybe your mobile phone I guess, if you’ve got a big sporran! And sporrans can be simple and made of leather. Or they can be large and made of animal fur. But the wearing of a kilt is usually done in very manly way – kilt-wearers are not going to be mistaken for women wearing skirts, on the whole.

And underneath?

But the real mystery that people talk about – what do Scotsmen wear under their kilts? Well, apparently the answer is ‘nothing at all’, if you’re a ‘True Scotsman’. To be honest, if I was a Scottish man, wearing a kilt that would give me a big feeling of insecurity. One gust of wind – and it would be very embarrassing. Plus it’s cold in Scotland in the winter. So I think in reality, most Scotsmen who wear a kilt, do put something on underneath.

Download The Podcast Audio & Transcript

So there we have it – the kilt. Something that’s part of British culture and instantly recognisable around the world, despite the fact Scotland is a tiny country – with only around 5.5 million people. And even if you have never worn a kilt – and I did wear one as a child, so yes, girls do wear them, even English girls - even if you’ve never worn a kilt, you may have worn plaid or tartan. I certainly have a few scarves and shirts with that design.

Anyway, there is some British culture there for you to enjoy. Don’t forget to listen to this podcast a number of times, until you get to remember any new words that you’ve learned – like sporran perhaps - and it’s no effort to understand. That’s a useful bit of English language learning know-how. Learn English speaking through listening with us at Adept English.


Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.




The voice of Adeptenglish, loves English and wants to help people who want to speak English fluently.
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