Hopefully after last week’s post, you’ve had a chance to log on to the BBC Learning English website to check out all the fantastic language learning resources available there. If not, I highly recommend that you do! In last week’s post, we looked at the various ‘Features’; this week will look at the various ‘Courses’.
The Experiment is a vocabulary-based collection of short series where you can get to grips with many useful phrases, expressions and idioms in everyday English. It includes the following series:
We Say You Say looks at English idioms, like “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover”, to discover the real meaning behind them, as well as looking at equivalent idioms in a variety of other languages. The comment threads underneath the videos often have people from around the world contributing their country’s idioms too so remember to check the threads, too.
This is where the phrase….comes from is a collection of two and a half minute videos looking at specific phrases, their meaning and how they originated. Not only will you improve your vocabulary but you get an interesting snippet of history, too!
Small talk is a useful guide to the topics you shouldn’t talk about when you engage in British small talk. Topics include salary, politics and sex.
A picture quiz about idioms are one minute videos where you have to try to work out three English idioms from the pictures you see. You have only 15 seconds for each one! I tried it and it’s quite a challenge!
Everybody’s talking about are short programmes where a reporter interviews people on the street about topics that are currently trending in the news and on social media, so you can study that actual words they’ve been using to describe and discuss.
Finally in The Experiment there’s What they really mean, which looks at how we use language in indirect ways to convey a different meaning to the literal words we speak. This is a great series for anyone who is often confused when trying to ‘read between the lines’ in a conversation with a native speaker of English, for example, when someone uses sarcasm, or when someone gives you a request but it is not in a question form, it can be very confusing. This series can help you figure out what’s actually being said or asked.
Go the distance is a fun, free 10-week course based around the concept of distance learning. It will give you a taste of what distance learning is really like, with real students, real tutors, key study and digital literacy skills and lots of help with your English. It is produced in partnership with The Open University and it is primarily aimed at young adult non-native speakers of English, but will be of interest to anyone who is interested in lifelong learning. The course has five strands:
- Student Life
- Academic Insights
- Study and Exam Skills
- Academic Writing activities
- Digital Literacy programmes
Each strand has 10 units and you can study each strand separately, or you can work your way through all the units of all the strands, in any order you like.
English you need is a 30 unit course, each divided into 5 sessions. Each unit includes a session on:
- exams skills with top tips for studying and taking exams
- a news review, where the presenters look at the language the world’s media is using to discuss a particular story and show you how you can use it in your everyday English
- pronunciation, where they take a word that’s dominating the headlines and teach you how to say it like a native speaker
- one on teachers’ tips (probably not relevant for IELTS students)
- learners’ questions and queries about the English language
This particular course is a comprehensive way of preparing for your IELTS exam because it covers the areas of vocabulary, pronunciation, listening and comprehension skills as well as useful exam skills and all the current topics you might be asked about in your exam.
English my way is a series helping you to learn useful functional language for specific situations, like making appointments, checking travel information, asking for help, visiting the dentist, etc. Each session has three activities – a video with comprehension and prediction questions followed by a quiz, a discussion section and a vocabulary activity.
The Grammar Gameshow is a fun way to test your grammar knowledge. It’s a comedy version of a real-style TV game show. For example, in one episode, two contestants answer three questions about the present simple and present continuous tenses. One is all about habits, the other describes actions in progress…but which is which? Can you answer the questions? Each session includes the video, a gramma explanation underneath and a quiz for you to test yourself further.
Shakespeare speaks: This interesting and comprehensive series is a co-production between BBC Learning English and The Open University. It’s a 20-part series about the life, times and language of William Shakespeare. It is available as an animated video and radio series and it has a supporting interactive website, downloadable materials, podcasts and “a rich social media experience”. It is an entertaining way to familiarise yourself with the works of the UK’s most famous literary genius, who gave us at least 50+ of the idioms and phrases that we still use in everyday English today.
English in a minute, as you can probably guess from the title, is a series of 1 minute videos that provide a whole range of hot language tips, like 5 different ways to use ‘hard’ or the difference between ‘person’ and ‘persons’ or ‘stop to do’ v. ‘stop doing’. You know how we often complain that we don’t have enough time to revise and prepare for exams each day? Well, this is one solution! Watch one video a day and learn something really useful – how hard can that be?
Finally, some of the different programmes I described in last week’s blog post on the Features section have been collated into a collection of grammar-based courses according to language level. These levels are Advanced, Upper Intermediate, Intermediate and Low Intermediate. The courses each consist of 30 units with 5 sessions in each. Each unit includes:
- BBC Masterclass (which looks at a specific grammatical or linguistic features, such as defining relative clauses, or using ‘will’ to talk about the future, for example)
- News Review
- A Vocabulary session
- Tim’s Pronunciation Workshop