Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Icons of Great Britain

An opportunity for you to learn more about Britain. 'Icons of Britain' is a site which lists Britain's Icons, or most characteristic phenomena. This excellently-designed site invites visitors to nominate an Icon of Britain.

Twelve Icons have already been accepted and you can explore them. They include Stonehenge, 'Alice In Wonderland', a cup of tea (!) and The FA (Football Association) Cup. There is a lot of information about these.

Icons waiting to be accepted include The Greenwich Meridian Line, the bowler hat, the River Thames and Rolls-Royce.

You too can nominate an icon - especially if you have visited and enjoyed Britain. Scroll to the bottom of the Icons Home Page to see the procedure. Then click on 'Nominate' to start.

Best for levels 3 and above, but I would encourage anyone to explore this site.

Have fun - and, as always, please do leave a comment!

Friday, January 27, 2006

Watch English TV on the Net!

Good news! You can practise watching and listening to people speaking English by connecting your Internet browser to ITV Local.

This takes you to a wide selection of local British television stations. Watch the local news, weather reports or current affairs programmes.

For best results you will need a broadband or ADSL connection.

When you enter the site, one of the TV stations will automatically show in the top left-hand window. To change (or switch) stations, just click the "Switch" button, then click your desired station from one of the screens you will see scrolling along the bottom of your computer screen.

Many thanks to Steve Evans of the British Council Madrid for this link.

And more good news for listeners to ordinary radio. The BBC World Service and Radio Città Futura in Rome plan to start broadcasting in English in the near future. Stay tuned - I hope to have more news for you very soon.

Remember, listening practice is very important if you want to make progress in English. Students complain that there is not enough listening during our courses. Here's your chance to make dramatic improvements!


Thursday, January 26, 2006

English File Online

Thanks very much indeed to Fabio, Martina and Silvia (Saturday Level 3) for leaving your Comments. You see how easy it is!

Now, I have something for level 3 students:
English File Online. Click on the 'Intermediate' book cover and you will find Grammar Checks, Active Word Lists, and a guide to Pronunciation. For this, you will need Flash Player which is easy to download.

The Grammar explanations and Active Word Lists come in the form of Acrobat PDF files. I was unable to download them here on my office computer, but you may have better luck. Please, if you try to download a file, tell everybody about it in a Comment.

Right now, 15.43 on Thursday afternoon, I am in Dave's ESL Café
Chat! There are 8 other people in there: from Turin, China and Canada, among other places. Have you registered yet?

As always, please do leave a Comment to describe your experience in Dave's Café.

Have a very nice end-of-afternoon.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

How To Leave A Comment

Thank you very much Fabio for leaving your comment in last week's posting - see below.

However, several students have told me that they are not sure how to leave a comment. In particular, they were worried that they had to log in to Blogger and enter a user name and password, which they did not have.

Worry no more. The procedure is elementary - in fact, it's a piece of cake! Here's how:

First, write your comment in the window provided.
Second, choose an identity. Most of you will choose the second or third options - "Other" or "anonymous".

If you choose 'Other', you are asked to write your name, and the URL (address) of your Web site, if you have one. If you don't, then you need not write anything. Your name will appear next to your comment.

If you choose 'Anonymous', then the word 'Anonymous' will appear next to your comment. But I would love you to leave your name at the end of the comment.

Third, you'll be asked to complete the word verification procedure. This ensures that only huamn beings post comments, and this saves us from Spammers or mass mail artists.

Finally, click on 'Publish Your Comment'. However you can preview it first if you like - good for correcting any mistakes.

And that's it! As I said, it is a 'piece of cake'! If you are still having problems, let me know.



Thursday, January 19, 2006

This Week's Site Updates

Thanks Fabio for your comment! See below.

It's 16.15 on Thursday afternoon in a brilliantly sunny Rome. Instead of sitting on the Spanish Steps enjoying the Eternal City, I am reviewing a few web sites to help you with your English.

1. BBC World Service: Learning English - Words in the News - Prime Minister's son 'kidnap plot'. Click here to read more, and listen, about details of this fantastical plot.

2. Level 4: on the BBC Learning English site, discover more about the Present Perfect and Present Perfect Continuous

3. Chat: there are seven people chatting right now in Dave's ESL Café Chat. If I have a moment when I finish this Blog, I may join them. Several students have now registered. Dave's Café is a fun, serious place for chatters. Chat gives you a chance to practise your English including the Present Perfect and Present Perfect Continuous (for example)

4. Level 1B: On the British Council 'Go4English' site, listen to this business telephone conversation and do the exercise. It's extra practice for last lesson, File 8 page 97, 'On The Phone'.

Ignore the Arabic writing - you do not need to know Arabic in order to use this site.

5. Levels 4 and 5: read all about Egypt's Siwa Oasis in the British Council's central Learn English site.

6. Level 3: On the subject of school, see these funny exam answers from the British Council's Learn English Central. Did you find them funny? Write a comment.

In fact, could everyone please write a comment on today's suggested sites? Your feedback is vital.

There are still three people in Dave's Chat, so I will now go in there on a five-minute visit.


Friday, January 13, 2006

Chats, Messages and Forums

Welcome back to an icy Rome after the holidays. Let's start with a subject dear to some people: using computers as a communications tool. It could be said that communications form one of the prime functions of a networked computer.

Internet can provide you with fantastic opportunities to practise your English. Let's examine a few examples.

Right now I am chatting with five other people on Dave's ESL Café. See a previous posting about this. Dave's Café Chat is a friendly and safe chat environment, where people 'talk' simply and logically. Many of the chatters are teachers or students of English. You will nedd to register first. It's a simple process: invent a name for yourself, a password, and give them your e-mail address. You'll quickly receive an e-mail giving you further instructions.

Here's a recommendation from one of the chatters I am talking to right now:

"firstly you do not need Java enabled browsers, so everybody can come in and secondly it has people in it most of the time. Also you can't swear"

So come on, let's chat!

Now, about messages and groups. Last year at the British Council, we had a system called Global Village. This has now closed, but former Global Villages have migrated to a Yahoo Group called All English Students. You need to be a member of Yahoo to enter this group. Joining Yahoo costs nothing.

Some Villagers have formed an MSN group, 'Global Village Forever'. Again, you need to be a member of MSN to visit this group. You are already a member if you have a Hotmail account.

Both Groups allow you to exchange messages and take part in discussion forums, and even post pictures. You can also chat to people, especially if you have Yahoo or MSN instant messager.

All of the above are excellent for practising your English. This is essential if you want to make progress.

Enough for now! My time is definitely up.

Over to you to join Dave's Cafe Chat, join Yahoo or MSN, and tell us about your experiences in a comment!



Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Last Day in North-East England

Hello all. I hope you have been enjoying the Christmas break. This is my last day in Durham, northeastern England. Find out all about Durham by clicking on the tourism link. Click on 'Attractions' to find places of interest.

Levels 3, 4 and 5, check out the BBC 'Learning English' and listen-and-read to this week's story, about how Russia threatened to cut off its supply of gas to the Ukraine.

That's all for now. Tomorrow I am off to Paris, then Lyon, so there will be no more postings until next week, after 10 January.

As always, whenever you visit a site recommended in this Blog, do leave your comments.

See you next week!