Friday, November 28, 2008

Terrorist attack in India

Here's a quick link to some listening opportunities on the BBC:

Here, you can read reports on the terrorist attacks that have been taking place in Mumbai.

Scroll down to 0857 to listen to the British lawyer Mark Abell describing how he was rescued from his hotel room. He started exchanging messages on his Blackberry with someone from the British Council, and a few minutes later Indian security forces came to collect him. Mr Abell's account lasts about four-and-a-half minutes and is very clear.

Towards the top of the page, click on the picture of the BBC correspondent Nik Gowing for more information.

As always, please leave a comment when you have finished.
More soon.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

BBC World Service Report on the Camorra

Last week, some of you took part in a listening exercise on Roberto Saviano and the Camorra. People experienced varying degrees of difficulty, but most of you said you would like to try similar exercises as a regular class activity.

It's time consuming to prepare such activities, but I hope we will be able to do one at least every two weeks. Meanwhile, you can continue practising listening to the World Service by yourselves. Here's how:

1. Go to the BBC World Service Radio Podcasts web site.
2. Check through the lists of podcast categories. Choose, for example, 'Global News'.
3. Each podcast has a summary of the contents, so you can easily see what it contains. Choose one that interests you.
4. Download it to your computer or i-Pod so that you can listen to it as often as you like. You'll see instructions for doing this on the Web page.

Happy Listening! And we'll do another exercise next week. I hope it won't be one you have already listened to. :-)

And don't neglect the BBC Learning English site.

More soon - and please don't forget to leave your comment.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Listening Practice: another British Council site

Dear All,

Here's yet another opportunity for you to practise Listening. It's on the British Council's Learn English site, and it is called Elementary Podcasts. If you click the link, "Elementary Podcasts" will open in a new window, so that you can easily refer back to this page.

Expert teachers say that though the podcasts are labelled 'Elementary', they are really at Intermediate level. I agree.

Try this: click on the current podcast, Podcast 07. A new page opens with links to exercises. On the page you'll see various options:

1: Listen to LearnEnglish Elementary podcast 07
There is a link to the bottom of the page where you can choose to listen to the podcast straight away, or you can save the MP3 file to your computer or other device, such as an I-Pod. That way, you can listen to the piece repeatedly.

2: Practise your English with Elementary podcast 07
This section gives you info on how to download a worksheet with questions for you to answer. This is very useful because it helps you to focus your attention on various sections of the podcast.

To get to the exercises, you can either download an entire support pack in Adobe PDF format, or you can open an online exercise by going to: 1. LISTEN TO THE ENTIRE PODCAST, and then look at 'Section 0 - While you listen', then click on the word 'online', which opens the 'Part 1 - While you listen' page.

Now go down to the section labelled: Practice materials: Listen to the whole podcast and try to answer the questions while you listen.

By clicking here, you'll open a multiple choice exercise that you can answer.

If you have any problems or questions, just contact me and I will do my best to help you. By the way, this podcast is quite long at 30 minutes, but since it is divided into topics, you can just concentrate on one part.

And when you have finished, make sure you....

leave a comment!!

Latest comments since 13 November have reached this Blog from:

Iacopo, Maria-Paola, Ferdinando, Silvia, Agostino, Alessia and Alessandro.

Well done! and keep your comments coming.

More soon,
Best wishes from

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Listening Site of the Week....

.... is the BBC Learning English "Words In The News", where you can both listen to and read a piece on Google Earth's Flu Tracking Facility. It's said that Google is now well in advance of medical science in predictions of how and where this major disease is spreading.

Other things....

House And Home

In Level 3B we have been learning how to describe homes, whether they are apartments or country houses. Discover more about people's homes in the Financial Times's 'House And Home' section. Read about Jeanne Augier, who entertained Chagall, Dali and L├ęger, among others, in her apartment in the Negresco Hotel in Nice. Or learn more about Lake Como. Can you name any famous people who live there? And why did Brian Harris move to New Zealand? This will interest all of you, whether or not you are in Level 3B.

Vocabulary Question: unable to and can't

What's the difference between these two expressions and how do you use them? The BBC Learning English site's 'Ask About English' section tells you the answer. I would very much like to read your comments on this Blog after you have read this piece.

Which brings me to....

Your Comments!

Honourable mentions go to these visitors who have left comments on the Tag Board since 4 November:

Alessandro, Gianni, Luisella, Matteo, Giovanni, Roberto, Daniele, Marilena, Ilaria, Pierpaolo, Ferdinando, Cecilia, Fabrizio, Rosaria and Andrea.

And finally here is a comment from Andrea of Level 3:

"May I give you a piece of advice? You might add to your blog some National Geographic channel podcasts about the "I didn't know that" program: these are short videos that shows funny and interesting experiments about every day objects and all the things we take for granted.Thanks for your work..."

Thanks very much for your idea, Andrea. I will explore the National Geographic and see if their podcasts are suitable for us.

More next week!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Blog Reorganisation

Dear All,

Remember the List of Useful Sites that I distributed to some of you, some lessons ago? I have now put the best of these sites here on the Blog. So no more typing those long complex URLs.

As you scroll down, observe the list of sites in the right-hand column. I have added a new section for Dictionaries. In the Exams section, I have grouped IELTS and Cambridge together.

The Listening section has a couple of video sites added to it; there is an especially nice one from America, entitled "Nature". It has some spectacular footage and commentary about animals, including wolves and crocodiles.

To the 'Practising and Learning English' section, I have added a few sites offering games, quizzes and webquests. These are invaluable for motivating you to concentrate on English and learn new vocabulary.

Keep returning to the Listening sites, especially to the BBC, where there is always something new several times a week. This post US-Presidential Election period is an especially good time for you to perfect your English skills and get to know every aspect of this historical event.

Finally, whenever you visit a site, please do leave a comment. This is very important, and I am very pleased to see how many of you have done just that!

Not only can you leave comments. You can also make suggestions on what other sites you would like to see on this Blog. Do also make suggestions about the Blog itself - layout, content, whatever.

More very soon!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Comments Flooding In!

This is maaaarvellous! Loads of people are leaving comments. Just to name a few recent names, they include:

Alessandra, Alessandro, Agostino, Anna, Nicola, Toni, Ambra, Giovanni, Benedetta, Filippo, Francesca Pagano, Iacopo and Andrea.

But that leaves a lot of people who haven't commented! Come in, all those of you out there!

Your comments suggest that the most popular sites are those that help you with your listening. So I have added a number of Podcast sites for you.

I will be adding more sites from the British Council List of Useful Web Sites for Students, which I distributed to some of you last week.

And don't forget to visit the BBC Learning English Web site at least three times a week. There are regular new listening exercises, none of which is very time consuming. Six Minute English is especially good, as is Words In The News.

More very soon.