Friday, June 25, 2010

Monster of the Highlands, introduced by Six Minute English

Are you thinking of going to the Highlands of Scotland this summer? If you are, you may want to think again after listening to this week's Six Minute English. The Scottish Highlands are undoubtedly one of the most beautiful regions of Europe. But they harbour a serious hazard: The Midge!

In this week's listening exercise you will learn a little about the midge. The Vocabulary section on the programme's web page will tell you quite a lot.

Now for the questions. Read the questions first and then listen to the programme.

1. Official question: where would a Highlander in traditional dress wear a 'sporran'? Would it be (a) on his head, (b) around his waist or (c) on his feet?

2. Complete the gaps with one word: "The Highlands are popular with people who like _____ - ______ and _________ ." [One hyphenated word, one single word.]

3. Why are midges called "monsters"? According to the expert, "they have __________ like a pair of shearing scissors. They cut a ________ in your skin and _______ your _______ ." [one word in each gap.]

4. Sometimes there are so many midges that they look like a ________ ________ . [two words.]

5. The sporran is useful for keeping your ______ and your ______ . [one word in each gap]

Now listen to the programme. As always, post your answers to the Tag Board or write them in the Comments section. Let's have everyone replying!

Coming soon: more recommendations from the British Council's newly-revised "LearnEnglish" site.

Have a good weekend!
- Mike

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Learning To Drive on 6 Minute English: The Answers!

Many thanks to the people who completed the latest Six Minute English exercise about learning to drive, and the Japanese approach to this activity. Here are the answers:
1. The fear of travelling in cars is known as "amaxaphobia." Extraordinary - I would have guessed (a) myself.

2. Kate doesn't have a car because she lives in Central London. Many New Yorkers don't have cars either - indeed they sometimes proudly tell you they do not have a driver's licence. Paolo found this very strange, as in Rome EVERYONE has a car.

3. Japanese people are not very interested in driving because Japan's public transport is very efficient; at the same time car ownership and parking are very difficult in Japan.

4. Japanese driving schools are trying to attract more customers by being more customer-oriented and offering extra services such as massages and relaxation sessions.
Keep visiting us: I will be posting more about how to get the best from the Net when you are practising or learning English. "A little but often" is the most effective technique.

More later this week.

- Mike

Friday, June 18, 2010


Dear all,

A brief update while I wait for more answers to the last Six Minute English, which is about learning to drive, and how learner drivers are encouraged in Japan.

So far only Paolo of Level Four has sent in his replies. I will wait until a few more people answer the questions, and then next week we'll listen to another Six Minute English.

Meanwhile, I guess most of us are on Facebook, and so is the British Council. Here are some special British Council areas on Facebook giving you further opportunities to learn and practise your English online.

Here they are:

LearnEnglish on Facebook
LearnEnglish for Young Learners on Facebook

There's a wealth of material here. Visit the sites - and tell everybody about your experience by leaving a message on the Tag Board.

More very soon,
- Mike

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Learning to drive: four questions for six minutes

Hello everyone. I apologise for my silence over the last few days: since, in fact, 27th May. But it is that time of year again: the end of courses accompanied by intensive periods of correcting tests and exams.

However, I've been able to compile another listening exercise based on tthe BBC Learning English site's Six Minute English, and here it is. Before you try the exercise, read the questions first:

1. (Official question): Some people have a fear of travelling in cars. Is this phobia called (a) 'autophobia'; (b) 'amaxophobia'; (c) 'carnophobia' ?

2. Does Kate have a car? Why (not)?

3. Why are many Japanese people not interested in driving?

4. How are many Japanese driving schools trying to attract more pupils?
Now, listen to the programme. Then post your answers on the Tag Board or in a Comment.

Six Minute English is not the only on-line listening resource. Over the next few weeks I will be introducing you to other web sites, so keep visiting this Blog.

More soon!
- Mike