Friday, October 22, 2010

8 Questions for 6 Minutes

Good day everyone.
You all know how important it is to read when learning a language. This talk from the "Six Minute English" series explores why people nowadays have difficulty reading for long periods, and how this problem can be solved.

Read the questions first:
1. (Official question) In 2005, the BBC announced the UK's best loved - or favourite book. What was it?

a) Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling
b) The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien
c) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

2. The Spanish classic, "Don Quixote", by Miguel de Cervantes, is Spain's "______ - known but _____ - read" book. (One word in each space.)

3. What makes a classic novel or book? "Excellent _____ that people want to ____ into the future." (One word in each space.)

4. "Don Quixote" was completed in the year _____ .
5. How did the Spanish Academy present "Don Quixote" to a wider public?
 - The novel was divided into _____ short passages.
 - Spanish readers ____ a passage, ____ themselves reading it and then _____ it to the Internet.
6. "Bite-sized chunks" are useful because people don't like to _________ for a long time.
7. People in Don Quixote's time used to read books _____ ______ just as they are doing now.
8. Yvonne describes "Ulysses" by James Joyce as not exactly "________ reading".
Now listen to the programme and try to answer the questions. Post your answers in a comment or on the Tag Board.
I look forward to seeing your replies. I will give you the correct answers next week.
Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Using the Internet to practise English

Dear All.

In the past few weeks I have been telling you what a great resource the Net is for students of English at all levels.

So here is a very brief summary of web sites:

Elementary Listening: "Real English" by Michael Marzio. Go through the lessons in numerical order. Do the exercises as well.

Pre-Intermediate Book site for "English File Pre-Intermediate"

The site for English File Intermediate

Exam classes, such as Senior F or Level Five: "Flo-Joe". Choose First Certificate or FCE.

Intermediate classes: Listening, Reading, Grammar: "Learning English" on the BBC. This is a very large resource. You could spend a long time here.

That's all for right now. As you see this is a very short list. For more sites, explore the right-hand column of this Blog.

And do report back if you find a site that is not working. You can report to me by leaving a message on the Tag Board.

Similarly, whenever you visit a site and do an exercise, or simply explore the site, leave a message on the Tag Board. Say what site you visited and whether it helped your English.

This message is intended for all learners of English, whether or not you are at the British Council Rome.

Coming soon: a fresh Listening Quiz.

More soon. Yours,


Thursday, October 07, 2010

A Quick Website Tour

Good day everyone. It's the first regular teaching day here at the British Council in its new premises on Piazza di Spagna. I'm taking twenty minutes off to give you a brief survey of useful web sites.

I'm starting with an unusual Text To Speech website called Expressivo. On the main page of the site there is a space for you to type in up to two hundred characters. When you have typed in your text, click on the "Read Now" button, and hear a voice reading it. Then practise reading the text yourself.

You may be able to record yourself reading by using the "Sound Recorder" facility on your computer. On a Windows computer, go: Start>All Programs>Accessories>Entertainment>Sound Recorder. You can record yourself speaking through your microphone, save the resulting sound file, and listen to it. Are there any differences between your recording and that of the speaker on Expressivo?

Next site is the British Council's Learn English site. There is plenty of material here to help you learn and practise English. I suggest you explore ths site, returning repeatedly to visit different areas. An obvious place to start is the Elementary Podcasts.

Don't be discouraged if you are not an Elementary student. You'll find the podcasts quite challenging. You may like to start at the current episode, but you might find it useful to go to the very first episode. Here, you learn how to introduce people to each other, and what to say when you meet new people.

If you are a real Elementary student, say, British Council Level One or Council of Europe A.1, then try Michael Marzio's "Real English". The video comprehension exercises are organised according to conversational functions, such as giving directions or understanding telephone numbers.

A lot of students are interested in grammar, so where better to go than the Grammar section of Learn English. You will see a short list of the main areas of study in English grammar. Click on any that interest you.

Finally, here is a brief mention of another very useful site with a lot of material for students of English. I am referring to the BBC's "Learning English" site. Note the difference between "Learning English" (BBC) and "Learn English" (British Council).

I am out of time now, so I will conclude this piece by asking you to help us make this site interactive. How? By leaving a comment or, if your message is short, leaving your comment on the Tag Board to the right of this post. That way, we can create a community of learners of English.

I look forward to reading your comments and feedback. I will return soon with a further review of useful web sites. And coming soon: another Six Minute English listening comprehension quiz.

Kind regards,

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Six Minute English: New Words in English: The Answers

Hell everyone.

As promised, here are the answers to the latest Six Minute English Quiz:

1. (b) - two thousand words were added to the Oxford English Dictionary this year.

2. The dictionary compilers use software tools to detect new words, which must have occurred regularly in chat rooms, newspapers and magazines.

3. When you remove someone from your list on Faecbook, you 'unfriend' or 'defriend' them.

4. A 'dictionary attack' involves searching automatically through all the words in a dictionary in order to find a word that matches someone's password to a private web site.

5. A 'toxic debt' is one which is now worthless, such as a mortgage which is very unlikely to be repaid.

6. Alice's favourite new word is 'vuvuzela'.

Another quiz coming up soon - plus a roundup of useful Web sites for you to learn and practise your English.

More soon!