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,

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