Are you looking to improve your language skills on your own? Do you want to access reading, listening, and vocabulary resources to improve your English abilities? Do you need high-quality language learning materials to supplement your language learning? Look no further. I have compiled a list of wonderful language learning resources from the British Council and the BBC for you. This list also gives you tips and advice on how to effectively use them to study on your own.
For the learning resources offered by the British council, read this blog Best free English learning resources from the British Council.
BBC Learning English hosts a wide range of video lessons to improve your overall language abilities. They also include a few specialised courses tailored to meet your language skills at work or at university.
Pronunciation can be a challenging area to master in the English language. However, the BBC Learning English is here to help! Their fantastic video lessons on the sounds of English and connected speech pronunciation features would help students of any level understand and implement them.
How to use them? Start with The Sounds of English. This web series introduces you to all the sounds in the English language. You will be able to practise by copying the tutor in the video. The subtitles and examples will help you understand the word, the sounds involved and their phonemic transcription. Phonemic transcription is a representation of the sounds using symbols. Learning these symbols are beneficial in helping you decode the pronunciation of new vocabulary easily.
Next, watch the Tim’s pronunciation workshop series. The episodes feature several vox pops or clips of native speakers conversing in English or answering questions. They show you how English is really spoken and enable you to not only become a fluent speaker, but a better listener too!
There are countless resources to improve your vocabulary on the BBC Learning English website. You will find them under the tabs Vocabulary and News.
How to use them? The 6-minute English series explores vocabulary at three levels—basic, intermediate and intermediate+. While the basic and the intermediate levels include videos that explore different aspects of vocabulary such as linking words, antonyms, synonyms, prefixes etc., the intermediate+ focuses on introducing new vocabulary in the context of a popular story. Watch the videos and make a note of the new vocabulary. Try to write down example sentences and use these new words every day to remember them.
Another fun way to learn new vocabulary is to get the latest news through Lingohack and English in the News. These popular series show authentic BBC World news bulletins and help you learn key words and phrases to make sense of the news.
The BBC includes a range of grammar resources that are divided into different levels. You will find the simple explanations and examples very easy to deepen your understanding of each of the grammar topics covered in the lessons.
How to use them? If you are exploring, start with the 6-minute grammar series. They are divided into two levels – basic and intermediate. Watch the videos and read the explanation. Some of these videos are followed by short activities to test your understanding.
After trying out the grammar series, you could check out the Grammar Gameshow. This fun series covers one aspect of grammar in each episode in the format of a gameshow. Try them out yourself to check your knowledge and make learning fun.
English at Work
If you are looking to succeed at using English for business or at your workplace, you will find this wonderful animated series useful. This series contains 66 short episodes all focussing on communication at work. With a great cast of characters and a friendly narrator to help you, this series will get you ready for your next job.
How to use them? As the episodes are sequential, I recommend that you go in order and start with episode 1. However, you could also watch any video you like from the list episode 12: The big day. Are you looking for phrases to book a hotel? Try episode 25: The big cheese.
While watching the videos, make a note of the important phrases and words. Repeat and record yourself saying them. Listen to the video again and see if your pronunciation matches the video. This way, you will learn the correct pronunciation of phrases as well as new vocabulary. To take you practice a step further, try and use some of the phrases you learn from these episodes at your work.
You can also check out our myEnglish Workplace course if you want to learn in a group and with feedback from a teacher.
Stories for Children
This recent addition to the BBC Learning English brings you a series of animated short stories for children. You can help make your children’s learning time fun with these short videos and the accompanying activities.
How to use them? Get your child to choose a story. Download the activities pack and get him/her to do the pre-reading activities. These activities are usually meant to help generate an interest in the story and also to look at some difficult vocabulary. After these activities, you could ask your child if they prefer to read the story or watch the video of the story. Do get them to try out the remaining activities to help deepen their understanding. It is also a good idea to get them to use the new words they learn regularly at home or at school.
Also, don’t forget to try our LearnEnglish Kids website for more activities.
The BBC hosts a range of short self-study courses on their websites catering to a wide range of abilities. If you are looking to improve your overall language abilities but do not have time to attend a regular course, then these short courses are perfect for you.
How to use them? English my way is perfect of beginners who are just beginning to speak in English. You will find the conversations and videos engaging and the vocabulary and phrases easy to understand and use. Try out the activities that follow each video lesson to practise the language learned.
If you are at a slightly higher level, you could take the Lower-Intermediate, Intermediate, Upper-Intermediate and Towards Advanced courses. There are 30 units in each of these courses that cover vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, and conversational skills. Ideally, take the courses in order to brush up on your grammar. As you progress, you will find yourself more confident in expressing yourself accurately as well as by using a range of vocabulary.
Although these courses provide a lot of language guidance, as there don’t have any teacher or peer support, you must be disciplined and motivated to keep up your language learning journey. If you wish to get some teacher support and feedback, try our myEnglish or myEnglish Workplace courses. Your classmates and teacher will help you stay on track and motivated.
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English at University
Are you preparing to study abroad? Are you worried about using English on a daily basis to do well at university? Here is an interesting series that supports you in building essential vocabulary and speaking skills to interact with people in and around your university more confidently.
How to use them? These animated videos focus on 18 different situations that you might encounter when studying abroad. Choose the situation you would like to learn about and watch the video. For example, if you wish to learn more about what to expect during Fresher’s week and how to interact well, watch this episode featuring Mary, the main character, trying to politely decline offers to join clubs and societies at the university.
There is a transcript that accompanies each video along with all the useful vocabulary and phrases. Make a note of them and practise using them in your daily conversations in English.
Perfect for anyone who is interested in improving their understanding of British English and culture through conversations with real people. The short episodes feature two people enjoying a chat on a specific topic. You will learn how to share experiences, give advice, make wishes, express regrets and more.
How to use them? Watch the videos in any order you like and make notes of the words and expressions used by the speakers. Try to copy the pronunciation of the speakers to improve your speaking and pronunciation skills.
The thought of distance learning can be quite intimidating. If you need some guidance and advice on how to maximise your time and be an efficient distance learning student, then Go the Distance is just right. It is a 10-week free course designed to give you a taste of distance learning. The course features real tutors, real students, and a lot of focus on digital literacy and academic skills while developing your English.
The course has five strands to address all the needs and skill-development of a distance learner: Student life strand contains videos to meet genuine distance learners at work, rest and play. Every episode features students talking about a particular aspect of distance learning such as academic writing, critical thinking or social learning, explaining the challenges they have faced along the way.
Academic insights features real distance learning tutors giving their top tips on researching and writing assignments, finding and using source material, taking exams, and managing time and projects.
Study skills includes animated videos that help you develop your study skills regardless of whether you are a distance learner or not. The topics range from note-taking and listening skills to time management and social learning.
Academic writing is another important strand that helps you no matter what studies you are undertaking. You would find the lessons on essay structure, citation skills, and criticism and evaluation particularly helpful.
The last strand focuses on Digital literacy. Often overlooked, developing digital literacy skills would help you stay safe online while studying collaboratively. You will also build your troubleshooting skills and the ability to continue using these skills even after your studies are over.
How to use them? The videos can be watched in any order or you could pick a strand and watch all the videos. Remember to make notes while learning. You will find this videouseful in helping you make notes efficiently.
I hope that you find these resources and my advice on how to use them helpful in continuing your language learning journey.