Helping you find new ways to improve your English

Posts tagged ‘speaking’

English Club

In the first guest post on Independent English, Tara Benwell introduces EnglishClub.com, a site with many different areas for English learners to explore and use. Tara works very hard as the administrator on EnglishClub.com, setting challenges for learners and helping them to practise their English as much as possible. Over to Tara:

(and you can listen to her read the post too:)

An Introduction to EnglishClub.com (for English Learners)

Englishclub.com has been online since 1997. It was one of the first websites for English learners, and has been growing in popularity ever since. The site is useful for self-learners as well as learners who study English at school. This club is FREE for English learners and teachers.

English club homepage

Here is how English learners can get the most out of EnglishClub.com:

Take the English Club Tour

On the homepage you will see a red bus. Click on the bus for a very short tour of the site. You will discover the 5 main sections.

EC tour bus

The Learn English and Member Pages are the most popular sections for English learners. The Grammar pages in the Learn English section are written in easy English. We also have a Grammar Help Desk.

Search EnglishClub.com

Do you want to learn phrasal verbs? Do you need listening practice? Are you looking for dictations or videos? Find exactly what you are looking for via EnglishClub.com’s search box. The search box on EC is on every page, and works just like Google. Some of the search results will be for English Club’s main site. Some will be from the Member pages. Search is very helpful if you need homework help! If you can’t find what you are looking for, put in a request.

Sign up for RSS feeds

English Club will email you regular updates if you request them. You can receive all of the new pages, or just the ones you want. For example, many members subscribe to Idiom of the Day! Choose the feed you want here. You can also see all of the new EC content in a sidebar on MyEC (Member Pages).

Sign up for Member Pages

My English Club (MyEC) is the social side of English Club. Sign up to receive your own FREE Member webpage, blog and media gallery. Blogging within a community is a great way to  practise English. You will have an instant readership of thousands of English learners and teachers. Read the FAQ for more details.

MyEC homepage

Here are some of the things we do on MyEC.

Join or Start a Group

What are your interests? Do you like music, cooking, or anime?  MyEC has several groups that you can join. Find other learners with the same interests and practise your English as you discuss topics that interest you. Any member is welcome to add a new group.

Chat

Many English learners (and teachers) come to EC to chat. MyEC has one of the most active international chat rooms online. We have an English-only policy, and our moderators work hard to make sure that our chat room is a fun, safe place to practise English. There is also a chat room on the main site called 1997 Chatroom. Here you can create password protected private chat rooms for you and your friends.

Accept or Create Challenges

Many of our long-term members and teachers create regular challenges for English learners to try. These include writing, photo, video, and audio challenges. You can also create your own challenges and contests! Try fun online tools that embed right in your blog posts.

Find a Learning Partner

Self-study is becoming a popular way to learn English, but don’t try to learn a language alone. MyEC will help you make good friends quickly. Join the “Find a Learning Partner Group”  to post a request for a learning partner. You can also use the Advanced Member Search to find other learners in your level or country.

Practise Speaking and Pronunciation

Our members use tools like Audioboo to record and share their voices. The Audio Speaking Group is a great place to practise speaking. In this group you can practise being a newscaster with EnglishClub.com’s Weekly News. Volunteers will help you improve your pronunciation. Many English Club members also Skype together. Find out who uses Skype by using the Advanced Member search.

Connect with EC  via other Social Networks

EnglishClub is on Facebook, Twitter (@EnglishClub), YouTube, and Google +. You can set your MyEC status updates to go to your other accounts. Use the tag #twinglish on twitter to tweet with English learners and teachers from around the world. Invite your friends to join MyEC.

EC Poster

If you sign up for MyEC, be sure to add me as a friend, and let me know if you have any questions. I am Tara,  the administrator of MyEC, and a teacher of English. I hope you’ll join my monthly writing challenges.

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Podcasts

(You can listen to this blog post while you are reading. Just click below.)

Part 1:

Part 2:

podcast (noun)

a recording of a radio broadcast or a video that can be taken from the Internet

  • To listen to the podcast, click on the link below.
  • I download podcasts of radio shows and listen to them in the car.

[Definition from the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary]

Although the word podcast was originally taken from ‘iPod’ and ‘broadcast’, you don’t need an iPod to listen to one. In fact, you don’t even need an mp3 player; a computer with internet access is enough. They are freely available from a wide variety of sources, some designed for native speakers and others for language learners.

mp3 player and headphones

Image by @carlaarena from http://flickr.com/eltpics

Why should I use podcasts?

As you listen to more and more English, you will understand more. Podcasts give you the chance to listen to English from around the world, including both native and non-native speakers. Even if you are not concentrating 100% on what is being said, your brain is becoming familiar with the rhythms of English and you are learning without noticing. You will improve your language ‘instinct’ and get a better feeling about what sounds right.

How can I use podcasts?

You can download podcasts from some of the places listed below and listen to them as you are doing other things. For example, I listen to podcasts on my way to and from work or when I am cooking. It doesn’t matter if you are not listening attentively and you don’t need to understand everything. You will find that you understand more as you get used to the speakers in podcasts you listen to regularly.

Here are some activities you can do using podcasts if you want to use them for studying:

  • Choose a podcast on a subject you are interested in. Before you listen, read the summary telling you what is in the programme. Predict 10 words which you think will be used/3 ideas which you think will be mentioned. Then listen to find out if you were right.
  • Listen to a podcast. Choose one topic covered to find out more about on the internet.
  • Choose a podcast on a subject you would not normally listen to. Listen and write down vocabulary/ideas that could help you understand more about the topic.
  • Find a short ‘article’ in a podcast (about one minute long) and use it as a dictation exercise. Listen and write what you hear as accurately as you can. You can play it again as many times as you like.
  • Find a ‘study buddy’ and both listen to the same podcast. Afterwards, meet and see how much you can remember about what was discussed.

If you have any other ideas, please share them in the comments.

How do I choose a podcast to listen to?

Look at the list below to help you find podcasts. Try one episode of a podcast, and if you like it, listen again. If you don’t, there are plenty of other podcasts which you can listen to!

You could also ask your friends or your teacher (if you have classes); maybe they have some favourite podcasts which they can recommend to you.

Where can I find podcasts?

Almost all of these podcasts are free to download. You can go to the website, right-click on the ‘download’ link and click ‘Save as…’, then upload it to your mp3 player if you have one. If not, you can listen to the file on your computer too.

For English learners

The BBC Learning English page has a range of podcasts designed for English learners of all levels. Each podcast can be downloaded and also has a tapescript so you can read while you listen.

  • The English we speak is a series of very short 2-3 minute episodes, each looking at one phrase in English.
  • Words in the news introduces vocabulary based on up-to-date news stories. News English Extra looks at the use of words and phrases which often appear in the news.
  • Ask about English podcasts answer questions from learners about confusing parts of English. Grammar Challenge helps you with difficult areas of English grammar.
  • How to… gives you instructions on how to do lots of different things in English, like congratulate people or complain about something.
  • Keep your English up-to-date helps you to understand words which have recently entered the English language.
  • Express English asks short questions to Londoners. You can hear their answers, then add your own.
  • 6 minute English is like a podcast magazine. Each week, the presenters talk about one topic and teach you vocabulary to help you discuss it too.

The British Council also have various podcasts designed for English learners.

  • Elementary Podcasts is designed for elementary learners. It also has activites to help you practise the vocabulary.
  • Big City Small World is a story about a group of young people living in London.
  • Word on the Street looks at the lives of young British people.
  • The Professionals podcasts are designed to help you improve your English for your career and at work.

Other podcasts for English learners include:

  • Listen to English has new podcasts every week, each with a transcript and some linked activities. You can listen by clicking the arrow > at the top of the blogpost, or go to the bottom of the post and click ‘Download’.
  • Podcasts in English and ESLpod: you can listen to the podcasts for free, but you need to pay if you want to read the transcripts or get activities to do with the podcasts.
  • St. George International podcasts: conversations between real English speakers about lots of different aspects of life in the UK.

‘Real’ English

The BBC has a huge library of podcasts taken from their radio broadcasts in the UK and abroad. Some podcasts may only be available in the UK, but most are available around the world. Some of my favourites are:

At the moment, there are 329 pages of podcasts on the BBC, so if you don’t like these programmes, I’m sure you can find something you do!

Some of my other favourite podcasts include:

If you have iTunes you can search for podcasts in their library using the ‘podcasts’ tab in the iTunes store.

iTunes store podcasts

Other podcast ‘directories’ (lists of podcasts) include podbean and podomatic.

Most of the podcasts on this list are things which I listen to, so of course they reflect my interests. If you find other podcasts you like, why not recommend them in the comments?

And don’t forget, if you’re feeling very adventurous, you can even record your own podcasts!

Happy listening!

P.S. Here’s another post I wrote for the British Council called Using podcasts to develop listening skills. It has ideas for teachers and students.