I’m certain you’ve heard of the BBC: the British Broadcasting Corporation. It’s the largest broadcaster in the world, providing TV, radio, and online services to thousands of households in the UK and beyond. But did you know that the BBC has been helping people learn English since 1943?
The BBC launched its Learning English website in 1996, and it currently has 1.5 million registered users. The site features print, audio, and video materials, along with downloadable lessons and worksheets. Content is based on real news events and stories, and updated daily by English experts in the UK. Some material is designed for teachers, but most is designed for students. And it’s all free!
How It’s Organized
The site’s main categories are:
- General and Business English
- Grammar, Vocabulary, and Pronunciation
- Talking Sport (learn English through sports!)
- The Flatmates (an online English language teaching soap opera)
- Community (online discussions)
Within each of these categories is a wealth of regular features you could spend months exploring. For example, you may listen to a 6 Minute English podcast, which presents an authentic news or special interest story, or watch videos from the world of sport. Or you can watch an Express English video, in which interviewers ask a question to several people on the street, such as “What do you do to keep fit?” There’s practical Job Hunting advice, including preparing for interviews and writing a good CV. Most stories come with vocabulary support, comprehension questions, and downloadable worksheets, to make sure you get the most out of the story.
Focus On: Pronunciation
Personally, I think BBC has the best online materials available for understanding and improving English pronunciation. The Pronunciation Tips section of the site has information about the sounds of English, the phonetic alphabet, and elements such as connected speech.
In particular, I recommend the terrific videos with Dr. Alex Bellem, a professional linguist. Professor Belem walks learners through the entire English pronunciation system, and the innovative “split screen” view allows you to see up close exactly how she produces each sound.
Even if you only use this section of the site, you will find it valuable.
Why It’s Good
One of the key pieces of advice we tell you on this blog is to use natural methods, such as reading and listening to English media, to improve your English skills. Remember:
NO TEACHER IN THE WORLD CAN TEACH YOU AS MUCH AS YOU CAN TEACH YOURSELF IF YOU READ AND LISTEN TO ENGLISH EVERY DAY!
The good news about the BBC Learning English website is that it not only gives you a wealth of high quality, interesting English podcasts, videos, and stories to choose from, it also gives you the support you need to make sure your skills improve.
What Do You Think?
Are you familiar with this website? Do you believe that you can improve your English by visiting websites like these? Are there other websites you recommend for learning English? Let us know in the comments section below!