Sunday, November 20, 2011

Audio: The Airbus A380

A2, B1, B2

In this activity from the British Council Professional English site, you will hear somebody giving a short talk on the A380 aircraft made by Airbus. Audio time: 3 minutes.  Activity time: 5 to 30 minutes.


Task: Listen to the audio and make notes on the following points:
- Size of the aircraft
- Fuel efficiency
- Construction in Europe
- The USA connection

Listen two or three times as necessary. Then go to the tapescript to check your answers.
 
Listen to the audio here
See the complete tapescript here.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Proverbs Crossword

B1, B2, C1

This activity is from the BBC Learning English website. You will do a crossword in which you will learn some common English proverbs. Activity time: 10 to 25 minutes

Task: Go to the activity. Click on the numbers in yellow to see the clues, then type the word. If you need help, there is a link for each clue to another page on the BBC site  (e.g. "For help, visit Quiznet")

Go to the task here.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Grammar: Irregular verb training

A2, B1, B2, (C1)

Irregular verbs forms are probably one of the first things you had to memorize in English. But do you remember them all and do you know how to use them? This activity from English Grammar Secrets suggests ways to learn them and provides eight different practice exercises. Activity time: 10 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the number of exercises you do.

Task: Go to the activity page, read the explanation and do the exercises that follow. If you're not sure what to do on each exercise, click on the "?" for a demonstration.

Go to the activity here.
For a list of irregular verbs arranged in a more memorable way, go here.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Video: Presenting graphs and figures

B1, B2, C1

In this video from Australia Network, you will discover how to present graphs and other visual information. You will learn and practise some useful vocabulary and expressions for describing trends, referring to visual information and explaining causes. Video time; 10 minutes 12 seconds. Activity time: 15 to 45 minutes.

Task: Watch the video. The presenter will guide you, and tell you when to practise the different expressions. Go down the page to see a complete transcript of the video.

Go to the video here.




Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Vocabulary: Describing company activities

A2, B1, B2

In this activity from the OUP site, you will read a text about the activities of the supermarket chain Carrefour. Then you will remove some or all of the words and rebuild the text.  Activity time: 15 to 45 minutes.

Task:  Select the lesson for Unit 9, then

1 Click on the "Next" button and read the text. Try to memorize it.

2 Decide how many words you want to remove (25%, 50% or all ). Click on the appropriate button
under the text

3 Type words one by one in the box at the bottom and press "Enter" each time

4 If you can't do any more, press the "Show words" button

Go to the activity here.

Video: Start with why

(B1), B2, C1, C2

In this video from TED, Simon Sinek talks about how great leaders inspire their followers  He compares the approaches of Steve Jobs at Apple, The Wright Brothers (pioneers of manned flight) and Martin Luther King. Video time: 18 minutes and 5 seconds. Activity time: 20-45 minutes. (NB if you would like to change the sub-titles, just move your cursor over the video window to see the sub-title menu)

Task: Watch the video and discover
1  what Apple, the Wright Brothers and Martin Luther King have in common.
2  the meaning of the diagram on the right.

Is there a "why" for the company or organisation you work for?

Go to the video here.

For more information on Simon Sinek, go here.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Audio: how to learn a new language

A2, B1, B2, C1


In this activity from the British Council site, you will hear somebody describing his experience of learning Spanish. It may give you a few ideas about how to optimize your learning of English.  Audio time  3 minutes 8 seconds. Activity time: 15 to 35 minutes.

Task: Go to the activity page and

  1. Click on "Preparation " to do a vocabulary exercise to prepare for the listening
  2. Click on "Task". Read all the questions, then click "Play" on the audio player to listen. Answer the questions in the task and click on the "check" button for the answers
  3. Click on "Transcript" if you want to see the text of the audio. Listen again if necessary. 
The speaker said he started reading newspapers because he was motivated to learn about the country he was living in. Perhaps there are English-language newspapers about your own country? If you live in France, why not take a look at "The Connection". Click on the link below to see the online version.

Go to the activity here.
Go to the online version of "The Connection" here



Monday, June 20, 2011

Pronunciation: quiz on the sounds of English

A2, B1, B2, C1

Written English isn't phonetic. For this reason, it is often difficult to know the pronunciation of a word from its spelling. If you can learn the main phoemic symbols in English, it will help you to (a) memorize the pronunciation of individual words (b) pronounce individual sounds more easily - especially those that don't exist in your own language. 

In this activity from the BBC Learning English website, there are five different interactive quizzes to test your knowledge of the sounds of English. Activity time: 5 - 20 minutes per quiz.

Task: Go to Quiz 1 and follow the instructions. There are links to Quizzes 2 to 5 under the words "Pronunciation tips". If you need more help on individual sounds, go back to the exercise on the sounds of English from 5/12/10.

Go to Quiz 1 here.
To do or re-do the exercise on the sounds of English, go here.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Expressions: Useful phrases for presentations

B1, B2, C1

When making presentations in English, it is important to use specific expressions to indicate the different steps or stages in your talk. In this exercise, you will learn some of these expressions. The presenter is talking about a customer service training programme, using the slide on the right. Activity time: 10 to 30 minutes

Task  1 You will see the beginning of 15 sentences from the presentation. They are in the order they are used in the talk. Choose the correct phrases on the right of the page to complete each sentence. Press "Check" when you have finished to see your score.

2  If you would like some more useful phrases for presentations, see the link below for a printable list of expressions. You will also find a copy of the exercise.
 
Go to the activity here.
Get the list of expressions here.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Video: Technology transforms a Peruvian village

(B1), B2, C1

In this video from Youtube , you will see how alternative technology is transforming rural villages in Peru. Video time: 4 mins and 34 seconds. Activity time: 15 to 40 minutes

Task: Watch the video and answer these questions:

1   How is the village different from ten years ago?
2   What facilities and services do villages now have?
3   How does the micro-hydro system work?
4   For how much of the day do villagers have electricity?
5   How many people manage and operate the plant?
6   What do the jobs of operator and administrator consist of?
7   Why do larger users pay less for electricity?
8   How many micro-hydro systems are already installed and what's the target?
9  What specific benefits are mentioned at the end?

Go to the video here.
Check your answers here



Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Audio: understanding conference calls

B1, B2, C1

This activity from the British Council site will be of interest for people who have difficulty understanding international conf-calls in English. You will hear a manager presenting his company's quarterly results, then part of a question and answer session with the other participants. Audio time  6 minutes 20 seconds. Activity time: 20 to 45 minutes.

Task: Go to the activity page and
  1. Click on "Task". Read the two questions, then listen to the audio the first time. Click on the "Check answers" button at the bottom of the page to see if you were correct.
  2. Click on "Task 2"  Listen again and match the questions to the subjects. Check your answers at the bottom.
  3. Click on "Task 3" Check your answers again when you've finished.
  4. Click on "Transcript" if you want to see the text of the audio. Listen again if necessary.
Go to the activity here.

 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Reading and video: DSK/legal vocabulary

B1, B2, C1, C2

You are going to read an article about the arrest of IMF President Dominique Strauss-Kahn for alleged sexual assault. You will then do an exercise to practise legal vocabulary. Finally, you will watch a short video where you will hear some of the vocabulary used. Activity time: 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Task:  1 Read the article.

2 Now complete these sentences using the words in italics.  The words in red also appear in the article.

guilty (x2)   claim     bail     settlement        dropped         remanded      charged      tried      appeal  released     convicted         arrested       sentence      

 

a  Your accuser (the plaintiff) files a _______ against you at the police station.
b  You (the defendant) are  _________ by the police.
c  You are taken to the police station and ________ with the crime.
d  If it's a very serious charge, maybe you will need to request _______ .  If this is refused
   or denied, or if you don't have the money, you are ________ in custody.
e  Many cases never get to court. Sometimes the charges are _________  because of
    insufficient evidence.  Sometimes a financial ________ is made out of court
f  If the case goes to court, you are usually __________ by a judge and jury (= the trial)
g  If you are found not __________ , you are ___________.
h  If you are found ________, you are _________ of the crime and may face a prison
    _________.  
i  Before serving your sentence, you have the right to __________ against the verdict

3  Now watch the news video. It's at the top of the page on the left.. How many of the words in 2 do you hear?

Read the article here.
Check your answers here.
Watch the video here


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Audio: Accidents in the home

A2, B1, B2, C1

How many people in Britain are injured by their sofa every year? How many "trouser accidents" are there in the home?  Do this audio activity from the British Council site to discover the surprising truth. Audio time: 4 minutes 53 seconds. Activity time: 10 to 30 minutes.


Task: Go to the activity page and
  1. Do the "Preparation" task to help you with vocabulary.
  2. Listen and do the "Task". If you find it difficult, click on "Text" and read and listen at the same time. 
  3. For pronunciation practice, listen and read aloud at the same time. Can you finish at the same time as the speaker?
Go to the activity here.

 

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Video: When the whole world wants a washing machine

B1, B2, C1


Slide 1
One of the most popular videos on Help Yourself to English is the presentation by Hans Rosling of the problem of population growth. In this new presentation from the TED site, Hans Rosling turns his attention to the growth in washing machine use worldwide and discusses the consequences for the environment of the increase in energy consumption. Video time: 9 minutes 15 secs. Activity time: 15 to 45 minutes



Slide 2
Slide 3
Task: 1 Look at the three slides from the presentation on this page . Try to predict what the different diagrams represent. 2 Watch the video and see if your predictions were correct. Note that you have subtitles available in English if necessary.  3 Imagine that you are explaining the three slides to a friend. Can you reproduce the main ideas? Watch the video again if necessary.

Go to the video here.

To see the original Hans Rosling video from this blog, go here.






Sunday, March 27, 2011

Game: wordshake

A2, B1, B2, C1, (C2)


How many words can you make in three minutes from a grid of 16 letters? Try playing "Wordshake" from the British Council website. It's a great way to test your knowledge of vocabulary.  Play as many times as you like - the letters change every time.

Task: Go to the site. The first time you play, go to "Read me" to see the rules. Refresh the page or click again on the link below for a new set of letters.

Go to the activity here.

Video: the blue whale

A2B1

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it a nuclear submarine?  No, it's a blue whale. In this video from the BBC, you will learn some interesting facts about the biggest animal on earth. Video time: 2 minutes and 9 seconds. Activity time: 5 to 30 minutes

Task:  Watch the video and make notes on the following information:
Length/ Weight/ Tongue/ Heart:/ Blood vessels / Tail / Speed/ Appetite/ Migration and breeding habits

Go to the video here.
Check your answers here
Discover more fun facts about the blue whale here.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Pronunciation: the talking dictionary

A2, B1, B2

The online site howjsay is a talking pronunciation dictionary. It allows you to hear the pronunciation of individual words, or a series of up to 10 words. In this short activity, you will see how the site works.
Activity time: 5 to 15 minutes


Task:  1 Look at this list of words. What two things do they all have in common, in terms of pronunciation?

cupboard - neighbour - future - picture - forward - major - certain - pressure - labour- failure

To hear the words, go to the site here
Put your cursor on each word in the vertical list and repeat what you hear
To check your answers, go here.

 

2 Here are some more words that are difficult to pronounce correctly:  variety, idea, area, advantages, reliable, catastrophe, guarantee, clothes, knowledge, temperature.
Go to the home page of the site here , type the words one by one and press "Submit" each time. Repeat what you hear. Note that you also see the translation of the word into your own language.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Audio: Phrasal verbs to describe your childhood

B1, B2, C1

In this activity from the BBC Learning English website, you will learn five phrasal verbs used to describe your childhood. It is divided into two sections, each with audio sequences and accompanying exercises. Activity time: 15 to 30 minutes

Task:   For each part:  1  Look at the phrasal verbs in Part A and listen to the audio without looking at the text. Can you guess the meaning of the verbs?  2  Read the text in part B and listen again. Repeat the sentences aloud after the speaker (or at the same time) 3 Listen to some more examples in Part C. Download the text if you would like to print a copy of the lesson.  
There is also a short phrasal verbs quiz at the bottom of the page to test your understanding.

Go to the activity here
For a translation into French of the phrasal verbs, go here .


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Pronunciation - Linking words in sentences 1

A2, B1, B2

When English speakers speak quickly, they link words together. This is one reason why they can be difficult to understand. In this short video from Youtube, you will learn the simple rule for linking words together and do a short practice exercise.  Video time: 6 mins 40 secs  Activity time: 7 to 15 minutes.

Task:  1  Look at the sentence above. Say the sentence aloud  What do you think is the rule for linking words together?  2 Watch the video and check your answers.  Repeat the sentences aloud after the presenter, pausing the video if necessary.

Go the video here.

(1/9/14 : For more work on linking in pronunciation, go to this new post)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Reading: Jiffy's Eco-quiz

A2, B1, B2

How can we protect the environment in our everyday habits? Try this quiz created by the European Union. There are 20 questions. Activity time: 15 - 30 minutes 

Task First, look at the illustration on the right and memorize the colours associated with the four themes of water, energy, earth and air. Then go to the quiz and follow the instructions.

Go to the quiz here.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Video: Julian Assange of Wikileaks - hero or villain?

(B1), B2, C1, C2

The controversial website Wikileaks collects and posts highly confidential documents and videos. Its creator Julian Assange is considered by some as a heroic campaigner for press freedom and by others as a troublemaker exposing diplomatically-sensitive information that should be kept secret. In this interview from the TED site, you will have the chance to judge for yourself.  Video time: 19 mins 34 secs  NB Subtitles available in English or French.
Task:  Watch the video. At one point, the presenter Chris Anderson asks the audience if they consider Julian Assange to be a "people's hero" or "a dangerous troublemaker". What is the majority view?  What's your own view?

Go to the video here


Audio and Reading: Why are animals getting fatter?

A2, B1, B2

Animals all around the world are getting fatter, but it's not just a question of lifestyle. In this audio programme from the VOA Special English site, you will learn about other possible causes recently discovered. These include a virus which could also be linked to weight gain in humans. The programme is written in simplified American English and the presenters speak slowly . There are also exercises to help you with vocabulary, reading and listening comprehension. Total activity time: 25 minutes to 1 hour.


Task: 1 Listen to the audio without reading the transcript. 2 Go down the page, read the transcript and listen again. 3 Do the five exercises top right.

Go to the activity here.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Video: changing the way we educate our children

B2, C1, C2

In this video from Youtube , you will hear a talk by education expert Ken Robinson on why we should change the way we educate our children. The talk is illustrated by a cartoonist, who reproduces the key points of the talk with cartoons and text.  Video time: 11 mins 6 secs. 


Task: Watch the video. Possible follow-ups: 
- Listen again without looking at the cartoons.
- Watch the video with the sound off . Pause the video from time to time and look at the
   illustrations. Imagine that you are giving the talk. What did you say?   

Go to the video here.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Audio: making small talk with a visitor

A2, B1, B2

In this audio activity from the OUP site , you will read and hear a dialogue between a resident of Liverpool and a visitor from Norway. The context is a visit to a company, but the language is appropriate for any situation where you are receiving, or being received by, a visitor. Audio time: 2 minutes. Activity time: 15 to 20 minutes 
 
Task: 1 Go to the site and press "Play" to listen to and read the dialogue. 2  Listen again and pause the audio after each person has spoken. Repeat what they said.  De-select  'A' under "parts to see', and 'B' under "parts to hear" Play the audio again. Read aloud the part of 'B', and see if you can finish before 'A' speaks again
4 Do the same as in 3, but change the selection to play the part of 'A' 

Go the activity here



Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Audio: Phoning to make an appointment

A2, B1, B2

In this activity from the BBC World Service Learning English site, you will practise the expressions you need to arrange a meeting by phone in a more formal or work situation. Audio time: 51 secs.  Activity time: 10 -30 minutes
Task: The activity has four steps:
  • "Think".....about what language you know already and see some typical phrases.
  • "Listen".....to conversation and note what phrases you hear.
  • "Check understanding": read transcript and listen again
  • "Practise"....with a quiz
Go to the activity here.



Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Video: GM's new concept car

A2, B1, B2

In this video from Reuters, you will see a short report on the EN-V, a new concept car by General Motors presented at the CES Technology Fair in Las Vegas  in January 2011. Video time: 2 mins 26 secs  Activity time: 5 - 30 minutes

Task: Watch the video and say if these sentences are true or false

1  In the year 2040, 50% of people will live in cities.
2  The EN-V was developed with another company.
3  It has two seats and two motors.
4  It can communicate with other cars via GPS and Internet.
5  It can travel up to 30 km on one charge.
6  It can help to improve road safety.
7  The car will be on the market in one or two years.

Go to the video here.

Check your answers here.

For GM's vision of the EN-V in the city of the future, watch this video (4 mins 22 secs)