Use the news to keep up to date!

Use the news to keep up to date!Funky-Old-TV-300px

News on-demand

One easy way to keep your English up to date is to regularly read, listen to and watch news bulletins. Probably you are aware of the news broadcasts in your own home location, so your knowledge of the context and background will help you when attempting the English version.

If you don’t have much time, then the BBC‘s one minute international news could be perfect for you. The bulletin on their website usually contains three or four different news items. Needless to say, the speed of delivery can be quite fast and there are no subtitles, so it’s good for training your listening skills! The content of the bulletins changes during the day, so it is usually up to date. Another useful feature is that you can experience a variety of British regional accents as there seems to be a wide variety of newsreaders.

The BBC video is a recording (so you can stop,  restart and listen again), but what about live news?

Live news from around Europe

UK-based Sky News offers a live streaming service. Try it out!

The BBC World channel is often part of cable/satellite packages, as is euronewsFrom its HQ in Lyon, France, the channel streams live news with reports and commentary in a variety of British accents. Reports are broadcast regularly (currently every 30 minutes), so if you miss something the first time around, it will doubtless reappear the next time around. If you watch euronews as part of a cable/satellite TV or TV bundle, you can change the language in your TV’s audio settings.

Looking for an American accent?

CNN may be part of your cable or satellite TV package. If not, you can access the website and select which edition (US or International) you prefer. On the web, live streaming is also available on the ABC website.

Or perhaps you’re planning on visiting Australia?

Try out the on-demand 90 second news bulletin provided by ABC news Australia.

What else?

For financial news, there are some specialist channels broadcasting free over the Internet or also via cable/satellite. Watching Bloomberg is free and you can also select a region-based stream via their website – Europe or US.

Do you know of any other news streams? Just let me know. Happy viewing!

Use the news to keep up to date! 2016-10-16T17:04:59+00:00

Is learning English via webcam effective?

Is learning English via webcam effective?

A webcam makes live one-to-one conversations across countries and continents feasible for English learners, but is the method really effective?

Let’s look at some of the advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages

  • The trainer can be located almost anywhere in the world (subject to time differences!), so native speakers should be easy to find.
  • It’s ideal for intensive speaking practice.
  • It is cheaper than onsite training for learners and companies.
  • There is less “wasted” time – travelling, parking, arriving early to set up equipment etc.
  • Session times can be kept to a minimum (I recommend 30-60 minutes).
  • The software can be free (e.g. Microsoft’s “Skype”).

Disadvantages

  • Many learners simply prefer not to use this form of learning.
  • A reliable, fast Internet infrastructure is required; poor quality pictures and sound will have a detrimental effect on the whole experience.
  • Companies may not allow the software to be installed on their networks – the IT manager needs to be on board.
  • Trainees need to have basic proficiency already (A2) or else it will be very difficult to maintain a conversation for a substantial time.
  • Some technical knowledge is required to install the microphone, webcam and software and troubleshoot problems.
  • I find that it best works with one to one; I would not recommend it for groups or multiple learners in different locations.
  • Listening and writing practice is limited. There is the ability to type words and sentences and some software includes a virtual whiteboard.

I have personally trained English learners of all ages using solely a webcam, even tech savvy teenagers! For enhanced speaking practice, I find it can be really effective and it is not as intrusive or time-consuming as turning up at a learner’s place of residence. For companies, combining it with other forms of learning may be a cost-effective and more varied solution than the classic tuition model.

Is learning English via webcam effective? 2016-10-16T17:04:59+00:00

How can learners cope with so many English accents?

How can learners cope with so many English accents?

Non-native speakers often tell me that, no matter what their level of English, it is a real challenge to communicate with speakers sporting such a variety of accents.

So what can be done to make things easier? Well, training our ear to the different accents can be a first step; thanks to YouTube and similar sites, we can experience people speaking English from countless different regions and countries. What’s more, if we delve a little deeper into the video vault, we can find some very talented people who are actually capable – by themselves – of reproducing a multitude of different accents amazingly well.

As one example, take this lady and her British accents:

or this guy with his American and many other accents:

Then if learners want to study differences in greater detail, e.g. between American and British English, they can even start to practise themselves:

Have fun!

How can learners cope with so many English accents? 2016-10-16T17:04:59+00:00