Sunday, December 02, 2012

EAS Team Presentations

EAS Team presentations

This piece of assessed work is a Team Presentation, to be performed in groups of two or three and worth 20% of your final grade.


This format is intended to give you the opportunity to show:
  • how well you can work together in English on an extended project
  • how good your spoken English is in a more formal setting


The presentations are to be based on one of the themes already covered in the course. You should choose a topic for your presentation based on work done this term, including:
  • education
  • technology
  • travel / tourism
  • multiculturalism (including different English-speaking cultures, world festivals & traditions)
  • an Oxford-related topic, e.g. arts-related, education-related, or socio-economic
Your work should include a 'mini research project'. We expect you to do a survey of some kind, which should include preparing a questionnaire, interviewing people (in the street, or students and staff at St Clare's, for example), or in some other way collecting data, and presenting those data appropriately in the presentation itself. We will be helping you with the style and language of presentations


Your group presentations will be on Tuesday 19 February, 2013 (week 7). The actual time of your presentation will be drawn out of a hat. You must all be here at the normal class times, irrespective of when your actual presentation is (i.e. 10.00 to 12.15 on Tuesday).


You must finish your presentation by Sunday 17th February and e-mail copies to your morning tutor by midnight. Your plan should include:
  • The title
  • An outline (plan) of your presentation
  • Copies of any visual aids or images you are using, and questionnaire/survey material


It is assessed both on:
  • your team's performance on the day
  • your team-work in the preparation of the presentation
You will be judged on:
  • The content of the presentation and its wider relevance
  • The way in which you have prepared, and work as part of a team
  • Your presentation technique
  • The visual aids
  • Your English, including accuracy, fluency and pronunciation
Timing is important. Each person will be expected to talk for about 5 minutes (i.e, 10 minutes for pairs, 15 minutes for groups of 3), with a further 5 minutes allowed for questions and answers. Your group will lose marks if your timing diverges significantly from these timings. If you're late beginning your presentation, you will lose marks. 

Recommended resources for self-study

  1. For useful language and other tips, visit the UEfAP website
  2. To read, try the book The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs (see below).
  3. For online video tutorials, go to YouTube and watch some tutorials by Carmine Gallo, author of The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs, and others (see below for links)
  4. To view a selection of talks by top international speakers, with subtitles if you want, go to (see below for suggestions).
  5. To see a master at work, watch a couple of Steve Jobs' keynote speeches on YouTube (see below for my suggestion)
  6. Watch the 5-minute online showreel of a professional business keynote speaker

1. UEfAP (Using English for Academic Purposes) website

2. Books on presenting

(I've only read the first one, but the second one looks good too and was recommended by another professional presenter.)

The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to Be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience, by Carmine Gallo (2009), McGraw-Hill Professional 

  • "Apple CEO Steve Jobs’s wildly popular presentations have set a new global gold standard - and now this step-by-step guide shows you exactly how to use his crowd-pleasing techniques in your own presentations. The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs is as close as you’ll ever get to having the master presenter himself speak directly in your ear. Communications expert Carmine Gallo has studied and analyzed the very best of Jobs’s performances, offering point-by-point examples, tried-and-true techniques, and proven presentation secrets that work every time. With this revolutionary approach, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to sell your ideas, share your enthusiasm, and wow your audience the Steve Jobs way."

Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery (Voices That Matter) by Garr Reynolds (2011), New Riders

  • "Best-selling author and popular speaker Garr Reynolds is back in this newly revised edition of his classic, best-selling book,Presentation Zen, in which he showed readers there is a better way to reach the audience through simplicity and storytelling, and gave them the tools to confidently design and deliver successful presentations."

3. Online Tutorials

Some YouTube video tutorials linked to the skills of master presenter Steve Jobs.

Sell Your Ideas the Steve Jobs Way (47 mins)
In his talk to students at Stanford University Graduate School of Business, Carmine Gallo demonstrates how extraordinary leaders such as Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and others communicate the vision and the value behind their service, product, or brand. [Uploaded on Feb 9, 2011]

Steve Jobs: Power Point Maestro - underlines the importance of REHEARSING (3 mins)
Alexa Fischer
There is no doubt that this CEO has captured the hearts and minds of Apple fans. Every new product launch is expertly presented to build anticipation and awe. Steve Jobs makes it look easy. Watch and learn... [Uploaded on Jul 13, 2011]

The presentation secrets of Steve Jobs with Carmine Gallo (7 mins)
Carmine Gallo's new book, The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs, will be available in September! It will change the way you give presentations. [Uploaded on Jun 29, 2009]

The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs 1 (3 mins)
The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs 2 (3 mins)
"Whether Steve Jobs was introducing the latest iPad or delivering a keynote presentation, Steve Jobs electrified audiences with his incomparable style and showmanship. Steve Jobs didn't just convey information in his presentations; he told a story, painted a picture, and shared a vision. He gave his audience a transformative experience that was unique, inspiring, and unforgettable. Now you can do it too, by learning the specific techniques that made Jobs the most captivating communicator on the world stage."

Steve Jobs: 3 Lessons From The Keynote Master (2.5 mins) contributor and author, Carmine Gallo, reveals three techniques that Steve Jobs used in his greatest presentation to educate, entertain, and inspire his audience. [Published on Oct 3, 2012]

Present Like Steve Jobs (5 mins) contributor and author, Carmine Gallo on how the Apple chief uses body language to engage an audience. [Uploaded on Oct 9, 2009]

4. TED Talks (talks in the fields of Technology, Entertainment and Design)

Some TED talks that show presentations with and without visuals.

Julia Sweeney - The Talk (to daughter about sex) (5 mins)
No visuals, just her telling her story - fantastic, I recommend all her monologues!!

Hans Rosling - The magic washing machine (2010) (9 mins)
Using visuals and props, brilliant stuff

Arianna Huffington: How to succeed? Get more sleep (4 mins)
No visuals but compelling

Ursus Wehrli tidies up art (2006) (16 mins)
Comic routine by a Swiss using visuals in a different way

Jay Walker on the world's English mania (2009) (5 mins)
Using visuals and audio - amazing stuff on China!

5. Steve Jobs (and other speakers') Keynotes

Steve Jobs Keynote 2007 iPhone Presentation (play from 0:00-08:20)
"Steve Jobs - 2007 iPhone Presentation ( Part 1 of 2 )"
The iPhone was introduced at the Macworld Conference & Expo 2007 with a keynote address from San Francisco's Moscone West - the master doing one of his most iconic pitches

Apple Unveils the iPad - HD 720p Version: Apple iPad, Steve Jobs Keynote - Part 1 (9 mins)

Steve Jobs pitches iPad on Dragons' Den (2010) (2 minute spoof!)

Nigel Barlow: Business Keynote Speaker's Online Showreel
Geoff does the website and edits the video for Nigel Barlow, a professional business keynote speaker who does presentations for a living. Check out his online showreel (5 mins), a compilation from a few of his keynotes

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Webquest: Oxford University, Oxford / university life


Working in small groups, and using online resources and/or any other resources you may wish to include, e.g. personal visits, interviews of people with inside knowledge of the area, readings from books, journals or magazines, collect sufficient information to write a short fact-based report for your class.


  1. Get into small groups of mixed nationality (2 people per group would be ideal). Make a note of each other's contact info, e.g. email address, mobile phone number, in case you need to contact each other outside school hours.
  2. Choose the subject of your report, connected to Oxford, Oxford University and/or student life. If possible, choose a topic you are really curious about. For example:
    • How best to get into Oxbridge (Oxford or Cambridge University)? How easy is it?
    • Oxford or Cambridge, which is better? (advantages / disadvantages of being a student at Oxford University / Oxford Brookes University or Cambridge University and living in the area?)
    • What is life like for people studying at Oxford University / Oxford Brookes University?
    • Oxford University or Oxford Brookes University? What real differences are there between them? Why choose one rather than the other?
  3. Prepare a short list of key questions that you are curious to know, the answers to which you can include in your report.
  4. Collect data in note form. (As for where to collect your data from, for some possible online links, see below. The links below are listed for your convenience only. You are welcome to include other resources.)
  5. Organise your data.
  6. Produce a written report laid out in standard report style, with a title, sub-headings, etc
  7. If time, share this report with other groups, e.g. by group email. Give a final draft of the report to the teacher as a homework assignment.


N.B. If you get ideas or direct quotes from any resource other than your own experience, in case the reader wishes to check your research independently, and/or study deeper, you must include a reference to each resource, e.g. in a list of resources at the end of your text.


Oxford vs Cambridge

Applying to universities

University Life

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Movies and movie trailers online

A. Movie information websites

The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) (

The biggest, best, most award-winning movie site on the planet! Everything you could want to know about almost any film.

Rotten Tomatoes (RT) (

Very useful to check if a film is worth seeing. Rotten Tomatoes pulls together the positive and negative reviews of many critics to create a "meta" review, averaging all the opinions.

Daily Info Oxford Cinema Guide (DI) (

Guide to Oxford, UK, including links to what's on at the cinemas
Go Home page ( >> What's On >> Cinema

Local Cinema + subtitles (LC)
Check all current movie trailers with subtitles
Check which subtitled films are showing in your town

B. Mini Web-Quest ( = Internet quiz )

Use the websites above to answer the following questions.
1. At the UK Box Office which film is at number 1? (IMDb/RT)
2. What ranking (out of 10) does the UK Box Office Number 1 film get on IMDb? (IMDb)
Who was the film directed by?
Who are the stars of the film?
What's the tagline?
What genre(s) is the film?
3. Which UK Box Office Top 10 film has the highest ranking (out of 100) in Rotten Tomatoes? (RT)
And the lowest ranking in Rotten Tomatoes?
4. How many subtitled films are showing at the Odeon Cinemas in Oxford this week? (LC)
5. How many films are showing at the Odeon George Street in Oxford today? (DI)
Which one would you most like to go and see?
Which one would you least like to go and see?

C. Watch Movies Free Online

The BBC Film Network (

Monday, January 09, 2012

Popular Music and Film - Movie trailers

Please have a look at these trailers for films we could watch in class.

Email Geoff ( a couple of titles of films from this list that you would be happy to try watching in class.

  • A Fish Called Wanda classic British comedy crime. Topics: crime, UK vs USA culture
  • Crash modern American drama. Topics: racism, family
  • Go modern American black comedy action. Topics: crime, drugs, action
  • Groundhog Day classic American black comedy. Topics: cynicism, despair, self-improvement
  • Juno modern American comedy. Topics: teenage pregnancy, music
  • Little Miss Sunshine modern American black comedy. Topics: family, self-improvement
  • Office Space modern American office comedy. Topics: work, crime, romance
  • Once modern Irish musical romance. Topics: music, romance
  • Trainspotting modern Scottish black comedy drama. Topics: crime, drugs
  • Witness classic American romantic crime drama. Topics: crime, violence, cross-culture romance

Friday, July 22, 2011

Job Interview Advice: Video Tips

Tasks: Watch the videos and complete the missing information

1. Classic Job Interview Questions (
Presenter's name: _____________________
Company: _____________________

1 What is your biggest _________?

Pick something you have redressed
Use a recent __________
A weakness can be viewed as a strength
_________ answer the question

2 Why should we ______ you?

Check the job __________
Give a short summary
Give a good recent example

3 Why do you ______ the job?

Prepare an answer
Do your __________ on the company
__________ your goals to the company goals

4 Tell me about __________

Give a good balanced answer, not a life history
Follow the same __________ as your CV

2. Vault's Video Guide to Job Interview Dos and Don'ts

Advice about...

1 Clothes

Wear a __________
No ________ jewellery
No loud colours
Not too much __________

2 Handshakes

Use a __________ handshake
Use good __________ contact
No limp or bonecrushing handshakes

3 Talking about yourself

Give a __________ summary of your career and goals
Don't give your __________ life history

4 Assessing your weakness

Focus on areas that can be __________ over time ________ personality or character flaws

5 Inappropriate questions

________ give personal, private information (e.g. marital status)

6 Some important things to remember

________ up to greet the interviewer
Bring a copy of your _________
Ask for the interviewer's business ________
Turn off your _______________
Don't wear too much _________ or ______________

3 Watch: The Origin of Job Interviews (sketch from The Armstrong and Miller Show)

Go to:

4 Watch "Office Interview" (Pepsi Max Advertisement)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

English Online - The Olympic Games

News English Lessons | ESL Lesson Plans | Olympic Gold Medal

BBC World Service | Learning English | Olympics 2008
"Do you want 'to play ball' and become an English language 'heavyweight'? We've got lots of ways to help you practise your language skills and become an English language sporting champion. On this special Olympics 2008 site you'll discover the history of the Games and improve your general and sports knowledge. You can learn the English name of every sport in this year's (Beijing 2008) competition, as well as some of the key vocabulary of nine top Olympic sports. And after you've done the work, there are lots of fun interactive quizzes to take to see how much you've learned. You can compete against your friends too in the 'Can you win?' 60 second challenge. But remember, there can be only one winner!"

BBC World Service | Learning English | Olympics | Olympics 2008
Sports' names >> quiz

Learning English - Crossword - Winter Olympics

BBC Learning English | Words in the News | Olympic torch controversy

BBC - Learning English Blog: London Olympics 2012

Breaking News English ESL Lesson Plan on 2012 Olympics

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sports online


If you are interested in football, try BBC World Service, Learning English, Vocabulary Football



How well do you know tennis? What's "deuce" and what's "ground stroke"? Why is Wimbledon so important? Find out at BBC World Service, Learning English, Wimbledon

  • The language you need to understand tennis: The rules, the shots, the faults, tennis words in the news
  • Audio programmes for you to listen to, including the history of Wimbledon

Also, try BBC World Service, Learning English, Vocabulary Tennis


Extreme sports

If you are interested in extreme sports, try BBC Learning English, Extreme sports

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Audiobooks and podcast novels

Audiobooks (= books to listen to) are a great way to enjoy books while doing other things, for example, while commuting to and from work or school/college, doing housework, cooking or gardening. You can listen on a CD player, a computer or a portable music player such as an iPod, or a mobile/cell phone. Some audio books are full-length; some are abridged (= shortened).

Fiction / Non-fiction

Audiobooks can be fiction (= imaginary story books) or non-fiction (= fact and opinion books). Fiction includes contemporary (= modern) fiction and classic literature (= older books). Fiction genres range from crime thrillers to science fiction and fantasy. Non-fiction genres include biographies, hobbies and interests, sports and travel.

Audiobooks for Learning

Some people prefer to learn by listening, rather than reading. Non-fiction audiobooks, such as self-help books, are popular. Language learners can listen while reading the text, helping to improve their language skills, including reading speed, pronunciation, vocabulary, sentence construction.

Audiobooks to buy

A good source of quality commercial audiobooks is the Apple iTunes online store.
Online websites include:

Audiobooks for free

You can often borrow audiobooks from your public library. These can be good quality.
Free audiobooks are often produced by amateur enthusiasts, and consequently, resulting in products of variable quality. That said, there are various online website catalogues, including:

Podiobooks and audiobook podcasts

Podiobooks put out "serialized audio books in podcast form", which means you can listen chapter by chapter, on the website, or better, by subscribing to the RSS feed (you need to register first). Check out Podiobook's top audio books.

Scott Sigler

Scott Sigler is the writer of the world's first "podcast-only" audio novel, Earthcore, a science fiction / horror thriller, released as a free download, chapter by chapter, in March, 2005. Sigler had had problems with his publisher, and decided to go direct to the public to try to get an audience. He succeeded brilliantly, building a large enthusiastic fan-base with further books, in both audio and print form (Amazon best sellers). His science fiction thriller, Earthcore, is at the time of writing (29.05.11) still the most popular Podiobook.
Sigler "performs" the stories himself, using a different voice for each character, so the novels are brought strongly to life,  The stories are action-filled and exciting, but carry a warning for younger and more sensitive listeners: these stories contain adult situations, strong language and violence - lots of violence! Try listening to one or more of Scott Sigler's audiobooks:
Infected (Science fiction thriller, first podcasted 2006, published 2008) "Perry Dawsey is 6-foot-5, 265 pounds of angry ex-linebacker. He knows all too well that if he doesn't control his quick temper, people get hurt. Through constant focus, he has locked his violent past away in the deep dungeons of his mind. The infection changes everything. Strange, microscopic parasites tap into Perry's bloodstream like tiny little vampires. The Triangles, as Perry calls them, try to control their host by manipulating hormone levels and flooding his body with neurotransmitters - imbalances of which cause paranoia, schizophrenia and excessive aggression. As Perry begins a desperate battle to cut the Triangles out of his body before it's too late, his self-control dissolves into raging, murderous madness." Check out Sigler's trailer for Infected, the book and the official trailer for the movie, Infected

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Online Text tools

There are lots of interesting online text "tools", to help people with their vocabulary, words, spelling and so on. Here are a few online text "tools".

Computer tip: Keep this page open. (If you open the links in another tab or window, you can return to this starting page easily.)

Phraseup* assists you with writing by finding and filling-in the words you can't remember. Sometimes we know what we want to write, the sentence is phrased in our mind, but we can't figure out some of the words we need... Each suggestion is accompanied by definitions, synonyms and translations to other languages. Give phraseup* a try, what are you * for?

Public opinion exercise with phraseup*

To find out what the world thinks, put these phrases into phraseup*

  1. The best thing about Britain is *
  2. British people love * in their free time.
  3. British food is *
  4. Americans spend too much money on *
  5. Australians are extremely *
You can use this tool to count number of web results two given phrases or expressions. It's a great way to proofread a text or to check terms popularity.

Check some phrases with

Which is more commonly used?

  1. If I was you / If I were you
  2. If I had gotten / If I had got
  3. colorful / colourful
  4. city center / city centre
  5. omg / lol
  6. The Beatles / Jesus Christ

100 most common footballers' English words (Oxford Dictionaries Online)
"Fabio Capello, the Italian-born England football manager, was recently reported as saying that he could manage his players with just one hundred words of English... the BBC contacted Oxford Dictionaries for a list of the 100 most common English words... from the wonderful two-billion-word Oxford English Corpus."

Use your mouse to check out the 100 most common footballers' English words.

BBC News: 100 words of English
Visit this BBC news article to answer these quiz questions:

  1. According to the Oxford English Corpus, what are the five most commonly used words in English?
  2. According to Fiona Douglas, how many words do advanced learners of English have?
  3. According to Susie Dent, how many active words does the average native English speaker use?

New words @ Cambridge Dictionaries Online
Have a look at new fresh words entering the English language, usually a few every week!

Spelling Game: Word Challenge (Oxford Dictionaries Online)
Try this spelling game. It's good fun! (but you need Flash)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Culture Shock

Introduction to culture shock

Watch this online video: Inter Cultural Effectivness - Culture Shock Video

Discussion: Your experiences

  • Have you ever tried to live abroad, in a foreign country, with a very different culture?
  • How did you feel at the beginning?
  • What problems did you have?
  • What was most difficult for you to get used to in the new culture?
  • How long did it take you to adjust to the new culture, and feel comfortable?

What is culture shock?

To change to a serious approach, watch the Video Quiz: Culture Shock and answer the questions.

Alternatively, watch this video about culture shock.

What are the stages of culture shock?

Learn about the 4 stages of culture shock with a timed reading exercise called Wild Children 5: Culture Shock. Here are the questions you will be asked at first:

  1. When does culture shock happen?
  2. How do you feel during the first stage of culture shock?
  3. How do you feel during the second stage?
  4. How could the third stage be described?
  5. How do you feel during the fourth stage of culture shock?
  6. Why might reverse culture shock be a problem?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Learn about Oxford, England

What to do

1. Check your Oxford vocabulary

Check your vocabulary about Oxford with an interactive crossword puzzle:
Oxford Crossword

2. Learn about Oxford

Beyond the Postcard (BBC Learning English) ( is a "series that looks at some not so well known features of some very well known places. There are text, audio and video comprehension exercises to help you practise and improve your English."

Oxford and the English Civil War

Read about the history of Oxford's involvement in the English Civil War. "In the 17th century, Oxford played an important role in Britain’s civil war. The war was between those who supported Parliament and those who supported the King."

Inspector Morse

Listen to an interview about a popular TV series about an Oxford policeman. "Inspector Morse is a popular fictional policeman from Oxford. On television he was played by the British actor, John Thaw. Ruth Ward, Chairman of the Oxford Guild of Guides, talks about the famous detective."

Carfax Tower

Watch a video about a famous tower in Oxford's city centre. "Discover more about the history of Carfax Tower and the surrounding area." Begin your visit now:

Oxford: Beyond the Postcard (BBC Learning English).

Where to Next? Mystery Tour of the UK (with BBC Learning English)

Where to Next? is an interactive game that takes its users on a tour of six locations in Britain and Ireland.

The rules

The rules are simple. Each of the six locations contains a group of English language questions and audio reports. Your tour will involve listening to these audio reports and answering as many questions correctly as possible. When you have finished one location you can progress to the next one on your tour.

But be careful! You only have a limited amount of cash. With every wrong answer, you lose some cash, and if you lose it all, you must start again!

What to do

  1. 1. Start the tour
  2. 2. Take notes

    Please note down a little information for each of the six locations.

    Name of place: ..........

    Other information (What is it? What's interesting about it?): ..............

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Death Penalty

Subject: The Death Penalty / Capital punishment

1. Methods of execution

Find the names of at least 5 different methods of execution.
Recommended URLs:
In your opinion, what is the least painful method of execution?

2. Personal Opinion

Choose the answer closest to your opinion.
Do you agree with the death penalty for murderers?
  • Yes, definitely.
  • Yes, in most cases.
  • I'm not sure.
  • No, not in most cases.
  • No, definitely not.

3. Key arguments

Copy and complete the table in the box below. Note some ideas in support of one side of the debate, either for or against, according to your opinion. Try to include 3 or 4 key ideas, and some supporting reasons or examples.
Arguments for/against capital punishment    Main ideas and supporting reasons or examples
  1. .......................................................................................................................
  2. .......................................................................................................................
  3. .......................................................................................................................
  4. .......................................................................................................................
Recommended URLs for research:

4. Jury duty

Find out if you would be chosen to serve on a jury in a death penalty case in the USA.

5. Michigan State University's Courtroom Case 1: Lesley Gosch

Study the real life case of Lesley Gosch, in preparation for a debate on the pros and cons of capital punishment.

6. Further study

BBC Ethics: Capital Punishment:
Death Penalty Curricula of Study for High Schools, Michigan State University:

Monday, January 10, 2011

Cambridge ESOL (FCE/CAE) examinations links

Cambridge ESOL examinations

A. General resources
B. First Certificate in English (FCE)


C. Certificate in Advanced English (CAE)



Monday, October 02, 2006

TED Talks: brilliant speeches for free online

Hi to St Clare's students, teachers (and alumni)

  • Have you ever wanted to know how to find true happiness?
  • Would you believe that spaghetti sauce has an important lesson for everyone interested in business?
  • What is the name of Oxford University's (arguably) most famous scientist?
  • Would you like to know how to make someone fall in love with you?
If you want to know the answers to any of these questions, and others just as interesting and topical, if not more so, please check out TED Talks, a free online resource of brilliant speeches/talks you can watch online for free, or subscribe to as a podcast and download to your iPod (or other MP3 player).

Personally, I find these talks fantastic to watch or even just to listen to on my iPod. The TED Talks speakers are among the best speakers in the world, both in the originality and importance of their ideas, and in their technique - all of the talks are fascinating, and many of the speakers, although talking about serious issues, also manage to be extremely funny.

Level of English needed: higher level General English students
Also suitable for: students on University Foundation, or Advanced Studies, or Liberal Arts courses

Here are some example talks:
  1. September 26, 2006: The Pursuit of Happiness by Dan Gilbert
    (Dan Gilbert is a psychology professor at Harvard, and author of Stumbling on Happiness.) Watch Online
  2. September 19, 2006: The Freaking Point by Malcolm Gladwell
    (Malcolm Gladwell is a staff writer for The New Yorker, and best-selling author ofThe Tipping Point and Blink. In this talk, filmed at TED2004, he explains what every business can learn from spaghetti sauce.) Watch Online
  3. September 12, 2006: Mind-Bending Nature by Richard Dawkins
    (Outspoken biologist Richard Dawkins is author of The Selfish Gene and Oxford University's "Professor for the Public Understanding of Science.") Watch Online
Here's the place to go:
TED Talks
"Each year, TED hosts some of the world's most fascinating people: Trusted voices and convention-breaking mavericks, icons and geniuses. The talks they deliver have had had such a great impact, we thought they deserved a wider audience. So now - with our sponsor BMW and production partner WYNC/New York Public Radio we're sharing some of the most remarkable TED talks with the world at large. Each week, we'll release a new talk, in audio and video, to download or watch online."


Geoff Taylor

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Video podcasts and other free video resources for English language learners

Video Podcasts for English language learners

I have searched for video podcasts for English language learners, but actually, I couldn't find very many. Here are two good video podcasts that you can subscribe to:
  • The Daily English Show
    Don't miss this fun daily video show for English language learners (especially in Japan) by Sarah, an English teacher.
    Level: Not stated (Low intermediate and higher?)
  • digitalchalk's Vocabulary Podcast
    A series of fun video vocabulary tutorials for English as a Second or Other Language.
    Level: Not stated (Elementary and higher?)

Other video for English language learners

Happily, there are some other free video resources for English language learners by big organisations like the BBC:
  • BBC World Serice: Learning English: Watch and Listen
    The BBC World Service Learning English has lots of good things for English language learners. The Watch and Listen video section in particular is a fantastic resource for listening exercises and cultural information, including popular music.
    Recommended levels: intermediate to advanced
  • BBC Video Nation
    Video diaries recorded by people living in Britain, with interactive exercises. These short video clips, about 1-2 minutes each, from one-year video 'diaries' by people living in Britain. Watch the videos, test your comprehension with interactive exercises, check what you have heard by looking at the tapescript, learn about aspects of life in the UK, practise your grammar and vocabulary.
  • BBC Learning English: Beyond the Postcard
    A series that looks at some not so well known features of some very well known places, from Belfast to York, including Oxford. There are text, audio and video comprehension exercises to help you practise and improve your English.
  • Australia Network: The Busines of English
    "Watch and listen to every day business situations and learn English for meetings, presentations, and negotiations."
    Level: intermediate - advanced
  • Australia Network - Study English - IELTS Preparation
    "Develop your skills for English language study and the IELTS test via video clips, quizzes and study notes"
    Level: intermediate - advanced
  • Australia Network - Living English
    "Get to know the characters of our drama 'Sisters and Brothers' as you learn and revise your basic English skills of English language used in everyday situations such as checking into a hotel or describing people"
    Level: beginner - intermediate
  • Australia Network - English Bites
    "An informative and entertaining way to improve your knowledge of the English language, with detailed reviews of language, terms and usage"
    Level: intermediate - advanced
  • Literacyworks: Learning Resources
    A rich source of authentic listening and video materials (American English) from CBS 5 and CNN news services, helping students build their reading and writing skills. Students read CBS 5 news stories while following along with audio and/or video, then complete vocabulary, sequencing, and comprehension activities

Real English

The "Real English" series, by the Marzio School, on Google Video, is also interesting. The idea behind these short videos is to show "real" spontaneous speech by people interviewed in the street (mainly it seems in New York City and London). Produced by the Marzio School & Real English L.L.C.

Elementary and higher
Low Intermediate and higher
Intermediate and higher:

Interested in films/movies?

  • Movie Trailers - interactive listening exercises
    Here you can watch the videos of some film trailers (trailers = short advertisements for films), and complete the texts in interactive exercises
  • A Modern Snow White
    A short animated film (cartoon) giving a modern version of the tradional Snow White folk tale, intended for EFL/ESL students.

Check your pronunciation

  • Phonetics: The sounds of American English
    "This site contains FLASH animated libraries of the phonetic sounds of American English. Available for each consonant and vowel is an animated articulatory diagram, a step-by-step description, and video-audio of the sound spoken in context. It is intended for students of phonetics, linguistics, and foreign language." Brilliant!

Just for Fun

Here are two very short comedy video clips at, about problems with the English language:

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The weather

1. Find out what the weather is like in your country, and what it is going to be like in the near future:
2. Learn how the weather works
3. Test your English: Weather vocabulary
Credit: this list of links is taken from "Whatever the weather" by Jezerka Beskovnik, English Teaching Professional, Issue 39, July 2005

Monday, June 26, 2006

Audio Podcasts for English Language Learners

Hi English language learners!

Geoff Taylor, St Clare's, Oxford, English language teacher here again.

I'd like to share with you some links to some free podcasts that you can listen to.

What is a podcast?

A podcast is a kind of Internet radio show (audio or video). The word podcast comes from joining the two words iPod (a popular MP3 player produced by Apple Computer) and broadcast (for example, a radio broadcast).

A podcast is like an audio magazine, with new shows (or episodes) normally published every day or week.

More information about podcasting at

How can I listen to a podcast?

The most convenient way is to subscribe to a podcast you want to listen to.

You can subscribe to a podcast using podcatcher software, such as Apple's free iTunes. When you connect to the Internet, any new episodes will automatically download to your computer. Depending on the podcast, new episodes are normally produced every day or week.

Then you can easily transfer them to your iPod - or other MP3 player - to listen to any time you want, for example, on your way to and from school.

You can listen on your personal computer (PC or Mac). Or you can listen on your MP3 player (for example, on your iPod).

Are there any podcasts for English language learners?

Yes. Here are some example English language learning podcasts:

Breaking News English
Level: 2 levels: low and higher
Content: Ready-to-use EFL / ESL lesson plans and podcast based on current news
More information: All lessons are based on stories currently in the news. A new lesson each day at two different levels with a graded listening for each level every day. Listening files can be downloaded in mp3 format or subscribed to via a podcast. All lessons are also downloadable in Word.doc and PDF formats.

English Conversations
Level: Low intermediate or higher
Content: Practical Conversations for Language Learners
More information: the collaborative work of Kyoto-based educators, Mark White and Aaron Campbell

English Idioms and Slang
Level: Intermediate/advanced
Content: Idiom and slang lessons for learners of English

Flo-Joe Radio
Level: Upper intermediate, advanced
Content: Exam-related material for teachers and students preparing for Cambridge FCE, CAE and CPE

ELLLO (English Language Listening Lab Online) PodCast
More information: "ELLLO PodCast is the podcast version of, a collection of over 800 audio activities. Click the 'subscribe' button to get our mp3 podcast, and the coversation transcrpts directly in your iTunes Library."

Listen to English - Learn English
Content: Vocabulary, pronunciation and listening
More information: "The podcasts on this site will help you to improve your English vocabulary and pronunciation and your listening skills. There are three short (2 or 3 minutes) podcasts every week, in clearly spoken English. You can download them to your computer, or subscribe using a programme such as iTunes or Yahoo, or simply listen to them by clicking the Flash player on the web page beneath each episode. You can put the podcasts onto your iPod or MP3 player, and listen to them on your way to school or work. The full text of each podcast is on this site (and will also appear on your iPod screen), so you can look up the meanings of words that you do not understand in a dictionary. Then close your eyes and listen! Have fun!"

Level: mixed
Content: Business English
More information: "EnglishPod is an on-demand training product that enables users to learn English on their terms - when and where is most convenient for them. LISTEN to the free daily podcasts on your media device (iPod, MP3 player, phone, computer, etc). Use the PDF transcripts to PRACTICE what you heard with a teacher, friend or colleague. Then REVIEW the key vocabulary and grammar on the EnglishPod website to reinforce what you learned."

ELT Podcasts
Level: Intermediate
Content: Theme-based conversations and language practice for EFL and ESL students of English

ESL Business News
Level: Lower intermediate or higher
Content: A weekly podcast of international business news read in slow, clear English. Listen to the podcast and follow along in the accompanying script.

Just Vocabulary's Podcast
Level: Advanced
Content: Learn 2 new words a day!

The Bardwell Road Centre Podcast
Level: Low intermediate and above
Content: The podcast for English language students, by English language students at St Clare's, Oxford, UK

Radio Engish: New Dynamic English & Functioning in Business
Level: Intermediate
Content: General & Business English
More information: "Every 27 weeks, Voice of America rebroadcast the New Dynamic English and Functioning in Business radio english courses. The two English courses, created by DynEd International, are part of a comprehensive English-language teaching program. Each series lasts for 26 weeks. The 25-minute programs are being broadcast daily throughout the world. The New Dynamic English radio program is an English-language course, with additional information about American people and culture. This radio program is based on the first 4 modules of the New Dynamic English multimedia course."

English Teacher John Snow
Level: lower levels ("We always speak slowly and clearly. Listen and practice!")
Content: grammar, idioms, pronunciation, topics and more
More information: An easy-to-understand English learning podcast

English as a Second Language Podcast
Content: dialogues & stories
More information: " is run by a volunteer team of experienced English as a Second Language professors with over 30 years of high school, adult, and university ESL teaching experience. Dr. Lucy Tse writes scripts and story ideas for all of the podcasts, and records many of the dialogs and stories. The host for the podcast is Dr. Jeff McQuillan, who helps read the scripts and provides explanations for them... Beginning May 15, all podcasts will have an 8-10 page Learning Guide, with complete transcripts and more vocabulary, explanations, cultural information, and much more."

Johnny's ESL Page
A Podcasting Resource for ESL/EFL Students

English Feed - English Listening Practice Podcasts
Level: All levels
Content: Grammar
More information: "English listening practice through podcasts for English students of all levels created by Kenneth Beare guide to English as a Second Language at"

Jokes in English Podcast
Level: Low intermediate and above
Content: jokes in English

Other Excellent Free English Language Listening Resources (not podcasts)

English Language Listening Lab Online
Level: All
Content: Listening practice
More information: "ELLLO is a collection of over 800 audio activities that esl, efl, English students and teachers can access freely via the net. Most audio comes with pictures of the speaker, the transcript, and downloadable audio in mp3 format."

Randall's ESL Cyber Listening Lab
Level: Low intermediate and above (Easy, Medium and Difficult)
Content: Topic-indexed listening practice materials, and vocabulary lessons.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Online News Services - For native speakers

Hi Geoff here again.

Here's the second part of this post on online news services.

The first part gave links to online news services intended specifically for English language students (often using simplified English). This second part gives links to online news services for native speakers, that can be considered very useful for English language students too.

Online news services for native speakers

"Visit BBC News for up-to-the-minute news, breaking news, video, audio and feature stories. BBC News provides trusted World and UK news as well as local and regional perspectives. Also entertainment, business, science, technology and health news... The BBC News mantra has always been one of truth, impartiality, accuracy and diversity of opinion."

- Choose between UK or International versions of the BBC News Front Page or focus on:
>>particular geographical areas: Africa, the Americas, Asia-Pacific, Europe, Middle East, South Asia, the UK
>>Business, Health, Science/Nature, Technology, Entertainment

Special sections:
- Have Your Say: participate in online forums and discussions about different news topics
- In Pictures: photo galleries of news stories
- Week at a Glance: the most important new stories of the week
- Country Profiles: instant guides to history, politics and economic background of the countries and territories of the world, including audio and video clips
- In Depth: reports on the week's major news stories and key issues. Each report contains a combination of news, background information and expert analysis.

- Read or listen to the BBC News in 43 different languages!

Google News gathers stories from more than 4,500 news sources in English worldwide, and automatically arranges them to present the most relevant news first. Topics are updated every 15 minutes, so you're likely see new stories each time you check the page. You pick the item that interests you, then go directly to the site which published the account you want to read.

What if I want to see more news about my country?
Google News is offered in several versions, each tailored to a different regional audience around the world.
Argentina, Australia, Austria, China (, Chile, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Japan (, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, Switzerland (French), Switzerland (German), Taiwan, United Kingdom, United States

Customised news
You can build and share your own customised version of Google News. Customised news allows you to create your own sections on the Google News front page to focus on, for instance, your favourite technology, sports team or entertainment. You can also rearrange your sections and choose which ones to show by mixing and matching any of the sections from the 22 regional editions of Google News from around the globe.


The Onion
Satirical international and US news stories

Human interest (strange, funny, etc) stories from around the USA.

Also, something completely different:
reddit is a source for what's new and popular online. reddit learns what people like as they vote on existing links or submit their own.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Online News Services - For EFL/ESL students

Hi, Geoff here.

This post is about some online news services that could be useful for English language learners.
Some of these news services are intended for English language learners; some are intended for native speakers of English.

Online news services intended for English language students:

BBC World Service - Learning English - News English
Vocabulary from BBC international news broadcasts, and discussion topics about Britain. This service is updated regularly and features:
* Words in the News - Listen to and learn vocabulary from recent international news stories
* News about Britain - Learn about UK news and current affairs

The New York Times Learning Network
This has three interesting sections: News Summaries, Daily News Quiz and the Word of the Day

News Summaries
Read today's news, learn new words and see new places. This section has two very useful optional easy-to-use knowledge tools. Firstly, f you turn on the "Vocabulary" feature, more difficult-to-understand words are explained in Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary links. Secondly, if you turn on the "Geography" feature, information about countries and states is provided in links to the Merriam-Webster Atlas.

Daily News Quiz
See what you know about each week's news with this quiz. Each question and image relates to an article published on The New York Times on the Web. Links are provided to the articles if you need to research your answers.

Breaking News
Ready-to-use current events lesson plans for EFL/ESL classes by Sean Banville.
- All of these current events and business English lesson plans contain a news article, listening (MP3 file), podcast, communication activities, pair work, discussion, reading and vocabulary exercises.
- There is a new lesson each day at two different levels.
- All lessons are based on stories currently in the news.
- Classroom handouts are reproducible in Word and PDF.
- The materials use American English spelling.

CNN Student News
"CNN Student News is a 10-minute, commercial-free news program... Created by a team of journalists and educators, the program provides the top stories of the day, segments that encourage student participation, and in-depth special reports."
Transcripts of the webcast are available.

Voice of America Special News
Daily 30-Minute Radio Broadcasts intended to help people "learn American English while they learn about American life and stay informed about world news and developments in science"
VOA Special English:
- uses a simplified vocabulary of 1500 words, and some more difficult words "for reporting world events and describing discoveries in medicine and science
- is read at a slower pace, about two-thirds the speed of standard English
Each half-hour broadcast begins with:
• The latest news from around the world
• A different short feature every day about development, agriculture, health, education, economics, news events and American idioms.
• 15-minute in-depth features about life in the United States, news about science and space, American history, popular culture, influential Americans and short stories.