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