25 BBC Podcasts for Advanced English Learners

See on Scoop.itDavid Bradshaw ESOL

When my high-level students tell me they want to improve their listening skills, I always tell them to listen to PODCASTS! Podcasts are a fantastic way to improve your understanding of spoken English.

David Bradshaw‘s insight:

For high-level students it is vital that they have access to authentic English texts, both written and spoken, so this is great for them.

Learning English – News English Extra – News Words: News jargon

Deutsch: Logo des Fernsehsenders BBC World News.

Here is a listening lesson from the BBC’s classic learning English website on the use of jargon in the news. Both the listening text and the worksheets are downloadable.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/language/newsextra/2010/03/100325_nw_news_jargon.shtml

Picture dictations

Day five of the Five days five posts series, and unfortunately this is just post four. I’m writing this on the train bound for Córdoba, where I am giving a workshop on speaking activities for teenagers at the XIV Jornadas CETA (Córdoba English Teachers Association).

For this post I’m moving away from working with video, and focusing on one of the activities I’m going to use in my workshop this afternoon. In the PET speaking exam, students are given a photograph and asked to describe it. Many candidates simply give a list of things that come in the photograph, but stronger candidates distinguish themselves by organizing their descriptions in a more orderly way. This activity is a simple way of helping them to achieve a more organized way of describing a scene.

I begin this activity by revising prepositions of place and ways of describing position in a picture – at the top, at the bottom, in the top right corner, etc. then we describe a photograph together as a class, to make sure they are using the vocabulary correctly.

Then the students are seated in pairs, back to back. One of them is given a photograph and is asked to describe it to their partner. The partner has to draw the picture as it is being described. The student describing the picture has their back to the other student so that s/he cannot make adjustment to the picture which is being drawn. The other student only has their partner’s words to guide them as they draw. If they are unclear about a detail, they can ask for clarification, and in that way they help their partner to structure a description in a more logical way. Once the description is finished, they compare their pictures with the original photograph. Then they change places and the exercise is repeated.

The pictures can be of anything, so it is a good idea to tie them in with the topic which you are covering in class at the time (a good source of free pictures is www.eltpics.com). If possible, I like to project the photograph on the IWB, which means that everyone is describing the same picture at the same time, as this allows them to compare their drawings not only with the original but also with those of their classmates, and this can be quite motivating. If this is not possible, photographs cut from colour magazines work just as well, and the students can be asked to bring the photos in themselves, which saves on preparation time. A good tip is to keep any photos they bring in in an envelope in class, so that fast finishers can repeat the exercise in future classes.

Video listening comprehension

Having taken up the 5 posts in 5 days blogathon challenge laid down by Tyson Seburn on 4C ELT, I must now try to get back on track, since I failed to send a post yesterday. As a result, I hope to post three posts between today and tomorrow.

For this post, the third in the five post challenge series, I thought I would share something I did in class the other day. Following on from Wednesday’s post, about dubbing video, this simple activity is another way of exploiting video in class. However, this activity is designed for a lower level class. Choose a film which is familiar to the students, so that they can follow the action without too much difficulty, or with plenty of visual humour. I chose ‘The Curse of the Were-rabbit’, from Aardman productions, with the younger classes, and with the older students I used ‘Love Actually’. wallace and gromit

Before you show the film, give different groups of students a vocabulary topic – for the Wallace and Gromit film I chose ‘vegetables’ and ‘rabbits’, while in ‘Love Actually’ the words were ‘Christmas ‘ and ‘Love’ –  and brainstorm possible words that might form part of that topic. Ask the students if they know what film they are going to watch based on the vocabulary topics they have been given. Then tell the students that when they hear something from their vocabulary topic they are to stand up. Alternatively, have the students make large signs with their vocabulary topics written on them, so that they can hold them up when they hear their words.

It’s important that this activity doesn’t go on for too long without a break, as the students may find it difficult to concentrate for more than about ten or fifteen minutes, but they usually find the challenge very stimulating and participate well. The main point here is that the students are exposed to authentic language, while at the same time not having to worry about understanding everything, which they cannot do and so may become easily frustrated.