I am always encouraging (or pleading with) my students to read more real English. If you are going to sit any advanced English exam it is absolutely essential that you make it a habit to read something English every day. You can spend years working at grammar exercises but nothing will help solve your problems and cure your bad habits like actually reading English as it is written.
There is one enormous free resource on the Internet that is better than all the rest. The BBC website just has it all. The English is fantastic, clear, concise, and a perfect example – in fact the standard – for formal business or academic language in today’s world. As you will discover that means it is not really very formal at all – simply clear and straightforward. It conveys the information.
BBC stands for British Broadcasting Corporation. It is a completely non-commerical and independent organisation funded by a licence fee paid by all TV owners in the UK and protected by a unique set of laws to ensure it’s independence from government. It is affectionately known to many Britons as “Auntie” because of it’s respectability. Back in the 1950s BBC presenters spoke in a terribly upper-class accent and conveyed a very buttoned-up and prim impression. But since it’s early days the BBC has grown to be a worldwide standard for broadcasting. Anyone and everyone may have had a criticism of The Beeb (another popular nickname) over the years but really there is a great deal to admire in the Corporation. For English students there is also a lot to be thankful for!! If you are planning on visiting or going to work or study in the UK you cannot do better to make reading the BBC website a part of your preparation to ensure that you will have an understanding of the British way of life and be able to take part in conversations with people that you meet.
Here are my recommendations:
- Bookmark the BBC News Website and try and go there every day to read at least one article. You won’t find it difficult to find something that matches your interests believe me.
- Go to the BBC Main Page and explore. There are fantastic resources there on an amazing range of subjects. It is the perfect place to do some research to improve your ideas on your exam topics. Look at sections on things like Sport, History, Society and Culture, Entertainment, Health, Education and Science and Nature. I think you will be very pleased at what you find.
- Go to BBC Learning . Of course I recommend that you investigate the ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL resources that are designed especially for English Language students which are here but don’t ignore the dozens of pages designed for students in many different subjects at the main site.
- Don’t forget the BBC’s Children’s pages. If you have young students or want to get your kids started early you will be delighted by what you find here
One way or another, if you have half an hour to spend on your English any time then if you head on over to the BBC website you will be sure not to waste it.
There is much too much to write all about here but here’s one brilliant thing I just noticed as I was finding these links: they have a cute little “soap opera” for English Learners called The Flatmates. Go to that page and you will find the latest episode. If you want to listen and learn from the beginning then click on the link called Archive you see there and it will give you all the episodes.
So what do think? Will you really bother to take advantage of this great resource or will you do it once and forget all about it? If reading in English makes you tired and there are still too many words you don’t understand you really should think about having your own desktop dictionary. Please check out Pop-up Dictionary – it might make all the difference to your success in your English studies. I know I do keep on about it but I really do believe this dictionary is better than all the rest. It makes it possible for students to make the important jump from just doing exercises in class to reading and writing for information and pleasure much easier than it has ever been before.