There are currently 257 British English lessons in the Britlish Library and I regularly add new lessons. The grid below shows you the 257 lessons available arranged alphabetically from A to Z. Use the navigation buttons to look through them. If you want to concentrate on a particular area of English, choose the category view instead.
This lesson looks at why individually humans are stupid, ignorant, and pathetic, but collectively, as a species, we are capable of incredible achievements. How long would you survive if the fabric of our society dissolved away and we were left to fend for ourselves? What do you think will come after humans have outlived their usefulness? Do this lesson to find out some of my thoughts on this matter.
Perhaps one of the most famous World War I poems, The Soldier, by Rupert Brooke is known at least in part by most British people as it is often used on military memorials. The poem is one of a series of 5 sonnets that Brooke wrote on themes from the war published as 1914. This evocative and poignant poem romanticises the war rather than focussing on the grim realities. At the time Brooke wrote the poem, in the early years of the war, bodies of the dead were buried near where they fell and there are vast graveyards of British soldiers in foreign fields. Using patriotic language, the poem represents the idealism of the early days of the war which would be replaced by the horror of mechanised warfare as the war dragged on. Brooke would himself lie buried in a corner of a foreign field in 1915.
Sit back and listen to this very British look at how an Englishman deals with an unfortunate change of appearance. Simple Stories were written by Arthur Hammond Marshall (1866-1934) who wrote under the pen name of Archibald Marshall. His humorous stories were written for Punch, a satirical magazine published in Britain between 1841 and 1992. The Simple Stories make fun of stereotypical British characteristics such as our stiff upper lip, our sense of duty, our deference to royalty, and our pride in our country to name but a few. Because Simple Stories are short stories intended for an adult audience and are written in a simple style and vocabulary, they are ideal stories for learners of English. There are few words that will confuse even lower-level students.
You have probably noticed the suffix -ish at the end of many English words. The suffix -ish is actually in the words English and British, and consequently Britlish, too. A suffix is a tag that we add to the end of words to change their meaning slightly. In the case of -ish we add it to the ends of nouns and adjectives to form adjectives which mean approximately, somewhat, or like. It’s a very old suffix which Old English inherited from the Germanic. Common uses of the suffix -ish are colour words, talking about the size of things, when talking about the temperature of things, when describing qualities, and it is often added to numbers and time to indicate approximation.
Written sometime between 1790 and 1792, Blake's The Tyger is one of the most famous of English poems much loved by children and adults alike. The poem asks questions about what sort of creator would come up with something as fearful as a tiger. This lesson will teach you the poem, some background details about the poet, the vocabulary in the poem, and the IPA symbols used to represent the pronunciation of the poem. There is much debate today about the pronunciation of the words eye and symmetry and whether in Blake's time they rhymed or not.
The Vagabond is one of the poems from Robert Louis Stevenson's Songs of Travel and Other Verses published in 1896. In this lesson you will learn some of the vocabulary in the poem, as well as improving your pronunciation skills and your knowledge of the British English IPA chart and symbols. Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) was a Scottish travel writer, poet, essayist, and novelist. He is best known for Treasure Island, the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and Kidnapped. He is the 26th most translated author in the world.
In normal fast-spoken speech some words are not prominent, and we only hear the strong form of these words in certain circumstances. The words that we normally only hear the weak form of include was, as well as the other forms of the verb to be: is, am, are, and were. The children’s rhyme, Fuzzy Wuzzy Was a Bear, shows how these weak forms are necessary for the correct pronunciation and rhythm of English.
Widely anthologised, The Windhover, by Gerard Manley Hopkins (1884-1889), though dedicated To Christ our Lord, is a rapturous love poem to life itself. Hopkins struggled to balance his vocation as a Catholic Jesuit servant of God and his poetical yearnings. Because of this, and his experimental use of new metrical forms, and his religious faith, his poetry was largely unrecognised when he died aged 44. It was not until 1918 that his poems were first published. This poem remains one his best known and will help you with your pronunciation, your vocabulary, and your mastery of the IPA symbols. The lesson also has a prose interpretation to help you better understand the poem.
Do you ever have problems specifying dates in English? This lesson will help put an end to any such issues. I’ll talk you through the way we specify future and past dates in English. I’ll give you some practice with choosing the best way to specify what date you want to talk about. I’ll show you how we reduce complex consonant clusters which form between words in speech segments.
A quick look at how not all English from Britain sounds the same and how it can be quite confusing for students. There are 100s of regional accents and many distinct dialects in Britain. Many English people have difficulty understanding some of the more unusual varieties of English found in the British Isles, so it's no surprise that students of English are completely confounded when they first encounter such English. This lesson will introduce you to the wonderful world of the English heard in Yorkshire, a region of North East England, and a part of the country in which I spent some of my formative years.
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