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29 Literature British English Lessons

Some students like to sit back and listen to some interesting English. It doesn't get much more interesting than some of the old classics from English literature. These lessons have been created to help you get the best from the vocabulary found in some of the old classics. As you listen and read your way through these lessons, you also broaden your understanding of English culture.

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10 of our 29 Literature British English Lessons

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My Biggest Fear

We all seem to be worried these days. We're worried about the coronavirus. We are worried about the effects of the virus on the economy. We are worried about our futures. Worries are a natural human response to circumstances which arise because, unlike most other animals, we are capable not only of agonising over the past, but also of looking into the future and thinking about how things might be. This human curse has a rich vocabulary enabling us to talk about our fears, worries, and concerns with others for, after all, a worry shared is a worry two people have got, and troubles are easier to bear if you know you are not alone in facing them. This lesson aims to help you with some of the vocabulary concerning worries and fears.


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Romeo and Juliet - Short Version

This short version of the classic Shakespeare play will teach you the basics of the plot. It will also teach you some useful vocabulary such as, banish, break up, bring forward, bump into, cheesed off, chemist, cousin, dagger. duel, fall in love, feuding, friar, gatecrash, get along, get own back, get together, grieve, hatch a plan, hot-headed, in secret, look forward to, love at first sight, mourn for, newlywed, nobleman, nurse, pad, poison, potion, shenanigans, spend the night, squabble, tomb, top, untimely, and wet lettuce.  


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Snake

Snake is one of D. H. Lawrence's most famous poems and was published in the poetry collection Birds, Beasts and Flowers. I use this poem in this lesson to help you with your pronunciation, your vocabulary, your understanding of the British English IPA chart symbols, and to introduce you to this most beautiful of poems. Poems are a great way to enrich many aspects of your English and I hope that you enjoy the poem and the exercises included in the lesson.


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Socrates - Famous Men of Ancient Times

In 1843, a man by the name of Samuel Griswold Goodrich wrote and published a book called Famous Men of Ancient Times. In the book, Goodrich looked at the lives of Mohammed, Belisarius, Attila, Nero, Seneca, Virgil, Cicero, Julius Cæsar, Hannibal, Alexander, Aristotle, Demosthenes, Apelles, Diogenes, Plato, Socrates, Alcibiades, Democritus, Pericles, Aristides, Æsop, Solon, Lycurgus, Homer, and Confucius. I chose to make his chapter on Socrates the subject of the video English lesson and Vocabulary Activation Pack here.


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Sonnet 18

The most famous and well-known of Shakespeare's 154 sonnets is undoubtedly Sonnet 18 which begins, Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? This lesson looks at the pronunciation of the sonnet as well as providing a modern English translation of the sonnet to make it easier to understand. The lesson also looks at some of the old, obsolete language of Shakespeare, in particular the thee, thy, thou which appear in this sonnet. There is a full British English IPA phonetic transcript of the sonnet, too, to help students improve their knowledge and use of the 44 IPA symbols in British English.


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Taste of Your Own Medicine

We have many idioms in English. One of them is a taste of your own medicine. This common idiom has its roots in Ancient Rome. Gaius Julius Phaedrus lived in the 1st century and translated the fables of Aesop into Latin. He also wrote many fables of his own in the style of Aesop, one of which is the source of the English idiom we are looking at in this lesson.


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The Ant and the Grasshopper

This is my retelling of Aesop’s fable, The Ant and the Grasshopper. It tells the tale of the hardworking ant and the apparently lazy grasshopper and presents the moral message that we ought to enjoy our lives while we can. The lesson is also packed with vocabulary which you can test yourself on in the two activators in the lesson. There are lots of useful vocabulary items to learn, as well as phrasal verbs and common expressions.  


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The Chaos

The Absurdity of English Spelling and Pronunciation.  English spelling and pronunciation appears to have been devised by a lunatic. The absurdity of English spelling has inspired many teachers and writers to demonstrate just how ridiculously complicated it is. Chief among these was Gerard Nolst Trenité, who wrote the oft-quoted poem, The Chaos. I first transcribed the entire poem into IPA symbols, double checking the accuracy of the IPA transcript, then fed the IPA transcript through an AI speech synthesis program to produce the most accurate rendition of the poem possible.  


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The Example

A poem from the Welsh poet, W.H. Davies (1871-1940) to help you with your pronunciation and the rhythm of English through British English IPA transcripts. There is a full British English IPA phonetic transcript of the poem, too, to help students improve their knowledge and use of the 44 IPA symbols in British English, and some biographical information about the poet.


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The Fisherman and the Little Fish

The Fisherman and the Little Fish tells the moral that it's better to accept what you have than to gamble on what you might not get. I have rewritten the Aesop's fable using as many phrasal verbs as I could come up with. If you are interested in learning some new phrasal verbs, this video is not to be sniffed at. Don't let your interest fizzle out and see what phrasal verbs I have come up with. If you want to improve your knowledge of phrasal verbs, it's time to check out this lesson.  


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10 of our 29 Literature British English Lessons


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