Britlish

11 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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11 Literature British English Lessons

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The Strawberry Nose

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.


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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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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 Pig

The poem is written with 8 syllables per line, and a rhyming word at the end of a pair of lines. oOoOoOoO is the stress pattern and this is a good poem with which to practice the rhythm of English. You can listen to the poem, then read and listen, then listen while you read the IPA transcription. There is also an English Activator at the end of the pack to give you some practice with some of the new vocabulary and expressions. Poems are a great way of learning about the rhythm of English, and this poem is particularly amusing.      


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Bookshop Memories by George Orwell

An essay by George Orwell which will help you improve your reading while developing your vocabulary. This essay is from one of my favourite English authors, George Orwell. Eric Arthur Blair, as Orwell was christened, was born in British India in 1903, and sadly died terribly young in 1950 in London. He died of tuberculosis, back then, an untreatable infection of the lungs. Orwell gave us such works as Animal Farm (1945) and Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) My favourite Orwell novel is Down and Out in Paris and London (1933). Orwell wrote many essays on different subjects and each is an insightful look into a bygone age. I recommend the following strategy for doing this English lesson: Listen to the essay on the next page. After listening to the essay, listen to it again while following the text, which is also available in the resources at the top left. After you have listened to the essay at least twice, and have read through the text, move on to the exercises. In the exercises, only listen to the audio if you really have to. If you have questions about the vocabulary in the text, refer to the glossary on the next page. Bookshop Memories by George Orwell.


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The Monk, a Romance

Matthew Gregory Lewis (9 July 1775 – 14 or 16 May 1818) was an English novelist and dramatist, who wrote Gothic horror stories. He was often called Monk Lewis, due to the success of The Monk, a Romance, his 1796 Gothic novel. The book, The Monk, a Romance, was first published in 1796 and has become required reading in many literature courses. I have edited the text to modernise some of the spellings to British English, as well as removing most of the strangely capitalised words that are scattered through the original text. The capitalisation was typical for the time, but can be confusing for the modern reader. Included in this Vocabulary Activation Pack is the full manuscript of the book, a dictionary of the 2,196 vocabulary items, and audio for all of the vocabulary definitions, the plot summary, and the character profiles. I have also produced audio files for each of the three volumes and chapters of the book. The audio is available in the Vocabulary Activation Pack in the Britlish Library. The Vocabulary Activation Pack in the Britlish Library also contains a plot summary of the book in both text and audio form. I have also extracted 2,196 words from the text which will be useful to you if you are working on building your vocabulary. The Monk, a Romance


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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. Socrates - Famous Men of Ancient Times


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Frankenstein; or the Modern Prometheus

Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus was written by Mary Shelley (1797–1851), an English author, and tells the story of Victor Frankenstein. Victor is a young scientist who creates a creature in a scientific experiment. Shelley started writing the story when she was 18, and the first edition was published anonymously in London on 1 January 1818, when she was 20. Her name first appeared on the second edition, published in 1823. The Vocabulary Activation Pack is designed to help students learn, remember, and use 1,257 items of vocabulary taken from the novel. Sit back and listen to the entire book read by the Britlish AI in Britlish English. NOTE: CHAPTER 15 Audio is here. The link in the lesson is broken, but you can click this link instead.


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The Importance of Being Earnest

The Importance of Being Earnest, A Trivial Comedy for Serious People is a play by Oscar Wilde. The play was first performed on 14 February 1895 at the St James’s Theatre in London. The Importance of Being Earnest is a comedy farce This play marked the moment that Wilde’s homosexuality became publicly known when it was revealed in a court case. Wilde was sentenced to imprisonment and his notoriety forced the play to close after only 86 performances. Wilde later published the play from exile in Paris, but he stopped writing comic and dramatic work. You can listen to the entire script of the play being read in a British English accent by watching the video English lesson above. I have extracted the following 2,114 vocabulary items from the play and have put them in a Vocabulary Activation Pack available from the Britlish Library. The Importance of Being Earnest


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11 Literature British English Lessons

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