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56 Listenings British English Lessons

Reading is the easiest way to take in English. Listening is a much harder skill and one that has to be developed as you study the language. There are lots of speech features that arise when native English speakers speak English. These speech features, such as elision, simplification, intonation, stress, and rhythm, and the way in which speakers may miss out sounds or whole words, are important to understand if you are to be able to listen to and fully understand spoken English. These Britlish Library lessons will help you to develop you listening skills.  

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10 of our 56 Listenings British English Lessons

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Numbers and Dates Practice

Numbers can be difficult for students, particularly big numbers and dates. I have designed this English lesson at the request of Nataliya in Moscow who said that she was having difficulty listening to and transcribing dates and numbers. There are many audio files in this lesson. You can choose to test yourself on British English dates, small numbers, big numbers, and decimal numbers.   


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Colour Idioms

Idioms are expressions that are natural to native English speakers. They are very confusing for non-native English speakers. They're confusing because idioms don't mean what the words say. You cannot literally translate English idioms into another language. For example: A black mark has a literal meaning of a black mark on clothing or any other material. It also has a non-literal meaning of a record of something bad you have done. This lesson uses a video English lesson about colour idioms which I made in 2010, and which has been very popular on YouTube. The video has also been licenced for use by a Taiwanese publisher for inclusion in one of their textbooks. I decided to make this Vocabulary Activation Pack from the video English lesson because so many people like the video and because the vocabulary in it is important for students to learn and master. There are a lot of idioms in this lesson as well as a set of questions which I have designed to help you learn, remember, and use the vocabulary and make it part of your active vocabulary.    


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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.


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Changes in Fast Speech

Practice hearing the changes in fast spoken speech. When we speak quickly, sounds that we expect to hear may be missing. It’s not only sounds that go missing in fast spoken English. Whole words may disappear, too. Sounds also change in fast spoken English and some words will not sound the same as they do when spoken slowly, or the way they are shown in dictionaries. In these exercises, I want you to try to hear what changes are taking place in the fast spoken sentences. We will look in greater detail at the changes in later lessons in this Sounds British Pronunciation Course. Changes in Fast Speech.


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Function and Content Words

An explanation of function and content words in English. The difference between function and content words is one of the key factors in English sentence stress and the rhythm of English. This lesson help you to better understand them. I’ve used the terms function and content words several times in this course up to now. I thought it was a good time to tell you what they are. Function words are also known as structure words, grammatical words, grammatical functors, grammatical morphemes, function morphemes, form words, and empty words. That list will give you a good idea of what they are.


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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. 


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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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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 British 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.


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Just for Laughs 1

I’ve chosen 7 short British English jokes for this lesson. These 7 English jokes will help you understand English humour and improve your vocabulary. English humour can be difficult for non-native English speakers. This is why simple English jokes are a very good way of teaching vocabulary, and why  They will also show you how British English humour depends on word play, puns, and pronunciation, as well as the multiple meanings of some English words. There are exercises to go with each joke which will help you to really understand there the humour comes from. By mastering English humour, you will be developing your English skills in an enjoyable and memorable way. 


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10 of our 56 Listenings British English Lessons


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