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Activate your English listening skills with these Listening Activation Packs. Each pack has been designed to help you improve your English listening skills by providing you with authentic material to listen to and a series of tasks designed to test your complete understanding of the material you have heard.
Lost or dropped syllables are an important feature of British English pronunciation. Every word has at least one syllable, and many have more. Some words lose a syllable when speaking in order to make it easier to keep the underlying rhythm of English. This lesson explains in detail what syllables are and shows you which words lose syllables when speaking. The exercises in the interactive quiz give you some practice in hearing the dropped syllables and will help you to practice dropping the syllables yourself to sound more natural and fluent.
Rocío from Spain asked about a lesson on how to write dates. We are spoilt for choice when writing dates, but this choice makes it seem complicated. The general rule to follow is that you are consistent in your choice of style and that you choose a style appropriate to your audience. The more complicated the style, the more formal the audience. This lesson will show you all the ways to write dates in British English and will give you some listening and writing practice with dates, too.
The lyric poem, I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud, also commonly known as Daffodils, is Wordsworth’s most famous poem. I have designed this lesson as a way of showing you the rhythm of English. Because of their structure, poems like this one are a very useful way of demonstrating the typical rhythm of the English language. In this lesson you will first listen to the poem, then read it, and then explore the phonetic transcription. It also includes a biography of William Wordsworth, the poet, as well as the background to the writing of the poem. Finally, you will have the chance to test how much you have learned about stress patterns and rhymes in some interactive exercises.
Whether you are English, Chinese, Polynesian, Russian, or any other nationality, you share the same anatomy as me. This anatomy, in terms of our vocal tract, limits the sounds that we can easily say in a sentence. Of the two types of sounds in English, consonants and vowels, we cannot easily say two vowel sounds one after the other. Linking sounds bridge the gap between such difficult-to-say combinations of sounds. There are three linking sounds in English: the linking W, the linking J, and the linking R. This lesson will help you to see and hear how linking sounds work and how they can help you to improve not only your accent but also your listening skills.
Ellipsis is the missing out of words or sounds. When writing, it is shown by the ellipsis sign of three dots … When speaking, we just don’t hear certain words in a sentence. It’s not that the words are not present, just that they are obvious and need not be spoken. Ellipsis can cause considerable problems for students of English who are used to saying every word in a sentence. Knowing how ellipsis works is one of the ways you can improve your listening skills. Don’t worry! Ellipsis and near ellipsis are not essential things to learn how to do. You will still be understood by all listeners if you don’t use ellipsis. However, you need to know how and why it happens if you want to fully understand native English speakers. We’re a lazy bunch, us English speakers, and anything we can do to get the message across with the minimal amount of effort we will do.
Normally, pronouns are used after we have mentioned something. Pronouns stand in for the nouns, compound nouns, and proper nouns in a sentence, so that we don’t have to repeat ourselves. Generally, pronouns need something to refer back to. The pronoun, it, however, is a different kettle of fish. The pronoun, it, can be used for what is sometimes called the empty pronoun, or the dummy subject, because it does not to stand for anything in particular. Other terms for this type of use of the pronoun it are the expletive pronoun or the pleonastic pronoun, if you want to get technical. The reason we have this empty pronoun is that all English sentences must have a subject and a verb.
Ellipsis or near ellipsis is a feature of English pronunciation that we see with many pronouns at the beginning of sentences, and particularly when we use the empty pronoun. Ellipsis is when the empty pronoun disappears completely, while near-ellipsis is when we are left with a little of the empty pronoun. Of course, we don’t have to leave out any of the sounds and can say the sentence in its entirety. We will still be understood, but it may not sound quite as natural as a native speaker. By learning about ellipsis and near ellipsis, you will also be priming your ear to better hear what native English speakers are saying. We will do some exercises to see if you can hear and identify this speech feature when listening to normal, fast-spoken English speech.
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 over 1000 audio files in this lesson. You can choose to test yourself on British English dates, small numbers, big numbers, and decimal numbers. There is also a timed activity where you have to transcribe 25 random numbers and dates and try to beat the clock.
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.
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.
Any student of English will have quickly become aware that the spelling of English appears to have been devised by a lunatic. The few spelling “rules” that exist are of little use, as most have multiple exceptions. 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, which is the subject of this English lesson.
The first version of The Chaos was 146 lines long and appeared in the author’s 1920 English teaching textbook Drop Your Foreign Accent: engelsche uitspraakoefeningen. The version you see here has 274 lines and, according to the Journal of the Simplified Spelling Society, “This version is essentially the author’s own final text… A few minor corrections have however been made, and occasional words from earlier editions have been preferred.”
Many attempts to recite the poem The Chaos can be found on the Internet. Listening to many of them, I realised that few, if any of the readers managed to pronounce each and every word correctly. Many of the recordings are of the shorter, 146-line poem from the original 1920’s book, or use an American accent. I wanted to produce a British English version of the most comprehensive version of the poem I could find. I determined to produce a “definitive” version of this famous poem using the latest technology to ensure accuracy.
To lessen the possibility of error, I decided to first transcribe the entire poem into IPA symbols. I double checked the accuracy of the IPA transcript with all the extant sources of the poem that I could muster. I then fed the IPA transcript through an artificial neural net speech synthesis program to produce the most accurate rendition of the poem possible. I hope you are as pleased with the result as I am.
Some of the vocabulary used by Charivarius / ʃaːriˈvaːrijəs / in his poem is obsolete. Likewise, the pronunciation of certain words has changed over time and is no longer current. I have, however, retained the original pronunciation to keep the rhyme of the lines intact. To help students fully understand the poem, I have created a comprehensive dictionary of all of the unusual words in the poem. There is also a Vocabulary Activator in the pack which will test your knowledge of the vocabulary. The Chaos - The Absurdity of English Spelling and Pronunciation
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
Like most native English speakers, I have always used idioms without a second thought for the complexity they pose to non-native speakers. Until I became an English teacher, I had no idea that non-native speakers would have trouble using these common figures of speech. Having been an English teacher since 2003, I know just how much students need to use these all-important idiomatic expressions. I have brought together all of the common British English food idioms that I could find and have presented them to students in an enjoyable, and fun way. I have also added notes to most of the idiom entries. These notes, and cross-references, add more interest for the student. Having collected over 500 idioms for the first book, Body Idioms, I was not surprised to find over 320 idioms for this English lesson. As far as I know, this is the most comprehensive collection of food idioms available anywhere. When the series is complete, students will have the most comprehensive collection of idioms of all description available. Food Idioms looks at how we use over 320 British English Idioms related to food, cooking, eating, and drinking.
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
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.
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
Learn, understand, and use 500+ British English Idioms. The Problem with Idioms: As a native English speaker, I had always used idioms, as most native speakers do, with little thought as to their complexity. It never occurred to me that non-native speakers would have any trouble in using these common figures of speech. It had never occurred to me that the meaning of many idioms is obscure, and cannot easily be gleaned from the words alone. Having been an English teacher for some 15 years now, I have come to see that students need a lot of help with idioms. As well as the 500+ body idioms, I wanted students to improve their vocabulary, too. In the Idioms Activation Pack, there are exercises to help you learn both the idioms and the vocabulary. The words are taken from the idioms definitions and examples and will help you expand your vocabulary in a fun and memorable way. Body Idioms - 500+ British English Idioms.
Listen to some short and amusing clips from Creature Comforts and answer some simple questions to help with your listening skills. Creature Comforts is a British stop motion clay animation comedy mockumentary franchise originating in a 1989 British humorous animated short film of the same name. The film matched animated zoo animals with a soundtrack of people talking about their homes, making it appear as if the animals were being interviewed about their living conditions. It was created by Nick Park and Aardman Animations. The film later became the basis of a series of television advertisements for the electricity boards in the United Kingdom, and in 2003, a television series in the same style was released. The original Creature Comforts short film was five minutes long and was conceived and directed by Nick Park and produced by Aardman Animations, featuring the voices of British non actors in the same vein as the "man on the street" Vox Pop interviews. It was produced as part of a series called Lip Synch for Channel 4. The film won Nick Park the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film in 1990.
An anecdote from Richard's time as a police officer to help improve your listening comprehension skills as well as developing your vocabulary. Listening Activator - You're in Trouble
Activate your listening skills with a short story, then enhance your understanding with a short video, and finally activate some phrasal verbs with a substitution exercise. Phrasal Verbs Activation Pack 4 - The Black Hole
Listen to a short story to improve your listening skills and develop your vocabulary. Listening Activator - Cupboard Love. A romantic fiction story.