Nowadays people spend a lot of time online. We shop online. We plan vacations online. We work online. We socialize online. So why not study English online? There are countless resources available to us through our Internet-connected personal computers, and many of these are useful for studying English.
I’ve found several free online resources that I like to recommend to my students. Sometimes I bring one of these into the classroom in order to help me keep students interested and entertained, and it’s always my hope that they will continue to use these resources on their own in order to continue improving their English skills.
TED Talks (ted.com)
Since 1984, TED has been presenting short, live talks by fascinating people on a wide range of topics.
Speakers such as Bill Clinton, Jamie Oliver, James Cameron, and Bill Gates present their perspectives on issues in areas such as international development, teaching children about cuisine, creating fantastical films, and averting global climate change.
Most talks are eighteen minutes or less, so it is easy to watch and re-watch one of them in one sitting.
The main reason I like using TED talks in the classroom is that each talk has subtitles in several different languages available. Students can watch a talk with subtitles in their native languages and then re-watch it with English subtitles.
This allows them to understand the talk even if they don’t know all the English vocabulary and expressions used. I find that students are able to understand even very technical English if they already know the basic ideas being presented.
It’s also a great way to learn specialised vocabulary related to specific topics which interest them. Here is an example without subtitles:
If you would like to see the same video with subtitles in your language go here.
Alternatively, you can view the entire collection of TED talks and choose subtitles at their website: www.ted.com.
Podcasts have become a very popular learning tool. Whether you’re interested in news and current events, travel, music, history, philosophy, science, technology, or anything else, there are several podcasts that can intrigue and entertain you.
Since most podcasts are produced by individuals or small organizations, the quality of podcasts varies greatly. However, several large organizations like the BBC produce very high-quality podcasts.
The English We Speak by the BBC is a series of episodes teaching English idioms. Each episode has voice actors using idioms in conversation, and a narrator explaining the meanings of the idioms.
The BBC, as well as other organizations, also produce regular podcasts about news and culture. Many of these shows are radio broadcasts which podcasting has made available to a larger audience.
CNN Student News is a video podcast which presents news stories with additional background information to help students understand each story better.
The main reason I like using podcasts in my English classes is that I can play the episode on-demand and re-play it if my students don’t understand it the first time through.
Podcasts can be listened to on personal computers or on digital music players and are very convenient ways for students to practice English listening skills while on the move – riding on a Hong Kong tram, walking about town, or sitting in a coffee shop.
They are a perfect way for students planning to take the IELTS, TOEIC, or TOEFL to practice for the listening portion of the test.
You can browse and subscribe to most podcasts for free in the iTunes store.
I’m sure you have a Facebook account. It’s how you keep in touch with your friends. It’s how you get invited to parties and community events. It’s how you share photos and interesting YouTube videos. It can also be another way for you to study English.
Make some English-speaking friends and read their Facebook postings. This way you’ll be able to see how native speakers express themselves in casual circumstances, and you’ll have lots of chances to practice writing your own English postings.
Most of your friends probably post in your native language, but you can start making English-speaking friends by adding Q Language as a Facebook friend.
You can read our postings, and we’d love to have you comment on them! We post daily idioms with example sentences, and we’d like to see you try the idioms out in the comments.
By browsing our Facebook page, you can also see who else is studying at Q Language and make some English-speaking friends that way.
Do you already use any Internet resources to study English? I’d love to hear about them. Are you planning to try any of my ideas? Please leave a comment below to let me know how you like them.