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7 Great ESL Websites for English Learners

Learning a new language can be time consuming, made even longer by the hours spent searching for good online resources. Whether you’ve just started learning English, or you’re studying for your IELTS or TOEFL exams, we’ve done the surfing for you. Here are our top websites with useful resources to help you on your way.

1. BBC

The BBC has a wide range of resources for English language students, and their Learning English website is a great place to start. With online courses, classes, videos and quizzes for all levels of ability, you can learn new language skills and put them straight to the test. Get help with your grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation, as well as understanding the words in the news. It’s a one-stop shop for every English student.

2. Business English Pod

If you’re learning English for the workplace, the Business English Pod YouTube channel is for you. Their videos focus on teaching Business English vocabulary and grammar, as well as core workplace skills such as answering the telephone, interview tips and talking in meetings. Their advanced level videos will get you up to speed in no time.

3. English Page

Listening is one of the best ways to enhance your language skills, and English Page has the resources to help. You can access talk shows, drama, news reports, sports, music and much more, so there’s something to interest everyone. With shows from the BBC and American National Public Radio, you can choose to listen to British English or American English programmes.

4. Dave’s ESL Café

Visit Dave’s ESL Café for help with phrasal verbs, idioms, slang and grammar tips. You can chat with other English language students in the online forums and practise your English by joining in on discussions. If you’re preparing for your TOEFL exams, there’s also a job board to help you find work once you qualify as a language teacher.

5. British Council

The LearnEnglish website from the British Council is another great site for English learners.  You can take their free English test to find your skill level, and improve with downloadable podcasts, games, academic writing help and an IELTS section. You can also download free speaking, listening and writing apps for your iPhone or iPad.

6. Flo Joe

If you’re studying for any of the Cambridge exams including FCE, Cambridge Advanced, and Proficiency, Flo-Joe is a great resource. They provide practice tests in all the papers from Listening to Reading. They also have a new resource for IELTS Speaking with free weekly vocab and practice tests on topics that are likely to come up in the exam.

7. IELTS Podcast

If you’re preparing for your IELTS exam, you must visit the IELTS Podcast website. It offers a full breakdown of each exam along with the marking criteria, writing tasks, sample essays and practice questions. And if you prefer to learn on the go, you can subscribe to their podcasts for free tips and tutorials on how best to prepare for your exam.

This means less time searching for these websites, and more time improving your English.

Good luck!

How To Improve Your English Speaking Skills For University

International students come to study in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and other English speaking countries with vastly different levels of English proficiency. Some speak English perfectly because they come from English speaking countries, have been educated in English in their home country, or attended an international school in a host country and may speak little to none of their own national languages. Other students have a fairly good mastery of English but need to or want to improve.

Some of you may be entering programs that require you to be fairly proficient in English before being accepted and others may have been accepted into programs where you still need help in the language and the school is prepared to give that extra help by way of offering English as a Foreign Language (EFL) or classes for English Language Learners (ELL), as they are called in the U.S.

Obviously the better you know the language the sooner you will get settled and connected, and the easier it will be to move along in your studies. Even if the main reason you are coming to an English-speaking country is to learn English, don’t wait until you get there to start learning and/or practising the language. Try to have some knowledge of the language and practice speaking it before leaving home.

One of the biggest reasons international students feel isolated at school is because they can’t communicate.

This can also make them feel like they made the wrong decision to study abroad, and can lead to feeling extremely homesick or even depressed. It’s frustrating and uncomfortable not to be understood and not to be able to let others know what you need. Knowing at least a few words and phrases in English will help you get around and feel more comfortable and self-assured.

Of course, most students start learning a new language quickly when they are immersed in it 24 hours a day every day as you will be, but it does take time. So it is a good idea to start working on it as soon as you can. Here are ten tips to help you get started:

1. Find English speakers to practice with.

2. Read in English.

Read the world news, which you may already understand in your own language, but also read the news of the country you will be studying in so you will be able to discuss current events with your peers and others.

3. Practice writing in English.

For example, write letters to friends, to your school, or to family members. You don’t have to actually send them unless you want to.

4. Watch movies with English subtitles.

5. Listen to audiobooks or podcasts in English.

6. Take a class in English.

It can be one that doesn’t count for credit but is fun, creative, or entertaining. It could even be a dance, art or sports class.

7. Study English with a tutor.

8. Read books in English that you are already familiar with and know the storyline.

9. Watch familiar childhood movies, such as Disney movies in English.

10. Regionalise your English.

If you are using an English language program, be sure it is ‘American’ English if you will be studying in the U.S. or Canada and ‘British’ English if you are studying in the U.K. or former English colony.

Look into learning slang and idioms of the English language in your country of study. There are many words and phrases in British English that have very different meanings in the U.S. and can be considered rude or inappropriate and vice versa. International students report that language misunderstandings are one of the most frequent causes of cultural surprises.

Keep practising even if you think your English speaking skills are fairly good. Practice with a native English speaker. As you go about your day, start going through in your head how you would say in English some of the things you are asking, answering, or debating in your own language. More than one international student has offered the suggestion that watching television programs in the country of study helps improve one’s accent – something that helps break down barriers when trying to make friends with your host country peers.

This article has been written by Tina L. Quick, Author of Survive and Thrive: The International Student’s Guide to Succeeding in the U.S.

You can order this amazing book here.

Enjoyed this article? Check out our other English Language Learning subject guides.

Why Study Creative Writing?

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Creative Writing courses are growing in popularity, particularly within the UK.

The study of Creative Writing offers students a wide skillset which can attract a range of potential employers after graduation. But why should you study creative writing?

This article will explore:

  • What you can learn during the course
  • The potential careers that graduates go on to
  • What studying Creative Writing at Bangor University is like

What is Creative Writing?

Creative writing is seen by many as the ‘softer’ cousin to an English Literature degree, which may be perceived as a more academic discipline. However, this looks at it too simply and misses the benefits of studying creativity as a part of your degree.

English Literature is the study of what has already been written, whereas Creative Writing is the study and practice of new works. It explores prose, poetry, screenwriting, songwriting, short stories, journalism and experimental writing. Many universities offer Creative Writing as a course minor or as a joint honours degree, particularly in the UK.

Why Study Creative Writing?

Creative Writing degrees allow students to analytically look at existing works of literature, as you would during an English degree. Students then use this analysis to inform the creation of their own creative works.

Modules in creative writing are generally quite diverse and are often assessed through creative works. These tend to be submitted as weekly assignments, portfolios and supporting essays, rather than one long analytical essay at the end of a module.

Is Creative Writing for you?

If you are a practical person who enjoys creating original works such as stories, poems, writing a blog or contributing to magazines then Creative Writing may be right up your street. The skills that you learn whilst studying Creative Writing can make you highly employable in a wide range of disciplines including:

  • Journalism
  • Creative Industries
  • PR & Marketing
  • Content
  • Social Media

Creative Writing at Bangor University

So, what’s it like to study creative writing at university? At Bangor University, creative writing falls into two schools – The School of English and The School of Creative Studies and Media. This means that students who are taking a course involving Creative Writing can enjoy a range of joint honours courses. You can choose to study modules with either school, depending on how you wish to focus your studies.

Creative Writing through the School of English combines more traditional analysis of prose and poetry with author studies and historical writing modules e.g. Renaissance and Reformation. The School of Creative Studies and Media offers modules including:

  • Writing for Film and TV
  • Digital Journalism
  • 21st Century Writing and Publishing

You can mix and match modules from both schools. However, for your final year Undergraduate dissertation, you will have to choose which school you wish to write your dissertation. This will affect who is chosen as your supervisor.

For your final project, you can choose to write an analytical piece or a creative portfolio with supporting analysis. It will be the biggest project that you have worked on until that point, so it is important to write about something you’re passionate about. It will also be up to you to find a suitable supervisor to guide you through your project.

If you are looking to carry on studying after your undergraduate degree, your dissertation will be a big selling point to prospective institutions. The School of Creative Studies and Media also offers prizes for the best critical and practical dissertations.

Find out more about studying at Bangor University.

Do you like reading? Check out our tips on how to tackle big books.