Learn English–British Council

Website Review: Learn English—British Council


In Short: The best site on the internet for learning English. It’s multilevel. It’s really big. It’s really helpful.

First: Low-level, intermediate-level, and high-level students will all find great stuff.

Second: The site is really big. You can watch and listen. You can read and write. You can practice grammar. You can play games. You can make friends.

Third: The activities are helpful, interesting, and modern. The site is easy to use and looks great.

For Students: Here are three things you might really like on the site. For listening, Big City, Small World is great. Studying for the IELTS? Check out this section. Or, you might join the virtual community Second Life so you can speak and listen to real people in English all the time.

For Teachers: Send your students to the site and have them write their own reviews. Ask them to answer three questions: (1) What can you listen to on this site? Describe it. (2) Is this a good site? Why/Why not? (3) Would you recommend it to a friend? Why/Why not?

Teaching English British Council

Website Review: Teaching English www.teachingenglish.org.uk/

In short: The best site for English teachers on the internet. If you only have time to visit one site a day, this should be it. What do you need? Activities for you classroom? They got ‘em.  Training to make you a better teacher? Oh heck yeah. A worldwide community to bounce ideas off of, get help from, and have fun with. Si. Da. Nae. Hai. Tak. Yes. Yes. Yes.

For students: This site is mainly for teachers, but if your teacher isn’t using it, you might tell them about it. Also, check out their sister site for students: http://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en

For teachers: If you can’t find what you’re looking for, they also have links to tons of other sites. Oh, and make sure to like them on Facebook…


Phone Calls

Making phone calls in English is really hard. Speaking is hard enough. Taking away expressions and gestures just makes it harder. The speech is a little unclear. Everything together stops many students from even trying to use the phone.

And that’s a pity because the phone makes life easier. Students who are afraid to use the phone can’t call to see if a store has something—they have to go the store. They can’t call to check up on a client—they have to hope things are fine. And perhaps the ultimate tragedy, they can’t order a pizza—they have to go out.

Teachers know this, but what’s a teacher to do? Here are some ideas:

Call Each Other Students practice speaking together all the time, but never on the phone. Send half the class to another room. Have a normal discussion, but have them talking on the phone.

Order Food for a Charity As a class, choose a charity you like. Find out where their office is. Then, call them and tell them your class is going to support them by buying them a pizza. Ask them what kind they’d like. Call a pizza restaurant and order one for the charity. One student will actually make each call. The cost for the pizza and the phone calls shouldn’t be more than $30.

Go Slow Of course you don’t need to jump right to using real telephones. Before making any calls, write practice dialogues to imagine how things will go.

Back-to-Back Ask the students to memorize dialogues (or get close) and do them with their backs to each other and their eyes closed. They’ll have a harder time hearing each other and won’t be able to rely on gestures, etc.

Lights Out! Turn off all the lights and do your discussion that way. This will also help them practice speaking without relying on images.

Analyze the Problems Sometimes just knowing why something is hard can make it easier. Ask the students to write down all the possible problems they might have making a phone call. Then brainstorm solutions to each problem.

What?! One of the big problems on the phone is not understanding. Review ways to ask someone to repeat things.

Plan a Holiday Hotels and airlines often have toll free numbers you can call. Ask your students to put together a holiday package. Give them a budget. Then ask them to call different hotels and airlines to get information on prices and amenities. Just don’t all call the same hotel…

Syllabus Sample

Sample Syllabus

For those who have to make syllabuses, sometimes it can be a bit of a challenge. Thought you might like a sample. Enjoy.

You can take a look at a PDF here.

(Or you can just read it below)

Title:                                     Conversation


Office Number:

Office Hours:




The main objective of Conversation is to improve the practical conversation skills of the students.

The following things are needed to have a conversation: Grammar, Vocabulary, Listening Skills, Pronunciation, Fluency, and Prosody. Of these, we will focus on Fluency and Prosody.

Fluency is being able to speak easily, without having to translate from Korean to English in your head.

Prosody is word stress, timing, and intonation.

Grammar, Vocabulary, Listening Skills, and Pronunciation won’t be the focus of the course. However, that does not mean that they aren’t important. Students should work to improve them outside of class.

After the course, students will be able to:

  • Participate in conversations between people who have met recently.
  • Participate in conversations about technology.
  • Participate in conversations about music.
  • Participate in conversations about lifestyle.
  • Participate in conversations about people.
  • Participate in conversations about places.
  • Participate in conversations about the past.


“Method” means “how”. How will students learn? The best way to improve conversation skills is by talking a lot. Students will receive materials to prepare them to have conversations and then will practice having the conversations. At first, the conversations will be very basic. After some practice, we will try speaking more freely.

In addition, students will practice speaking outside of the classroom.


Homework: 30% Students will receive twelve assignments and must complete at least eight of them. If you do more than eight, you will receive extra credit on the final exam. Students who complete all twelve assignments will receive an automatic 100% (A+) on the final exam and will not have to take the final exam.

Office Meetings: 20% Each student is required to come to my office for a 30 minute meeting twice during the semester. Up to three students can come at a time. You will just practice speaking with me during this time. (If you come and talk, you will receive 100%.)

Participation: 20%

Exams: 20% There will be a midterm and a final exam. They are each worth 10% of the grade.

TOEIC: 10% Your TOEIC score is worth 10% of your grade.


If you miss more than 5 classes you will get an F for the course. If you are late at the beginning of class, you will receive half credit for the day.


Title Author Publisher Year


You can buy this book at the university bookstore.

Supplementary Materials

The professor will give the students many supplementary materials to help students learn the material better.


Weeks                 Objectives                                                                                            Textbook Units

1-8 Participate in conversations between people who have met recently.

Participate in conversations about technology.

Participate in conversations about music.

Participate in conversations about lifestyle.

9-16 Participate in conversations about lifestyle (Continued)

Participate in conversations about people.

Participate in conversations about places.

Participate in conversations about the past.



Units 7 and 8 may be used in class if there is time.

How to Teach Intonation

How to teach Intonation

Click here for some thoughts on what intonation is and why it’s important.

Here are five ways to teach it in the classroom

Play a game The concept of intonation can be hard, but students are quick to know what’s wrong when they’re listening for it. So, create a dialogue and then and read it for the class. Read some lines of the dialogue with the wrong intonation. Have the students note which ones are wrong. The person/team that correctly identifies all the wrong intonation wins.

Dialogue Tree Lots of times, you can use rising or falling intonation, but the meaning changes. (For example: “I bought a car” –vs– “I bought a car?”.) Have the students write a dialogue on some theme. Every third line, they should write two possible replies—one with rising and one with falling intonation—and then continue on writing both dialogues. Make the dialogues short or they’ll run out of paper quickly.

I only go up Give the students a discussion topic, but tell them one partner can only use rising intonation. (So, one partner will need to ask lots of one word questions.) They should discuss the question for two minutes and then switch.

Identify the weakness and make it go away Do your students have trouble with some specific intonation pattern? If so, force them to practice it in creative ways. For starters, they should write dialogues that use the pattern. Then give them discussion questions that use the pattern or discussion questions that might elicit the pattern for the answer.

Just the intonation, please After students write a dialogue ask them to label it in a way that will let them know the intonation patterns. (For examples, they can put and “up” or “down” arrow on each word. Then, they should cross out all the words and read the dialogue without words. They can just make neutral sounds (e.g. grunts) or hum the sentences.

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