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…


How to listen to this scene: Good Will Hunting

How to listen to this scene: Good Will Hunting Park Scene

Learning Idioms from “Good Will Hunting”. A high-level listening exercise.

Here are some other links if that one doesn’t work for you…



Watch this clip from the movie “Good Will Hunting”. You can also read the transcript below. Use a good dictionary to look up any words you don’t know.

Below the transcript, there are explanations for all of the idioms in the clip. There are also a few extra notes on what’s happening. After you’ve learned them, write practice sentences with them and post them in the comments. We’ll let you know if you’re using them correctly.

This exercise is best for students who have seen Good Will Hunting. For those who haven’t seen the movie, here’s an explanation of what happens before this scene.

Will (Matt Damon) is a young man who is a genius. It seems like he knows everything. However, he also gets in a lot of trouble. He fights a lot. One day after he is arrested, he has a choice. Either, he can go to a psychologist Sean (Robin Williams) or he has to go to jail. He chooses the psychologist, but the psychologist has trouble helping him. During their first meeting Will is very mean. He says some bad things about the psychologist’s wife. He didn’t know that she had died. The psychologist gets very angry. The scene below is their next meeting.

Now read the transcript of the movie clip.

WILL: So what’s this? A Taster’s Choice moment[1] between guys? This is really nice. You got a thing for swans[2]? Is this like a fetish? It’s something, like, maybe we need to devote some time to[3]?

SEAN: I thought about what you said to me the other day, about my painting.


SEAN: Stayed up half the night thinking about it. Something occurred to me, I fell into a deep peaceful sleep, and I haven’t thought about you since. You know what occurred to me?


SEAN: You’re just a kid. You don’t have the faintest idea what you’re talking about.

WILL: Why thank you.

SEAN: It’s all right.[4] You’ve never been out of Boston.

WILL: Nope.

SEAN: So, if I asked you about art, you’d probably give me the skinny[5] on every art book ever written. Michelangelo. You know a lot about him. Life’s work, political aspirations, him and the pope, sexual orientation, the whole works[6], right? But I bet you can’t tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel. You’ve never actually stood there and looked up at that beautiful ceiling. Seen that….

If I ask you about women, you’d probably give me a syllabus of your            personal favorites. You may have even been laid[7] a few times. But you can’t tell me what it feels like to wake up next to a woman and feel truly happy.

You’re a tough kid. I ask you about war, you’d probably uh…throw Shakespeare at me, right? “Once more into the breach, dear friends.”[8] But you’ve never been near one. You’ve never held your best friend’s head in your lap, and watched him gasp his last breath looking to you for help.

I ask you about love, you probably quote me a sonnet. But you’ve never looked at a woman and been totally vulnerable…known someone that could level you[9] with her eyes. Feeling like God put an angel on Earth just for you…who could rescue you from the depths of Hell.

And you wouldn’t know what it’s like to be her angel, and to have that love for her be there forever. Through anything. Through cancer. And you wouldn’t know about sleepin’ sittin’ up in a hospital room for two months, holding her hand because the doctors could see in your eyes that the terms visiting hours don’t apply to you. You don’t know about real loss, because that only occurs when you love something more than you love yourself. I doubt you’ve ever dared to love anybody that much.

I look at you: I don’t see an intelligent, confident man. I see a cocky, scared shitless[10] kid. But you’re a genius, Will. No one denies that. No one could possibly understand the depths of you. But you presume to know everything about me because you saw a painting of mine and you ripped my fuckin’ life apart.

You’re an orphan, right? Do you think I’d know the first thing about how hard your life has been, how you feel, who you are, because I read Oliver Twist?[11] Does that encapsulate you?

Personally, I don’t give a shit[12] about all that, because you know what? I can’t learn anything from you I can’t read in some fuckin’ book. Unless you wanna talk about you, who you are. And I’m fascinated. I’m in. But you don’t wanna do that, do you, sport[13]? You’re terrified of what you might say. Your move, chief[14].

Now write sentences Now write sentence with the new words and idioms you learned. Post them in the comments if you’d like them to be corrected.

Finally, answer these reaction questions.

How would you react if you were Will?

Do you think Sean is a good psychologist? Why/Why not?

What do you think will happen to Will in the future?

[1] A Taster’s Choice moment: Refers to a TV commercial for the coffee Taster’s Choice. In the commercials, people shared nice moments together

[2] You got a thing for swans?: To have a thing for me to be attracted to something.

[3] To devote some time to something: This is a common expression used when describing what a patient and a psychologist discuss. Will is using it to suggest that he is the psychologist and Sean is the patient.

[4] Why thank you…It’s all right: Will is being sarcastic. Sean pretends he was serious.

[5] Give me the skinny: To give all the details.

[6] The whole works: Everything

[7] Been laid: To be/get laid means to have sex.

[8] Once more into the breach, dear friends: From Henry V by William Shakespeare. It means to go start fighting again.

[9] Could level you: Could overwhelm you.

[10] Scared shitless: Very scared

[11] Oliver Twist: A book about an orphan by Charles Dickens

[12] I don’t give a shit: I don’t care.

[13] Sport: An affectionate word for a younger man or boy.

[14] Chief: An affectionate word for a friend.


Website Review: iteslj.org

In short: One of the five best ESL sites on the internet. They have everything. They’ve been putting out great material for 15 years and let’s hope they never stop. Their own menu bar says it all: Articles, Lessons, Techniques, Questions, Games, Jokes, Things for Teachers, Links, and Activities for Students.

The site is organized perfectly. There’s no distracting advertising. If you have a slow connection, this site will still load quickly. What more could you want?

For students: The “Activities for Students” button will take you to this site a4esl.org, There, you’ll find many fun things you can do to improve your English.

For teachers: You can learn from the articles and use the lessons, techniques, etc. Why not contribute as well? See if you can get an article published. You’ll learn a lot while preparing it and give a little back to the community of teachers and students around the world.

How to listen to this talk: A Formula for Changing Math Education by Arthur Benjamin

How to listen to this talk: A Formula for Changing Math Education by Arthur Benjamin

Before listening Discuss these questions with a partner (or write short answer to them on your own).

What math did you learn in your first years of school? What math did you learn as a teenager?

What math do you use and remember now?

Do you want to change anything about the way math is taught in your country?

Listening Click here to listen to Arthur Benjamin’s formula for changing math education on TED.com.

Listen to it twice.

If you didn’t understand everything, listen two more times with subtitles. (Click “English” in the box below the video.)

If you didn’t understand everything, read the transcript. (Click “Open Interactive Transcript”. There’s a box to the right of the video. In the top-right of the box, you can click the button.)

For any difficult parts, click on the words in the transcript. Then, you can listen to him say those parts again.

Now, if you’re really having trouble, you can listen with subtitles in your language. After you’ve listened with subtitles in your language, listen again in English.

Comprehension Questions Did you really understand this talk? Try to answer these questions. (Answers are below.)

What’s a Czar of Mathematics?

What does the word “implement” mean?

He compares math education to a pyramid. Describe the comparison. What is the bottom of the pyramid? What is the current top of the pyramid?

What change does he suggest for math education?

Does he think calculus is a good thing?

Make a list of the good things he says about statistics.

Why does he mention that the world has “changed from analog to digital”?

Do you know what “two standard deviations from the mean” means?

Discussion Questions Now discuss these questions.

Do you agree with Professor Benjamin? Why/Why not?

How often do you use calculus in your life?

How often do you use statistics in your life?

Are there any other changes you would make to the way math is taught in schools?

Below the video on the TED site are many comments. Read some of the comments. Do you agree or disagree with them?


What’s a Czar of Mathematics? It’s not a real thing, but, in theory, a Czar of Mathematics would be able to change any math policy in the country.

What does the word “implement” mean? You can read the definition and hear it in a sentence here.

He compares math education to a pyramid. Describe the comparison. What is the bottom of the pyramid? What is the current top of the pyramid? He means that you learn a lot of things in order to reach a goal, just like a pyramid has a lot of stone at the bottom so that there can be the top point. The bottom of the pyramid is the math you learn in your first years of school. The top of the pyramid is calculus.

What change does he suggest for math education? He thinks that statistics should be at the top of the pyramid, not calculus.

Does he think calculus is a good thing? Yes. He thinks it’s “one of the great products of the human mind” and that students who study math, science, engineering, and economics should study it.

Make a list of the good things he says about statistics. 1) You could and should use it every day because it’s about risk/reward and understanding data. 2) If more people knew about statistics, then the country’s current economic problems wouldn’t exist. 3) It’s fun (e.g. games and gambling). 4) You can use it to analyze trends (see patterns) and predict the future.

Why does he mention that the world has “changed from analog to digital”? Without defining the complicated word “analog” this just means that the world doesn’t use old things anymore.

Do you know what “two standard deviations from the mean” means? In short, a standard deviation from the mean shows how close most of the data is to the average. Like, if you’re looking at average height in a class, and just about everyone is 160cm tall (or very close), then the standard deviation will be small. Two standard deviations is a bigger range. You can learn more here.

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