Category Archives: listening

Free games from Cambridge

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Recently I started using a new textbook with someone I’m tutoring. When I looked up the book’s website, I found out that the publisher (Cambridge) has put lots of free games online. You can practice with these games even if you don’t have the book, or to decide if you’d like to buy the book (naturally, the books are not free!). Although Cambridge is a British publisher, they publish both British English and North American English books. They’ve created a huge database of real North American English language in use, and many of their newer books are based on this source. The language in these books is more authentic and more useful because it’s based on the way people actually talk and write.

  • This is the Level 1 book in the series I’m using with my student now:
    Interchange Student's Book 1 with Audio CD (Interchange Third Edition)

    To play the games, go to the Interchange Arcade. Choose your level from the left. Then click on Unit or Sort by Activity, and choose what you want to practice. The games are simple, but have good graphics and sound. You can practice grammar, listening comprehension, and more.

  • Touchstone is another series from Cambridge:
    Touchstone: Student's Book with Audio CD/CD-ROM, Level 1

    You can try out the Touchstone Arcade. Again, pick your level of difficulty (1-4), and then try the activities. They even have some good listening/pronunciation activities, such as choosing which vowel in a word is silent. There’s a “Report” button that lets you see your progress.

  • I haven’t used the Connect series with any students, because it’s for kids. But if you know a younger learner of English, maybe he or she would enjoy the Connect Arcade.
  • Another book I use is Business Vocabulary in Use. It includes both American and British English, and is meant for self-study (so you can use it on your own). If you use English in your career, I really recommend these books. There are three levels. There’s no game site, which is too bad, because I think businesspeople like to play games, too! Oh, well. The activities in the books are creative and interesting, so give the series a try. Right now, I’m using the Intermediate book:
    Business Vocabulary in Use

If you have a recent English textbook or dictionary from a major publisher, try looking up the title on the publisher’s website. You might find free downloadable worksheets, games, etc. These games are a nice change of pace from using a book all the time!

News! Read all about it.

First, I need to apologize for not posting often enough. I’m trying to finish my master’s thesis, and I only have two weeks left! I hope that by mid-June I’ll be less busy and I can pay more attention to Readable.

Previously, I posted about Learning Resources, a great site featuring news articles. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been updated in over a year. It’s still worth using, but there isn’t anything new being added to it.

A different website that you can try, which is still being updated frequently, is Breaking News English Lessons. This site is aimed at English teachers, but you can use it yourself (for free!). Find an interesting topic under “Latest Lesson” or “Recent Lessons.” Every lesson page includes a fact-based news story, an mp3 of the story being read out loud, activities, and quizzes. You can do the quizzes yourself, and if you have friends who are also studying English, you could even do some of the group activities together. (Answers are included at the bottom of each page.) The author of the site has chosen a wide range of article topics: the current list includes endangered tigers in India, politics in Britain, cars, and more. I hope you can find several stories you’re interested in.

StoryCorps

StoryCorps is an interesting project to record ordinary Americans’ stories. There are booths in various parts of the USA, and people go in to talk about their family or personal histories. Of course, this means there are lots of different accents for you to listen to. There will probably also be a lot of slang and colloquialisms, so take your time finding an interesting story that’s understandable. It’s a good way to practice listening to ordinary, everyday English as spoken in the USA by a variety of Americans, including those who were born in other countries. You’ll also learn about people’s lives and American culture.

You can even subscribe to the free podcast, which can be downloaded onto your mp3 player or hard drive.

If you try listening to these stories, tell me about it. Does anything surprise you about the way people talk or what they say? Are they easy to understand? Which stories are the most interesting?

Free listening resources

One major theme of this blog is free resources that you can access online to help you study English. There are lots of good resources on the internet, but they can be hard to find sometimes. So I hope I can help you find resources that you’ll enjoy using.

Here are a few resources for listening that I have come across recently:

  • Podiobooks.com is a website full of free audiobooks, which are books that have been read aloud and recorded. Some books are by amateur authors, but there are also famous books. You can listen to these books on an mp3 player.
  • LibriVox also provides free audiobooks.
  • The English Listening Language Lab Online is a wonderful site that lets you listen to short podcasts (sound recordings). The speakers come from all over the world and talk about lots of interesting topics. If you want to, you can check your listening skills by taking a quiz afterwards! I highly recommend this site.

If you like any of these sites, please leave a comment. Also, please comment if you have some other site you would like to recommend.

Don’t forget to recommend Readable to your friends if you think it’s useful! It’s a new project and I am really hoping to have lots of readers. Thanks for coming by!