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English in the News

Links to a selection of English language related news articles. For more advanced English language learners.

November 2009

16/11/09 UK to teach English in Bangladesh via mobile In a new scheme managed by the BBC World Service and funded by the British Government, 50 million Bangladeshis who own a mobile handset will have access to a series of three-minute long English lessons. Each lesson will cost less than a cup of tea. The lessons will be accompanied by a web site and a television soap opera.

Children are struggling to make much progress in English at school in Bangladesh, the English teachers don’t have the skills they need to teach English effectively, and business owners need better English skills so they can communicate with clients around the world: this new scheme is designed to help solve these problems.

I think it sounds like a very positive idea and it could be very successful. I also think that more needs to be done to improve the skills of the English teachers in Bangladesh and it would be interesting to know more what is being done to achieve this.

13/11/09 No foreign language on holiday please, we’re British. This article by Reuters discusses a survey by online travel service travelsupermarket.com which indicated that Britons love travelling to exotic locations but are not so keen to embrace local languages.

According to the survey, one in ten of the respondents said that they felt there was no point in learning foreign languages as everyone speaks English anyway. But this isn’t particularly surprising, and has been been discussed many times before. Britons are notoriously bad at using foreign languages abroad.

What I think is more interesting, and encouraging, is that 62% of the people who took part in the survey said they are embarrassed by their inability to speak another language: indicating that they would like to be able to speak local languages when abroad.

03/11/09 Are you in a puckaterry?Dictionary maker Collins is launching a project to compile a list of regional English words that have died out. They are trying to find out which words are alive and well, and are using Twitter (@localwords) to ask people to tell them where and when the words were used, and by whom.

The article explains the meanings of some interesting dialect words from different parts of the UK. Read more about English dialects in the UK in our blog.

October 2009

21/10/09 World’s largest thesaurus debuts “The world’s largest thesaurus is being published after more than 40 years of work by the English Language department of Glasgow University. The Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary has nearly 800,000 meanings, organised into more than 236,000 categories and subcategories.”

This thesaurus has not just meanings of English words, but also the dates during which they were used. It also includes obsolete words and words only found in special contexts. I would love a copy of this thesaurus – but at £250 I’m not sure I will be buying one in a hurry

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