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3 tips for getting the most out of Exploring English

The second run of the British Council’s free online course, “Exploring English: Language and Culture,” starts on 2 February on FutureLearn. Here, lead educator, Chris Cavey, offers some advice on how to get the most out of the course.

Chris Cavey, lead educator on "Exploring English: Language and Culture"

1. Join in

While the course explores British culture, that’s only half of what it offers. Through looking at British culture, we also give you the opportunity to discuss your own culture, and share information and recommendations with other learners around the world.

Your comments are one of the most interesting and stimulating parts of the course, and it depends on you joining the conversation. When we talk about British music, you can share what you think about the Beatles and the Rolling Stones or Adele and the Arctic Monkeys, but you can also recommend choices from your own country for our world playlist.

It’s not always easy to write in English and it might be stressful to let other people read your English, but it’s the best way to get the most out of the course.

2. Trust and help other learners

When so many learners are writing comments, how can you be sure that your comment will be read by an educator? Where can you ask questions? What if you have a language problem you need help with?

Well, the course educators do their best to answer every question, especially in the steps where we look at improving your language, but the educators aren’t the only source of answers.

We found in the first run of the course that a significant number of the learners are English teachers, who are looking to improve their cultural knowledge and share some online conversation. Very quickly we found that learners helped each other and that their advice and answers were usually very good.

We saw that learners could:

  • help each other by answering grammar and vocabulary questions
  • guide each other to other useful learning materials
  • encourage each other with praise and feedback
  • start interesting and informative conversations with each other.

The tools on the FutureLearn platform let you follow interesting people and like interesting comments. Use them!

3. Read your email

At the beginning and end of each week, everyone on the course gets an email from the lead educator (me!). Don’t delete the messages without reading them – they’ll give you details of other opportunities to get in touch with the educators and ask us any questions you have about the course.

We organise Facebook clinics (through the British Council’s LearnEnglish Facebook page) and Google Hangouts on Air, where you can watch and listen to the educators talking about ideas and questions raised on the course.

The details are also available on course pages, but the emails are a useful way to stay in touch with the latest course information.

The first “Exploring English” course showed how learners from around the world can contribute to a lively and entertaining discussion. These three simple tips can help make the second run even better.

“Exploring English: Language and Culture” starts on 2 February – join the course now. Or if you took the first run of the course and have tips of your own, leave a comment below.

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