Richard goes to one of the world's greatest universities: Oxford. He discovers some of its history and hears about its famous students.
The search for knowledge is central to British life. In fact, four of the world’s top ten universities can be found here. Every year, huge amounts are invested in science and research in this country… so why is knowledge so important to Great Britain?
Oxford has been a place of learning for hundreds of years and more world leaders have been educated here than any other university. This is the Old Schools Quad, which is part of the famous Bodleian Library, at the heart of this historic establishment.
A quad or quadrangle is a courtyard with buildings on all sides. Oxford University is made up of thirty-eight different colleges. There are twenty thousand students studying here, from nearly a hundred and fifty countries.
Dr Sally Mapstone is Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Education.
Richard: Sally. Tell me about Oxford University.
Sally: Oxford University is one of the world's leading universities. It's highly international, it's very modern and it has a great sense of history.
Richard: And how old is it?
Sally: The university has been here for nine hundred years. Many of the colleges are almost as old as that too, though some of them were established in the twentieth century.
Richard: You've had a lot of famous names here over the years.
Sally: Yes, we've had a lot of famous people at Oxford, from prime ministers, such as Margaret Thatcher, Harold Wilson, David Cameron, US presidents, such as Bill Clinton, writers, such as Oscar Wilde, and even film stars, such as Hugh Grant.
Richard: So why is it, do you think, that the search for knowledge and education is so important to Great Britain?
Sally: Great Britain and universities like Oxford have always had a rich interest in critical enquiry. By that I mean the search for knowledge, the investigation of truth, the asking of questions. Whether it's to do with drama, to do with development, or even to do with disease, we're always asking the big questions to try and change things for the better.
There are universities all across the UK but they're not the only places where you can gain knowledge.
Which of these topics do we hear about?
Use a word or number to complete the sentences.
Put the two halves together to make phrases from the video.
Use the verb in brackets, and decide on the best verb form for each of these sentences.
I have been to England before, but because of time, I didn't pay a visit to here. After this video, I really feel that I must visit this university next time.
Oxford is a wonderful university to training.I want to visit there one day
How can I download the video?? Help,please :)
hi Adam, how are you? I hope you felling good .
this my first time in this Website and i need your help to how can i improve my English language as a native language because the website Contains more subject and i don't know how can start with it and thank you for all this information
Oxford, a great place to study in Great Britain :)
I have never been to Oxford,but i would like to go one day.I know some famos University:Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Oxford, Cambridge...I think University are rally important if you want to succeded in life it is batter to finished some famouse and respectable University...
Thank you for this video "Knowledge is great" and also if i have some mistake in my santances plese tell me to correcte...
Hello, I'm new here and I don't know from where I'll start.. I want to learn English from the bigening i need an advice thank you all.
For using the site, think of it as a library – just borrow what is interesting! We have lots of things to help you practice your English. A good place to start is our Elementary Podcasts. These are short radio shows about different subjects. You can read the transcripts and do the exercises to help you understand the show. You can talk to other learners in the comments, too.
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The LearnEnglish Team
Hi, everyone! Let me tell you that I appreciate the precious job that British Council does with this website.
Well, I have carefully and patiently heard and seen the video. I could perceive that Richard did not mention the definite article “the” before “Old Schools Quad” at the second paragraph and also could perceive that Sally did not mention the verb “be” in the present tense after “Many of the colleges” at the eighth paragraph, so why were they put on the transcript?
Visiting the Oxford Dictionaries website, precisely looking up the definite article “the”, I saw this: used to refer to a person, place, or thing that is unique. Thinking about the “Old Schools Quad”, I imagine that that quad is unique, so the definite article “the” must/might be used, and then the transcript is right. But why didn’t Richard speak/mention/use the definite article before that unique place? Has it anything to do with the word “Schools” being in plural?
About Sally, why didn’t she speak/mention/use “are”, now that that clause needed a verb? She could have paused, e.g.: “Many of the colleges, almost as old as that too, though some of them were established in the twentieth century”. However, in this case there would be two phrases and one clause, and the sentence could lose its meaning or could be difficult to understand.
Thank you very much.
Thanks for your complement about LearnEnglish; I'm glad you like our work here.
You are correct that many unique places use 'the' in their names. Richard talks about the Bodleian Library, for example and we also refer to hotels (The Grand Hotel), theatres (The Globe), seas (The North Sea) and rivers (The Thames) using the definite article.
However, it's not true that all places use 'the'. Oxford University is also a unique place, but we don't use 'the' when we say or write it. The same is true of cities, streets etc. So you can see that places are one of the most difficult areas for the use of articles. You can read a bit more about there on this page about the use of 'the' in English.
To get back to your question, what about 'Old Schools Quad'? Well, I had to double-check it, which shows you how hard this area of English is, but it is usually used with 'the'. So, the transcript is correct and Richard probably missed out a word when speaking, although what he said doesn't sound particularly wrong to me. Remember that most people don't speak in perfect sentences, so there are times when we had to make a decision about whether to keep the transcript exactly the same as what was spoken or change it slightly so that our users could read perfect English.
As for Sally, I can actually hear her say 'are' at 1:55, although it's very quick.
The LearnEnglish Team
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