Our new, fast-moving video series is about the things that make Britain great. Watch the videos, do the exercises and leave your comments!
A new episode is coming out every week, so keep coming back to learn more.
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Elementary 1 (CEFR level A1)
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This course will help you with your listening, reading, vocabulary and grammar.
From hip hop to jazz… From dance to the blues: it’s music, and there’s a style for everyone. Some of the greatest music in the world comes from Britain, and British music is still topping the charts today.
The Premises recording studios are big players in the music industry. Everyone from Lana del Rey to the Arctic Monkeys come here. Let’s find out more.
If you’ve heard of them, they’ve probably played here. The Premises has been one of London’s most popular studios for over 25 years. It has space for rehearsing, recording and mixing some of the best music in the world.
Viv Broughton is the studio boss.
Richard: Viv, tell me about The Premises.
Viv: Well, The Premises is a complex of recording studios and I don’t really think there’s anything quite like it anywhere in the country. It's a mixture of rehearsal studios, recording studios, a lively café, storage facilities, so it's a really busy place. Hundreds of people passing through all the time.
Richard: What sort of artists come here?
Viv: Oh, a mixture of people. I mean, we've been going for 26 years so almost everybody you can think of has passed through the doors one way or another, so I think in the last couple of years people like Rihanna and Adele and Lana Del Rey. Last month we had Ronnie Wood in from the Rolling Stones, so it's quite a mixture of people.
Richard: What is it about Britain that creates such musical talent?
Viv: Ah, that's a good question. It's a bit of a mystery but there just must be something in the water or in the air. Britain produces just so many amazing bands, from The Beatles and the Rolling Stones onwards and it's a melting pot of great recording and writing talent.
Britain has some of the world’s greatest music festivals. This is Bestival in the Isle of Wight. For 4 days every year, thousands of people come to this award-winning event to listen to and watch some of the greatest music acts around. There’s music here for everyone…
While you listen
Elementary Podcasts are suitable for learners with different levels of English. Here are some ways to make them easier (if you have a lower level of English) or more difficult (if you have a higher level of English). You can choose one or two of these suggestions - you don't have to do all of them!
Making it easier
- Read all the exercises before you listen to the podcast.
- Look up the words in the exercises that you don't know in a dictionary.
- Play the podcast as many times as you need.
- Play each part of the podcast separately.
- Read the transcript after you have listened to the podcast.
Making it harder
- Listen to the podcast before you read the exercises.
- Only play the podcast once before answering the questions.
- Play the whole podcast without a break.
- Don't read the transcript.
Now, listen to the podcast and do the exercises on the following tabs.
Put the words in the right spaces.
Leave a comment below!
- Where do you go and what do you do to cheer yourself up when you feel sad?
- Can you visit the countryside and nature easily where you live?
- What contact do you have with nature in your day-to-day life?
London is the shopping capital of the world. Every year millions of overseas visitors shop here. But what makes shopping here so great? There’s only one way to find out. I’m off to do some shopping – follow me!
Knightsbridge is famous for upmarket shopping. This is where the rich and famous come to buy… their socks. And this is the one and only Harrods… the ultimate in luxury. Even royalty shop here. If I’m lucky, I might see someone famous.
If only they had it in my size. Lovely! Thank you!
Done quite well there – what’s next? Taxi! Harvey Nichols, please.
At Harvey Nichols
Harvey Nichols – or ‘Harvey Nicks’ for short – is a great place for designer fashion.
Well, I had to buy couple of things… What?
The biggest toy shop in the world – now you’re talking!
So cute… err… it’s not for me.
London’s Oxford Street is retail heaven. It’s got over 2 kilometres of shops to choose from… and, of course, Selfridges for shopping with style. Taxi!
Could you drop all this off home for me, please? I’m off to explore a different sort of shopping in Britain.
If you like shopping all under one roof, then there are big shopping centres all over Britain. The Olympic-sized shopping centre at Westfield, Stratford, is huge. With over 300 shops, it’s one of the largest shopping centres in Europe.
Great shopping isn’t just about big shops. Smaller shops can offer something special too. Tucked away in the heart of Piccadilly is a great shopping gem. Lock’s sell that must-have in gentlemen’s fashion: the hat! Lock’s opened in London in 1679. Their hats can be seen across the world. They pride themselves on their personal service.
Richard: Sue Simpson is a hat specialist. Hi Sue.
Sue: Oh, hi Richard.
Richard: Wow, a bowler hat, you don’t see many of those these days, do you?
Sue: Well, we don’t call it a ‘bowler’ here at Lock’s, we call it a ‘coke hat’ because it was invented in 1850 for Thomas Coke…
Richard: …by this very shop.
Sue: …by this very shop and we still call it a ‘coke’ to this day.
Richard: Ah, the classic top hat. When would I wear that?
Sue: That’s a beautiful silk top hat. You would wear that for a society wedding, or the time you see most of them is at Ascot, which is the famous race meeting in June.
Richard: So what’s your best-seller here at Lock’s?
Sue: Our best-seller would be a classic tweed cap or this trilby here, which is called a ‘Voyager’, and the novelty of this one…
Richard: …is it folds up so you can pop it into your luggage.
Sue: …pop it into your luggage.
Richard: Excellent. Is that a deerstalker?
Sue: Similar to a deerstalker, but this is a country cap with a fastening that goes over the top. And this was invented originally for wearing in open-top cars, but now it’s more commonly worn on the hills out shooting and this keeps the ears warm and stops it blowing away.
Richard: I like it; I’ll take this one.
If you looked up ‘spotting’ in the dictionary, you would usually see explanations connected with ‘seeing’ and ‘raining’. However, ‘spotting’ in weightlifting is different and it means supporting another person during a weightlifting exercise. It is particularly common, and recommended, when doing the bench press, which is the type of weightlifting done in Powerlifting. This is because of the risks of lifting a heavy weight while lying on your back.
Spotting takes place during both training and competition. In training, the emphasis is on helping the athlete lift more than he could normally do. Correct spotting involves knowing when to help with a lift, and encouraging your training partner.
In competition, the role of the spotter is very important. The athlete may request the help of the spotters when removing the bar from the racks. Of course there is the obvious role of catching the bar in the event of an accident to prevent injury.
But the spotter cannot help the athlete in any way to lift the weight. From the moment the referee gives the signal ‘start’, to the moment he gives the signal ‘rack’, the competitor will be disqualified if the spotter touches the bar.
In both training and competition, good spotting involves knowing exactly when you should or should not intervene.
To understand this sport better, first look at the illustration and read about the rules and classification system. Then do the vocabulary exercise. The second reading is all about the importance of 'spotting'!
Teachers: the lesson plan is coming soon. Meanwhile why not check out the other sports lesson plans available from the English for the Games section of the Teaching English website?
Small specialist shops can be found all over the country. The Lanes in Brighton are made up of a fabulous web of small streets with lots of quirky shops and boutiques. They’re a great place to discover original fashion, furniture and accessories…
But a shopping spree doesn’t have to involve visiting shops! British markets are really popular and sometimes in surprising places. This is Piccadilly Market at St James’ Church in central London, and not many people know it’s here.
Photographer Simon Weinstock runs a stall here.
Richard: Hi Simon. Tell me about your stall.
Simon: Well, I’ve been here 15 years on St James’ Market. This is my most popular image, I do lots of other images. This is a London bus going round Piccadilly circus with the old Underground sign, very iconic. I do the London Eye, I do the Houses of Parliament, terribly popular of course.
Richard: So who are your customers?
Simon: My customers come here from all over the world. I have Russians, lots of Americans, Chinese these days, Australians – you name it, they come here! Some of my work’s gone to Outer Mongolia, believe it or not.
Richard: And in your opinion, what makes Piccadilly Market so special?
Simon: It’s a very unique, small market. There’s only about 40 stalls here. It’s a very friendly market. Not that many people know about it – it’s a hidden gem! And there are lots of stalls that you can only buy the product here, they’re not available anywhere else in London, so that makes it very unusual.
Richard: What do you like about shopping in London?
Girl: I think, like, the variety of stuff and there’s always something different, there’s always something on the street, there’s always something new to buy.
Man: I like about shopping in London the old shop, like in Covent Gardens, the old shop.
Woman 1: I like the mixture of some expensive and some cheaper ones. I like.
Woman 2: Well, I think it’s just the variety of shops and places where you can go for shops.
Richard: Britain is great for shopping. There’s such variety, and there’s something for everyone. The only trouble is – there’s too much choice!