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English is GREAT - Part 1

The story of English starts more than a thousand years ago. Richard goes to the British Library to hear – and see – how the language has changed over the years.

Task 1

Which of these things do Richard and Roger discuss at the British Library?


Task 2

Type in the missing words or numbers.


Task 3

Can you turn these SMS messages into correct English?


Task 4

Choose the best phrasal verb to complete the sentence.




Language level

Advanced: C1
Upper intermediate: B2


Hello andeo,

'capture' means more or less the same thing as 'take', as in 'take a picture'. It means that we get a representative sample of the language.

Although it is intelligible, 'versatile' isn't typically used to speak about a person who can adapt well to different types of weather (typically 'adapt' is used); 'versatile' does, however, collocate with 'athlete', so we could say, for example, that Michael Jordan was a versatile athlete – he played basketball and golf (though the latter not so well). It's also used to speak of an athlete who can play different positions in games such as rugby – note also the term 'utility player'.

They are not necessarily easy to use, but you might want to try using a concordancer to look for collocations. A quite versatile concordancer resource is

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

.I think that French is a very difficult language to learn if you're a British person. The verbs are the most complicated thing to remember. I also think that everyone could read Middle English, because there is no difference between English, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese or Portuguese. We just need to be persevering and to make an effort to perform. If we have a big dictionary, a pencil and a sheet, the advantages of Internet and some good friends who speak English, nothing is impossible. I'm pretty sure that English will stay the most spoken language in the world, but I believe that some other languages will become commonly used all around the world. I'll give an example: Spanish is the most practicing language on 6 public sites on the Internet. Mandarin is also becoming very popular. It's the same thing about Chinese and French. But the future is always uncertain.


According to Wikipedia, there was no common language in my country when the Spanish arrived in the 16th century. By 1898 the common language was Spanish, spoken by around 70% of the population, it was only 1937 when our national language was approved by the President. In the sense of reading I can say that I can read some of the Middle English but I cannot understand because of the different writings of the letter in a word. Today, English is already the well-known language around the world and it will change the future to a better living if all will understand and speak English, we can also express our ideas specially in the business part.

Thanks a lot, though I have problems with the videos. I think Chinese is a kind of language which is difficult to understand. But I think there's no language that is easy to learn or to speak. I'm not sure if Middle English means Medieval English. I think Medieval English is quite different from modern English. I have ever learned English literature for a short time. And I could only read the poems or dramas together with the notes to them. I think there will be more new English words in the future, and learning English will be more difficult.

English is a beautiful language and I want to learn and improve my language skills.

I new here. This site is very beautiful. I can learn English and see fantastic movie. Learn English with British council is great. Congratulation an the founder.

Hello!I like this site so much, but I'm a teacher and very often I need to download videos for my students!How can I do it????

Hello Marunysechka,

We're glad to hear that you use LearnEnglish with your students, but I'm afraid that many of our videos, these included, are not available for download due to being under copyright.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Is there any possibility of downloading videos?

Hello Dasha,

I'm afraid that these videos are not available for download due to being under copyright. Most of our podcasts and the How to... videos are, however, available for download in iTunes (just search for 'British Council LearnEnglish' in the iTunes store).

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team