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BBC news

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quiz (4)

How to speak like a Brit
Ten-question audio quiz with interactive map that tests recognition of different British regional accents (some sound rather phoney).

Quick quiz: Would you make a good entrepreneur?
Nine-question quiz that aims to determine whether the taker has the right skills, attitudes, habits etc. to become a successful entrepreneur.

relaxing / stress  
How stressed are you?
On-line stress test. Simple questions. Immediate feedback.

English language  
How smart are you?
Twenty-question English test aimed at native speakers and focusing on the errors they make. Includes punctuation, spelling, language terminology (metaphor, simile etc.) and vocabulary.

reading (36)

Beyond 'he' and 'she': The rise of non-binary pronouns
Long 2,200 word piece - could be adapted for advanced students or mined for ideas.

English language  
Does English still borrow words from other languages?
Is English borrowing or lending words? Words: 1187 Flesch: 42.7

language learning  
10 old letter-writing tips that work for emails
Wordcount: 1398; Flesch: 62.2 Challenging but broken into sections and highly relevant. Some archaic language.

future - life in the future  
Tomorrow's cities
Four articles + interactive clickable illustration

Why do some countries regulate baby names?
Wordcount: 726 (main text, excluding boxes) Flesch 63.1 Words in BNC most frequent 2000: 92.5

English language  
How the internet is changing language
Advanced + 815 words Flesch: 42.7

American and British English  
Britishisms and the Britishisation of American English
Wordcount: 1600 Flesch Reading Ease: 50 Advanced

humour / comedy  
'Funniest' jokes at Edinburgh Festival
Report on the ten 'funniest' jokes at Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Mostly puns, mostly dreadful - but illustrative of some useful and interesting language.

London 2012: A 12-part guide to the UK in 212 words each
Set of twelve 212-word texts on different aspects of British life: accents, the police, class, pubs, nationality, railways, newspaper humour, public transport, queuing, British curry, buying rounds (in pubs), self-deprecation Advanced. Flesch 57.5 If graded, could be used for jigsaw reading.

English language  
The words English owes to India
Review of Anglo-Indian loan words hooked onto the latest reprinting of the Hobson-Jobson dictionary. Advanced 1055 words Flesch: 52.3

Why do some country names have 'the'?
Wordcount: 860; Flesch reading ease: 52

Juliane Koepcke: How I survived a plane crash
1000-word piece on Juliana's Koepke's 1971 survival experience in the Peruvian rain forest. Suitable for Upper-int without much editing.
Flesch reading ease: 80
30-minute podcast interview with Koepke also available for a limited time.

When did the middle finger become offensive?
History of the middle finger gesture + regional variants Advanced level - 920 words - Flesch-Kincade: 50 -60

information technology  
English language  
Why did LOL infiltrate the language?
1301 words including info boxes. Gunning Fog index : 9.23 Coleman Liau index : 8.74 Flesch Kincaid Grade level : 7.24 ARI (Automated Readability Index) : 6.33 SMOG : 9.91 Flesch Reading Ease : 65.23 BNC vocab profile K1 Words : 70.75% K2 Words : 78.37% K3 Words : 82.33%

English language  
How 'OK' took over the world
The history of 'OK'. Upper-int / advanced. 950 words. 88% in BNC K2.

image and self-image  
Are suits on the way out?
Long (1,500 word ) piece that will probably need trimming. Full of interesting ideas and useful vocabulary. (88% within BNC K2)

Dear, Hi or Hey? How to start emails
Interesting piece on a murky area with different ideas from various people. [Level indicators: vocab - 89% BNC K2;

Changing native speaker pronunciation
Aitch or haitch? The changing pronunciation of common words in English. Advanced.

The problem with PowerPoint
BBC Magazine piece on the pitfalls of screen displays such as PowerPoint in presentations. (Despite the title, this is not specifically about PowerPoint). Useful points divided under clear headings. Language - idiomatic. [c740 words]

personality adjectives  
Sleep position gives personality clue
How six common sleep positions are linked to certain personality types. (600 words) Personality adjectives include: tough, shy, sensitive, easy-going, social, trusting, gullible, open, suspicious, cynical, quiet, reserved, gregarious, brash, nervy, thin-skinned

social trends  
Richer, healthier but not happier
Long-ish (730 word) article comparing life in the UK at various times between 1973 and 2006 covering wealth, health, spending, ethnicity and social mobility.

romance / relationships  
Is love just a chemical cocktail?
US scientist argues that love can be explained by a series of neurochemical events that are happening in specific brain areas.

Bad bosses may damage your heart
Ungraded language. c500 words

Why rednecks may rule the world
Article by author Joe Bageant about the culture and politics of the white American working class. Amusing with plenty of useful language and concepts. Advanced levels only 900 words

health - physical  
Doctor slang is a dying art
2003 article about the cryptic acronyms used by doctors in notes for other doctors. Plenty of slang, metaphor etc. Amusing but advanced levels only

office speak / office jargon  
50 office-speak phrases you love to hate
As it says. Readers' contributions. June 2008.

Are you going forward? Then stop now.
Amusing piece on the horros of management speak by Lucy Kellaway, management correspondent at the UK Financial Times. A good source of management buzzwords and phrases; a challenging read if unedited. c 1700 words.

sexual attraction  
Gaze 'key to facial attraction'
BBC News / health / Wednesday, 7 November 2007

sexual attraction  
Partner choice 'shaped by father'
BBC News / health / Wednesday, 13 June 2007

sexual attraction  
Right name 'improves sex appeal'
Thursday, 12 August, 2004

business ethics  
Children 'damaged' by materialism
BBC News article. 26 February 2008

children / childhood  
Children 'damaged' by materialism
BBC News article. 26 February 2008

sexual attraction  
Face values applied to love game
BBC News: Wednesday, 9 April 2008 What men and women are attracted to in the faces of the opposite sex.

Tired of grammar?

Reading simplified stories is one of the best ways to improve vocabulary and see how words and grammar are actually used.

For intermediate readers and above (CEFR B1-B2).

Vocabulary based on the 2000 most commonly used words in English.

Six famous stories in one book - 220 pages.

Notes, wordlist and a summary after each story.

Download for Amazon Kindle. (Read on your phone or tablet with the free Kindle app.)

The enjoyable way to improve your English.

Read a sample now (pdf)