About the course

This course is for people who are learning English and who are interested in finding out more about British culture and improving their English language skills.

The course will use short videos to present a different topic each week, including English as a global language, the countryside, British music, and literature. Filmed in Great Britain, these videos will help you to develop your listening skills as you watch authentic examples of people speaking English. Our experienced tutor will examine some of the language used in the videos and will draw your attention to useful points that will help you improve your spoken and written English.

The course does not follow a language syllabus but takes authentic English in context as its starting point. Short quizzes and discussions will help you measure your understanding and practice your English throughout the course. At the end of each week you will be asked to describe your own feelings and experiences about that week’s topic in a short piece of writing.

The course draws on the British Council’s expertise in online learning. It is one of three courses from its Exploring English course collection.

You can find out more about this course in Chris Cavey’s post for the FutureLearn blog: “3 tips for getting the most out of Exploring English.”

Who is the course for?

What level of English language do I need in order to understand the course?

This course is aimed at non-native English speakers who have studied English to around intermediate level (approximately B1 on the CEFR).

Is the whole course really free?

Yes, it is free to take part in the whole course.

Is the course live or recorded? I am not based in the UK - will time difference be a problem?

You will be able to access every step of the course whenever suits you. The videos are recorded (not live) and will be available to watch at any time of day, wherever you live.

Do I need a web camera in order to communicate within the course?

You do not need a web cam as there is no ‘live’ video discussion.

I cannot stream the course videos. Can I download them?

Yes - if you have trouble streaming the videos in the course because your internet connection is slow, you can download them to watch offline. You will see a pink ‘Download this video’ under each one.

When are the classes going to be held?

The course is delivered fully online. Each activity is a series of steps which you can study at your own speed. Once the course starts, you can study at any time that suits you. You should allow roughly two hours per week to study all of the material.

Is the course equivalent to IELTS?

The Exploring English course is NOT an IELTS equivalent and there is no formal test at the end of the course. If you are thinking of taking the IELTS test, you might be interested in our free Understanding IELTS course.

How do I get a certificate after the course?

On most courses, you’ll see the option to upgrade. When you upgrade, you pay to get:

  • Unlimited access to the course for as long as it exists on FutureLearn
  • Access to tests if there are any
  • A certificate providing you meet the eligibility criteria

Will online discussions during the course take place using written comments or face to face chat?

Discussions take the form of written comments on pages of the course, not face-to-face. Learners will be able to post comments and ask questions on most steps of the course.

Who will be monitoring the discussions? Will there be an English teacher observing and helping learners?

Online tutors from the British Council will be monitoring and guiding the discussion, responding to learners and answering their questions.

How old do I have to be to join the course?

You must be at least 13 years old to create a profile on FutureLearn. Parents may register using their own name and then supervise a child throughout the course using this profile.

Can English teachers join the course?

Teachers are welcome to join the course and participate in discussions with learners.

Will there be any opportunities to speak with native British people?

The British Council tutors on the course will be British native speakers and some of the learners on the course may also be native speakers. But you should take the opportunity to talk to English speakers from all over the world.

About the instructors

Genevieve White has taught English in Hungary, Romania, China and the UK. At the moment I teach in Shetland and I also write English language teaching materials.

David Lewis has been working in English language teaching for over twenty years in Europe and Africa, teaching a wide range of classes to everyone from 5 years old and up!

Check out: TOEFL Advice: American English or British English?

Duration: 4 weeks, 2 hours per week

Language: English

Instructors: Genevieve White, David Lewis

Institution: British Council