5 British English resources to help you improve your reading & listening skills
Published on August 6, 2015 / Updated on January 10, 2024
Many of those who wish to learn English tend to focus on American English, mostly because it is more widespread and also because it is more present in pop culture. Think American hip-hop, Hollywood movies and American TV series.
However, the relevance of British English should not be overlooked as the Britain’s culture has left a tremendous mark on this world, and is still doing so today: Shakespeare, Charlie Chaplin, Vivienne Westwood, The Beatles and Damien Hirst, just to name a few, all call(ed) the UK their home! Therefore, being able to understand British English is crucial in order to fully enjoy this country’s cultural offerings.
To help you achieve this, we have compiled several resources to help you work on your reading and listening skills: a book, a song, a TV show, a podcast and a website, all hailing from the United Kingdom.
Topic: British English
Book: High Fidelity – Nick Hornby
This bestseller novel was published in 1995 but is still highly relevant today. It tells the story of a thirty-something London record shop owner who has just broken up with his ex-girlfriend. The book deals with the topic of break-ups, relationship and, of course, music: the main character discusses mixtapes a lot and spends a great amount of time preparing “top-five” lists of his favorite records with his friends. If you enjoy pop music and love, this wonderful novel is sure to delight you! Oh, and we should probably also mention that a very good movie was also made about this story and that it features the incredible John Cusack as Rob, the main character.
Song: Lily Allen – LDN
This song is part of the pop singer’s debut album Alright, Still which was released in 2006. “LDN” is a common abbreviation for London and the lyrics are of Lily Allen describing her city through a bike ride. It is very cheerful and contains many British English slang and informal terms. The song is so catchy that you will catch yourself singing along to it very quickly, which will definitely help you train your British English pronunciation while imitating Lily Allen.
TV Series: Skins
Skins was a teen drama show that depicted the lives of a group of teenagers living in Bristol through their last years of school. The cast was replaced every two years to follow a new generation of pupils. This show started airing in 2007 and did so until 2013 but to be honest, the first two seasons (and therefore the first generation of characters) were the best ones. The show was groundbreaking in the way in depicted teenage lives and regarding the topics it addressed: eating disorders, teenage sexuality, drug use, family issues etc. Its soundtrack was also incredible, so don’t wait any longer and start watching it soon!
Podcast: Answer Me This
Answer me This is one of the UK’s most popular indie comedy podcast. It basically consists of the show’s hosts answering their listeners’ questions. The submitted questions are very diverse and include just about any imaginable topic which, results in the hosts providing their audience with dating advice, history lessons and practical advice. This show is an interesting resource to get accustomed to British humor as well.
Website: The Debrief
While there are many online magazines targeted towards young women, The Debrief really manages to stand out from the crowd by addressing real topics in a honest, funny and down-to-earth way. For example, their “Ask An Adult” series answers questions young adults in their 20s actually ask themselves, such as “What to do if you massively screw up at work?”, “Is social smoking really that bad for you?” or “How do you get over a broken heart?”. We really enjoy their refreshing approach to journalism and we’re sure you will become a fan too!