This week, I asked my English Leistungskurs in 11 grade to prepare a text for the next lesson. The text was, as everyone admitted, not difficult to “understand” (i.e. vocab and grammar were in pupils’ terms “ok”), but it was utterly incomprehensible (“I understood every word and every sentence, but I don’t know what it all means!”). The problem was quickly discovered: German pupils do not necessarily know English clothing sizes, they do not know English brands, they haven’t got a clue what literary characters English people have grown up with, — in short, they do not know the first thing about English Everyday Life.
How do you get to know another country’s / people’s daily life without actually travelling there and living there? You simply don’t. But you can play the “Peeping Tom” and cheat a bit by not “getting to know”, but “learning”. Here, of course, pupils always will think of the answer the teacher wants to hear: read English newspapers and watch English news; watch DVDs with the English language option. But — all those do not tell you about Marks&Spencer, cuppas, mugs and cups and… Hence, the answer I would like to hear from my pupils is: watch English (or US for that matter) telly, watch the adverts, not necessarily the actual programme; know what’s on on telly and radio; listen to an English on-line station rather than your local one. Not always all the time, but sometimes for some time.
So, here’s a very basic, very quick&dirty list of on-line resources one could use to take a look at English and American everyday life. I plan to collect and possibly annotate more links in the course of the year and might post a proper article here with more helpful “stuff”.
Telly: OnlineTVRecorder offers, amongst others, British and US-American TV stations. You might want/need to click adverts or pay a small fee, but it is worth the effort. http://onlinetvrecorder.com
Radio: Apart from all the built-in lists in on-line radio players, here is a very helpful list of UK stations: http://www.radiofeeds.co.uk/
Digital satellite dish (for the brave): http://satellitenempfang.info/astra_2d.html