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Exploring English with the British Council

Update – Chris Cavey has written a new blog post, highlighting how to get the most out of this course. Read Chris’s three tips now.

Chris Cavey, lead educator on the free online course “Exploring English: Language and Culture,” talks about how the British Council has combined its experience in developing online learning materials with its language teaching expertise, to produce the first British Council MOOC on FutureLearn.

Chris Cavey, lead educator on "Exploring English: Language and Culture"


In twenty years of teaching a wide variety of classes in a wide variety of classrooms, the classes I remember most fondly are those where there was some kind of mix – different nationalities, different backgrounds, different ages. Difference is the catalyst that generates interest and discussion in the classroom and the greater the difference you have in the room, the more potential there is to explore and exploit it.

Difference is what I’m hoping the learners will bring to our forthcoming British Council course – “Exploring English: Language and Culture.” The course will be at an intermediate level, so joiners need to have studied some English to get the most out of the course. Apart from that, there are no conditions, and I’m really hoping that we get as wide a range of participants as possible, to enrich the discussions that will form the basis of the course.

The aim of the course is to help people develop their understanding of culture in the UK and improve their language skills in the process. To do this, we’ll look at videos of contemporary Britain and listen to a variety of speakers of English in unscripted interviews.

There isn’t an explicit language syllabus, but instead I’ll be asking learners to look at features of natural speech and think about how English works, how it’s used and how they might incorporate some of those features into their own English. I think – I hope – that it’s going to be useful for a wide range of learners, from those with a general interest in learning more about our language and culture to those intending to improve their English for work, travel or study.

So, at the end of the course, learners will know more about UK culture and they’ll have improved their English, but I’m hoping that the real benefit will come in the richness of the interaction during the course. I’ve been developing online learning content for the last seven years, but this feels like the biggest classroom I’ve ever operated in!

For each topic on the course – things like music, the countryside or literature – learners will be asked to share their own experience and opinions. As well as asking people to share their thoughts about British culture, we’ll be asking them to compare and contrast with their own country and culture. So a learner might go away from our course with a better understanding of British literature, plus a recommendation for a great Peruvian novelist or some fantastic Senegalese music!

I think it’s an opportunity to build a real global community and, for most people, a really new learning experience. It really is the more, the merrier – the more people we have, the more difference there is for us to work with, to make a rewarding and enjoyable course.

To learn more, join “Exploring English: Language and Culture.”

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Comments (39)


  • Kefaya alhamedy

    I like to learn culture british..maybe that make me will get best learn by online ….and improve my knowlge…l have notce i suffer to anderstand any person speak with me ..lneed idea that help me to pass that

  • Ragda

    It is really a great idea . I am very excited to take this course.

  • Javed

    i ordered for Statement of Participation on 25/3/2015, for Exploring English. it has been now more then 6 weeks. why its so late? how log it will take to arrive??
    ORDER NO: 132532

  • Myat Kay Khaing

    l want to be professional for studying any langue,but l’m not good in english grammer,give ma a way “What to do??”l think that online free course’s very interseting

  • Sharipa

    I want to join your course. In order to learn English


    hai all,i am from india and iam exited to learn my first online course

  • Natalia

    Hi, Chris!
    I am very happy to find this course. For me it’s the first time to study on-line. I’ll try to improve my English and to explore more about Britiish culture and history.
    Thanks The British Council for the oppotunity to have this course.
    I hope that it will help me a lot.

    • sharif

      I am also new here and the first course that I will join online/long distance course

  • morsel Ahamed

    hi m. Chris
    I’m so excited to be joined with online course this is my first time i hope to improve my English skills

  • Thwe Thwe Oo

    Hello Chris Cavey and all members around the world,
    I’ve been studying English since I was very little.This is the very first time for me to participate in an online course and I’m very glad to do so.But before now,I was a library member at British Council in Yangon and used to go there a few years ago.One of my ultimate aims is to be able to master English language and UK is also my dream.I’d like to know how educators of this course and all members will communicate with one another?And how to purchase the statement of participation,how will it be helpful and is there any validity period of it?
    Your kind answers to me will be much appreciated.
    Wish the best for everyone and for Chris,
    Thwe Thwe

  • Jose Guillermo Alvarez

    I’m excite to improve my english skills this opportunity is great and unique for continuing education.
    Thank you


    its ok

  • Giovanni

    Can people get enrolled after February 2nd? By the way, this is a great idea from the British Council !!!

    • Chris Cavey

      Hi Giovanni

      Yes – registration is open until the end of the course so people can continue to register after the course starts. I think people will get most from the course by following the weekly structure because that will give them most contact with other learners – but people are free to study at the pace that suits them.

  • omar


    • omar

      Thanks Stefanie. The February course is a repeat of the September run of the course. You are most welcome to join again if you took part previously.

  • Rafi

    I’m felling lucky joining this community.I’m new on this.I hope, I will make my best to learn more about English.I want to enhance my speaking and writing skills in English.

  • Rodrigo

    Can wait for the class because i realy need to practice and learn something new so thanks Chris for what you doing i belive that it will help me a lot.

  • Carl Hibbs

    Hello Chris and organisers,
    I am actually an ESL teacher in France and I have joined the course. I hope you don’t mind.

    My principal interest in this course is to encourage 20 of my young adult students to join and actively participate in conjunction with a project to visit England in March next year, the week after the course finishes.
    For them (and me) the course content and timing are impeccable.

    • Chris Cavey

      Hi Carl

      Apologies – I hadn’t seen your comment before now.

      That sounds great. Make sure your group follow each other in FutureLearn so they can find each others’ comments easily and respond to each other. Other teachers who brought their classes to the last course told me that students find the authentic communication with other learners around the world really motivating. I hope your students enjoy it too.

  • Anna

    Will this course be a repetition of the September course?

    • Richard Banks

      Hi Anna – yes, the February course is a repeat of the September run of the course. You are most welcome to join again if you took part previously.

      • Chris Cavey

        Hi Anna

        As Richard says, the content will be the same but the comments and discussions will be different because all of that comes from learners like you. We’d love to have you back on the course to add your comments.

  • Stefanie

    Hi, I have taken the first course in September and enjoyed it very much! Will the course in February be a repetition of the September-course or a new one?
    Best wishes and thanks a lot for the wondercul course.
    Kind regards

    • Richard Banks

      Thanks Stefanie. The February course is a repeat of the September run of the course. You are most welcome to join again if you took part previously.

  • Maria Florencia Trigo Moreda

    Hi! Thank you! I’ve already done this course. It’s great! I would like to know if the course that is starting in February is the same or I can do it all over again because it has new contets.
    Thanks Bitish Council for everything!

    • jwan Fahmi

      Hello Chris ..
      I am really interested in this course . It will be my first time reading online ..
      but have two questions , want to know more about …
      first , what will be the way of our communication ?
      Second, how can I get my certificate when I end up the course ??

      • Chris Cavey

        Hi Jwan – sorry I haven’t replied before now.

        All communication on the course is through text comments. We’ll also organise Facebook clinics through the British Council’s LearnEnglish Facebook page where you can come and ask your questions live to me and other educators.
        You can purchase a Statement of PArticpation at the end of the course. Find out how here –

    • Chris Cavey

      Hi Maria – Sorry I haven’t replied before now and thanks for your kind words.

      Yes – the content of the February course will be the same but I’m hoping that all of the learner comments will be just as interesting as last time and make a second visit worthwhile.


    Thank you for giving us the opportunity to learn more about English language.There’s no doubt that British council are giving the best to help everyone who learning English.

  • Kouji Tsutsui

    Thank you! Chris Cavey. I have finished this course a few days ago and I found this blog after finishing the course. This course was my first one of this FutureLearn courses and I was able to experience the atmosphere of this MOOC. I would like to say “Thank you” again.

  • asma shaheen

    I want acdamic category for ielets need guifence by course

  • Ujala

    This is for the first time I would learn from online course, I am soo excited as about this course because learning and improving English is one of my passion, I am a house and learning through online materia and then videos will be more convenient to me.

  • Junko Hashimoto

    Hi Chris and every members,
    I’ve been studying English for a long time, but I can’t talk well.
    I’m very happy to find this course. I’ll do my best. Let’s talk about UK.

  • Vũ Hà

    Very nice, i am eager to join in your course and I hope to explore more about Britain, culture and language.

  • magda fadle

    This is the first time for me to study on line,wish i would enrich other’s knolege

  • Jacob

    Hi Chris.

    I am very happy for having again an opportunity to refresh and learn many concepts of the english language.
    I have studied with people from different countries before and I know how interesting is to share experiences and knowledge with others. Everyone is a world.
    I hope to take advantage of this course and have enough time to enjoy it.
    Best wishes for every body and specially for you.

    Many thanks!

    • John

      In my opinion, learner would like to learn english well who must practice and pratice everyday that is the key of success. I think learner just go to class and listen, write, and nothing they spend about 4,5 hours per week studying english after that throwing books and wordbooks on the conner so how do learners speak english well?