Take the time

Learning a language takes a large amount of time. According to the Council of Europe, it takes a European adult learning another European language about 550 hours of study to reach the Threshold Level – that is the level at which, without being totally fluent, you can manage to understand and make yourself understood in everyday situations. If you do not already speak a European language, learning English will take much longer. In seven years at secondary school, pupils usually have about 900 hours of instruction in their first foreign language – excluding homework ! These figures are not given to discourage you, but to help you set yourself a reasonable objective. If you intend to study in an English-speaking country you will need to be much better than the Threshold Level. On the other hand, if you only need to read and write routine e-mails related to your job, you may attain your objective in much less than 550 hours. Generally, it is not efficient to spread language learning over too long a period. Set yourself a time limit – 3 years maximum !

Organizing your work

It has been proved to be more efficient to work a little every day rather than a lot once a week. It is important to have daily contact with the language of at least ten minutes. Decide on a specific time each day to work on your English. Write it in your diary/date book or wherever you note your appointments. Draw up a detailed work programme in terms of concrete, limited objectives. Examples :

  • read and understand an article
  • learn to sing a song
  • write 10 questions with « do » and « does »

This means defining your objectives in terms of « know how » rather than in terms of pages read or chapters studied in a grammar book. Evaluate your progress regularly and adapt your programme as needed. You may find it useful to find a graphic way of representing your progress and also the time spent learning English. Take a few minutes each evening, just before going to sleep, to reflect on the English you’ve learnt during the day. This way you will integrate during your sleep what you have been working on during the day. If you find you are no longer keeping to your programme and working regularly, find someone to help you reactivate your enthusiasm for English.

Learning English with a partner

If your objective is to master the oral language, your will need to have practice in speaking. Find someone else who is also learning English in your neighbourhood, your company or your university. Meet at least once a week to speak in English, do exercises together and above all to encourage each other to continue!

Meeting an English speaker

This is easy, of course, if you are already in an English-speaking country. Elsewhere, it will take some organisation, but in most big towns it is possible to find English speakers. This does not necessarily mean native English speakers: Indians, Ghanaians, Germans, Scandinavians… often speak excellent English. People working or studying in a foreign country can be lonely and therefore happy to have contact with local people in exchange for speaking English. Tourists also often welcome opportunities to meet and talk to local people. Think of ways in which you could find English speaking workers, students or tourists :

  • put an ad in a newspaper or shop
  • go to an embassy or a consulate
  • try a tourist information centre
  • use a university bulletin board

Visiting an English-speaking country

A visit to a country where the people speak English can be very profitable, but it has to be well-organised or you may easily find yourself saying little more than, « Black coffee and a cheese sandwich, please » in English. One possibility is an organised trip of some kind :

  • visit the Lake District in England,
  • explore the Great Lakes in Canada
  • go on a wildlife safari in Kenya.

But choose a trip organised by a travel agent in the country itself so that you will be in a group of local people. This is quite easy to do through the Internet these days.

A Guide to some English-Speaking Countries

australia

Australia

A Guide to Australia G’day Possums ! This is an excellent site to introduce you to Australia. It has a very comprehensive map so you can therefore get an idea of the vast size of the country, the states and territories and also information on culture such as museums, aboriginal art, theatre, etc.
Visit Australia This site points out the highlights in terms of the main sites of beauty and culture, the best beaches (the majority are wonderful), and also wildlife. There is also a function so that you can read this in a number of other main languages besides English.
City Search Australia This is a truly excellent site. By accessing it you can click on any city in Oz, and browse a list of ‘must sees’ in terms of landmarks, best beaches, up coming events and festivals, and also, if you so desire, read up on the history. So much information it’s crazy, but worth knowing too !
Sydney Opera House See some stunning digitally mastered pictures of Sydney harbour and world famous opera house.
The New Mardi Gras The gay and lesbian Mardi Gras is the biggest street festival in Sydney’s annual calendar. The processions are stunning and remarkable, sometimes not for the faint hearted. This website will tell you all you need to know about this massive event.
Oz Experience For a slightly unconventional way to travel and see Australia, while meeting a host of other travellers at the same time, this site may interest you, again not really for the faint hearted. These Aussies are enthusiastic at the very least !
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority The world’s largest coral reef is 2000 km long and has over 1,500 species of fish! It is found off the coast of Queensland on the east coast of Australia. To read up on this spectacular phenomenon of under water beauty, it is essential you check out this site!
Ayers Rock, Uluru 318m above the desert floor with a circumference of 8 km, Ayres rock or Uluru is the world’s largest monolith. It is a spectacular site in the centre of the Australian outback and is sacred to the aboriginal people. It is also known to change colour with the differing positions of the sun throughout the day. To find out more this site is a must!
Aboriginal Australia Incorporates a physical shop and gallery in Alice Springs that will deliver art directly from a broad range of Aboriginal Communities. This presence in the heart of Aboriginal Australia will also give us access to a very diverse range of work which will be constantly updated on the website.
Koala Net The Koala only inhabits Australia and is arguably the most lovable animal in the world. This site gives access to information on Australia’s favourite creatures and some of the not so popular ones too. There are good links to other snippets of Australian information from this site.
Australia Wildlife and Natural History If you are feeling intellectual and biological then this site is for you. This site gives access to a series of films which show the ecosystems and the wildlife which inhabit them. Fascinating stuff!
Jobnet This is the largest IT & T job search web site in Australia.
Australia’s Careers OnLine For expert help with your Job Search and Career Development! Through Australia’s Careers OnLine, job seekers of any age get help with their career planning and employment and job search.
Fox Sports Sports news for the whole of Australia, coverage of every sport !
 Canada

Canada

About Canada An excellent site with lots of varied and interesting information.
Canada Online This site will give you the complete low-down on Canada. The music section lists all Canadian musicians from A-Z.
Lonely Planet Absolutely all the information that you might need is available on this website. The site is easily navigable and comes in various different languages.
Toronto.com Excellent, all that you need to know about Toronto.
Via Rail Canada This site offers a brief description of each province on the main page (Explore our destinations). There is also the possibility of booking a package holiday with all travel and accommodation hassle dealt with for you. The site also includes information about a Canadian rail pass, a 12-day ticket for unlimited travel in Economy class during a 30-day period, as well as other special rail deals. Very useful information.
Canadian Information Pages This site does not have the most exciting format, but it is approachable and informative. It is a very useful source of information. However, information is not presented in order of date.
IfyouSki One can search for skiing holiday information by destination. This site provides directions, ‘piste profiles’ and ‘piste reviews’.
Le Village du Père Noël This aims to give small children the chance to experience the magic of meeting with Santa while parents look on. It has a small domestic animal section so that children can pet and feed the animals. It also has a variety of action-oriented activities. The village opens on the 8th of June. There is also a playroom on the website, and a useful map. This is a very user-friendly website.
Vintage Automobile Racing Association of Canada This is their official web site. The association was formed in 1976 to provide a central organizing body through which Vintage Race enthusiasts could communicate and organize race meetings for eligible Vintage and Historic racing and sports cars. The spirit of VARAC can be expressed as a wish to preserve, restore and race historically significant cars in a form as close to the original specification as possible. For vintage car enthusiasts a list of forthcoming events can be found under ‘Events’ (surprisingly enough!).
Manitoba Antique Auto Museum This is the official website of the Manitoba Antique Automobile Museum located in Elkhorn, Manitoba which is 18 km east of the Saskatchewan border and 100 km west of Brandon, Manitoba. The Museum is home to one of the most extensive antique automobile collections in North America and attracts thousands of visitors every year who take a walk into the past and relive many memories of yesteryear. The website is well constructed with all of the required practical information – e.g. location, directions and prices.
Eastwind Cycle This company, which was established in 1986, focuses on group touring, trip guiding, and event organising. It specialises in custom trips for groups of six to twenty riders and also in providing local guide service for foreign companies. The company believe that this region is uniquely suited to cycling due to its scenic beauty, quiet roads, and ties to the sea. This site gives some details of the tours available in New Brunswick, Prince Edward Islands and Cape Breton.
Alberta Outdoors This site contains possibly all you might need to know about hunting in Canada.
Toronto Fringe Festival This, like its counterpart in Scotland, is a celebration of culture. It is a forum of artistic talent, although the main emphasis seems to be on theatrical art. This site provides details of forthcoming events, and the possibility of buying tickets. Check out the links, if you are a more serious theatregoer.
Parks Canada This is a guide to the national parks of Canada.
Royal Ontario Museum Nice pictures but not enough for my taste.
gibraltar

Gibraltar

Gibraltar.gi Gibraltar is an English speaking British colony island found at the tip of Northern Spain. This is an excellent general website. So it is vital you check it out! It was set up by the Gibraltar tourist board and there is plenty of information about the history, politics, flora and fauna etc. It also lists the bars and restaurants as well.
Gibraltar History A brief history plus tourist info.
Dolphin Safari Dolphins are frequent inhabitants of the sea surrounding Gibraltar. To find out information on how to book a tour for boating and even get the chance to swim with dolphins, this site is a must.
Gibraltar Country Guide The presentation is a bit dull, but full of useful information.
 ireland

Ireland

Hidden Ireland: a guide to Irish fairies Fairies, leprechauns, four-leaf clovers? What’s it all about? Good question! Read about the fascinating and extensive stories of the myths and legends of Ireland at this site. Also if you want the luck of the Irish, this is the site for you. Join leprechaun watch here, and find your own exclusive pot of gold.
St. Patrick’s Festival St Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland. Famous for driving the snakes from Ireland, abolishing pagan rights and also for travelling and teaching the word of God in many countries. The three day long festival in Ireland is from the 15th to the 18th of March. This involves music, international carnivals, fireworks, theatre and a massive consumption of Guinness !!
Best Irish Castles Ireland is home to some of the world’s most beautiful castles.Here’s a selection of some of the best.
Blarney Don’t miss this world-renowned tourist attraction at Blarney Castle, Cork. The Blarney stone is believed to be half the stone of Scone, a Scottish stone, that kings were crowned over as it had special powers. Today it is tradition to kiss the stone, therefore supposedly acquiring the gift of eloquence.
Best Irish Castles Ireland is home to some of the world’s most beautiful castles.Here’s a selection of some of the best.
Blarney Don’t miss this world-renowned tourist attraction at Blarney Castle, Cork. The Blarney stone is believed to be half the stone of Scone, a Scottish stone, that kings were crowned over as it had special powers. Today it is tradition to kiss the stone, therefore supposedly acquiring the gift of eloquence.
The Dublin slang dictionary and phrase book Maybe slightly confusing for a recent learner of English, but nevertheless vital, and amusing! Find out all the Irish expressions you’ve ever dreamed of knowing, for example: ‘Act the maggot’ which means being silly, and ‘pullin’ me wire’, an expression of disbelief at something somebody says. It will give you a taste of Irish humour if nothing else.
Sports News Ireland Get the low down on Irish sport here.
Recruitni.com Recruitni.com is Northern Ireland’s leading jobs portal – an independent business which matches thousands of employers and jobs each month.
IrishJobs IrishJobs.ie is Ireland’s leading recruitment website, providing a platform, since 1995, for job seekers to find jobs and for recruiters to find the right person for the job.
malta

Malta

Lonely Planet Malta is the most densely populated area in Europe. This site is excellent to find out practically everything you want to know about the history, places to visit and the activities to do when there.
Local Celebrations : The Maltese Islands The carnival in Malta is a wonder to behold. The costumed street processions are full of boisterous revelry in stark contrast to Holy Week.
Malta Sport A site covering Maltese and international sport, mainly football.
new-zealand

New Zealand

The New Zealand Tourist Board There are some absolutely stunning pictures on this site. New Zealand is famed for its exquisite landscapes, mountains, glaciers, fast flowing rivers, deep hissing geysers and boiling mud. It is also a haven for outdoor activities and extreme sports such as bungee and skydiving. There is extensive information on all the cities and towns in the North and South Islands and their attractions. A very useful and comprehensive site.
New Zealand Virtual Tour Here you can click on either North or South Island and get a virtual tour, to marvel at the beautiful scenery that is awaiting you in NZ, definitely a site worth seeing. 24,000,000 sheep can’t be wrong! Even if the people are grossly out numbered by the sheep it still makes for a good holiday.
Maori Culture The original inhabitants of NZ were the Maoris. They led a tribal existence. Now, New Zealand has influences from Europe, America and the South Pacific Cook Islands, but the Maori influence is very important to the culture of NZ today. On this site you can read about the culture of the Maoris. Although English is the most widely spoken language of NZ, the Maoris have a language of their own still used today. Learn how to speak Maori on this web site, or just learn hello: ‘Kia ora!’
Queenstown: Adventure Capital of the World Queenstown in the South Island is a Mecca for all thrill seekers. If you want to experience the thrill of a lifetime and scare yourself stupid while visiting NZ then this site is for you. The Queenstown adventure group includes companies that specialise in bungee jumping, tandem skydive and white water rafting. This site also gives an explanation of all these things plus location map, enquiry details, etc.
Lord of the Rings! New Zealand, home of Middle Earth! With its dramatic beauty, NZ was an excellent choice of location for this box office victory. This site shows the various locations that were chosen for filming and the reasons behind the choices. One of the hobbits was quoted as saying ‘It was as though Tolkein had walked across NZ to inspire the movie ». Seeing the movie is believing!
Waiheke Island of Jazz Festival Come on all you jazz fans to this annual event in April on Waiheke Island. A very popular event and the website is well worth visiting.
YHA New Zealand The cheapest accommodation while travelling through NZ is by youth hostelling. The hostels are internationally recognised and are always of a high standard. You can check out their locations and facilities on this website.
Jobs in New Zealand
Seek « With more jobs online than any other New Zealand website, online training and certification tools, career development advice and much more, SEEK is number one for the job. »
scotland

Scotland

Explore the City of Edinburgh Excellent site to help you discover the city.
Scottish Castles There are over one hundred castles in Scotland! Take a wee (little) moment to look at some impressive photos, read about their history and how to discover them, region by region.
National Museums of Scotland Scotland is home to seven national museums, including theMuseum of Flight and Museum of Costume in a beautiful Victorian country house. Find out where they are, admission prices, etc., and exhibitions on this site.
The Burrell Collection Presented to Glasgow in 1944 by millionaire ship owner Sir W Burrell, this gallery of fine ceramics, prints and paintings is FREE to the public.
Scotland’s Highland Games!  If you’ve never heard of these before now is your chance to check out the traditional event of strength and agility, with unconventional sporting events such as tossing the caber (a large tree trunk), tug of war and many more. Held annually in approximately 100 different regions of Scotland – Get your kilt on!
Scotland’s Golf Courses A complete guide to every golf course in Scotland, and there are plenty. Stunning opening picture and information about the history of golf and site of the first proper game in the 15th century on the Old Course in St Andrews.
Edinburgh Festival Fringe Big arts festival, possibly the worlds largest of its type! Held at the start of August annually. Find out how to become part of it, as spectator, competitor, or even get a job behind the scenes if you think you can handle the pace! A massive explosion of cultural and artistic expression!
Hogmanay Scottish New Year celebrations are celebrated in the most exuberant fashion. The style is street party with fireworks and lots of entertainment! Big-ticketed event in Edinburgh and Glasgow. This site also gives you the opportunity to learn the words to the traditional New Year song: Auld lang syne. Don’t be left speechless at midnight, check this site out!
The Legend of Nessie The Loch Ness Monster, fact or fiction? Find out about the origins of this infamous creature and the people who claim to have seen it.
Scottish Job & Recruitment Opportunities
Live-in Jobs for Backpackers in Scotland
liberty

United States of America

Lonely Planet There isn’t a better web site, from a tourist’s point of view, than this one to start finding out about America. This gives good general knowledge of the history of the USA, updated to include the repercussions of the September 11th 2001 terrorist attack in New York. It is non-specific to the regions but it does highlight the main attractions and climate details. There is not much that this site does not include!
Travelling to the U.S. Paris US embassy. Information for foreigners wanting to vist or study in the U.S.
The Official New York City Website Arguably the world’s most thrilling city, and so much to do that you won’t want to feel like you’re missing out on a thing. This way you won’t have to! This site tells you of up and coming events, information to job seekers as well as informing you about such attractions as The Empire State Building, Times Square and the Statue of Liberty.
USA TODAY: Sports If you are a sports nut then on this site you can find out which are the teams to watch out for in America’s main sports: baseball, basketball and football (not the same as the European version). Complete national sporting news coverage isto be found here.
Walt Disney World Disney is one of the world’s largest empires, If you are in Florida or alternatively Anaheim, CA, it would be scandalous to not to go. It’s not just for children, adults like it too. Find out about the attractions, the characters and even book tickets on line. However, if waiting in line surrounded by men in furry suits is not for you, in Florida you can also experience the delights of Universal Studios and lots more besides.
National Park Reservations America is home to a plethora of stunningly beautiful national parks. Large expanses of landscape, never to be spoilt by industry. Wildlife enthusiasts, to visit one of these should be a must for you. For information about size, location, wildlife, accessibility, etc., check this out! Includes links to the most famous of parks such as the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone, the oldest national park in the world!
Alcatraz Island Today you can experience the prison island of Alcatraz, for yourself with a tour for the public. The contrast of the old concrete ruin versus the breathtaking view of San Francisco and theGolden Gate Bridge.
Hollywood -  The history of a  Movie Capital « Hollywood, California – where, beginning a century ago, the great American dream burst out of our collective subcoscious and into the open. There is no other name that frees our fantasies and stirs our hopes and fears, our tears and our eternal romances, like that single incomparable word – Hollywood. »
The English-to-American Dictionary For those of you who are more used to British English.
American Jobs As America is such a large country, it is advisable to run a search engine through http://www.yahoo.com for the individual region you are interested in and you will be able to investigate in much more specific detail the job or other information you require.

Studying in Britain

Another possibility is to take part in a sport or cultural activity. In a group of people who share the same tastes it is easy to talk and make friends. This also should be organised as above to be sure you are mainly with local people.

VisitBritain Ex British Tourist Authority and the English Tourism Council.
Education UK The British Council web site for helping international students interested in studying for a UK course or qualification.
Study English in the UK British Council inspected English language courses.
UK Student Life Mark Chandler — This site gives a lot of interesting information for people coming to the UK to study or to travel written in clear English accessible to non-native English speakers. Hundreds of photos aim to show various aspects of British life in a realistic way.
English UK The national association of English language teaching centres.
English in Britain Accredited English Language Courses
Study in the UK British Council France
Study Abroad: Tips For ESL Students This Website considers the issues involving study abroad. Each article includes an audio recording so ESL students can practice their listening skills and improve their comprehension.
Bienvenue en Angleterre Angleterre.org.uk - Andrew Rossiter — Une introduction à l’Angleterre et au Royaume Uni

Working in English

A third suggestion : do some voluntary work. You will not get paid, but you will usually be with a group of young people from different parts of the world and English will be the language of communication even if it is not the language of the country. Learn more here : Working in English

Distance learning courses at the CLA

A teacher can help you organise your learning and improve your oral expression. Regular contact maintains motivation. The CLA offers one-to-one distance learning courses combining :

  • telephone calls (or Skype, Windows Live Messenger …)
  • emails
  • resources on the CLA Moodle learning platform
  • other Internet resources

Each course is tailor-made to the individual’s needs. Group courses can be organised on request. Contact : lve-cla@univ-fcomte.fr Tél : 33 (0)3 81 66 52 62

Linguistic Tandems at the CLA

The object of the Linguistic Tandems is to put in contact two people who speak different languages but have common interests. They meet regularly for an hour to speak to each other; for half an hour in each language following guide lines set out by the Centre. Contact : tandem-linguistique-cla@univ-fcomte.fr      Tel : 03 81 66 52 30