Leigh Turner

Leigh Turner

Ambassador to Austria and UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations and other International Organisations in Vienna

Part of UK in Ukraine

12th January 2012

How to learn English

British diplomats spend a lot of time learning foreign languages.  Before each of my last four postings (in Vienna, Moscow, Berlin and Kyiv) I had the privilege of spending between four weeks and nine months on intensive language preparations.  If you want to understand a country and its people, speaking the language helps.

Conversely, the English language is a major means of international communication, including in business and in the tourism and hospitality industries.  That makes effective English language learning an important way to help draw Ukraine into the global community, including preparations for this year’s Euro 2012 championships.

That’s why it’s good news that the Ukrainian Ministry of Education has set itself the goal of teaching English in schools at primary level from September 2012. This is a great goal, but an ambitious one, and will require a big increase in teacher capacity.  To help achieve it, the Ministry has invited the British Council to produce a new in–service development course for the country’s 37,000 English language teachers. The Council last did this in 1998-2002.  Since then there have been advances in teaching practice and digital technology which offer more scope for direct training.

The British Council will also be doing research this year on the English needs of specific sectors in Ukraine including the IT, Tourism and Hospitality, Energy and Metallurgy and Digital Journalism sectors; and will be offering tailored language training for civil servants working with European Union institutions.

The British Council has a global ambition to provide learning and teaching materials to all teachers and learners of English worldwide.  In Ukraine, tie-ups with Samsung and the tablet-makers, PocketBook, will help expand the Council’s mobile and digital reach from 150,000 last year to an estimated 400,000 people this year.  If you have children, you may want to check out the Council’s free on-line English-language learning site for young children.  The British Council also have on-line resources for adults – including those apps for mobile phones.

I never met anyone who could learn a language without a lot of hard work.  But with these resources anyone can start learning English today.  Good luck.

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4 comments on “How to learn English

  1. That’s great! One thing, please, let the kids learn the real modern English , not the language of teachers and snobs with texts written a hundred years ago.

  2. Meanwhile, what happened to the budget money for the school children in Ukraine?

    Learning without textbooks!

    When it was time to give the homework for the English class, the children said, that they have no textbooks, so they are unlikely to pursue it. It appeared that in the whole class, only 2 books were bought – both books were bought by the parents, with their own money.

    There are not enough school books not only for English classes, but also Ukrainian literature and Ukrainian culture. 4 books cost about 200 Hr, but every rural family can not find such sum.



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    PS I usually do copy/paste for comments (with google translate}, but this comment I translated.

  3. I have a list of valuable resources for learning and teaching English (ESL/EFL) that may be of interest to you as you may be looking for new interesting helpful information in this regard.
    Let me know the issues of your particular interest in ESL/EFL. I may have something really valuable to you! I’m a former ESL teacher. I’ve finished my ESL teaching activity and I no longer teach English. But I want to provide teachers and learners of English with my valuable resources as I do not need them much. My articles are suitable for learning many languages. You may be interested in particular in my comprehensive plan for mastering a language on one’s own. I believe that some of my suggestions can contribute to improving your own tips. I learn from tips of other authors as well. Exchange of information (thoughts, views, etc) is beneficial. I’ve explored many language learning and teaching websites, including those with unconventional advice.

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About Leigh Turner

I hope you find this blog interesting and, where appropriate, entertaining. My role in Vienna covers the relationship between Austria and the UK as well as the diverse work of…

I hope you find this blog interesting and, where appropriate, entertaining. My role in Vienna covers the relationship between Austria and the UK as well as the diverse work of the UN and other organisations; stories here will reflect that.

About me: I arrived in Vienna in August 2016 for my second posting in this wonderful city, having first served here in the mid-1980s. My previous job was as HM Consul-General and Director-General for Trade and Investment for Turkey, Central Asia and South Caucasus based in Istanbul.

Further back: I grew up in Nigeria, Exeter, Lesotho, Swaziland and Manchester before attending Cambridge University 1976-79. I worked in several government departments before joining the Foreign Office in 1983.

Keen to go to Africa and South America, I’ve had postings in Vienna (twice), Moscow, Bonn, Berlin, Kyiv and Istanbul, plus jobs in London ranging from the EU Budget to the British Overseas Territories.

2002-6 I was lucky enough to spend four years in Berlin running the house, looking after the children (born 1992 and 1994) and doing some writing and journalism.

To return to Vienna as ambassador is a privilege and a pleasure. I hope this blog reflects that.

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