You will find very soon that attending the courses required will not give you enough practice to improve your command of the English language, which is, after all, one of your prime objectives, whatever type of degree course you have chosen. It is now
up to you to put in the extra effort to achieve proficiency in English. Here are some suggestions of things to do and resources available to help you improve your English outside of classes and in addition to the exercises checked in class.
Newspapers and Magazines
Newspapers are probably the most useful source of non-literary, contemporary English. You can either read the ones available in the library ('Lesesaal'), buy your own at a newsagent or read the online edition. Many newsstands sell international papers;
for the best selection you might try at the train station or at Karstadt.
Of the various papers available, The Guardian, The Independent, The Times, or
The Telegraph (all UK) are probably best suited for your purposes. The best US-American newspapers, also for their international news, are The New
York Times and The Washington Post, cheaper ones are The International Herald Tribune or
You can also get weekly news magazines like Time and Newsweek (both US) or The Economist.
All of the papers mentioned above have an online edition on the Internet, which you can access by clicking on the linked names above. Whether you access these editions from your PC at home or from the library or the computer pool - it is most of the
time cheaper to read it online than to buy the printed version.
For international news we also recommend the web sites of CNN and BBC News.
In addition to journalistic texts fiction can also help you improve your command of a language. So every now and then read a book in English! A number of bookshops in town (e.g. Buch und Welt, Geiststr. 55, Phönix, Leipziger Str. 95 or Haus des
Buches, Marktplatz 3) stock a selection of fiction in English. You can also buy English books online at Amazon.de or Buecher.de.
Try listening to British and US stations if you can get them on your radio. You should try the frequencies listed below, preferably at different times of the day, as the strength of the signal, and therefore reception quality, varies somewhat.
BBC World Service: This offers a great deal of international news coverage and correspondents' reports from places you've never heard of, and also has a range of general programmes,
business reports and good radio drama. The best frequencies here are on short wave: 12095, 6195 and 9410 kHz. You can hear a general daily news summary here: Real | Windows.
BBC Radio 4: This is the main general purpose channel for Britain. It broadcasts good news coverage, interviews, discussions and so on. Try getting it on long wave 200 kHz.
BBC Online: You can listen to all six BBC stations (Radio 1-4, Five Live and World Service) over the Internet, too. All you need is a plug-in for live-streaming format (*.ram), such as RealPlayer. You then only need to visit the BBC Radio web-site and click on the LISTEN
link of the station you want to listen to.
If you have cable or satellite TV, then watch stations broadcasting in English as often as possible, such as Sky News, CNN or NBC. You can also watch news clips on the CNN video page. All you need for that is a Real Player, a QuickTime Player or a Windows Media Player.
Never underestimate the importance of "Zweikanalton"! Every now and then German stations broadcast movies in both the original and the dubbed version. A complete list of these movies is available as a free weekly newsletter from Zweikanalton.de, but you can also have a look at this week's list here. The only station that constantly broadcasts in German AND in
English is Eurosport.
Watch out for notices about lectures in English given by guest speakers either at the Institute or at the British
Council and America Haus. The Deutsch-Englische Gesellschaft also offers a programme of talks on a wide variety of
interesting topics by renowned speakers from Britain.
An excellent way for students to practise their English-speaking abilities is to come to the 'Stammtisch' held during the semester. We usually meet in a local bar which provides a comfortable setting for informal
conversation, eating and drinking. For the present location see notices in the department. There is always at least one American present at 'Stammtisch' to facilitate conversation in English.
Whenever you come across an opportunity to speak English, use it! Try and speak English with your native English or American teachers even outside of class, speak English with other native speakers when you come across them, make friends with our
exchange students from Britain or the USA and use this opportunity to speak English as often as you can! Reading and listening are all very well, but they are no substitute for oral practice.
The Fachbereich has a computer pool where you can access the Internet, research, listen to and watch online radio and TV, try out some of the various learning programmes available and, of course, write your papers.
If you don't have an e-mail address yet, you can get one at the Uni-Rechenzentrum at Weinbergweg. There you can also get your personal hard-drive space of 10 MB in which you can save your computer work. If you have not yet acquired basic typing and
computing skills, then now is the time to start. You should consider this as part of your university education - and you will need it sooner or later. The staff at the Rechenzentrum and the computer pools are friendly and always willing to help those who
need assistance. Don't hesitate to ask them for help.
It may seem obvious to you, but you need reliable dictionaries, a monolingual and a bilingual one. Since the dictionaries used in schools are usually not sufficient for university use, and since you will often need a good dictionary,
we recommend buying a monolingual dictionary, e.g. "Oxford Advanced Learner's" (EUR 28.95) and a bilingual one, e.g. "Pons Großwörterbuch Englisch" (EUR 49.90).
You will also need a good grammar book to improve your command of the English language, for example Eastwood, John:
Oxford Practice Grammar (with answers), Oxford University Press 1999 (£ 7.55), or Murphy, Raymond: English Grammar in Use
(with answers), Cambridge University Press 1994 (EUR 19.24).
For your work on the computer it is often faster to use an online dictionary such as LEO. This is an excellent dictionary with high functionality and more than 254256 entries. You can use the
dictionary directly by clicking here and typing the word you want to look up, or you can drag and drop
this link to your Personal Toolbar (Netscape) or
this link into the Links section (Explorer). Then mark any word in your browser window and click on the bookmark. The translation will appear in a new window.
Another great tool for online translation of individual words, but also for offline use is the Babylon translator. This is a programme you need to download and install (the trial version is free for
30 days), but once you installed the dictionary it is almost as good as a printed one, and a lot faster.
Here is a short list of online dictionaries you might find useful.
To become really proficient in the language, you need to spend some time in an English-speaking country. Why does it always have to be Spain or Italy for holidays? Try England, Scotland, Ireland or Wales, instead! They are not only beautiful countries,
you will also be able to practise your English with 'real' native speakers in their 'natural habitat'. It's probably the most relaxing way to learn and practise English.
For short stays you might also consider attending one of the many language courses offered by schools in Britain or the US. Look out for leaflets on the notice boards in the department.
It is always useful to spend a longer period in the country whose language you are studying. There are exchange programmes of the English department with universities in England (Birmingham, Newcastle...), Finland (Oulu) and the United States
(Bozeman, Montana). You can also study one or two terms at a British or an American university by directly applying there. Then you will need a scholarship, e.g. from DAAD, to finance your studies.
For more information on how the exchange programmes work and where and when to apply ask Dr. Meyer. In any case, you should start finding out about the opportunities to study in Britain or the US as soon as possible. It takes time to apply to the
universities, to apply for grants and to get the whole thing organized, so the sooner you start the better.
If you don't want to study in an English-speaking country, and just want to stay there, even for a short period, you might consider working holidays, such as those offered by the National
Trust. Some students even organized their internships abroad needed for other subjects (MuK...). There are plenty of possibilities, just find out what suits you best.
The British Council
Hackescher Markt 1
Telefon: 030 - 311 099 10
Fax: 030 - 311 099 20
Amerika Haus Leipzig
Telefon: 0341 - 213 84 44
Fax: 0341 - 213 84 43
The links referred to in the above text are listed below, so you can print them out and look them up without having to go back to this page. Addresses, such as the ones of the cinemas, the Deutsch-Englische Gesellschaft or the British Council, are
listed on the respective web pages.
America Haus: http://www.us-botschaft.de/leipzig/
BBC News: http://news.bbc.co.uk/
BBC Online: http://www.bbc.co.uk/
BBC Radio: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/
BBC Radio 4: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/
BBC World Service: http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/
British Council: http://www.britcoun.de/
CNN video page: http://www.cnn.com/video/
Deutsch-Englische Gesellschaft: http://www.deg-koenigswinter.de/
The Economist: http://www.economist.com/
The Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/
The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/
The International Herald Tribune: http://www.iht.com/
La Bim: http://www.8ung.at/labim/
LEO Online Dictionary: http://dict.leo.org/
Lux - Kino am Zoo: http://www.luxkino.de/
National Trust: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/
The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/
Sky News: http://www.sky.com/skynews/home/
The Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/
The Times: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/
The Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/
The World Today: http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/news/summary.ram
USA Today: http://www.usatoday.com/
Good luck and enjoy learning English!
Peter Connell, Dieter Schöne, Marjorie Willey, Rachel Hardison
This page was created, updated and revised with the help of Johannes Kratzsch © 2001.