Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

Gebäude Adam-Kuckhoff-Strasse


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What can I do to improve my English?

Dear Student,

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 resources available to help you improve your English outside of classes and in addition to the exercises done 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 or read the online edition.

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   , a cheaper one is USA Today   .

You can also get weekly news magazines like Time    and Newsweek    (both US), The Economist    or German publications in English like Der Spiegel.

Online News

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   , BBC News    and National Public Radio   .


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 book stores in town stock a selection of fiction in English.



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.

BBC Radio 4   : This is the main general purpose channel for Britain. It broadcasts good news coverage, interviews, discussions and so on.

NPR Radio   : This is an American organization that provides free radio and reporting to readers and listeners all around the world and in the US. To listen to their live stream, simply click "live radio" in the top right corner on their home page.

BBC Online   : You can listen to all six BBC stations (Radio 1-4, Five Live and World Service) over the Internet, too.


If you have cable or satellite TV, then watch stations broadcasting in English as often as possible, such as, CNN    or NBC   . You can also watch news clips on the CNN video page   .


Watch out for notices about lectures in English given by guest speakers either at the Institute or other institute affiliates and organizations.


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.

Going Abroad


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.

Language Courses

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 or on the Internet.


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. You might want to consider applying for a scholarship, e.g. from DAAD or the German-American Fulbright Commission   , 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. They are exciting and enriching experiences that simultaneously help you improve your English skills by surrounding and immersing yourself in the language.

Useful Links

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.
BBC News   :   
BBC Online   :   
BBC Radio 4   :   
BBC World Service   :   
CNN   :   
The Economist   :   
The German-American Fulbright Commission:   
The Guardian   :   
The Independent   :   
NBC   :   
The New York Times   :   
Newsweek   :   
The Telegraph   :   
Time   :   
The Times   :   
The Washington Post   :   
USA Today   :   

Good luck and enjoy improving your English!

Your Language Practice Team

Bereich Sprachpraxis

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