BBC learning – fill lunchtimes with language.

The BBC is an institution, sometimes (I believe unfairly) maligned and yet loved (sometimes by the same, said maligners!) not only by the British public, but by hundreds of millions of people globally. Now though, following the Newsnight, Panorama and Jimmy Saville revelations, the BBC is under serious fire. As well as victims, there are casualties, with three men filling the post of Director Generals this year alone.

That said, the BBC continues to do its job which primarily is running national and local radio and TV services, in the UK. But a global audience also watches and listens to its best content via syndication to hundreds of territories by digital, satellite and online broadcasting. The Beeb still broadcasts on long-wave and shortwave radio frequencies. If there is an audience that needs news, culture or entertainment – an audience in strife, chaos or solitude, the BBC can be found. And despite budgetary pressure, it continues to do what it does, in around 27 languages. The Corporation’s audience is global and the numbers are huge – BBC World Service for instance, has more than 160 million listeners every week.

Elsewhere on redcert.com I talk about the broadcast programming of the BBC but here I’m concerned with a single part of its stated mission, a mission that started ninety years ago, ‘…inform, educate and entertain’. A couple of years back I wanted to refresh my faded school-boy French, and was looking for alternatives to the paid Rosetta Stone Language courses – a search on google directed me to bbc learning, and I’ve been filling lunchtimes with language ever since.

BBC Learning as a separate project was meant to be a project for the commercial arm of the Beeb, but it didn’t really get off the ground. So now BBC Learning is a slimmed down (but still ample) initiative in ‘beta’ or test mode.

I think we will see a more cohesive website in the future, as now we have a number of elements making up learning pages on bbc.co.uk –Bitesize for school age children, the original BBC Learning beta websiteLearning Podcasts and of course program websitesthemselves have become part of this learning landscape.

Scanning through available lessons in the language section shows that you can learn French, Spanish, Greek, Chinese, German, Italian and Portuguese with crucial phrases available in 40 other languages.

In addition to languages and subjects like Personal Development, there are GCSE Bitesize revisions and an entire Class Clips tool for teachers with 7,500 clips from BBC Television to show in the classroom – a gift for educators in this era of tablet learning in schools.

A free resource providing language skills to a country committed to multi-culturalism, revision for students who need it, and countless opportunities for teachers to help them deliver media-rich education in a time where students attention span and expectations are inversely proportionate. All this and they manage to make Coast – the show thats made me re-plan every public-holiday for the next two years.

Last week, BBC Radio was 90 years old, and it’s hard to keep entirely unmoisted eyes when you listen to some of the 90 years of BBC Radio in 90 seconds montages. I’ve been alive for less than half those ninety-years, but I’m truly glad to have had the sound of the BBC in those years. Inform, entertain and educate? I’ve listened, laughed and learned.


BBC Learning courses popular at the moment
Art and design Bitesize Basic skills Maths
Business studies English Personal development
Food and catering History Science
Information technology Languages Sports & Fitness

External links & references

  1. Visit BBC Learning
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