Students at English UK member Bristol Language College are enjoying a very British way of improving their skills: a book club.
Book clubs are very popular in the UK. They are a group of people who get together regularly to discuss a book they have all read. The group members usually take it in turns to choose a book, and have a few weeks to read it before they meet to talk about it.
The group at the Bristol school has been running for about six months, led by teacher Ferg Hamilton. He explains: "We've got a good social programme here, and that includes events like going for coffees and watching films, which are good ways to practice English. We wanted to do something extra for the students, to help them improve, and we thought this would be good."
The students meet on Thursdays in a local coffee bar. They have usually been asked to read a chapter or two of the book they are discussing, which is about 40 pages. The group started by reading simplified versions of classic books, but Ferg was not very happy with these and is now looking out for books where the language was simpler to start with.
"One of the books we've done is The Beach, which was made into a film. It's not a very difficult book and it makes you want to read it," he says. "If you are going to read a book which isn't in your native language, it needs to be a 'page turner' to keep you motivated."
Ferg also prefers books with a lot of dialogue, which means there is a lot of informal language which it is useful for students to practice. The sessions include discussing themes in the book, as well as talking about some of the details.
"In Britain we read more than lots of other countries do - it's part of our culture. Some other cultures don't read for pleasure like we do, but it can be really helpful to get into our culture and learn the language. It's new for the students, and they do enjoy it."
What's the next book planned for the group? "We're thinking of doing Animal Farm by George Orwell. There's a lot to discuss in it," says Ferg.
English UK members offer all sorts of courses, from practising how to negotiate to English and mining or English + computer coding. You can even share sports facilities with the British Olympic team!