Big City Small World

Big City Small World is one of the British Council LearnEnglish online products aimed to support English language learners worldwide. The product is available at website. When teaching English several years ago I developed my students’ listening skills by using the Big City Small World podcasts via computer. Nowadays, when classrooms are supplied with personal laptops and the majority of students have got IOS or Android mobile phones listening to and watching the podcasts is becoming more than easy. The video included in the post demonstrates how to use the product on your mobile phones.

What makes the resource so attractive for users?  First of all, downloading of the podcast application on different devices is absolutely free. Next, the British Council websites if compared with other sites can be considered safe and reliable to be used in the classroom. You will never encounter unexpected advertisements or shocking news when conducting activities of various episodes. This feature enabled me to organise individual work of students in the classroom without fear of their getting distracted by some inappropriate information. What is important for me, when organised well, students can decide on their own what episodes, what tasks to choose. Thus, provided with earphones students can be more autonomous in the classroom. In case you want to download the learning materials, for instance transcripts and exercises, on your computer or mobile phone you should register on the LearnEnglish site. Another feature is a variety of tasks which a teacher and learner can use before, while, or after listening to podcasts. Finally, the use of the product demonstrates to students, along with improving their language skills, that one’s mobile phone can be used more purposefully in and out of the classroom.

Among the obstacles in using the product I would mention that not each school in Kazakhstan has got enough computers or laptops, earphones available in language classrooms which means that students can not effectively practice the resource at the lesson. Besides, a teacher should be very careful when asking students to use IOS or Android mobile phones in the classroom, as there might be students who can not afford buying expensive phones and the teacher’s initiative might cause a psychological and social tension in the classroom. Finally, the most common challenge is lack of computer skills among teachers of English.

To sum up, if you got interested in Big City Small World tool, go and try it, otherwise you will not be able to identify if it is worth implementing. You might find useful the other products of British Council LearnEnglish website as well. Just start searching it!


Big City Small World – Mobile App. Learn English. British Council (2010, May, 14).[Video file]. Retrieved September, 9, 2015 from


3 thoughts on “Big City Small World

  1. Dear Gulnaz,
    thank you for sharing this information. I think that this would be especially interesting for teachers of English. Using podcasts will not only develop students’ listening skills, but will also make the lesson more interactive.
    Regarding the post you have written, I would mention that I liked the content, use of English and the structure of the post. You have described background and effectiveness of the technology using very comprehensible language, therefore, it was really easy to read and understand the main arguments of the post.
    Also, you expressed some concerns regarding the use of Big CIty Small World in schools that do not have enough technology. I consider you have raised a very interesting topic. In modern world there is no education without using technology in the classroom. What suggestions could we offer to MES to improve this situation and to provide equal access to technology for all the students across the country?


  2. Dear Gulnaz,
    Thank you very much for your post,I read it and instantly became interested in using this technology in my teaching. In my mind both teachers and students can strongly benefit from this product. As teachers, we all know that each class consists of different ability children and there are always students eager to have extra tasks,exercises to improve English. Big city small world would be ideal to use in such circumstance. Thus I visited British Council’s website but can not use this product proerly. Would you mind telling me,is it only accessible via phones? Is it possible to have an access to this product through computer?
    Thank you in advance!


  3. Gulnaz, this is a nice example of a pedagogy-oriented technology that can help ease in the stress teachers face in planning and delivering lessons, but also on the student interaction side. Teachers, of course, still need to find creative ways to get students to interact with each other, not just with the technology.

    Clear writing overall. Keep it up!



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