Online delivery

To be able to fully participate in our online session(s), you will need to
  • have access to a computer with both a camera and microphone,
  • have a reliable internet connection,
  • be willing or able to use Microsoft Teams.


for 2020-21 autumn term Block A courses is now closed. Registration for Block B will re-open on Tuesday 27 October. 

We  provide free listening and speaking courses for Imperial College London students, academics and researchers to help you communicate science, technology, engineering, medicine and maths effectively. 

Live online classes are held 1 hour per week for 4 weeks, but you may choose to follow the course in your own time by selecting the Remote Study option where available. If you register for the Remote Study version of a course you will be able to submit work at any time during that Term and receive feedback from the teacher via Teams messaging. 

If you're interested in one or more of these courses please register to access our CfAE Effective Communication Hub in Microsoft 365 Teams where you will be able to sign up for these courses and access other resources that the Centre offers. Please note that registration for Block A is closed. Registration for Block B and remote study options will open again on 27 October. 

Business School students: please speak to your department in the Business School directly about in-sessional English language support.

Autumn 2020 Live Online Class dates (** denotes Remote Study is available)
Block A 
Tuesday 20 Oct - 10 Nov 12:00 - 13:00 Pronunciation 1 **
Wednesday 21 Oct - 11 Nov  09:00 - 10:00 Grammar for Speaking 1 **
Thursday 22 Oct - 12 Nov 09:00 - 10:00 Lecture Listening **
Friday 23 Oct - 13 Nov

09:00 - 10:00  


12:00 - 13:00

Speaking: Interactions
Block B *      
Tuesday 17 Nov - 8 Dec 09:00 - 10:00 Pronunciation 2 **
Thursday 19 Nov - 10 Dec 09:00 - 10:00 Speed Listening **
Thursday 19 Nov - 10 Dec 12:00 - 13:00 Grammar for Speaking 2 **
Friday 20 Nov - 11 Dec

09:00 - 10:00


12:00 - 13:00

Speaking: Interactions (repeat of Block A class)
Summary of the table's contents

* planned but may be amended

Course list

Pronunciation 1

In this introductory course, we run through the key aspects of English pronunciation in 4 sessions: consonants, vowels, word stress, and linking in phrases. If you haven’t previously learnt how we produce the sounds of English or you feel the need to brush up on your high school studies, this short course is ideal for you.

NB: Our goal is to move everyone towards a central or standard pronunciation which can be easily understood by all College members, wherever they come from.  Everyone has a regional accent!

Grammar for Speaking

Grammar for Speaking gives you the chance to practise using common structures spontaneously, in speech, without preparation time or writing out correct sentences. This course will challenge the intuitions you have previously formed, based on grammar rules you have learnt. It will make you aware of native speaker usage and encourage you to apply the relevant sentence pattern to specific situations.

Each Grammar for Speaking Course comprises 4 sessions of one hour. For convenience, it is arranged in topic areas and offered in two separately enrolled courses as follows:

  • Grammar for Speaking 1:  1. Modals  2. Past Tenses  3. Tags and Questions  4. Articles and Countability
  • Grammar for Speaking 2:  1. Conditionals  2. Future Tenses  3. Prepositions with verbs  4. Gerund/Infinitive

Lecture Listening

Lectures should be easy to understand because the lecturer is making every effort to be understood. However, when native speakers want to make a complicated point easy to understand, we move from long, academic words to short, 'simple' words - the kind of everyday English that our children can understand but that you never find in text books.

In this course, we take examples from great lecturers who are known for their entertaining approach and consider what kind of English phrases they are most likely to use. We focus on the 'asides' that make the audience laugh and the functional phrases that guide us as listeners. We connect formal and informal phrases with similar meaning or usage, investigate techniques such as paraphrasing, and notice how these great speakers use metaphors to make their meaning clear.

Speaking: Interactions

We recommend you take the Speaking: Interactions course if this is your first experience of living in an English speaking environment, and you find spoken communication is too fast for you to participate. The Speaking: Interactions course will help you think faster in English and communicate more freely and focuses on developing strategies for dealing with native speaker interaction. For example, we encourage you to be proactive in checking what you’ve understood as well as what your listeners may have understood from you.

In class, you will practise using expressions that native speakers typically use in conversation to make their meaning clear. You will have the chance to speak in small groups in a stress-free environment, to activate vocabulary and move it from written to spoken use, and to process English in real time without preparation and without translating. It is best to take this course and improve your fluency before you take the Pronunciation course.

Pronunciation 2

This pronunciation course can help you develop more natural speech. It deals specifically with connected speech: the way we apply stress patterns to words and phrases and the way words are linked together. Once you have achieved fluency in English, you may want to make your accent sound more ‘standard’ and less like your own native language; we often find that rhythm and linking have a greater effect on accent than individual sounds and words. You will learn to speak in ‘thought groups’ rather than considering individual words as the primary unit of speech. We practise linking words together in phrases and making sounds weak or strong to produce the recognisable rhythms of English speech.

Speed Listening

When you first arrive in London, you may find the locals hard to understand! It will take time to adjust to the many varieties of English within the international science community, but perhaps the biggest adjustment you’ll need to make is to the speed of native speaker conversations. Generally, the people who speak fast are the hardest to understand. The Speed Listening course will help you understand fast speech - in particular, features of connected speech which make it difficult for you to identify individual words. In each class, we give advice and practice, and suggest exercises which will help you to improve your listening skills.

Communicating Politely

In every culture, spoken language is used to show respect, ask for favours, express personal preferences, explain what we need, show disagreement, and for most close discussion. This short course focuses on achieving successful communication within the international community of Imperial College London. We explore the concept of 'fitting in' to a mixed environment, and what we mean by 'being polite' in the contexts of work and study. We aim to give you an awareness of how we make our feelings known here and help you say what you mean in the most acceptable ways in order to achieve your own objectives.

Stand up and Speak

This course is intended to help you if you need to speak to groups of people and want to work on diction and delivery of spoken English. You will have the chance to ‘stand up and speak’ to small groups and to the class, practising various techniques to get your voice and your message across clearly. Each session includes pronunciation exercises and you will have the opportunity to present a prepared speech on your own topic if you wish to.

Mouth Mechanics

If you can’t get your tongue around English sounds, you may benefit from doing some Mouth Mechanics. We will help you to identify the 'problem' sounds that do not exist or are made differently in your own language, then give you exercises to move your mouth and vary your tongue shape as required for these English sounds. Each session focuses on one type of phoneme (sound), compares it with related sounds, and includes practice exercises for you to produce it in different words and phrases. All Mouth Mechanics materials are available online through our Blackboard course, and you are advised to check these before class. The following lessons are held during spring and summer terms:




1. airflow and voicing


cheap/jeep, was/wash/watch, sip/ship/chip, eat/heat, ridge/rich,

2. stop and release


cap/gap, pig/big, ted/dead/debt, back up/bag up, logged in/locked in

3. tongue vibration

‘th’ /ð//Ɵ//z//s/

other/udder, mouse/mouth, eyes/ice, breathe/breeze

4. vowels 1

Aa Ee Ii Oo Uu

tap/tape, ten/teen, pip/pipe, cod/code, us/use

5. vowels 2  vowels +L  +R

/ɜ:/ /ɔ:/ /ɑ/ /ɒ/ /əʊ/

cat/cart/call, fist/first/fill, pot/port/poll, bun/burn/bull, bet/Bert/bell

6. tongue shape

/l/ /n/ /r/

liver/river, nine/line, lorry/lolly, lonely, problem, bravely, r eally

7. lips

/w/ /v/ /b/ /p/ /f/

wet/vet/bet, wool/pull/full, lab/lav, club/glove, of/off, waves, lifts, tips

8. nose

/n/ /m/ /ŋ/

sun/sum/sung, clan/clam/clang, When I… Come on… Thing is…

Speaking: Idioms in Speech

How English is your English? Do you feel that you are able to communicate comfortably enough to get by in daily situations, but that you lack flexibility and variety in your language?

At advanced level, many second language learners feel that their language learning has reached a plateau where they can express themselves, but not in a stylish or nuanced way. This course will help you to break through the language learning plateau by equipping you with common English idioms that can be used to make your speech more natural and expressive.

Social Situations

Practise the art of small talk, how to mingle with the locals, make your stories entertaining, understand informal remarks - above all, get to know what the English say and do in informal settings. You may feel that you're stuck in a lab all day and never have the chance to hang out with other people, or, when you meet the locals, you're not sure what to say and you can't work out what they mean. This course will help you access the vocabulary of everyday English and give you opportunities to interact informally. It includes a social event.

Speaking: Information Transfer

Does it take you too long to digest new information and respond to it in English? Are you lost for words in group work while your peers make all the decisions?

This course gives you practice reacting spontaneously in academic English to both spoken and written input. Each session you will listen to facts and opinions, read short texts and say what you want to say about them. There is no homework, but additional practice materials are available.

Convert input to output more effectively and improve your own processing speed.

Spelling and Sound

Do you sometimes feel that you’re playing a guessing game when you come across a word you’ve never seen before and don’t know how to say it? English spelling can be most unhelpful when you try to decide how to pronounce a word. An even bigger problem is that you may have assumed the sound of many common words according to their spelling; if you haven’t learnt correct pronunciation at the time of learning the meaning, it can be very hard to change your habit later on. In this course, we outline the regularities of the English spelling system, make you aware of the most common oddities, and give you strategies for grouping similar words according to their irregularities.