Most of the information I think I might need or want to keep either gets thrown in my Evernote « drawer », or subscribed to in Google Reader, but the reality is that there are few sites that I read in detail.  I said in a recent post that I don’t save bookmarks to my browser any more because there are too many to manage, but that’s not quite true.  The few sites that I know I will want to refer to regularly and read in detail have the honour of being saved to my Firefox bookmarks.

Openculture is one of them.

Open Culture explores cultural and educational media (podcasts, videos, online courses, online books etc.) that’s freely available on the web, and that makes learning dynamic, productive, and fun.

This site is all about learning.  It is a labour of love that provides links to audio, video and text resources in English for no cost other than the time you invest to study them.  Rather than having to Google these resources separately, Openculture conveniently groups them together in one place.  Most of the material is appropriate for listening and reading comprehension practice for higher level (B2 +)  students of English.  Here are just a few of the possibilities.

In the free audio books section you can download great online books from a variety of sources (Librivox, iTunes…),  and in different formats (mp3, m4p…)  Although some of the works are downloaded whole, many are formatted into chapters for easier handling.  The books are categorised into fiction and literature (Jane Austen’s Emma, The Wizard of Oz, Canterbury Tales, Great Expectations …) non fiction (Aristotle, Descartes, Roosevelt …), poetry (Blake, Coleridge, Tennyson…) plus links to a number of specialist audio-book sites.

There are free online university courses and lectures in fields as diverse as archaeology, economics, geography, history and literature.

Language-learning has its own section, with courses in 34 different languages, including English and French.  There is also general material on language learning skills.

If you have spent any time on YouTube, you have discovered that there is a lot of junk in online video land.  However, Openculture provides links to a variety of « intelligent video collections« , touching on a large range of general subjects, as well as university collections.

Podcast collections include ideas, books and writing, film, music and museums, news and current affairs, science, travel, technology.

If you prefer reading to listening, the « life-changing books »  section will give you some ideas, although these online books are for purchase, not free download.  If you were hoping for a free book, you can click through to a number of free fiction and non-fiction e-books,  which, while not life-changing, will no doubt give you food for thought.

There are also links to a huge number of culture-related blogs.

Most days the Openculture blog has articles featuring new content which is a must for the feedreader.

You could spend hours just looking through it all.  As for me I’m working my way through a list of 15 free Spanish courses on the foreign languages page.

What are you going to start with?  So much free learning to be had!  For some specific ideas on using Open Culture resources for language learning, try the following:

Newspapers aren’t dead – yet – how to use a pdf version of front page news for tried and true newspaper activities for language learners.

photo credit: Stella Dauer cc

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