The BBC in language learning


Many people listen to the BBC World Service and other BBC radio channels so as to improve their English. Torsten and I have suggested those who participate in the 30/30 Challenge to listen to the BBC as it provides you with an excellent opportunity to listen to authentic English. However, it happens that many experts consulted are foreign, and thus a foreign voice may very well be dominant in a BBC programme. What do you think about this? Should audio materials where 100 per cent of the speakers are native speakers of English be used instead of the BBC where you get exposed to non-native Englishes quite often?

I’m a bit confused. Who is supposed to answer this question?

  1. People who are participating in the 30/30 Challenge?
  2. Anyone learning English?
  3. People with TESL experience?
  4. All of the above?

With regard to option number 3, haven’t there already been similar discussions?

Further confusion arises as to the purpose of the question since you mentioned that you and Torsten had already suggested listening to the BBC. Do you now have doubts about the wisdom of that suggestion?

Off-topic: In your opinion, is the following sentence OK grammatically?
She suggested them to stay at the Holiday Inn”.

Hey Amy,
Is it?

Hi Spencer

My preference would be:
She suggested (that) they stay at the Holiday Inn”.
(The word “that” is optional, the verb “stay” is subjunctive.)

This is a completely normal and grammatically correct sentence.

I’m just curious whether “E” finds the other sentence grammatically correct and, if so, whether it means the same thing as the “preferred” sentence I’ve just written here.


That sentence means that you and Torsten have gone to the BBC and recommended to the BBC that the participants would be good people to listen to their broadcasts.

To say what you mean, you need to say: “Torsten and I have suggested those who participate listen the BBC.” You need the subjunctive, not the infinitive.

I’m getting dizzy :slight_smile:

Hi Jamie

I guess you disagree with my indirect attempt to point something out.

Now, just to ensure that Spencer gets even dizzier, would you mind adding one to to your sentence? Where there were two to’s, there are now no to’s and that’s one to too few. :lol:

Hi Jamie,

You wrote:

Yes. Thank you for your correction. How often do you use subjunctive verbs by the way? According to the Longman Student Grammar of Spoken and Written English subjunctive verb forms are rare in present-day English. Do you agree?

I hope you don’t mind if I answer.

The subjunctive is often used with the following (alphabetical order, followed by the “It is+adj+that” combinations):

ask (that)
be determined (that)
command that
demand (that)
emphasize (that)
insist (that)
move (that)
on the condition (that)
propose (that)
provided (that)
recommend (that)
request (that)
require (that)
so that it (not)
suggest (that)
urge (that)
It is necessary/important/essential/imperative/vital/critical/crucial/vital that

I don’t claim this list to be comprehensive, but it includes many of the words most likely to be followed by the “subjunctive”.

I’d say you’re particularly likely to hear the subjunctive after suggest (that) and recommend (that) simply because those words are so often used.

As I understand it, the subjunctive is more frequently used in AmE than in BE because “should do” might sometimes be used in the UK where an American would use the subjunctive. I doubt, however, that this usage of the subjunctive is unknown in BE.

There are also some fixed phrases that use the subjunctive.

The “preferred” sentence I wrote earlier in the thread is an “everyday” sentence using the subjunctive. Absolutely nothing unusual about it. Just an average sentence.


Gotta back up Amy on this! The beauty of English is that mainly the subjunctive form is the same as the indicative. And so like Mon. Jourdain you don’t even know you’re speaking it! and what’s more it ain’t unusual at all.

If you like, take a look at this:
he says to the strains of Rule Britannia!

That’s right – except for the third person singular.


The third person singular in the Present, that is.