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Britain / History / News
Learn English from old news reels
History (c) R.T.Allen


British Pathé newsreels were shown in British cinemas and were one of the main sources of news before televisions became common. They were produced between 1896 and 1970. They can now be seen free on the internet. The English commentary is very clearly spoken (although it sounds too formal for natural daily speech). Watching these films this can be a good way to learn English and to learn about British history and culture at the same time.

20th Century Newsreels (British Movietone)
Studio: Classic Pictures Entertainment Ltd.
Date: February 2002

Keep Smiling Through (video)
Studio: British Pathe News Ltd
Date: February 2002

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Follow these step-by-step instructions to watch a British Pathé news story:

- Go to the website of British Pathé:
- In the box next to Search the Pathe database: enter a search term, for example titanic, and click on the Go box on the right.
- A list of news items which match your search terms is displayed. Find one which interests you which shows a picture on the left (if it says "video available soon" it has not been added to the site yet).
- Check that under Select a resolution the option Free preview (128kb/s) is shown.
- Click on the Download Now box on the right of the film you have chosen.

- A screen will be displayed which asks you to check your items. Although it looks like an order form, it should show no cost if you are just previewing a low resolution version of the film
- Under select country of residence choose your country
- Click on the proceed box
- If you get a message saying "This page contains both secure and non-secure items. Do you want to display the non-secure items?", click on Yes.

- You will be asked to enter your customer details. You must put something on lines marked with *.
- Type your first name, last name, e-mail address and home address
- The Usage box can usually be left as Multimedia (the default), if you are just wanting to see the film on your computer for personal use.
- If you are using your own computer, it will be easier for you if you make sure there is a tick in the box next to Remember me next time I visit?; if you are using a shared computer (for example in an internet café), you should remove the tick.
- Remove the tick next to Subscribe me to the British Pathe newsletter if you do not wish to receive e-mails from British Pathé (you may have to do this each time you return).
- If you wish, you can read the terms and conditions by clicking on the link at the bottom of the page (a new window will appear which you can then close).
- Click on the yes button next to I have read & understood the British Pathe Terms and Conditions.
- Click on Proceed at the bottom of the page to continue.
- The message Are you sure? Clicking OK will confirm your order will appear. Click on OK.
- Occasionally, if the site is too busy you may see the message "Your basket contains no clips. There may be a problem. This is probably due to heavy load on the server." If this happens, try ordering your clips again at a later time.

- You will be asked if you want to open or save the file. If you choose Open, it will be saved to a temporary folder on your computer.
- You will have to wait for the file to be downloaded. This will usualy take less than 5 minutes if you have a 56k modem.
- You will need Windows Media Player to watch the films (for futher information, click on FAQ - frequently asked questions).
- After the file has downloaded, Windows Media Player should open automatically and play the file. You can repeat the film several times. This is a good way of improving your English listening comprehension skills.

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Improving your English listening skills (including TV): English/Listening

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