Blog: Mystery archaeology professor unearths secret of learning English

Mystery archaeology professor unearths secret of learning English

With the growing popularity of social media in education, the success of Virtually Anywhere, Cambridge English's mystery-laden audio drama series, is no mystery to Thomas Booth.

The popularity of Virtually Anywhere, our mystery-laden audio drama series, is no mystery to me. The show, which has been designed to help learners practise their listening skills, has already clocked up 25,000 plays since its launch in May. The show has been popular in many different parts of the world with the top three countries for number of plays being Vietnam, India and Spain. The seven part series centres on the adventures of two archaeology students completing a university project, when they stumble upon the help of the mystery professor.  

I think the secret to its popularity is the growing use of social media in education. Let’s look at some figures. We’ve seen a dramatic increase in usage of our own social media with our Facebook page at 3 million ‘likes’, while uploads to our ‘Cambridge English TV’ You Tube channel regularly attract hundreds of thousands of viewers. In fact we’ve seen 80,000 new Facebook fans through Virtually Anywhere. Also the growing popularity of pod-casts means people are really comfortable with the audio format for educational purposes. It’s clear that students find social media relevant and engaging, which makes it an ideal way of practising language skills.

The series is designed to help learners practise their listening skills in the classroom, at home, or downloaded for listening ‘on the go’. It’s also a great resource for teachers as there are accompanying lesson plans, on-screen learning activities and other exercises. In fact it’s ideal for the classroom where technology plays a major role language learning; it is especially relevant in the flipped classroom, where learning is done at home and reinforcement undertaken in the classroom, but it can also be used by motivated self-studiers who want to access resources at a time and place convenient to them.

We’ve aimed Virtually Anywhere at people at Levels B1 and B2 of the Common European Framework. But having said that, it’s useful for anyone learning English – perhaps we should have called it Virtually Anyone? One of the big things we tried to achieve with the script was to make it entertaining. For this reason we worked really hard to give the story an element of mystery.

Oh and if you want to find out what happens next, you’ll have to listen to the show

Thomas Booth
Cambridge English Language Assessment

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