Learning English Video Project Blog

Cambridge Film for November Release

Hi Everyone!

It has been a long time in the making, but a brand new film for The Learning English Video Project will be available soon! Encounters in the UK was a film project that we started work on way back in September 2008. Since then, we have released films from Morocco, Romania, USA, Spain, China and Brazil, and we have kept the Cambridge film for last!

Encounters in the UK will be released in November 2010 and is about the role that homestay has to play in learning English. I finished shooting the film in February this year and have been working on it with the EnglishClub team ever since.

I am very pleased with the final edit and hope that you enjoy the final addition to the series. I hope to include more posts and information both before and after the film’s release – including fresh reports on each of the seven locations we used for the project. I would like to thank everybody who has been involved in the Cambridge film and look forward to reading your feedback.

More soon!


Cambridge day 7

Snow!! Not something one tends to see particularly often in England, but as I walked into the centre of Cambridge this morning I was pelted with it from all fronts. I took a few final shots of Cambridge today before heading to my final homestay host in order to conduct the last interviews of the trip.

I must say that I am exceptionally pleased with the footage I have acquired here so far; I have met an array of hosts and students that have allowed me to ask all sorts of weird and wonderful questions for the purposes of The Learning English Video Project. Today’s interviewees however, were exceptional. Even though the student had really only been in the house for one day, she allowed me to interview her about her experiences and expectations for a good twenty minutes! I found out some fascinating facts about homestay in Cambridge and would personally like to thank today’s interviewees for their participation.

It has been a great experience in Cambridge and I am sure that it will make for a thoroughly interesting episode to this seven-part series.

Best wishes,


Cambridge in the Snow 01

Cambridge in the Snow 02

Cambridge in the Snow 03

Cambridge day 6

Another successful day was had in Cambridge as I captured two excellent interviews with the directors of Homestay Consultancy. The interviews will be integral in providing an insight into the homestay process, not only from the point of view students and hosts, but also from an administrative perspective. I hope that the interviews I acquired will help any of you looking to do a homestay in England in the future!

I conducted both of these interviews in a small residential area outside of Cambridge known as Bar Hill. The streets there have the most peculiar names such as Acorn Avenue, Fox Hollow and Hollytrees. After conducting the interviews I headed back towards the city centre to get some shots of people punting on the River Cam. The sun was shining once again and I got some great shots of the city. I also took some snaps of local street signs and posters. I thought this would be interesting for you as it might provide a glimpse into the sort of English you ‘see’ around town centres in the UK :)

More tomorrow!



Bar Hill


Street English 01


Street English 02


Street English 03


Punting on the River Cam

Cambridge day 5

It is strange to think that I have only been here for five days and yet I already seem to know the city well. Cambridge is a rather compact place and everything almost seems to be in walking distance; having said that through I will go to Bar Hill tomorrow, a small addition to the city located about seven miles from the centre.

Today provided another series of fruitful interviews that I had a great time filming. I recorded both the experiences of a student who had completed two homestays in the past and come to Cambridge to continue her tertiary education and a young Italian student who has been studying English in Cambridge since January. I also interviewed the host mother of the latter; a jolly Spanish lady who provided some very interesting insights as to what homestay was like from her perspective.

I have another two full days left in Cambridge before I return to Poland. I can only hope that the sun will continue to shine as brilliantly as it did today.

Best wishes,


Cambridge day 4


I am pleased to say that the sunshine came out today and enabled for an extensive day of filming in and around Cambridge. It has been a wonderful experience, filming in different countries all over the world for The Learning English Video Project, and now I have the chance to share a piece of England with you, the audience. Being an Englishman, I am pleased to be able to share with you some of the scenery from this well known English city and I hope you are pleased with the shots I acquired in Cambridge today. Today was also an excellent opportunity to get some footage of the participants using their English outside of the classroom.

I still have a few more days left here in Cambridge, over the course of which I have several more interviews planned and enough time to explore homestay even further.

I have included a few stills from today’s filming below.

Best Wishes,



Cambridge Market


The Backs


King’s College


Which Way!?

Cambridge day 3

The interesting thing about homestay is that the experience always seems to vary from house to house. Today was unique in that the family I interviewed had three houses and anything up to ten students at one time. I was informed by the host father, who is from England, that their houses were always busy with students and that is a factor they thoroughly enjoy. The host mother, who came to England from Thailand via Italy, told us that homestay was a great way for their children to learn about new cultures as students pass through. We also managed to speak to three Italian students about their experience although they had only been in the country for a few days. I must say, it was rather intense from a filming perspective.

We will be focussing tomorrow on getting some more footage of students using their English in different situations; I would like to be able to show you how easy/difficult it is for people who do not speak English as a first language to use cash machines, do some grocery shopping, ask for directions etc.

It was raining all day and night yesterday, typical English weather some might say, but tomorrow’s forecast looks a lot more promising!

Best wishes,


Cambridge day 2

Another exciting day of interviews in Cambridge has helped in providing a real insight into the homestay concept from the perspective of host parents.

I interviewed two English hosts today about their experiences over the course of the last few years in an attempt to answer some of your questions and queries. The interviews proved to be most insightful in that I found out how homestay works with different families in England, as well as discovering how students make the most of their time in the UK in terms of language development.

I have also been joined by Michaela, a student from The Czech Republic who is interested in both ESL and film production. She has been assisting me in acquiring additional shots of Cambridge while at the same time providing her own insights into what it is like living in this city as a foreign student. Michaela will join me tomorrow when we will continue to find out more about homestay in Cambridge.

Best wishes,



Michaela is assisting with the film production in Cambridge

Cambridge City Centre Height

Cambridge City Centre – After climbing the narrowest of staircases we took some scenic shots from a tower near the market square.

Cambridge day 1

Dear All,

It has been quite an experience since landing in England yesterday. I have had a day and half to make preparations for the next week as The Learning English Video Project continues in Cambridge. As you will have seen from previous posts, our objective here is to find out about homestay and to provide you with an insight as to what homestay is like in Cambridge and how it might benefit English language students. I am pleased to say that I am working with Bell International College, one of the biggest schools of its kind, and Homestay Consultancy in interviewing hosts, educators and students about their homestay experiences.

Today I met with two Bell homestay students, one from Venezuala and one from Belgium. They both had some very interesting things to say about homestay, making for a great start to the project here in Cambridge.

Keep checking the blog for more updates as I hope to write every day and to start including some pictures of Cambridge very soon! In the meantime, please see a couple of pictures from today’s escapades below.

Best wishes,


Bell Interview 01

An interview at Bell International College

Boats on the river

Boats on the river

Cambridge Tomorrow


I will be in Cambridge, England as of tomorrow! My flight leaves early tomorrow morning and I will begin production on the final film in The Learning English Video Project series as soon as my plane touches down. I will be working with Bell International College as well as several homestay hosts and students through Cambridge’s very own Homestay Consultancy.

I will continue to update my blog regularly (with pictures!) so that you can see what I am up to, and I will also make sure that I find out the answers to the questions and queries you left on my previous post. Please keep the comments coming!

Best wishes,

LEVP Goes to Cambridge

Greetings Everyone!

Those of you who have followed The Learning English Video project from the beginning stages, may remember that we started filming in Cambridge during September 2008. Due to the fact that this will be the final film in the series (China and Brazil will be available very soon!) we have decided to go back to England and do something extra in Cambridge.

The theme of this particular film will be homestay, where students live with a host for a short time in order to make the most of their language learning experience. Before I travel to Cambridge, I would like to find out if you have had an experience with homestay in the past! If not, perhaps you know somebody else who has? If so, please provide a short description of your experience in a comment below.

If you have not had such an experience before, but think it might be an interesting idea, I would also like to hear from you!

  • What do you think could be the benefits of homestay and why do you think it is so popular?
  • If you could do a homestay anywhere in the world to improve your English, where would you go and why?

Are there any questions you would like me to ask homestay students in Cambridge?

I will be updating this blog regularly and look forward to reading your comments soon!

Best wishes,


Next Release

Conversations in Spain

The latest film in The Learning English Video Project series is set to be released later this month! ‘Conversations in Spain’ is a 17-minute documentary style film that explores English learning techniques and methods in Madrid and Granada, two very different cities in Spain.

The finished production will be available to watch for free on EnglishClub.com both with and without subtitles. Versions will also be available for direct download and will be accompanied by free teaching materials, also provided by EnglishClub.com. ‘Conversations in Spain’ is due to be released towards the end of November so keep checking this website for more details.

I began working on the film with my assistant director Joel Carr back in September 2008, when we shot most of the footage. This particular chapter of the project has a very unique feel in that it has been constructed to suit learners who may have problems with listening in particular. As the title suggests, the film focuses on three central conversations that detail various questions and answers about learning English on the European continent. I have been working with Josef Essberger, founder of EnglishClub.com, and Matt Errey, producer of ESL board-game ‘Word Up’, in crafting a film that offers learners the chance to absorb entire conversations with a learner of English, a teacher of English and the director of a language school.

Each of the films from The Learning English Project has its own style and design. ‘Conversations in Spain’ is an attempt at allowing learners to gain an insight into conversational flow that they might not have otherwise had access to. The conversations have been very carefully selected in that they not only provide a chance for learners to practice their listening, but they may also offer new ideas, tips and information about learning English in different parts of the world. As always, the film is stitched together with footage from the location settings, which are very beautiful places indeed. ‘Conversations in Spain’ also features music by electronic composer Tom Carr, who also wrote pieces for ‘Stories from Morocco’ and ‘Lessons from Romania’.

The Learning English Video Project is proving to be popular all over the world, with ‘Stories from Morocco’, ‘Lessons from Romania’ and ‘Tales from America’ accumulating over 30,000 online views and an average of one hundred downloads a day since the films were released earlier this year. Throughout August and September 2009, Joel and I worked on two more films for the series; one in China and one in Brazil. I am currently editing the Chinese chapter that was filmed in both Shanghai and Xiamen. This film looks at how English is being used for a specific purpose on the Asian continent. I also hope to have more information on this film later on in the month. To see regular blog updates from the film production, simply click on the ‘China’ link on the ‘Director’s Blog’ section of the site.

I would personally like to thank everybody who regularly contributes to EnglishClub.com for all your support and advice throughout the project and I hope that you will continue to express your interest with what we have in store for you over the next few months.

Best wishes,

Daniel Emmerson (Director – The Learning English Video Project)

Sao Paulo day 12

Our last few hours in Sao Paulo!

We packed up our belongings and said goodbye to some friends at the hostel before making our way towards Avenue Paulista in the pouring rain. It was first thing in the morning and the streets that led to the Clinicas metro station were extremely busy. The rain got so heavy that Joel and I had to take shelter under the roof of a small cafe… the manager soon came outside and asked us where we were from. Upon informing the bubbly gent that we hailed from England, he immediately began singing Elvis songs (!?). Before long, all three of us were standing in the pouring rain singing ‘Can’t help falling in love’!

We took the metro to Consolação and shot back and forth, up and down Avenue Paulista in an attempt to capture the frantic Monday morning rush. This proved a challenge due to the unrelenting rain, but still we were able to get some good shots of the avenue and round of the Brazil video blog (this will be available to watch soon!).


The real estate on Avenue Paulista is expected to be the second most expensive in South America!

We returned back to our hostel with enough time for a cup of coffee and a delicious slice of chocolate cake before making our way to Guarulhos Airport. The taxi journey from Vila Madalena to the airport marked the end of another production spree for The Learning English Video Project. However, there is still a huge amount of work to be done in crafting the experience into two new films for the series… I really can not wait to share our findings with you in video form!

I have since returned to Poland, where I am working on detailed reports on Shanghai and Sao Paulo. I will then get to work on video blogs from each city before I set about editing the rest of the series.

Keep checking the blog for more updates, pictures, videos, information and questions!

Stay in touch!


Sao Paulo day 11

Today was our final ‘full day’ in Brazil! Tomorrow we shall head to the airport at 15:00 and say farewell to South America for the time being. It has been a phenomenal experience to say the least and I am so excited about working on both the Shanghai and Sao Paulo films in order to share what I have learned about the English language while travelling across these two drastically diverse continents.

Due to last night being our final Saturday in Sao Paulo, Joel and I joined a group of people from Rio De Janeiro at a Samba nightclub. I shall divulge more information as to what occurred in my Sao Paulo write-up later this month… However, evening soon turned into morning and we did not start filming until mid-day on this, our final afternoon in Sao Paulo!

After a quick breakfast at one of the local cafes in Pinheiro, we took a taxi to Ibirapuera Park with a German architect we had met at our hostel. She proved to be a great help in that she knew the park well and was able to show Joel and I the best places for filming the various activities that were taking place. We stayed in the park until the sun went down, filming everything from kite flying to skate boarding as the Brazilian’s made the most of their free time by relaxing in the summer warmth.


Drummers outside Ibirapuera Park


Filming at the Ibirapuera Auditorium

We managed to get some more great footage from the park that I feel well and truly reflects the (surprisingly) relaxing ambiance of Sao Paulo on a Sunday. To contrast today’s shoot, Joel and I will head to Avenue Paulista tomorrow in order to capture some of the frantic Monday morning rush at one of the busiest business districts in the city!

All the best,


Sao Paulo day 10

The Butantan Institute is a biomedical research centre in Sao Paulo. It is well known in South America for the development and production of various vaccines against a multitude of infectious diseases. The institute has been around since 1901 and is perhaps most famous for it’s collection of 54,000 serpents! Joel and I had discussesd the possibility of filming at the institute with some other guests at our hostel and they decided to come along with us. Anna from Russia and Evelyn from Mexico joined The Learning English Video Project as we made our way across the city in order to try and get some additional footage for the project at the Butantan Institute.

Even though both Joel and myself are at a massive advantage in that English is our first language, we still feel it necessary to try and learn other languages as well. Anna is fluent in Spanish, so we also spent a great deal of time speaking in Evelyn’s mother tongue. As an English teacher, I find it helpful to be able to speak foreign languages as it becomes easier to find out how and why students from different countries make different mistakes… I also find that learning foreign languages not only enables you to communicate with more people from around the world, but you begin to think differently about the way people behave and the way they perceive their surroundings. Due to the fact that Joel, Anna, Evelyn and myself were all foreigners to Brazil, this led to an extremely interesting debate about the importance of English as a dominating language in the world, even though it not the widest spoken.

We walked around the Butantan Institute all morning; filming at the microbiology department and serpent compound before retiring from the sun with cans of cold Guaraná Antarctica. We managed to get some excellent footage at one of Brazil’s largest biomedical research centres and bonded with our new friends on the way.

After leaving the institute, we took a taxi back to Vila Madalena and headed towards one of the Saturday markets. Amidst an array of designer materials, classic Bossa nova vinyl, cracked antiques and lemon couscous, I shot some footage of tourists and locals haggling over everything from pink latex gloves to cold coconut milk. It was a frantic afternoon in the Brazilian sunshine and an excellent opportunity to continue filming additional footage for the project.


Daniel and Evelyn – Filming at Benedito Calixto Flea Market

Sao Paulo day 9

We woke up early and had breakfast at the hostel, the idea was to drink as much coffee as possible in order to remain alert while filming in the city centre of Sao Paulo. Both Joel and I had been warned that this would not be an easy thing to achieve due to the amount of crime in the area, but we were both determined to get some footage of Sao Paulo Cathedral. We walked from Vila Madalena through the busy streets up to Clinicas metro station where we bought our tickets and submerged into the depths of the underground.

As with any major city in the world, the tube was busy; we were pressed together tightly as the underground train propelled us towards the city centre. After arriving at Subprefeitura da Sé, we began to make our way to ground level. Masses of people surrounded us but we felt no initial concern as to our well being; having filmed at many busy locations around the world before, Joel and I were both confident that the warnings we had received from the local people we had met were perhaps exaggerated a little. Upon embracing the daylight and being slightly taken back by the beauty of the cathedral, I reached for my tripod. Within seconds of me taking it from my bag, we were surrounded. A group of men advanced on us right outside the metro station and we had to make a run for it. I felt torn between my desire to capture the action on film and the need for me to keep my camera! We made it about thirty metres across the square when we found ourselves witnesses to a mugging; an angry man had a pick pocket pinned up against a wall and was demanding his wallet back. We ran in the opposite direction, taking cover in a fast food restaurant called ‘Giraffes’.

Read on »

Sao Paulo day 8

It is easy to underestimate the size of a city. Even when you have spent the last few days trecking around, it is still sometimes easy to think the city is a a lot smaller than it actually is, just because certain things appear more familiar. Today we decided to walk from Vila Madalena to Escola Lourenço Castanho and it took us about an hour and half to do so. We were able to shoot as we strolled, capturing some footage of one of the busiest streets in the city. However, time was of the essence and we had to run to Escola Lourenço Castanho in order to get there for break time.

The school runs on a similar programme to most in the UK in that there is a scheduled 15 minute break in the morning. The only difference with this school is that everybody accumulates in the central outdoor concorse to discuss their lessons while listening to the rock music that pours from huge speakers all around the room. We were able to film some of the students we interviewed last week as they spoke to their peers and conversed in English. It certainly made a change from what we filmed at Juan Uribe School, but it turns out some of the students at Lourenço Castanho had studied there when they were younger.

Read on »

Sao Paulo day 7

Juan Uribe is a school in Sao Paulo where children aged 2 to 13 acquire English through playing games, storytelling, puppeteering and creative projects. The school is also unique in that the students talk about how they perceive their own processes in acquiring the language. Joel and I spent the day filming at the school, which allowed us to interview both the students and the staff about the importance of learning English from such a young age. We were also lucky enough to be able to interview a parent who had been sending her child to the school from the age of 1 year and 10 months. The child had already acquired an excellent grasp of English and was continuing to progress during her time at the school.

Choosing to enrol children on English courses at such a young age must have pluses as well as minuses in terms of the learner’s education and this is what I was able to explore while filming at the school.

Read on »

Sao Paulo day 6

Joel and I returned to Sao Paulo on Monday evening and set about planning the rest of our time in this fascinating city. A lot of time was spent thinking about how we can go about documenting the vastness of Sao Paulo without simply gathering footage of skyscrapers and traffic jams. The central problem with our plan was that 90% of the people we have met here advised us to exercise extreme caution when walking in Sao Paulo. Joel and I have both been told on numerous occasions by local people that filming in the city centre and even on the outskirts is a serious ´no no´, particularly as we are a crew of two and stand out as tourists. I am not sure as to how we are going to go about filming in Sao Paulo but I always value the opinions of the local people…

Read on »

Sao Paulo days 3, 4, 5

Learning English Video Project hits Baleia Beach!

Since we had interviewed her brother in Shanghai, Delane kindly offered for The Learning English Video Project crew to travel just north of Sao Paulo and spend the Brazilian Independence Holiday with her family at their beach house. Delane picked Joel and me up from Vila Madelena at 07:30. She had told us to stay inside the gates of our hostel as it may not have been safe to wait outside, which seemed a little strange at the time, but we were keen to meet her and to see what the Brazilian coast line has to offer. We were then given a quick tour of the city before we met with Delane´s parents at their apartment in the centre of Sao Paulo; they were keen on making us feel welcome in their home city and practicing their English at the same time.

The journey from Sao Paulo to Baleia Beach took about two and a half hours. During that time, we got very well acquainted with the family and the versatile Brazilian countryside; from the sweeping grandeur of expensive apartment blocks, to the awkwardly balanced favelas shooting up plush green hillsides.

Read on »

Sao Paulo day 2

I woke up at 6:00 a.m. after a ten hour sleep. The time difference from Shanghai meant that my body was telling me it was time to go to sleep but the receptionist at the hostel was telling me that it was time for breakfast. I have just decided to go with the flow and stay awake for as long as possible. We only have one opportunity to film here in Brazil and so after recharging our body batteries this once, we can not afford to do this again.

Like Shanghai, Sao Paulo is a huge city. Vila Madalena, the area in which we are staying, is full of Bohemian culture and boasts scores of art galleries and graffiti areas. I was hoping that today we would be able to shoot some of the surrounding area but the rain was unrelenting. I ended up taking a few shots from inside the hostel but the sky was extremely dark and sinister looking! Read on »

Sao Paulo update

I am sorry to say that I have missed a few days on the blog post but hope to be able to update a little later. We are currently staying at a beach house on the Brazilian coast with Denis’ family. Joel and I met Denis for the first time in Shanghai when we interviewed him for The Learning English Video Project. Denis is from Sao Paulo, and when he learned that we were coming here to film, he contacted his family and they met us for the first time yesterday morning. We are just about to set up some interviews with our ‘host family’ and find out about the importance of young children learning English in Sao Paulo!

The fact that we are living with the family of a gentleman we met while filming in China is a wild coincidence and further proof that the world is only as big as you make it!

All the best,


Sao Paulo day 1 (part 2)

After arriving in Leitao and getting settled in, Joel and I made our way to the first school that we will be working with. I am particularly keen on getting some information on how and why Brazilian parents are eager for their children to learn English at a young age. We are therefore collaborating with Juan Uribe at his school for young learners in Sao Paulo. Juan has over 100 students between the ages of 2 and 13 at his school and we will be interviewing his staff and some of the students parents next week to find out more about how the younger generation are learning English here.

We met some of the teachers at the school, most of whom are from Sao Paulo, and then with Juan himself. Everybody seems extremely enthusiastic about The Learning English Video Project and so we made arrangements to set up some interviews next week.

Joel and I decided to walk back to our hostel, which took us about an hour. Sao Paulo is supposedly a bigger place than Shanghai in terms of population, but it seems to be a lot more laid back. No sooner were we back at the hostel than it began to rain extremely heavily… so much so that we were stuck in our lodgings for the remainder of the evening – a great opportunity to catch up on some sleep after our journey.

Tomorrow we will visit a private school in the city centre before taking in a taste of the Brazilian bohemian culture we have been promised here in Sampa! This is certainly going to be an exciting finale to the trip – be sure to keep checking EnglishClub.com for more updates!

Best Wishes,


Sao Paulo day 1 (part 1)


We have just arrived in Sao Paulo! I have only been here for a couple of hours and I already feel at home… everything is so vibrant and full of colour – I will report back with our adventures from day one a little later. Thanks again for all your positive comments!

Does anybody have any stories from Brazil?

Best wishes,

Shanghai days 9, 10, 11

I am cheating quite considerably in that I am writing this blog from my base in London. The last few days of filming in China were extremely productive; not only did we manage to travel to Xiamen, but we also carried out a number of interviews, shot some scenic footage of the coastline and got some spectacular sequences from Hong Kou Park on Sunday morning. The last few days were a dramatic conclusion to our time in China and I can say with certainty that this was not the last time I will be visiting Shanghai…

Read on »

Shanghai days 5, 6, 7, 8

It has been a long and productive week in Shanghai. Over the course of the past few days we have interviewed almost every senior manager and a fair few other members of staff at China’s first low cost airline company. Joel and I have also had the opportunity to visit some of Shanghai’s highest buildings and busiest markets. Tomorrow we will fly to Xiamen to get some shots of Read on »

Shanghai day 4

We woke up early on Sunday morning and interviewed some of our newly acquainted friends. Both Wei Wei from China and Dennis from Brazil had some fascinating things to say about learning English in different parts of the world. Neither of our interviewees were from Shanghai and they had only spent a few days here, so it was particularly interesting to find out their first impressions of the city and the different ways that they were able to communicate with people here. Joel and I then took a taxi to Read on »

Shanghai day 3

I am yet to find out exactly why some Chinese men tend to grow their finger nails exceptionally long on their left hand. My initial thought was that is could be related to playing the guitar, but our driver this morning had exceedingly long nails on his pinky and his thumb… I am not sure as to how beneficial this would be when playing a musical instrument. Read on »

Shanghai day 2

Even though the sun seemed to be struggling to break through the hazy clouds overhead, the heat was deep and penetrating. The air felt like it was curdling in my lungs before I could release it and it was still only 10:00 a.m. Tony Hird, one of the executives at Spring Airlines and my contact within the company, met Joel and me outside our hostel. It was good finally meeting Tony in person as we had been corresponding via email every since he had heard The Learning English Video Project was coming to Shanghai. We had plenty to Read on »

Shanghai day 1

The last time I saw my dear friend and consequent cameraman assistant was in November last year after our 10 day stay in Bucharest. We had just finished filming Lessons From Romania when we parted company and it was good to see him again, so eager to continue filming for the EnglishClub project. After a good deal of catch-up (it turns out Joel had been dropped off at Heathrow at midnight as there was no later bus available to bring him to the airport from Birmingham), a flight from London to Zurich and a series of lattes, we boarded our flight to China where we sat and waited patiently for 12 hours until the plane touched down in Shanghai. Read on »


The Learning English Video Project film crew – back on the road!!


For those of you who do not know, my name is Daniel Emmerson and I am the producer of The Learning English Video Project, a seven-part documentary series sponsored by Englishclub.com. On Wednesday 19th August, I will be flying to China from England in order start work on a future film for the series. My dedicated cameraman Joel Carr will also be joining me on the trip when we will be spending two weeks in the dazzling Chinese city of Shanghai. As with the previous films that have been released on EnglishClub.com, the Shanghai production will have a running theme based on identifying different methods and reasons for learning English Read on »

Tales From America Released


Project Update


It was just over one year ago that I started work on The Learning English Video Project and I have to say that I am thrilled with how everything is going so far. The support I have received from YOU, the audience, has been spectacular and I have really enjoyed reading your feedback since I began the blog posts in August 2008. Read on »

Lessons From Romania Released Tomorrow


The second film from The Learning English Video Project is set for release tomorrow (May 21st 2009). The film is part of the 7-part documentary series that looks at learning English as a foreign language across the globe.

As with every other film in the series, Lessons From Romania will be free to watch and download. It will be available with and without subtitles and will come free with quizzes, lesson plans and an audience comments page! Read on »

Stories From Morocco Out Now

Dear All,

‘Stories From Morocco’ – The first documentary to be released from The Learning English Video Project – is now available for FREE!

As you may have seen from the video blogs, I travelled to Casablanca and Rabat in October 2008 in order to film at the American Academy Casablanca. After six months of editing, the film is now available to watch for free on EnglishClub.com as well as Googlevideo, Youtube and danielemmerson.com.

The film comes complete with quizzes, lesson plans for teachers and a comments forum.

I look forward to reading your feedback soon!

Thank you to EVERYBODY at EnglishClub and all the people who took part in the project.

All the best,



Learning English Video Project in China and Brazil


Firstly I would like to thank everybody at English Club for their comments and support over the last few months. Your input has made the project worth all of the hard work and I sincerely hope that you enjoy the films we have been putting together.

I would also like to thank everyone who has invited me to Iran, Chile, Tunisia, Indonesia, Argentina, Cameroon and many other countries around the world in order to produce more films. Since the project began, I have received so many invitations it is difficult to keep count…

Due to the phenomenal feedback that we have had, Englishclub.com has announced that it will sponsor The Learning English Video Project so that we may make two more films; later on this year, I will continue the project in both China and Brazil!

Pre-production will begin in May 2009 and I will let you know when I can confirm exact times, dates and locations for the filming schedule.

In the meantime, the first episode of The Learning English Video Project; ‘Stories from Morocco’ will be available to watch FOR FREE on www.englishclub.com from April 21 2009!

I hope you enjoy the film and I look forward to reading your comments.

Best Wishes,

Video Blog Vote!

Voting Time!

First of all I would like to extend a huge thank you to all who have taken part in the EnglishClub.com video project diary. It has been a real inspiration reading all of your comments and replies – all 1400 of them!

As you may have gathered, the filming stage of the project has come to a close. All that remains now is a LOT of editing. In the meantime though, it would be fantastic to keep in contact with the regular contributors and keep the video blog alive. I have therefore decided to ask your personal opinion on all of the video blogs that have been posted so far.

Read on »



We landed in Poland after a difficult journey involving two nights in Spain, a connecting flight in London and a loopy panic attack on my part. My first novel, Walking On The Left, was to be published in Poland the following morning and the plan was to spend a few hours signing books during the release ceremony at the Krakow book fair. We arrived at the fair twenty minutes late and I found myself sitting at a table, surrounded by copies of my book and a small gathering of eager teens, waiting for me to sign their new purchases… it was a surreal experience to say the least and I decided to make it even more so by tying a pink silk scarf to my neck… goodness knows why.

Book Me

I found it an interesting situation to be in as the majority of ESL students and experts we had spoken to at that point on the trip, saw reading books outside the classroom as an excellent way to learn a new language. My book is in Polish, which gave my experience a peculiar twist, but it still forced me to reflect on the impact of what reading a book in a foreign language can bring about. The Polish title of the book is Ktoredy. It is sponsored by TEFL.net and Outloud Productions.

Read on »

More Morocco

More Pictures from Film Location 04 – Casablanca & Rabat

We were in Morocco from October 12th – October 20th and we had a fantastic time there. Here are some more pictures of our journey and a short video blog detailing the events.


Hands up if you know the answer! – American Academy Casablanca


Tortoise Time with Joel Carr.


Read on »

Getting Romanian


After three flights, a thirty two hour train journey and a four hour wait in Budapest, we made it from Morocco to Romania. We have been here since Sunday and have been lucky enough to interview, photograph and socialise with some incredible people who have far exceeded our expectations. What we are witnessing in Romania at the moment is going to change the face of this documentary project and bring a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘icing on the cake’. It is 17:30 p.m just now and we still have four more interviews to conduct at different areas around the city. Tomorrow we are hoping to spend the day at International House Bucharest and we head back to the editing studio in Poland upon completion. Sure, that means another thirty something hours on the train this coming weekend but it is worth every second. Bucharest, like the people we have met here so far, is exceptional.

Keep checking the blog for more updates – more Morocco photos and video blog online next week as well as a write up on our Romanian adventure!

Best Wishes To All!

Daniel and Joel.

News flash ~ Casablanca, Morocco

American Academy Casablanca.

I would like to thank the American Academy Casablanca for their incredible assistance with the documentary project. Not only did the school allow us to spend three full days filming on location with them, but they also provided us with a wonderful selection of enthusiastic ESL students with some fascinating ideas about learning English.

Casablanca, Morocco.

Although Morocco is only a short distance away from the southern coast of Spain, the change in culture and climate is truly breathtaking. Upon arriving in the busy city of Casablanca, we were ripped off tremendously by our taxi driver and taken straight to the Medina (a vast labyrinth of market stalls, booths, flats and washing lines). We were immediately swarmed by reckless hands and fake Rolex watches, beaming faces and bootleg DVDs, a real maze of Moroccan craftsmanship. We started to walk down one of the twirling isles and we were pounced upon by a tall burly fellow with glasses ¨hello my English friends¨ he said with a berserk sense of confidence, ¨let me give you a private tour…¨

This was our introduction to Morocco and the shape of things to come. Desperately friendly people with a lot to share, but at a somewhat questionable price. It was not until we reached the haven of the American Academy that we felt we could let our guard down somewhat and give the project our full attention. Read on »

Spanish Video Blog


For the last few days I have been working hard in editing several rough drafts of the Cambridge and New York sections of the film. I would once again like to extend my thanks to Antony and Marcus for their help in Cambridge and Joel for his patience and dedication to the project.

The initial sequence to the Spanish Video Blog was shot in a cave in Granada – hence Joel walking into a strange entrance. The rest of the footage was shot in and around Madrid and Granada, which are both equally wonderful places!

I have the remainder of the day at my editing station in Katowice, Poland before heading back to England, ready to meet Joel again for the rest of our ESL adventure. Please keep your comments coming! This is turning out to be a fantastic collaboration of culture and learning – lets keep it going!

One of the questions that we are asking the students we meet is:

What do you think is the most difficult aspect of learning English?

As it would be impossible to meet everybody reading this on englishclub.com, perhaps you could answer that question here!? I would love to see your responses!

Sketches of Spain + Photos

The jet lag hit me like a bag of hammers as soon as I returned to England from New York. Within hours of landing I found myself in the centre of town buying a suit for my sister’s wedding. There was a huge party after the ceremony and little time to sift through our footage for the New York blog before flying out to Madrid. It wasn’t before long that we were on the move again; the flight from London to Madrid took just under two hours. The belting sunshine and warm reception at the airport was a fine introduction to the Spanish section of our journey, but what were we expecting to find here? Was Spain really going to be that different to New York or Cambridge? There was a noticeable absence of English in the air and my Spanish needs a lot of work… We booked ourselves into a small hostel just outside Sol Plaza and set to work at once. The hostel in which we were staying provided the perfect backdrop for an international introduction. Within an hour and a half of arriving, we met several students from Italy, Belgium, Pakistan and Poland who were keen to help us with our project. Everybody we spoke to had interesting stories to tell about their ESL experiences, they also spilled the beans on some of their lesser preferred English language teachers from back home!

The following day we met with Bea, one of our central focuses for this portion of the project. Bea has been studying English for the last thirteen years and was kind enough to spend the entire day with Joel and I. We interviewed her in Madrid’s largest park about her use of English at work and elsewhere in the capital city.

An interview with Bea.


Me, Bea and Joel in Madrid.


Read on »

Spanish Comparisons

Just a quick message from Spain!

After spending several days in the Spanish capital, we have decided to try and film in a smaller city. We are now in Granada, where we have been filming for the last few hours. The trip down south was unplanned and risky but we have strong contacts with a wonderful language school in this smaller community and we want to try and make some comparisons between here and Madrid. We head back to the capital on Sunday.

Sorry this message is so short, we have a lot to do and very little time to do it in!

Stand by for the New York and Spain video blogs, more photos and project details, all online next week!

Best wishes,


New York Pictures

Please see below a small selection of pictures from New York.

1. A group of elderly peace protestors outside one of the large plazas in Manhattan. The protestors were from all over the world and were protesting against the USA’s military activity abroad.

peace protestors in Manhattan

2. Welcome to Harlem. We spent a lot of time here during our stay in the Big Apple.

filming in Harlem

3. Coney Island. We discovered pockets of Eastern European and Russian students living in the south of Brooklyn. Most of them had come to see the fairground before it is torn down.

Coney Island

4. Interviewing a young Spanish ESL student at ISL New York.

interviewing Spanish student

5. Filming in Soho.

Daniel filming in Soho

6.More filming at ISL.

filming at ISL

filming at ISL

7. Thank you Austria. These two budding ESL students allowed us to film them using their English around the city. – Here we are posing on the top floor of the Empire State Building.

Empire State Building

A big thank you to everybody who took part, including all the staff at ISL New York and Teaching English at Saint John’s University. I would also like to thank everybody who has been posting comments on our blog over the last couple of weeks! I hope that this fantastic amount of feedback will continue throughout the project.

IF we were to include one more city in our schedule of places to visit for the project, which place do you think would be best and why? We will be flying to Madrid, Spain on Tuesday 23rd September!

Best Wishes,


New York Update

So, what is New York like and what have we been doing here!?

I landed at JFK airport on September 11th with Joel, my trusty cameraman, and our compact collection of recording equipment. The first New York citizen we met was a jolly Polish lady behind the transport information desk. I spoke with her in her native tongue about life in the city and she told me that the city is a great place to live and that we should easily be able to find lots of interesting people for our project.

We soon boarded our shuttle bus to the city and while we travelled along the course stretches of highway, I spoke with two Lithuanian passengers who were sharing our ride. I had a few questions about Cyrillic script which they were more than happy to help me out with… I want to be able to understand at least some Russian by the time Read on »

Cambridge Overview and Photos

So the Cambridge section of our Learning English Documentary adventure is over…and what an adventure it was! Not only did we manage to meet some fantastic English language enthusiasts from all over the world, but we captured some thoroughly interesting footage and made a lot of new friends on the way.

Daniel and Joel – The men behind the camera


This was our first trip to Cambridge and we are both extremely pleased with how this section of the project developed. With the help of our trusty assistants Marcus and Anthony, we were able to navigate the city without any major problems and meet all of our guests on time and on location.

Anthony and Marcus – Our trusty Cambridge assistants


Marcus and Anthony were only able to assist us on the Cambridge leg of our trip; this is rather unfortunate as their help in England’s college capital proved Read on »

Cambridge ~ City of Language

Greetings! We have two more days in Cambridge before moving on to New York and my oh my, what a productive week it has proven to be so far!

Our first appointment on day two was with the Cambridge International Club, who were most helpful in providing us with heaps of information about Read on »

Learning English Video Project Started in Cambridge

Yesterday was the first day of production on The Learning English Video Project!

Cambridge is a beautiful English university town with lush green countryside and beautiful college architecture. I arrived here yesterday after a two and a half hour bus journey from London, which is far too long. The bus broke down on the way to the city and I spent forty minutes in a midst of noise and traffic waiting to get started with the film project.

Thankfully, my trusty film crew were ready to start when I finally arrived and we met with Yuan Zhang, the publicity officer for the University of Cambridge International Students Union to discuss their involvement in the project. Our travels then took us to MichaelHouse, a Church/Cafe in the heart of the city that arranges an annual programme for German monks who are looking to improve their English and work in Cambridge for twelve months. Plenty of the MichaelHouse team are eager to get involved in the project and we look forward to spending the day with them today!For more information on MichaelHouse, please visit: http://www.michaelhouse.org.uk/

I will try and keep the blog updated everyday to let you know how the project is developing! A series of photographs and perhaps even some footage of the trip will be available to look at from Wednesday, September 10th!

The Schedule

We will be in Cambridge for the next six days when we leave for London on September 8th.

  • From the 11th – 18th September we will be in NEW YORK, U.S.A
  • 23rd September – 1st October – MADRID, Spain
  • 13th – 20th October – CASABLANCA, Morocco
  • 26th October – 2nd November – MINSK, Belarus

If you are an ESL student interested in the project, or even if you are from one of the cities we are visiting and wish to meet with us on our journey, please feel free to contact us – [email protected].

Its got to be fun!


My name is Daniel and I am going to make a film



Welcome to my digital diary and pseudo-aesthetic medium for detailing the events leading up to the release of an international collaboration and enormously compelling documentary film project.

Daniel Emmerson and Joel Carr teaching ESL Film Academy students at Millfield Summer School 2008



I am an independent documentary filmmaker and language enthusiast from the United Kingdom. I also teach a combination of EFL and practical film making (see picture above – taken at Millfield Summer School 2008) and for the last five years, film production has been one of my central passions. I have worked for several production companies throughout Europe and have since been undertaking independent ventures that subjectify another of my prime interests; language.


Organisations, individuals and other collaborators from Africa, America, Western Europe, Great Britain and far Eastern Europe are preparing to take part in a documentary film project examining the various strategies, ideas and inspirations behind learning English as a second language. Why is English so popular, what does it mean to be able to speak it, and above all, what are the best ways of learning? Over the course of the next few weeks, I hope to provide an educational and entertaining insight into the learning habits of ESL students all across the globe. Accompanied by my close associate and dedicated co-producer Joel Carr, I will be living with people from the cities we visit in an attempt to establish a true sense of place and cultural identity.

The documentary starts in Cambridge on September 3rd 2008 when we will be visiting the Cambridge International Club, International Cambridge University Students Union and Michael House.