Wednesday 30 April 2014


The British Council announces its first free online course on FutureLearn

From autumn this year, learners from all over the globe will be able to interact with each other while developing their English vocabulary, and reading and writing skills.

Miami: 30 April 2014 The British Council will offer its first free online course for learning English on FutureLearn, the global social learning platform, later this year. It also will be the first online course on FutureLearn from one of its cultural partners.

With 80 years’ experience in teaching the English language around the world, the British Council has developed the course for non-native speakers with intermediate levels of English language proficiency. It will include learning about British culture and traditions to enable learners to gain a better understanding of life in the UK.

The announcement was made at ‘Going Global’, the British Council’s annual conference for leaders of international education, held this year in Miami April 29-May 1. The news came ahead of a passionate debate at the conference on the future potential of free online learning, otherwise known as massive open online courses, or MOOCs. Experts including the CEO of FutureLearn, Simon Nelson, the CEO of Coursera, Daphne Koller, and Adam Habib, Vice Chancellor of the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa discussed whether free online learning courses create opportunities to widen access to education or not.

Commenting on the announcement of the new course, Anna Searle, the British Council’s Director of English, said “We are delighted to be working with FutureLearn to develop a new and innovative approach to English language learning, combining social learning tools with the British Council’s capability to design and deliver high quality English language courses. We have a strong reputation for providing outstanding opportunities to learn English, through face to face courses, working with ministries, and access to online language development. I am excited by the potential of this partnership which will enable us to reach new audiences globally and equip FutureLearn learners with the skills and confidence in writing and reading in English using the FutureLearn social learning platform”

Simon Nelson, the CEO of FutureLearn, said “I’m excited that FutureLearn will offer its first course delivered by one its cultural partners. With its long history of teaching the English language to non-native speakers, the British Council is a natural choice to deliver this course. People will be able to access the learning for free, and what’s more, they will be able to learn English and about British culture by interacting with other learners from all over the world.”

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We create international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and build trust between them worldwide.

We work in more than 100 countries and our 7,000 staff – including 2,000 teachers – work with thousands of professionals and policy makers and millions of young people every year by teaching English, sharing the arts and delivering education and society programmes.

We are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter. A core publically-funded grant provides less than 25 per cent of our turnover which last year was £781 million. The rest of our revenues are earned from services which customers around the world pay for, through education and development contracts and from partnerships with public and private organisations. All our work is in pursuit of our charitable purpose and supports prosperity and security for the UK and globally.

For more information, please visit:

About FutureLearn

FutureLearn is a global social learning platform that represents the next wave of free, online courses that support learning for life. It offers courses for people to access and enjoy wherever they are in the world on multiple devices. 

The team at FutureLearn is made up of professionals from the media and digital industries. They are backed by educators and learning technologists from the Open University, which has over 40 years experience in distance learning.

FutureLearn partners include the Universities of Bath, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, East Anglia, Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow, Leicester, Loughborough, Kings College London, Lancaster, Leeds, Monash, Nottingham, The Open University, Queen’s Belfast, Reading, Sheffield, Southampton, Strathclyde, Trinity College Dublin and Warwick. In addition, FutureLearn’s cultural partners are the British Council, British Library and the British Museum, which have all agreed to share content and their expertise to collaborate in the development of courses through.