Get your Language and Culture Fix this Summer

Posted on: 7 July 2021 by Department of Languages, Cultures and Film in 2021 posts

someone reading and drinking coffee at the park
Aerial shot of student sitting on the grass reading with coffee and headphones.

If you’re planning to start a degree with us this year, there are plenty of ways you can get your language and film fix over the summer whilst doing a bit of preparation for your course. The Department of Languages, Cultures and Film has put together an extensive list of recommended resources in the list below. Some of these tie in directly with the modules you’ll be studying with us, as stated where applicable in the descriptions, but most are simply suggestions for broadening your appreciation and enjoyment of languages, cultures and film.

Please don’t feel you have to purchase any resources as many will be available in the library or online when you arrive in Liverpool.


  • For a light-touch introduction to the Basque language and culture, try the Hella Basque channel by Anne-Marie, an American YouTuber of Basque descent. 
  • For a formal approach to the grammar of the Basque language, have a look at A Brief Grammar of Euskara.
  • For access to samples of Basque literary works translated into English, browse the Basque Literature Portal.
  • For access to plenty of Basque music, try the Badok mobile app.
  • For TV, radio, and a news website, try EiTB, the public media group that broadcasts both in Basque and Spanish.
  • There are also a few Basque films available in the most popular streaming platforms. Try, for example, Loreak (2014) or Handia (2017).



  • To learn and practice Catalan grammar we recommend:
  • For on demand Catalan TV you can watch:
  • On Netflix try: ‘Welcome to the family’, ‘Merlí’, ‘Two Catalonias’ or try watching the videos of Youtuber: Juliana Canet.
  • Listening to Catalan music is another great way to improve your listening skills. Some Catalan artists you could try listening to are: Manel, Antònia Font, Txarango, Jorra i Gomorra, Da Souza and Judit Neddermann.
  • is a great source for Catalan news.



  • For a concise introduction to Chinese history with numerous great illustrations please see Patricia Buckley Ebrey’s The Cambridge Illustrated History of China.
  • For a more detailed discussion we recommend: Jonathan Spence’s The Search for Modern China.
  • If you want to read up on different aspects of Chinese culture (including literature and film) see The Cambridge Companion to Modern Chinese Culture.
  • For brief introductory essays on a broader range of issues relating to China (history, culture, society) please see Thomas Buoye’s Study Guide to China.
  • If you finish reading all of these and are ready for the ‘deep dive’ into Sinology then Endymion Wilkinson’s Chinese History: A New Manual will be your best friend.
  • If you want to familiarise yourself with the Chinese language, there are many good introductory resources out there. Try the series of textbooks by Zhang Pengpeng (prof.), Sinolingua, 2002: ‘Intensive Spoken Chinese’, ‘The Most Common Chinese Radicals’ and ‘Rapid Literacy in Chinese’.
  • ‘Modern Mandarin Chinese grammar: a practical guide’ by Claudia Ross; Jing-heng Sheng Ma, Routledge, 2006, ‘China: empire of the written symbol’ by Cecilia Lindqvist,. Da Capo Press, 2008 and ‘500 Common Chinese Idioms’ by Liwei Jiao, Routledge, 2010 are all great introductory language resources also.
  • YoYo Chinese helps you learn Chinese with clearly explained video lessons made for English speakers.
  • Chinese Boost is Chinese learning website with free resources and materials to learn Chinese.
  • FluentU brings language learning to life with real world videos and language immersion.
  • Sinosplice assists in your understanding of China and learning of Chinese.


Film Studies

  • A basic book on film-language, Bordwell and Thompson’s Film Art (get it second-hand if you decide to do so!) will be a very helpful reference for you as you embark on a film studies course. 
  • The British Film Institute’s magazine, Sight and Sound, is one of the best sources of high-quality film-criticism intended for the general reader. Access selected articles from the website. 
  • The British Film Institute (BFI) also offers a free online archive of short films. 
  • For movie reviews and release info, DVD reviews, filmmaking advice, feature articles from BBC News, and information on alternative and short films, visit BBC Film.
  • For an interesting range of suggested playlists based around themes of current relevance, visit the Screen Culture website maintained by St. Andrew’s University.
  • Senses of Cinema is one of the longest-established online film journals. 
  • For a helpful directory of film festivals worldwide, see Best of the Web: Film Festivals 
  • The Black Film Center/Archive focuses on films by and about African Americans. 
  • Documentary offers news and original reviews of documentary films and links to official film sites as well as other resources of interest. 
  • Offering resources on of feminist film, Women Make Movies includes plot synopses and biographical information on the filmmakers. 
  • A useful website for checking details of a particular film is the International Movie Database. 



  • For grammar we recommend: English Grammar for Students of French.
  • French Grammar and Usage by Hawkins and Towell is grammar book that will be useful throughout your degree; there is an accompanying workbook that you might like to buy in due course.
  • A good English-French dictionary and a monolingual French one will be a great investment. Bilingual ones to look out for are Collins or Oxford, and a good monolingual one is Le Petit Robert. However as these are quite expensive do not feel that you need to buy them, they are available as apps and are also in the library when you get here.
  • Other sources of definitions and phrases are WordReference and Linguée.
  • has many language exercises in lots of different areas such as literary and cultural studies as well as current affairs. Some of the exercises are really fun, too, such as virtual tours of museums. 
  • If you want to explore specific grammar points Lingolia and Lawless French are also goods options for all levels.
  • Podcast Français Facile offers free audio-visual material to develop pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary and cultural awareness among other things. 
  • TV5 Monde hosts a wide range of audio visual and written material to work on writing but also listening skills according to your level (A1 to C2) and podcasts such as Le journal en français facile allows you keep informed while working on your listening skills. 
  • A useful introduction to France and French Studies in the wider world is Modern France: A Very Short Introduction by Vanessa Schwartz.
  • On FREN114, we’ll read a novel, ‘Meutres pour mémoire’/‘Murder in Memoriam’ by Didier Daeninckx, if you like you can have a read of this over the summer in French or English (if you’re a beginner).
  • If you fancy reading something lighter that gives you an insight into France, you could explore this list from The Guardian earlier this year. The 10 books it lists also includes a text we’ll be studying on FREN116, Faïza Guène’s ‘Kiffe kiffe demain’.
  • You might also like to take a look at ACHAC or for some wider cultural and social topics.
  • Babelio is a wonderful website where you can get recommendations on what to read in French as well as reading book reviews by other site users. Look up reviews of ‘Meurtres pour mémoire’ as a way of finding out what other texts in French might appeal to you.
  • There are also French TV series available to watch free on the Walter Presents platform and on TV5 streaming platform
  • On Netflix, we recommend changing the language settings to watch any films or animations in French but also explore French films such as Simply Black, School life, The Shiny Shrimps and series such as Lupin, Call my agent, Family Business, the Hook up plan. 
  • For music here are a couple of playlist you can find on Spotify: Écoutez ! and The Best French Playlist but there are more.
  • For news and current affairs, check out, the main public-service news website in France, you can also watch franceinfo live on Youtube.



  • There are German TV series available to watch free on Channel 4’s Walter Presents platform (including Deutschland 83, Deutschland 86 and Deutschland 89) and on Netflix. If using Netflix, we recommend changing the language settings to watch any films or animations in German, but there are series available with subtitles such as Charité, as well as numerous films. You can check for a current list by inputting German as your language at Language Learning with Netflix.
  • The Goethe Institut has a collection of films available free online.
  • For a sense of the variety of German literature, try looking at any of the Deutsche Welle ‘100 Must Reads’ available in translation and perhaps try one (maybe reading the German original alongside the translation to expand your understanding).
  • Deutsche Welle also has a range of online resources for learners of all levels.
  • This Learn German Online blog has a useful list of ways to access German-language radio online and through apps.
  • English Grammar for Students of German is a book providing a good targeted introduction to grammar terminology which will be useful for both beginners and advanced (though most useful for beginners).
  • A vital resource for students of German, Essential German Grammar is worth getting hold of before you begin your studies. Unfortunately it’s not available for free, but you’ll get excellent use out of the purchase.
  • Mary Fulbrook, A History of Germany 1918-2014 gives a clear overview of a crucial century in German history written by a leading scholar in the field, which introduces the periods which our first year modules as well as second year options cover (divided Germany 1945-1990, and the Weimar and GDR eras.
  • Hammer’s German Grammar and Usage is vital resource!
  • If you’re interested in society and politics, you might like to have a look at the magazine Fluter or browse the Bundeszentrale für Politische Bildung‘s website which has lots of resources on German society and politics.
  • You might like to familiarise yourself with some German history via the downloadable podcasts in English by Neil MacGregor: Germany: Memories of a Nation or look at the online exhibition Lebendiges Museum Online curated by the Deutsches Historisches Museum (in German).




  • For beginner’s grammar books we recommend: ‘Gramatica Ativa 1’ by Isabel Coimbra and Olga Coimbra, Lisbon, Lidel, 2012 and ‘Portuguese: An Essential Grammar’, 3rd edition, by Amelia Hutchinson, Janet Lloyd and Cristina Sousa, Routledge, 2019.
  • For music, try listening to a Spotify playlist of Portuguese songs.
  • On Netflix we recommend: ‘3%’, ‘Samantha!’, ‘The Edge of Democracy’, ‘Coisa Mais Linda’, ‘Aquarius’ and ‘City of God: Ten Years Later’.
  • Learn Portuguese Hello Rusty (BR) and Portuguese with Carla (PT) are both great Youtube channels for beginners.
  • This website has good Portuguese learning activities:
  • For Portuguese news we recommended: and
  • For Portuguese TV try:
  • The following Lusophone films on Netflix offer engaging viewing: from Portugal, try ‘Aquelo Querido Mês de Agosto’ and ‘Capitães de Abril’, and from Brazil, try ‘O Ano em que Meus Pais Saíram de Férias’ and ‘O Caminho das Nuvens’.



  • Spanish History Books contains a useful breakdown of novels, academic history books and travelogues on Spain, covering everything from Islamic Spain and the Inquisition to the Spanish Civil war and its aftermath.
  • 10 Best Spanish Novels to Improve your Spanish (for all levels) rounds up an intriguing selection of short stories and novels by Spanish and Latin American authors, including traditional texts found on A level and university syllabuses as well as lesser-known publications. These are available in English translation as well as in Spanish.
  • Classic Spanish Literature is a more heavyweight list of 44 Spanish classics and links to synopses. Several of these feature in our modules from Year 1 onwards.
  • For students who are comfortable navigating a Spanish website, the Cervantes Institute’s virtual library contains multiple resources on Spanish literature including publications by many key Spanish authors as well as links to resources such as facsimile copies of manuscripts and film scripts.
  • For those looking to improve their Spanish language skills, News in Slow Spanish is a great way of developing your listening skills through podcasts on international current affairs, arts and culture and news stories specific to Spain.
  • As a global language Spanish benefits from having hundreds of sites where you can revise your grammar and build your vocabulary. Many are free and others require a subscription. Here are a small selection: StudySpanish is well-organised and has lots of quizzes; the BBC has a great site with links to guides and their news site, BBC Mundo and a list of other reliable Spanish language news organisations; and, for something different, try Spanish in Texas, which has great explanations and quizzes and is a different perspective on language learning.
  • There are plenty of online dictionaries including Collins and Cambridge, as well as the monolingual dictionary overseen by the Real Academic Española.
  • Other sources of definitions and phrases are WordReference and Linguée.
  • Good Reads contains a selection of readers’ favourites that include novels, academic history books and travelogues on Spain, covering everything from Islamic Spain and the Inquisition to the Spanish Civil war and its aftermath. The editors at Book Riot give a great list of contemporary Latin American fiction and LitHub regularly curates lists of books about Latin American writers. Here’s one by Valeria Luiselli on reliable journalism.
  • It’s not always easy to find novels in Spanish. Here is a list of easy-to-source novels to improve your Spanish by Spanish and Latin American authors, including traditional texts found on A level and university syllabuses. These are available in English translation as well as in Spanish.
  • For students who are comfortable navigating a Spanish website, the Cervantes Institute’s virtual library contains multiple resources on Spanish literature including publications by many key Spanish authors as well as links to resources such as facsimile copies of manuscripts and film scripts. Find out what academics are reading on the Institute of Modern Language Research page.
  • Listening comprehension is challenging.  Try and challenge yourself with Radio Ambulante, which is mostly focused on the Americas. It has transcripts and extra resources for language learners.
  • All of the streaming platforms have Spanish language content to view. Look out for the many limited series. Some of our favourites are La casa de papel (Money Heist), Las chicas del cable (Cable Girls), La reina del sur (The Queen of the South), La casa de las flores (The House of Flowers), and El ministerio del tiempo (The Ministry of Time) Watch them in the original with the subtitles in Spanish or English. Mediático is a great guide to what to look out for in film and television.
  • Follow us on Instagram and Facebook for regular updates.

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