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In learning a foreign language, there are four basic language skills- reading, writing, listening, and speaking.
There are more ways to learn English than just sitting in a classroom. While interacting with a good English tutor can help ensure that you improve your language skills, there are other ways of learning.
One particularly good way to learn is by listening, specifically by listening to English podcasts. The advantage to having a few English podcasts loaded on a mobile device is it allows you to learn whenever and wherever you choose. All you need to do is pop in your earbuds and press play.
The advantage in learning English through podcasts is you get to hear actual conversations between native English speakers. This improves your listening comprehension and pronunciation. Many of the podcasts on this list also offer some advice on how to start conversations and insights into culture and customs that will make it easier to understand and relate to English-speakers.
Check out our list of good English learning podcasts below and find one that interests you.
As we mentioned, the advantage of an English language podcast is it provides you a quick way to learn whenever and wherever you are. These 6-minute English lessons from the BBC are a great example of that.
The 6-Minute English podcast is a news show that the BBC produces every week to help intermediate speakers improve their British language skills. The episodes are accompanied by a vocabulary list and a transcript to help you follow along. The audio is deliberately slightly slower than normal to make it easier for listeners to follow along.
The BBC has been producing this podcast since 2014, so there is a pretty big database of episodes to choose and learn from.
This American English podcast is hosted by two cheerful hosts, Lindsay and Michele. On 10-15 minute episodes they aim to improve their listeners English language abilities.
The two hosts are ESL teachers, with Lindsay based in Boston and Michele being from New York. The show’s motto is “connection not perfection” and their goal is to enable their listeners to carry on actual everyday conversations in English.
They focus on teaching you everyday vocabulary as well explaining common idioms and expressions in American English. They also offer little tips and insignts on customs, etiquette, and American culture.
This is an interesting podcast to listen to as the episodes consist of real conversations between native speakers. It’s probably best for intermediate level learners and higher levels.
The idea behind the episodes of Better@English is that listening to real conversations between native speakers will familiarize you with common expressions and idioms and help you speak more naturally and practice what you know about vocabulary and pronunciation.
If you’re worried you might have a hard time keeping up, don’t be, as this is an English podcast with transcripts for each episode and accompanying vocabulary notes.
The Culips English podcast offers three types of episode styles that are designed to improve your English speaking and comprehension.
The hosts on the episodes talk slowly to enable listeners to follow along better and pick up on new phrases and words in a way that is more natural than just memorizing a list.
They also provide a study guide to go along with those episodes but you have to be a paying member to have access to those.
This podcast allows you to learn English by listening to stories. Each episode on this podcast begins with a list of new words and phrases which they explain, then, to give you more context they read you a story where you can hear the words and phrases used more naturally.
They have podcast episode sorted as easy, medium, and advanced, so they can cater to a wide range of English learners.
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=hk.hkbc.epodcast&hl=en
This series of English learning podcasts is produced by the British Council and are geared for the beginner and intermediate learners.
Word of warning, compared to some of the other podcasts on this list, the episodes of Elementary Podcasts are rather long. About 25 minutes each, so if you really want to concentrate on the lessons you might have to schedule your listening time carefully.
In each episode of this British English podcast, the hosts will present a number of scenarios that they will act out. The scenarios presented are chosen to be “common situations” that you might experience. There is also accompanying reading material that can help you understand the situations better.
The episodes of this podcast are geared to match the levels of learning. Choose from lessons for absolute beginners, beginners, intermediate, and advanced level.
Each podcast consists of a scenario acted out by the podcasts hosts. The scenario is played out twice, first in normal speeds then slowed down. This is to help the listener completely grasp the scenario being presented.
After the scenarios have been played out, the host will present some relevant information that will explain what happened. They will then focus on the words and phrases spoken, giving lessons in vocabulary as well as grammar.
The ESL Podcast is a particularly good resource for those looking to improve their English language learning experience. It is hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan and Dr. Lucy Tse who hold PhDs in applied linguistics. They’ve produced more than 900 episodes of their podcast.
Most episodes feature two characters acting out a scenario with dialogue. Afterwards, the hosts will focus on identifying keywords in the dialogue and explaining the words usage and meanings. There is also a learning guide to make sure you don’t miss something.
Google Play Store: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=hk.hkbc.epodcast&hl=en
This English learning podcast is produced by the British Council. You can download the app to gain access to recordings of everyday conversations between native British English speakers.
The host of the podcast chat with different people to not only improve your listening skills but give you an inkling of how to start and maintain everyday conversations. They discuss topics like planning a dinner party, the lives of their favorite celebrities, and the cities they live in or would like to visit.
There are about 80 episodes available for free with this app, so that’s over 20 hours of English language learning conveniently at your fingertips.
The host of the Happy English Podcast is a native New Yorker - Michael DiGiacomo. He has been helping people improve their language skills and his American English podcast is available to download for free.
The episodes are concise, only about 5 to 10 minutes each, but they cover a variety of different language topics to help you improve both your vocabulary and your comprehension.
If you subscribe to his podcast you automatically get a download of the latest episode on his English podcast Mp3 file. There’s also an available transcript of each episode which you can use to check your comprehension and build up your vocabulary.
This British English podcast doesn’t just improve your spoken English but it’s very entertaining too!
Luke isn’t just a qualified teacher of the English language, he is a stand-up comedian. He aims to “make you laugh while you learn.” He’s accumulated over 600 episodes of his podcast for you to pursue.
Most episodes of this podcast feature Luke and a guest talking about a variety of subject materials and explaining the quirks of conversational British English. He also provides a transcript of the episodes to help you learn at your own speed.
This podcast aims to help its listeners learn English while also learning about current events around the world.
The speakers on this podcast deliberately read the news slower, making it easier for you to follow along. There is also an accompanying script for each episode and special sections that allow you to apply the lessons better.
There’s the Grammar tab, where a specific grammar topic will be related to a topic taken up during the episode. There’s also the Expressions tab, which analyzes and explains the expressions used in the episode and offers tips on how you can use it in your conversations.
The Pronunciation and Quiz tabs allow you to test your speaking and listening comprehension, while the Audio Only tab allows you to just download and listen the audio.
This podcast focuses on providing English lessons for those with varying levels of comprehension. They have podcasts for beginners, intermediates, upper intermediates, and even for business English language learning.
The lessons are taught by having you listen to conversations between two speakers before explaining the nuances of what they are saying. There are also transcripts provided as well as worksheets and vocabulary lists that you can use to ensure you really grasp the lessons.
If you have a curious mind, this is a particularly good podcast to follow as they cover a lot of topics ranging from sports to pop culture.
This is a podcast series produced by the BBC, so take note that it is a British English podcast.
If you want to learn the British pronunciation of words, this is a good podcast to listen to as the podcasters enunciate the syllables clearly and slowly.
This podcast focuses on teaching its listeners everyday English as it’s spoken in Britain or British-influenced regions. It’s particularly good at explaining English expressions.
The series releases podcasts weekly, with each lasting only about three or four minutes. The format usually consists of two people having a conversation.
The podcasts put out by Splendid Speaking are meant for advanced English learners, so if you just a beginner or an intermediate learner you might want to try one of the other English podcasts on this list first.
These podcast episodes are dialogue heavy, featuring interviews as well as discussions between the hosts and non-native English speakers. The hosts provide feedbacks which don’t just help the speakers learn but also the listeners.
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=vn.innoloop.VOALearningEnglish&hl=en
Produced by the American broadcaster Voice Of America, this American English podcast aims to improve your language skills by offering audio programs narrated at slower than normal speeds. They offer podcast episodes for English learners in the beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels.
They cover a variety of topics, such as pop culture, current events, science, and history. There are also several podcasts devoted to learning English and focusing on grammar and vocabulary.
If you are looking for English learning Mp3’s you should check out the podcasts at Zapp! English. They provide 60 hours of podcasts featuring real English conversations that you can download in Mp3 format.
Zapp offers free downloads and a premium course that you need to pay to download. Their podcasts provide lessons in both American and British English. They cover a variety of topics and also offer lessons in business English.
Podcasts can be a good supplementary material to improve both comprehension and even conversational skills.
The conversations that you will be exposed to by listening to podcasts offer you a way to learn at your own pace in any time or place that is convenient to you. That convenience is their real advantage. So download or subscribe to a few today and start your listening and learning journey.
It's easy to learn English with podcasts. You can listen to them while you're taking a walk, commuting to work or cleaning up. It's usually enough to listen carefully to interesting topics, but if you need extra help with learning, you could try writing down new words. You could also talk to someone about what you listened to and discuss it.
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Podcasts are a great language resource. They can help you improve your listening skills. Some English podcasts offer transcripts so you can work on your comprehension and writing.
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