I often ask my students what they struggle with most when they are learning English, and more often than not, the answer is: listening!
There are many ways in which a learner can improve their listening skills, such as watching TV series and films in English, finding a language exchange partner and listening to songs in English, but not many students realise how podcasts can be an effective to hone in on their listening skills, and have fun at the same time.
Podcasts are a brilliant and entertaining way of improving one’s listening skills. They expose the listener to native and non-native English: to different dialects, pronunciation and intonation. They help learners build their vocabulary, and they help them understand native speakers, even when they speak quickly.
In recent years, podcasts have become more and more popular. As a matter of fact, you can find a podcast on almost any topic on the Net, from food, drinks and music, to politics, comedy and weird stuff. What’s more, podcasts are widely accessible and often free. You can listen to them on your phone, computer or laptop and, more importantly, you can listen to them anywhere and everywhere: at home, whilst commuting to work or school, in your car, or even at the gym.
Now you might be thinking that the language of podcasts might be too difficult for you. The great thing about podcasts is that many of them are now available with transcripts so you can check whether you have understood or read while you listen, and quite a lot of the English learning podcasts are accompanied by tasks and worksheets to help you improve and advance your level. Brilliant, isn’t it?
How to make full use of podcasts:
- Choose a podcast you might be interested in.
- Read the summary to understand whether it tickles your fancy.
- Predict 10 words and 5 expressions that you imagine might appear in the podcast.
- Listen and check whether you were correct
Another tip for making full use of podcasts is to:
- Choose your topic.
- Do some research on the topic and make notes.
- Listen to a podcast on your chosen topic to check if they mention any of the information you have researched.
Best Podcasts to improve you English and have fun doing so:
An excellent site where you can choose which podcast to listen to according to level. Most Podcasts are accompanied by worksheets, tapescripts, and vocabulary tasks. The easiest and most comprehensive way of improving your listening skills!
The English we speak Podcasts
This website allows you to download short podcasts which focus on short natural English expressions or idioms. A fun way of learning expressions in context!
English Class 101
Learn English with fun, interesting and culturally relevant lessons that are easy to listen to.
Free lifetime account where you can access audio and video lessons on-the-go, as well as a variety of podcasts and vocabulary learning tools. App available for your phone or tablet.
Learn English Podcasts
Learn English by listening to graded audio podcasts. Each podcast is accompanied by a variety of language tasks and worksheets to help you improve your English language skills and your level.
A wonderful site where you can listen to IELTS experts give you tips and advice on how to complete IELTS exam tasks.
Down to Business
These podcasts deal with recent international news headlines, and is a great resource for learners who want to improve their listening skills while keeping up to date with the latest local and international business trends.
Ted talks daily
Ted Talks offers its latest thought-provoking talks in audio format here at itunes.apple.com
A great opportunity to learn as you develop your listening skills.
And for a couple of funny comedy podcasts try these:
Marc Maron’s Podcast
Comedian Marc Maron interviewing Barack Obama (USA).
Two hilarious radio hosts Adam and Joe (UK).