GET PODCASTING this summer…

AND ALL YEAR ROUND

Listening to English-speaking podcasts is a great way to increase your English level. Playing back parts that you don’t understand and writing down words you don’t recognize will help you expand your vocabulary.

Which podcasts should I listen to?

We are spolit for choice, and luckily there’s something for eveyone and every level. You could being with either the The Learn English Podcast from the British Council or 6-minute English from the BBC. But, look at all the options below and chose something you like and for your level.

At the beginner level, in general, you’ll find that the programs are focused on basic language skills like “Let’s learn English,” “Everyday grammar” and “Words and their stories”.

If you are at an intermediate level, Podcasts cover a wider variety of topics, including health and lifestyle, science, technology, culture, and news, which can be particularly helpful for chatting to friends in English. All podcasts come with a transcript to help you follow along. 

Once you get to the Advanced level it’s time to start listening to more authentic material made for native speakers, such as the BBC and American news. Remember that you can listen to a huge number of radio stations from the UK on the App British Radios, and it’s free!

How do you learn English with a podcast?

All language learning experts and polyglots agree that massive INPUT is essential to increase not only your listening skills but also your vocabulary, grammar, accent, and even speaking!!!!

The more you watch, read and listen, the better your English will get. But, remember to make it a habit. Check out my other Blogs about making learning a habit and creating routines.

Extra tips for Learning on the GO!

  • Take notes of new vocabulary you find interesting. NOT everything.
  • Make sure you create a specific timeslot every day. Make it a habit.
  • For a few minutes repeat what they are saying in real time if you can: this is called SHADOWING.
  • If you can, play and stop and repeat to practice your accent.
  • Learning on the GO means listening to English while you are doing other activities
  • If you don’t understand everything, you can use the subsititles or slow the speech down.

Learn English Podcast from the British Council

The Learn English Podcast is excellent for beginners. It is aimed at  English language learners from A1 to B1 levels and episodes revolve around discussion and cover common everyday situations. Every episode comes with a transcript and a support pack with exercises to test your understanding. There’s even a free app!

Where to listen

Apple Podcasts

Google Podcasts

British Council website

6-Minute English from the BBC

Are you short on time? 6-Minute English fits into even the busiest schedules. No excuses! 6-minute English is a news podcast produced every week and is aimed at intermediate speakers. Each episode comes with a list of vocabulary, a thought-provoking question, and a transcript so you can follow along in case you miss some words or phrases. 

The English here is spoken at a slightly slower speed than usual, making it much easier to understand. In addition, there are hundreds of episodes going back to 2014. Try listening to one six-minute episode per day, and your vocabulary will grow in no time.

Where to listen

Apple Podcasts

Google Podcasts

BBC website

The English We Speak

The English We Speak is produced every week by the BBC. This series is even shorter than 6-Minute English, with episodes only 3 minutes long. Each episode focuses on a different English idiom or expression used in the UK, such as “play a blinder,” “take the biscuit” or “to cut a long story short.”

This podcast is especially interesting if you in the UK or moving there, or just want to gain more natural English. , this program is highly recommended. The vocabulary is a bit more complex

Where to listen

Apple Podcasts

Google Podcasts

BBC website

Global News by the BBC

One final mention for one of the BBC’s many English podcasts. Why not start listening to the news in English? It’s a great way to get more English language exposure into your daily routine. 

New episodes of the BBC’s Global News are published twice a day and report on issues that affect the whole planet. As you might have guessed, this show is beneficial if you would like to learn British English. 

Where to listen

Apple Podcasts

Google Podcasts

BBC website

BUSINESS ENGLISH PODCASTS

Down to Business English is a podcast for people who use English as a Second or Foreign Language (ESL/EFL) in their work environment and are trying to improve their overall language skills.

In each episode, hosts Dez Morgan, Samantha Vega, and Skip Montreux discuss business news making headlines around the world. Through their discussions, they introduce professional vocabulary and phrases, review useful grammar structures, and identify cultural differences that may impact doing business in an international work environment.

Where to listen:

https://downtobusinessenglish.com/category/free-podcast/

SPECIFICALLY AMERICAN PODCASTS

Voice of America: Learning English

If you want to learn American English, then Voice of America: Learning English might be a better choice for you. It’s a clear website that offers different podcasts for beginner, intermediate, and advanced ESL learners.

Where to listen

Apple Podcasts

Google Podcasts

Voice of America website

All Ears English

All Ears English is another great option if you already have an intermediate level of English and want a little more entertainment. All Ears is in American English and is presented by two ESL teachers, Lindsay from Boston and Michelle from New York City.

In very short episodes, they discuss American culture, and explain confusing English expressions in a friendly and fun way. Their motto is “connection not perfection” so expect a focus on everyday English as it is spoken in the real world!

Also, they produce the show with the IELTS in mind, so anyone about to sit the exam will find it especially useful.

Where to listen

Apple Podcasts

Google Podcasts

All Ears English website

Espresso English

The Espresso English podcast is made for beginners and intermediate-level learners. It is presented by Shayna who is the teacher at Espresso English and everything from vocabulary to grammar to pronunciation is covered in the 350+ episodes.

One of the fantastic features of this podcast is the fact that there are so many episodes and they cover many common problems  The shows features American English and they only last 5-10 minutes.

Where to listen

Apple Podcasts

Google Podcasts

Espresso English website

Advanced English podcasts aimed at Native Speakers

If you want to take your English to a really proficiency / near-native level, then you need to start listening to authentic material for native speakers. Here are a few suggestions for podcasts in this category.

The Joe Rogan Experience

The Joe Rogan Experience is one of the biggest podcasts globally, and in 2020, the show signed an exclusive deal with Spotify worth a reported $100 million. His podcasts with interviews are aimed at native speakers, and has a huge range of tòpics in over 1,660 episodes with subjects ranging from comedy and science to politics and sports.

You can also watch and listen to his show on YouTube.

Where to listen

Apple Podcasts

Google Podcasts

Youtube

Spotify

This American Life

This American Life is a great choice for English learners who want an insight into the culture of the USA. It is a mixture of journalism and storytelling, focusing on real-life tales from citizens of all regions of the country. The stories are varied and original. One episode was taped for 24 hours in an all-night restaurant; another interviewed students at a high school which experienced a mass shooting. It has won a host of awards and is consistently rated among the most popular in the US. 

Where to listen

Apple Podcasts

Google Podcasts

This American Life Website

THE LEARNABILITY SHOW by IAN GIBBS

A great show to listen to for teachers, trainers and learners. You can find out how to learn in general while improving your English. A win win! 45 minutes per episode.

Where to listen:

SPOTIFY

https://open.spotify.com/show/7DHnKutoRi6ixnJvylHcoA

Overheard at National Geographic

National Geographic is a very popular American magazine (and TV channel) famous for incredible stories and photography related to science and the environment. 

Overheard is about the discussions Nat Geo employees have had while taking breaks. Expect crazy stories from explorers, photographers, and scientists from around the world. 

Episodes last around twenty minutes, It’s perfect if you want to be amazed at the strangeness of our planet. 

Where to listen

Apple Podcasts

Google Podcasts

Youtube

National Geographic website

NO SUCH THING AS FISH

When learning any new language, some people say that jokes and humour are the hardest thing to understand. Yep, it’s not easy.

 But try this British podcast where Each week Dan, James, Anna and Andy discuss their favourite facts unearthed in the past seven days. ​

New episode every Friday from 2pm

website:

Where to listen

Apple Podcasts

https://www.nosuchthingasafish.com/

TO SUM UP

I hope this has inspired you to add more English to your life. Even if you take classes, they are never enough to get you quickly to the next level. There is no substitute for exposure to a language, so get exposing yourself TODAY!!

Let me know in the comments which podcasts you listen to.

STOP WASTING YOUR LIFE READING and LISTENING TO IRRELEVANT NEWS: And change the language

Throughout most of my adult life I’ve loved listening to the news in the morning during breakfast or travelling to work in the car. I would put on the radio and find a news channel to get up to date with the latest goings-on in the world.

I’ve also got even more excited about sitting down on Sunday mornings and reading through the entire Sunday paper while dipping different pastries in my coffee with a smile on my face.

Then, with the news on my smartphone, I was soon disappearing head first down rabbit holes in Germany and the floods in some region I couldn’t pronounce or locate, and then appearing again on the island of Kiribati, where I discovered it’s going to be the first nation in the world to disappear under the ocean.   

However, one day while watching another video, this time about successful people, one of the common themes was “I don’t listen to or read the news.” At first, I thought it was just part of an eccentric personality and just one of a millionaire businessperson’s habits, such as getting up at 3am, working out at 5am and then having a Sirtfood breakfast before driving to work in their Tesla.

But no; it seems that it’s a pretty common theme with most very successful people. Before I continue, and before you object, let’s rule out reading and listening to news that you need for your work. For example, economic and stock market news for people working in finance.

So, I decided to stop reading or listening to the news, deleting my favourite news App on my phone and decided to see what would happen. At most, I was basically reading the main headlines for the day in a couple of minutes and then moving on. The strategy was to be highly selective, and not go into an irrelevant depth of knowledge that was absurd. And it worked. Nothing changed in my life except my increased productivity and feeling less stressed!

Why is knowing about what’s going on in the world a waste of time? Knowing about how the war in Ukraine is advancing can seem like a useful and even humanitarian thing to be up to date with. However, any more than reading a brief headline is irrelevant unless you are directly involved in the conflict.

As humans, we seem to have a natural desire and love of gossip and finding out about things in general. Put bluntly, we have a morbid curiosity to discover things in more detail than we need. Sadly, we don’t discriminate.

As an example, think about the evening news in two ways.

1)the piece of news

2) the details of the piece of news

How much of the news do you even need to know about? For example, there’s a forest fire in another remote part of your country, another country or even continent. It’s irrelevant. In fact, there are fires all the time, and you don’t even know about them. And, you don’t ‘need’ to know.

The theft of cars has gone up in another part of the country, there was a train cash in another part of the world, there was a terrorist attack in the Middle East, a train was derailed in the UK due to high temperatures. A swimmer was chased by a shark and a man bit a dog. You could spend the rest of your life just reading about other people’s lives and random events that have nothing to do with you.

What about the weather? A good example of how ridiculous the ‘News’ has become is the Weather on TV1 Spain, that must last at least 10 minutes and gives you a detailed analysis of every province of Spain and its islands. Even if you didn’t have Google weather, you could find out the weather in your location in 20 seconds. But you feel compelled to ‘finish’ the news and sit through and later discuss the bad weather they’re having in a location a 1000kms from where you live. I could go on.

You’re wasting your time, you’re wasting your valuable life and your productivity is zero.

 Yes, but it’s my relaxation time!!! I really enjoy listening to the news and the detailed analysis of the irrelevant item while driving to work.

The question boils down to one key point; what else should you or could you be doing with your time?

If you can’t think of anything better to do in your life, then it’s time you found something!! But that’s the subject of another article.

For me, the only useful thing about the news is to practise and learn a new language. If you’re learning French, and you’re going to listen to irrelevant news anyway, why not tune in and find out about the metro strike in Paris, the melting snow caps in the Alps and how it’s affecting livelihoods there, and then move on to  residents’ opinions on the extreme temperatures on the French Riviera?

Did you know that regular exposure to a language is one of the most important ways you can boost your learning? And on many news channels, the news is repeated every 15 or 30 minutes. Perfect for a language learner. Useless for everyone else.

So, if you still feel impelled to find out about a load of information that wastes your time and adds nothing to your life, then at least do so in another language. In that way you’ll be using your time productively and can kill two birds with one stone, or faire d’une pierre deux coups or even matar a dos pájaros de un tiro.