Podcasts are a great way to learn English. Not only can you hear real English conversations, so you can tell how words are pronounced, but you can listen to them anywhere, and pause or rewind them whenever you like — you can really learn your way! Here are 5 podcasts to help you improve your English.
1. Podcasts in English
Podcasts in English features conversations between real English speakers on a variety of topics, with lessons divided by language level and type: Level 1 (basic), Level 2 (intermediate) Level 3 (advanced) and Business English.
Episodes are between 3 and 5 minutes long, so they’re ideal for when you have only a few minutes to spare. Plus, there are lots of extra resources available, like transcripts, vocabulary tasks and worksheets with sample questions and answers.
2. The English We Speak
Have you ever wondered what it means to “have skeletons in your closet”, or to “pull the wool over someone’s eyes”? Well, this podcast is here to tell you! While text books and other learning tools often teach you a very formal way of speaking, The English We Speak aims to get you talking more like a local by focussing on everyday expressions and slang words.
The presenters speak slightly slower than in normal conversation, making it easier for you understand, and at 3–4 minutes long, the lessons are easy to fit into your schedule. Plus, this series comes from the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) — one of the most well-respected British institutions!
3. ESL Pod
ESL Pod is a fantastic resource for anyone who wants to improve their English. Not only is there a library of more than 900 episodes to download, but the 2 hosts both have PhDs in Applied Linguistics, so they really are experts! Part of each episode features dialogue acted out between 2 characters, while the rest of the episode picks out the key words from the conversation, explaining their meaning and how they should be used.
Conversations are at about half of normal speed, so they’re very easy to follow, and each episode is accompanied by a learning guide.
4. Better at English
Once you’re ready to listen to conversations at full speed, Better at English is a brilliant choice. Aimed at intermediate-level learners, the episodes cover a range of interesting topics, featuring everything from serious debates to fun, silly chats. Listening will help you familiarise yourself with the rhythm and pace of the English language, and learn some of the common expressions that native speakers use, too.
Alongside each episode you’ll be able to download a transcript of all the conversations as well as some vocabulary notes, so you can put what you’ve learnt into practice.
5. Voice of America Learning English
The UK is far from the only country where English is the native language — in fact it’s spoken all over the world! The Voice of America Learning English podcast is particularly helpful for people planning to live or study in North America, for example, in Canada or the USA. You’ll find lessons on the history of America and American culture, as well as news programmes and science documentaries, so you can improve your English and your knowledge of a wide range of subjects!
With so much variety, you’re sure to never get bored with this podcast, and you’ll learn about American English expressions and idioms, and how they differ from British English too.
And finally… anything that interests you!
Podcasts that are specifically aimed at language learning are very helpful for improving you English, but simply listening to something that you enjoy and find engaging can be hugely beneficial. If you are interested in what you’re listening to, you are more likely to pay attention to new words or phrases, so why not subscribe to a podcast on a topic you enjoy?
Some podcasts that are very popular include This American Life, in which people tell stories based around a different theme every week, and Serial, which is a true crime series. Another fun series is Stuff You Should Know, which explains how different things work, including everything from popular toys to the solar system!
And, if you’re interested in learning about race and equality in the UK, then you should check out our list of 6 podcasts to listen to in Black History Month (and beyond).
Improve your English with a pathway course
If you’d like to study a degree in the UK or USA but don’t meet the entry requirements, a pathway course with Kaplan can help. A pathway course, also known as a preparation course, often includes academic preparation and English language support, and can help you improve your English language level.
Explore the links below to find out more!