I love podcasts-you can almost always find me listening to one while I’m exercising, hanging around the house cooking, or cleaning. They are entertaining, informative, and educational. You can learn something new every single time. There is a podcast for just about any topic you can imagine. Plus, they are great for improving ESL students’ English listening skills.
The good news is there are podcasts for all levels of ESL learners, from beginner to advanced. Among my list of the best podcasts for English learners, find one that interests you and level up your English listening skills.
Improve your English Listening Skills with Podcasts
The best place to find them is in the iTunes store. They’re also usually (99% of the time) free! It’s amazing. Some of the ones I recommend for English learners to help improve their English listening skills are the following. There is a range from beginner to advanced, so you’re sure to find one that works for you.
Best Podcasts for English Learners
Take a look at the list of my favourite podcasts that are great for ESL learners. Let us know if any of these interests you.
Serial: Advanced English Listening
This is the most popular podcast in history, and for good reason. The story is extremely compelling, and it’s hard to stop listening to. I used the Serial Podcast with some of my advanced level students and they were addicted, just like me. They were able to understand most of the dialogue, except for the occasional idiom.
Season one is far better than season two, so start with it first.
Business English Pod: Intermediate-Advanced Listening
If you want to learn business English, check out this popular podcast. The dialogues are made for English learners, but are very realistic. There a ton of activities that go along with each podcast so you can get the most out of each lesson. While there are some paid features, it’s still a really useful site without spending any money. English listening with a focus on business? Love it!
The British Council: All Levels
Search on iTunes or the British Council Website for their podcast. The best thing about these ones is that there is a wide variety of them that are suitable for just about every level from beginner to advanced. While the content is a little bit cheesy at times, it’s not terrible. If you’re a beginner, it might be the best you can do for Podcasts that you’ll be able to understand.
Podcasts in English: All Levels
Check out this website with a nice variety of Podcasts to help you improve your English listening. The podcasts are well organized by level so you should be able to easily find what you’re looking for. The podcasts are surprisingly high quality.
This American Life: Intermediate to Advanced
If you like stories, this is the podcast for you! There are usually three of them, each around 15 minutes and connected by a common theme. Some weeks are more interesting than others, but it’s usually worth listening to. If you’re an EFL/ESL student, you might like this one because there often isn’t a lot of action-it’s just people talking quite slowly.
This podcast has general interest stories about a particular theme. It’s kind of similar to This American Life, but it’s about half the length. If you’re a bit pressed for time but want to listen to something interesting, check this one out.
Slow English: Beginner Listening
Each episode discusses one aspect of life in Australia. One of the best things about using this podcast for English listening practice is that it gives you a chance to work with another accent. Most of the podcasts listed above are American (with the exception of the British Council). The Slow English website has a transcript and vocabulary list for each episode. This can really help you out if you’re new to studying English.
My tip is to listen two or three times without the transcript. Make note of anything you didn’t quite catch, and make a guess about what it is. Then, look at the transcript to figure it out. Don’t listen to the transcript in front of you the first time. It then becomes reading practice (which is often easier) instead of listening practice. Challenge yourself to improve your English listening skills!
Need more English Listening Tips?
If you liked this English listening tip, then you’ll love this book, 71 Ways to Practice English Listening: Tips for ESL/EFL Learners. This tip about using podcasts to improve your listening skills is directly from the book, and there are 70 more tips just like it.
You can easily get the book on Amazon in both digital and print formats. Are you ready to take some action to improve your English listening? If your answer is yes, click the button below to head on over to Amazon to check the book out for yourself. Study the smart way, not the hard way!
FAQs About Podcasts and English Listening Skills
Here are the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about podcasts and improving English listening skills. Hope these help!
What are the best podcasts to listen to improve your English?
Some of the best podcasts for English learners include Serial, Business English Pod, The British Council, Podcasts in English, This American Life, RadioLab, and Slow English.
Can podcasts improve listening skills?
Podcasts are helpful for ESL learners who wish to improve their English listening skills. However, it isn’t so helpful to look at the transcript while listening to the podcast for the first time. Try to listen to the podcast two times without the transcript and check it during the third try.
How do podcasts improve listening skills?
Listening to podcasts force you to concentrate on what you are hearing. Therefore, podcasts can be helpful for ESL learners who want to improve their listening skills. Yet, it is important to focus on listening instead of reading. If you look at the transcript while listening to a podcast, it won’t be as effective as solely listening to it.
The Best Podcasts for English Listening: Join the Conversation
What is your thought on my list of the most helpful English podcasts for ESL learners? What is your English listening level, and which podcast interests you? Will you give it a try listening? Let us know in the comments! We’d love to hear from you.