We are so lucky to have what seems like unlimited amounts of technology and resources to learn languages. There are various websites, apps, of course online tutors and language schools, books, Instagram and social media accounts, and the list goes on. However, podcasts are definitely a resource that all English learners should be using, because these audio files provide so many learning opportunities. What surprises me is that many of my students don’t know about them, or don’t know how to use them to learn English. So are you using podcasts to learn English and improve your skills? How are you using them, and which are your favorites?
Today, let’s review the ways you can improve your English with podcasts.
First of all. . .
What is a podcast?
A podcast is a digital audio file that is available on the Internet for downloading to a computer or mobile device. You can download these files directly to your devices or stream them through websites and apps like iTunes, Stitcher.
You can listen to podcasts anytime and anywhere! Because you can download them onto your personal devices, you can listen at home or on the go, which is really convenient when you are a busy English learner.
There are many different types of Podcasts, in fact check out the many different categories available in the iTunes store. You can search not only by category, but also by the top charts or by name or keywords.
You can find a topic that interests you or is related to your career field. You can educate yourself on a new area while improving English. The options are endless!
What can you learn with a podcast?
There are endless opportunities to improve your language skills with podcasts. The most obvious skill you can improve is your listening comprehension.
Practice listening to people speak English in a variety of accents, and get comfortable with this variety. This includes native speakers from different countries and English learners with thicker accents.
In addition to listening comprehension, you can improve your vocabulary (including idioms/expressions) and grammar.
Pay attention to the sentence structures (grammar) and words (vocabulary) that are used in each episode. Write down sentences that are complex and practice the related grammar, whether it’s a time tense (past, present, future), a conditional, passive, or includes an adjective clause. Always write down new vocabulary words and add them to your daily use when possible.
Podcasts give you the opportunity to improve your speaking skills as well, including pronunciation. Yes, you read that correctly!
As you listen to the podcast, practice repeating what you hear out loud (not silently to yourself). Pay attention to the rhythm and stress used in each episode and how intonation is used to show attitudes and emphasis. Can you catch (*hear and understand*) the linking that happens within sentences? All of these are important pronunciation points and can help improve your speaking skills dramatically. When you finish an episode, talk about it with a friend. This encourages your speaking practice.
Does the podcast have episode notes, an episode guide, or transcripts that you can read and download? If so, then you can improve your reading skills with podcasts, too!
Most podcasts will include episode notes on their blog or website. You can read about the episode and sometimes follow along with the content. Additionally transcripts are also available, which gives you access to read the entire episode script. Use these resources to improve reading skills.
Finally, you can improve your writing skills in English with podcasts as long as you are taking notes while your listen, writing comments after, and engaging with the blog!
All podcast creators want to connect with their audience, so we are all thrilled (*very happy*) when you say hello and tell us your thoughts about the episode. Does the episode include questions for the audience to answer? Is there new vocabulary you can use? What did you think about the episode? Answer these questions on the podcast’s website/blog and practice your writing skills! Additionally, you will improve these skills as you take notes while you listen.
What podcasts are available to learn English?
There are many podcasts available, but if your goal is to improve your English skills, then I recommend a podcast specifically for English learners. ESL podcasts are created with you, a learner, in mind, and every episode has educational content to take away. As I mentioned above you can search for English podcasts by title (see more about English Across the Pond below..) or by keyword. For keywords, I recommend typing in, “ESL podcast” in your search bar, or “learn English“, “TOEFL“, “English idioms” etc…
When you do this, you’ll find podcasts that are related to these words and/or are teaching these exact themes!
I also want to share with you an exciting new podcast that I have created with a fellow colleague from England. Dan and I created this podcast, English Across the Pond, to help learners improve their English skills with a focus on both American and British English.
Every day on our Instagram accounts we get asked about American and British English. Students ask us about the similarities, the differences, what’s more important, etc.. While neither is “more important”, we thought it would be great to give you the opportunity to learn both simultaneously (*at the same time*). So, I’d like to present to you..
English Across the Pond
What will you learn with English Across the Pond?
- With us you will continue to improve your language skills with a focus on British English and American English.
- You will learn some of the similarities and differences in the language and culture.
- You will improve your speaking and pronunciation skills with the review of our accents.
- You will learn new idioms, vocabulary, phrasal verbs and expressions in every episode.
- You will learn how to improve your communicational fluency (learn how to speak better!)
How can you learn with this podcast?
- That’s the easy part: just subscribe and listen wherever/whenever! You can listen in the car on your way to work or school, on the subway/train, while you get ready to go out, when you are drinking your morning coffee or tea…. it is available to you anytime!
- Download the episode guide to follow along with the episode and take notes. All of the episode guides are on the website for each episode: www.englishacrossthepond.com
How can you help support this podcast?
- The best way to support the podcast is to spread the news! Share the podcast with your friends, colleagues, students, teachers, and hey… even strangers! 🙂
- Help us help more people by sharing this podcast with people you know; additionally, you can share it on social media with these easy links:
- You can write a review on iTunes or Stitcher! If you like what you hear, let us and others know and leave a rating and review.
THANK YOU in advance for your support.