One of the most complicated parts of learning a new language is developing your listening skills. You might be acing all your tests and reading like a pro, but out in the real world, can you participate in conversation at a dinner party or follow along during a business meeting? Listening is one of those skills best developed in full immersion, but as that isn’t always possible, we have the next best thing. Check out the best podcasts to practise English – all you need are headphones!
Best English podcasts for beginners
If you’re just starting out on your English-learning journey, the best types of podcasts for you are those that focus on the language itself. A nice one to start with is podcastsinenglish.com, where the podcasts for beginners are just around 3 minutes long on a wide range of topics. You can listen for free, or download the transcript, worksheets and vocabulary for a small monthly membership fee.
Another excellent option comes from the British Council. Their LearnEnglish Podcasts are great because the podcast hosts speak especially slowly and clearly. You can also follow along with the transcript and answer interactive questions online, or just download the podcast from the Apple store or Google Play.
The BBC, on the other hand, has a podcast called The English We Speak, which teaches modern expressions and slang that you’ll hear in everyday conversation. Just keep in mind that the majority of these expressions are British English only.
Best English podcasts for intermediates
Turning back to the BBC, their fantastic 6 Minute English podcast is one of the best podcasts to practise English for intermediates! Hosts discuss fun topics like the smell of coffee, posting pictures of your food on social media and fairy tales for adults. As it’s only 6 minutes long, you can play it more than once if you don’t understand everything on the first listen.
For an intermediate podcast with an American accent, try the Voice of America Learning English podcast. Grouped by topic like Arts & Culture, Science & Technology and What’s Trending Now, you can listen to podcasts with titles like “Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ Becomes Most-Streamed Song of 20th Century” or “Can Artificial Intelligence Make Doctors Better?” You’ll love the slow, deliberate pronunciation, which makes for easy listening.
Best English podcasts for advanced
Leaving behind the podcasts geared towards the learning of English, now we’ll look at some of the best podcasts in English.
Interested in world news? You can’t do much better than the BBC’s Global News podcast. Love literature? Try Selected Shorts, a weekly podcast featuring short stories read by celebrities live on stage. If you’re into true crime, check out the podcast that started the boom, season one of the Serial podcast, which follows a cold case and all of its twists and turns. Then there’s the most popular podcast in the USA, This American Life, which focuses on a different theme each week and tells the stories of real Americans in surprising, tragic or uplifting situations. For fans of TED Talks or anyone who loves learning something new or listening to motivational speeches, try downloading their podcast, TED Talks Daily, wherever you get your podcasts.
Now that you know the best podcasts to practise English, download a few to listen to on your way to work or school, as you’re cooking dinner at night or when you’re getting ready in the morning. You’ll be amazed at how quickly your listening skills improve!