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15 Best Podcasts to Learn English

Looking for ways to improving your listening comprehension? Podcasts can really help! The following list includes some of the best podcasts to learn English from around the internet.

What’s in it: English Class 101 has over 1,600 podcasts available in levels starting from absolute beginner right through to advanced learner. Every podcast is culturally relevant, usually starting out with the hosts acting out a scene. The scene then gets repeated at a slower speed.

Level: From Beginner to Advanced Level

Duration:1–10 minutes

Price: Free for listening but has three levels of monthly subscriptions giving access to learning resources available, starting at $8 per month

What’s in it: VOA News offers podcasts with stories that show the lives of young Americans. Beginner lessons are shorter and the words are spoken slower with simpler English vocabulary than the intermediate lessons. 

Level: From Beginner and Intermediate

Duration: 1–10 minutes

Price: Free

What’s in it: For anyone who deals in business with English speaking countries, this website is the ideal place to get immersed in the language and conventions of English business.

Each podcast is spoken at around ¾ normal speed, is easy to follow, with perfect clear diction. Alongside the podcast each lesson module also comes with transcripts and a breakdown, which works through the podcast giving the reader opportunities to practice their boardroom conversations.

Level: Intermediate to Advanced business learners

Duration: 20–25 minutes

Price: Free to listen. Membership starts from $80 for six months and gives access to further resources

What’s in it: Culips has four different types of podcasts available. The Simplified Speech episodes have the hosts speak slowly and clearly while having everyday conversations, The Chatterbox episodes see the host interviewing someone with an interesting story to tell, these are at normal speed, but the speech is still very clear with good diction. The Catchword episodes concentrate on phrases, idioms, interesting vocabulary and common slang used in English speaking countries, and Real Talk episodes concentrates on practical expressions for everyday situations, such as complaining in a restaurant and saying no.

Level: Beginner to Pre-Intermediate

Duration: 15–20 minutes

Price: Sample podcasts available free. Membership starts from $70 for six months and gives you access to the accompanying learning materials.

What’s in it: Although the podcasts haven’t been updated for a few years, the website still has a lot of good quality episodes that are useful for ESL learners. The beginner lessons are simple dialogue between two or more people and the short conversation is repeated slower, and then slower again, so learners can practice their pronunciation. The intermediate lessons are all spoken at natural speed and have practice dialogue at the end.

Level: Beginner to Intermediate

Duration: 1–5 minutes

Price: Free

What’s in it: There is a huge variety in the settings and a wide range of everyday topics covered in these podcasts. There is also a series aimed at those learners who will need to use English in a business setting.

Level: Beginner, Intermediate, Upper-Intermediate

duration: 2–5 minutes

Price: Free to listen, membership starts from €19 ($23) for 3 months to gain access to learning resources

What’s in it: These short podcasts are based around current news stories from around the world. Each level of difficulty is offered at five speeds, from slowest to normal speed, and most stories are offered over a few different levels with each level being slightly longer with more complex vocabulary than the one before.

Level: Elementary through to Upper-Intermediate

Duration: 1–3 minutes

Price: Free

What’s in it: ESLPod has a huge collection of over 1800 podcast with accompanying 8–10-page learning guides. The lessons are broken up into ‘Daily English’ lessons, which cover topics such as business, family, daily life and money, as well as ‘Cultural English’, which covers topics of American culture such as popular movies and books, presidents, politics and history, holidays and festivals.

Level: Intermediate to Advanced

Duration: 20–30 minutes

Price: Subscriptions start from $15 per month

What’s in it: Created by the British Council and aimed at beginner to intermediate learners, the hosts of these podcasts take the listener through a variety of everyday scenarios with clear, well-spoken dialogue and everyone is lively, upbeat and engaging. There are also broader discussions about some of the topics raised in each lesson.

Level: Beginner through Upper-Intermediate

Duration: 10–30 minutes

Price: Free

What’s in it: There are four different series of podcasts available from Quality Time. Most are free, some are available at a small cost. The Essential English series is more suited to absolute beginners and has exercises for those with little or no English skills. The other three series are made up of interactive exercises concentrating on oral grammar and building vocabulary.

Level: Absolute Beginner through to Advanced

Duration: Approximately 10 minutes

Price: Free to listen, resources available at a small cost

 These next five podcasts are suited to more confident learners who want to challenge themselves by listening to naturally spoken English with a more varied vocabulary.

What’s in it: Luke is an English teacher and has been producing these award-winning podcasts from his flat since 2009. They are spoken at normal speed, British English, but are clear and easy to understand. Luke’s aim for these podcasts is to help people learn English while also having a laugh while they learn.

Level: Advanced

Duration: 1 hour +

Price: Free

What’s in it: The most popular podcast in the United States, This American Life provides a great opportunity for English learners to get accustomed to regional American accents while listening to unusual and interesting real-life stories from around the United States. Each episode is themed, with previous episodes that have included themes such as ‘Back to School’ and ‘Words You Can’t Say’.

Level: Advanced

Duration: 1 hour +

Price: Free

What’s in it: These podcasts are uploaded twice daily and cover current news stories from around the globe. Being produced by the BBC, these podcasts are guaranteed to be some of the best in English available to listen to online. The presenters are always well-spoken and easy to understand.

Level: Advanced

Duration: 30 minutes +

Price: Free

What’s in it: These podcasts consist mostly of real natural speed conversations between two native English speakers. There are a variety of accents, slang words and idioms to be found throughout. There are also occasional podcasts where Lori, the creator and website owner, reads articles from the website and shares her views.

Level: Intermediate to Advanced

Duration: 5 minutes

Price: Free

What’s in it: Created by the BBC, these short episodes concentrate on a single everyday English phrase or slang word that can often be confusing to non-native English speakers. The episodes are uploaded weekly.

Level: Upper-Intermediate to Advanced

Duration: 3 minutes

Price: Free

As you can see there is a huge variety of podcasts to learn English available online, there really is something suitable for everyone!

About the Author Charity Johnson

Charity Johnson is a third sector worker and former secondary teacher based in the Scottish Isles. Her blog, Archipelagal, is the (re)telling of her geographical and ideological whereabouts.

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