English- language podcasts are a great way to accelerate a student’s listening, comprehension and speaking abilities. They are convenient and portable: students can download them onto an MP3 player and listen to them anytime and anywhere.
There are several good ESOL podcasts on the Internet. Some target beginners while others are intermediate, advanced, or aimed at a specific audience, such as business professionals or academics. What they all do is present a solid teaching format and offer guidance.
Below is a list of the more popular podcasts, along with descriptions of their intended audience, level of difficulty, and key features.
The English We Speak
Hosted by the BBC, this English learning series focuses on phrases and slang used in daily conversations. The podcasts are published on a weekly basis, and each one lasts no more than four minutes. Students can listen to native English speakers talking at a speed that is easy to follow, with typical format involving two presenters having a normal conversation with each other.
Web address: http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/tae
Podcasts in English
This fun and dynamic website has podcasts for beginners, intermediates, and advanced learners. There are even special audio files for those who need to learn proper business English. Each short lesson features a conversation between two English speakers who talk about a variety of subjects: sports, Facebook, shopping, etc. Students can access the podcasts for free, but if they want to obtain the supplementary materials such as worksheets, vocabulary lessons, and transcripts, they require a paid membership.
Web address: http://www.podcastsinenglish.com/index.shtml
Listen to English
This website and its podcast series are very popular with ESOL students, and it’s easy to see why. Each episode features a host speaking on a variety of subjects (school dinners, carrying a dog on an escalator) for several minutes, using clear English that is easy to follow. All lessons are accompanied by a full transcript with links to vocabulary and grammar notes.
Web address: http://www.listen-to-english.com/
Elementary Podcasts by the British Council
These popular podcasts are aimed at beginning and intermediate learners. Unlike other lessons, these ones are up to twenty minutes long, but they are engaging and hold listener interest. Different scenarios are acted out using dialogue and there are broader discussions of some topics. Each lesson is accompanied by material that the student can read in advance in order to make the most out of each session.
The Splendid Speaking podcast series is designed for the advanced English language learner. Each lesson consists of discussions and interviews with non-native English speakers, and includes detailed feedback about each person’s performance. This is a unique approach that allows students to hear how other ESOL learners are absorbing the language.
Web address: http://www.splendid-speaking.com/
Better at English
Better at English is an interesting assortment of English-language podcasts. The host and participants are clearly having fun in their respective roles as they cover topics that can be serious or lighthearted. In terms of difficulty, it is suitable for either the intermediate ESOL student or the beginner who doesn’t mind a challenge.
Web address: http://www.betteratenglish.com/
Business English Pod
This podcast series is a perfect primer for ESOL students who want to enter the world of business in the UK and other English-speaking countries, as it immerses the listener in both the language and the conventions of the business sector. Each lesson consists of the host speaking for a few minutes on a certain topic. All podcasts include quizzes, vocabulary guidance, and transcripts to ensure that the student gets the most out of the lesson.
Web address: http://www.businessenglishpod.com/
When it comes to learning English, podcasts are a definite asset. They can be downloaded and listened to again and again, ensuring that the student receives the full benefit of all recorded lessons.