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Learn English with these 11 free podcasts

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We’re living in a digital era; at a time when everything from ordering groceries to learning new skills is highly accessible and convenient. This is especially true for language learning. Now you can improve your English with just a couple of taps – all you need is your phone, laptop or computer, and good internet connection.

Whether you’re jogging or commuting, podcasts are a great way to get a better grasp of any foreign language. They’re the perfect way to complement your language classes and pick up some new vocabulary during your commute or workout. To get you started, we’ve rounded up 11 of the best podcasts for English learners of all levels.

Elementary-level podcasts

Learn English
Let’s start withLearn English – a fantastic podcast from the British Council. The episodes are discussion-based and cover everyday vocabulary and situations. What’s more, “Learn English” offers a wealth of free support material. Not only can you download each episode’s transcript, but you can also take short quizzes to test your recently acquired knowledge. It’s the best way to retain all those new words and make lightning-fast progress.

Voice of America
Do you want to improve your English while listening to current and interesting topics? Then, Voice of America: Learning English is for you. This information service has different kinds of audio programs that are narrated at slower than normal English speed. What’s more, each program caters to different interests. The “American Mosaic” program discusses pop culture in the United States – like the new movies, for example. Meanwhile, history buffs will enjoy “The Making of a Nation”, which talks about U.S. history. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg: additional programs focus on science and even grammar – so not only will you learn English, but you’ll get super smart, too!

Espresso English
With simple, clear and practical lessons, Espresso English is a fun yet effective way to pick up a little bit of English every day, whenever it suits you. Each lesson is only 5 – 10 minutes long and designed to teach you a lot in a short space of time. You’ll learn English grammar, vocabulary, phrases, idioms, and more in no time!

Intermediate-level podcasts

6 Minute English
Withits 6 Minute English podcast, the BBC has managed to create a fun way to learn English. The episodes are based on everyday situations and feature a discussion between two people, Nick and Alice. The topics are so entertaining – addressing questions like “Are bears back to stay?” or “How much is your spouse worth?” – you’ll forget you’re learning English. Plus, each episode has a transcript and a vocabulary list with definitions.

Podcasts in English
Podcasts in English is remarkable if only for its sheer variety. Indeed, the website offers a wealth of podcasts for every level. What’s more, the episodes are quite short –normally under 5 minutes – perfect for those pressed for time. They also address entertaining topics, which include such gems as “10 remarkable facts about the world cup” to “planking,” and there’s a wide range of quality support material.

Culips ESL Podcast
This one has something for everyone with over 600 episodes covering every level. Culips ESL Podcast features seven brilliant series with topics such as “Chatterbox”, aimed at helping you to get used to English conversations at normal speed as they interview someone with an interesting story to tell. While “Speak Easy” teaches you how to perfect your accent and speak in clear and comprehensible English. Culips also offer free, downloadable study guide samples!

Advanced-level podcasts

The English We Speak
InThe English We Speak, the BBC focuses on idioms and expressions – one of the final steps in mastering the language. The podcast features a light conversation between two people who take up one fun and popular idiom every week. One of my favorite episodes focused on expressions like “eye candy” and “sweet tooth.” And the best part? You’ll hear idioms used in context, which is the best way to pick up new vocabulary and polish your English.

Splendid Speaking
Perfect your language learning by listening to Splendid Speaking’s fascinating podcasts. Designed to support advanced learners with reasonably good English communication skills, each lesson features interviews and discussions with non-native English language speakers, who carry out short tasks or give presentations. The recordings then include expert feedback on their performance. It’s a very instructive and helpful way to learn as you listen in and hear how other learners are grappling with the language, and then learn from their mistakes alongside them!

All Ears English Podcast
Lindsay and Michelle’s approach to language learning is “Connection not perfection”. They aim to help you relax, have fun, and learn real, natural American English in their All Ears English Podcast for intermediate to advanced English learners around the world. In their 10 – 15 minute lessons, the two cheerful and very motivating Americans discuss and share tips on how to use everyday English vocabulary and idioms, expressions, and phrasal verbs, and how to make small talk in American English. They also offer useful tips on American culture, customs and etiquette.

Luke’s English Podcast
Fancy a laugh while you learn? Then look no further than Luke’s English Podcast. Luke is a qualified English teacher from London with 18 years teaching experience. Oh, and he’s a stand-up comedian! Luke’s multi award-winning podcast offers an insightful learning resource, with over 600 audio episodes, transcripts, and videos, including a special series on phrasal verbs – all of which aim to make you laugh while you learn. Episodes cover topics such as “Quintessentially British Things”, “British Comedy” and “British Music” – so you’ll learn a lot about life in Britain too, including a solid introduction to good old British humor!

This American Life
This American Life is a weekly public radio program and podcast, featuring compelling, funny and often very surprising stories with intriguing plots – little movies for radio, as they call them.

Each week they choose a different theme and curate stories based around it. The focus isn’t specifically on English language learning here, instead This American Life offers a great opportunity for English learners to get used to different regional American accents, while listening to unusual and interesting real-life stories from around the country – you’ll be hooked from the first story!

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