Using Podcasts for Improving English
Podcasts – Why you should be using them to improve your English and how.
We recommend that all students enrolled in our English pronunciation courses use podcasts. Why? Find out below, subscribe to a podcast, listen regularly, use it to develop your English fluency and experience the improvement it brings!
What is a podcast
Podcasts are like radio shows that you can listen to or download from your phone. There are thousands of podcasts on just about every topic. Podcasts are a fantastic tool for improving your English. Use them to improve your listening skills, vocabulary, understanding of English expressions, fluency and pronunciation. Yes! You can use podcasts to improve your spoken English too! See below on how to use podcasts to improve fluency and pronunciation.
Why you should be using Podcasts
Podcasts are accessible and FREE. With podcasts you can turn unproductive time into productive time! For example, listen to them while you travel, listen to the while you clean the house, listen to them while you are at the gym. Time that you would not have been improving your English – is now time spent improving your English. It’s a WIN WIN WIN : )
Setting Up a Podcast
Start Listening to Podcasts
Find some great podcasts to start with below. There are thousands of podcasts on every topic imaginable. Search the topic you would like in google to find more. eg ‘organic gardening + podcast’, ‘nursing + podcast’, ‘electrical engineering + podcast) etc
BBC English Podcast – 6 Minute English: Fun, short podcast on a wide range of topics.
BBC English Podcast – 6 Minute Vocabulary: Every week, we look at a different everyday English phrase or piece of slang in this fun three-minute programme.
JJJ Hack Podcast. Awesome current affairs program for young people living in Australia. Great to ‘brush up’ on small talk topics and vocabulary.
More Australian Podcasts: these are a variety of podcasts brought out by the ABC.
This American Life Podcast: Each week they choose a theme and put together different kinds of stories on that theme.
Here’s the Thing Podcast: Actor Alec Baldwin brings listeners into the lives of artists, policy makers and performers.
Radiolab: A fun, conversational podcast that explores history, nature, science and philosophy. My personal favourite : )
Using Podcasts to Improve Your English
Improving Listening Skills with Podcasts
Podcasts are fantastic to use to improve your listening skills because they are audio only. A lot of my students are very visual learners – they rely on visual cues. When they watch videos they often rely on visual cues. Podcasts boost their listening skills because they are forced to use their ears! You’ll be exposed to different English accents and a range of styles of English. You’ll hear lots of English expressions.
The beauty is that unlike radio, you can pause if you didn’t catch something and listen to it again. Actually I highly recommend you listen to the same podcast more than once. Each time you listen you’ll strengthen your skills and pick up more. And as you’ll read below – listening more than once is helpful for pronunciation skills too.
In podcast you’ll hear lots of English expressions. You don’t have to use English expressions, but it is very important that you understand them! We use them all the time, in casual and professional interactions.
Listening to podcasts will also improve your skills at understanding a range of different English accents. In most workplaces, you’ll need to be able to understand people from many different backgrounds, English speaking and non-English speaking. Listening to podcasts are an excellent way to build these skills and tune your ears in to different English speaking styles.
Improving Fluency with Podcasts
To improve your fluency listen to the podcast for 10 minutes. Then pause the podcast and spend 10 minutes describing it out loud in as much detail as possible.
Speaking out loud to yourself is an excellent way to improve your fluency. Watch our video on Improving your English fluency. This will improve your vocabulary and is excellent preparation for IELTS, OET, PTE and other English Proficiency Exams.
See our video on 1 Daily Habit to Fantastic English Fluency. It is one of the videos at the bottom of this page.
Each podcast will cover a wide range of vocabulary. Some of the words used might be new for you or they might be words that you know the meaning of, but you wouldn’t often use when speaking. When you describe the podcast out loud, use as many of the words from the podcast. This will help you build your speaking vocabulary.
Start listening and START SPEAKING! If you do this everyday, with the use of the podcast, your English speaking fluency will really improve.
Improving English Pronunciation skills with Podcasts
The first time we listen to something we listen to meaning. To listen to the pronunciation of the speaker – so aspects such as word stress, vowel sounds, linking etc it helps to listen to the same podcast 2 or 3 times. Each time you listen you will get better at hearing pronunciation elements such as these.
Let’s look at the most important area of pronunciation. The area that most learners find really challenging. That is the stress and rhythm of English.
Word Stress & Emphasis:
Do you feel like your English is sometimes flat and a little uninteresting to listen to? Maybe you’re not confident with where the stress should be in some English words? Many non-native English speakers feel like this. It’s because they haven’t mastered using stress and rhythm in English. For many people, this does negatively affect how clear their English is to listeners, especially when there is background noise.
Want to know more about How To Improve Word Stress In English? Visit that page to record your own speech and practice and improve your stress and rhythm in English. You’ll find out more about word stress and why it’s essential for clear, engaging spoken English.
After practising at the page above on Word Stress, you’ll be able to hear the pitch and tone in multi-syllable English words. Focus on this next time you listen to a podcast in English. It may take some practice, but after a week or so, of focusing on the pitch and rhythm, you’ll be better at picking up the correct word stress and rhythms of English. It’s the music of English! Podcasts are a fantastic tool for improving your word stress.
So, get into Podcasts! Once you start you’ll be totally converted, in other words, you’ll love them!
If you haven’t already, make sure you sign up to our Free English Pronunciation Short Course.
Free Pronunciation Starter Course
5 emails – start today
Key areas of difficulty for speakers of your first language
Record a clear and professional voicemail greeting
How problems with your pronunciation affect clarity
Improve your word stress, emphasis & rhythm in English
Improve some key vowel sounds that are important for clear English
Correct many commonly mispronounced words
Tips on how to improve your pronunciation and fluency in your day to day life
And lots more...
For other helpful tips and free resources:
Improve with our English Pronunciation videos on our Youtube channel and English Pronunciation tips on Facebook.
Start improving and learn clear English today with our tailored English pronunciation courses.
Using Podcasts for Improving English
Georgie Harding has assisted thousands of people from all over the world with improving their clarity and spoken English skills. A Speech Pathology degree (BAppSc(SpPath) and CELTA qualifications and over 15 years of experience providing 1:1, group and online training make Georgie a leader in her field.
Georgie is the creator the world’s leading English Pronunciation online courses that are tailored to the language background of the student and presents regularly at Universities.
If you’ve ever met Georgie or completed her award winning courses you’ll know how passionate she is about helping people move forward with better spoken English and more confidence.