ESL Resources

Podcasts are an excellent resource for developing bottom-up listening skills. Below are links to different English learning postcasts with their corresponding difficulty levels.

  • British Council – Big City, Small World (Elementary – Intermediate)
    Big City, Small World is a soap-opera style podcast. Each listening section is about 6 minutes or so long and has a transcript and vocabulary guide. If you have 15 minutes or so one night, I’d recommend doing the vocabulary, listening and assorted tasks for the first series and see how it goes.
  • A Cup of English (Elementary – Pre-Intermediate)
    An English woman living in the US. It’s basically her telling random stories and explaining a few constructions and vocabulary afterwards. Speaks slowly. Very good for weak listeners.
  • Voice of America in Special English (Pre-Intermediate – Intermediate)
    Voice of America in Special English is the news, with articles and audio, written specifically for students of English. They use simple constructions and vocabulary as well as audio read slowly for better comprehension.
  • BBC – Six Minute English (Pre-Intermediate – Upper-Intermediate)
    6 Minute English is a BBC sponsored podcast which is, you guessed it, only 6 minutes in length and has a transcript of every audio, so you can read along or listen and then clarify uncertainties later on. There are a variety of topics and these are updated quite regularly.
  • The English Teacher Melanie (Intermediate – Upper-Intermediate)
    A woman tells stories, has a pronunciation guide, and a bunch of other nonsense. Only a few episodes, but still useful.
  • British Councils – Professional Podcasts (Intermediate – Upper- Intermediate) Professional Podcasts are short podcasts on a variety of topics (from medical to business) and are only a few minutes in length. Like Big City, Small World, this is a podcast sponsored by the British Council, so it’s free and they have additional learning resources for each section (vocab, questions, etc).
  • Better at English (Upper-Intermediate)
    This is good. This is great, actually. Most podcasts are under 10 minutes in length (from what I’ve seen), and the transcript is accurate, key vocabulary is in bold, and there are sometimes vocabulary notes at the bottom of the page. The rate of speech is usually pretty genuine.

PodCasts for Native Speakers

If the above podcasts are too easy or you’re looking for something more challenging, there are some podcasts intended for native audiences that aren’t too challenging and come with a transcript.

  • ABC Radio National – Science Show
    An Australian show dedicated to various branches of science. Most shows are around five minutes in length, and all of the casts I’ve found include a transcript.
  • NPR – All Things Considered
    A regularly updated show on current events that is part of a larger format. Luckily, each segment is upload individually, so you can listen to 3-5 minute stories instead of wading through an entire cast. To find the transcript: Either click the text icon under the story name on the list page (it will be the item farthest from the “play” button), or click the story title to open the audio page and click the “Transcript” link to the left.

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