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10 Free and Amazing Podcasts to Speak Better English!

Updated: Sep 21, 2023

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If you are looking for a fun and easy way to incorporate English into your daily life, then I would recommend listening to podcasts. Thanks to the internet, there are so many fantastic podcasts out there to choose from. Not only are podcasts intriguing and easily accessible, they are also great for expanding your vocabulary and vamping up your listening skills. In this blog post, I will outline my top 10 podcast recommendations for English learners – and I’m sure the list will include the perfect podcast for you! Whether you like true crime, drama, politics, or something more intellectual, read through the list below and find the perfect fit for you!

I have ordered these podcasts from easy (#1) to difficult (#10).

1. The English we speak

The English We Speak is a BBC podcast designed for English learners. This podcast offers a full range of topics for all levels and featuring everyday words and phrases. In under 3 minutes, each episode gives you ‘must have’ phrases that you can use in your everyday conversation. The phrases and vocabulary in this podcast are up to date and you can even choose between basic and advanced levels. What I love about the topics is that they feature current stories and highlight the phrases and vocabulary that young people are using, so listeners can pick up English phrases heard every day in the media and popular culture.

Who is this podcast for?

Anyone interested in learning a wide variety of vocabulary, contemporary words and phrases while mastering British English pronunciation. This podcast is particularly interesting for anyone who plans on visiting Great Britain in the future or has a preference for British English.

Download the podcasts here

2. 6-Minute English

You may recognize the name from the BBC online courses, which are also free and amazing! In this long running series, you can find short and vocabulary-rich lessons on all types of topics, from news items to common interest stories, complete with a script and highlighted vocabulary and phrases. There is even a focus on pronouncing new phrases and a quiz to check your listening comprehension.

Who is this podcast for?

I can’t think of a single reason why anyone would not like learning English with 6-minute English. I would recommend this podcast to learners who only have 5-10 minutes to commit to listening everyday and appreciate reading along with the provided script.

Find it here

3. VOA Learning English

If you are interested in learning American English, give Voice of America a try! Launched in 1959, this program had the initial purpose of promoting the English language around the world. Today, you can choose between beginner, intermediate or advanced levels, and topics include international news, technology, health and lifestyle, arts and culture. This podcast does have the option to choose a level, but the speakers tend to speak in a clear and slow manner since it is specifically developed for learning the language. If you are at a beginner or intermediate level, you will find this podcast easy to follow.

Who is this podcast for?

This podcast is recommended for anyone interested in international news stories and everyday English phrases. The speakers all have clear American accents and make an effort to both enunciate and speak slowly.

Who is this podcast for?

If you want to pick up contemporary phrases and idioms, this one is for you.

Find the downloads here

4. Stuff You Should Know

Hosted by Josh Clark and “Chuck” Bryant, SYSK is a podcast about everything under the sun – and outer space, too. The hosts discuss a new topic three times a week. These can range from science to fashion and everything in between. The podcaster/friends have an adorable friendship and casual conversation style. In fact, you will feel like you are listening in on two smart guys chatting about topics they have thoroughly researched before the show. There’s just the right balance between humor and seriousness in this podcast and, after a few listens, you’ll have the feeling these guys are your close buddies.

Who is it for?

This podcast is the first on the list that is not made with English learners in mind. For that reason, I would recommend this podcast for upper-intermediate to advanced students. This podcast is for you if you love learning new things – history, science, politics, fads, biographies, you name it!

Find the episodes here

5. Catfish

Why is it called Catfish, you ask? A “Catfish” is someone who creates a false online identity in order to pursue romantic relationships. For eight seasons, host Nev Schulman and his co-hosts have helped people track down their online love interests to uncover whether that person is real… or indeed a catfish.

This podcast brings you the most shocking episodes of the MTV series, adapted for your ears in podcast form.

This podcast doesn’t offer too much intellectual value, but I have to admit I became addicted to following real life stories about love on the internet – and the endings are always surprising.

Who is it for?

Anyone who loves real-life drama. It may be difficult to follow the interviews if you are not an advanced learner as some guests do have strong American accents.

Check it out here

Have you considered launching your own podcast? Podcasting for Beginners Value Edition will get you started!

6. This American Life

This American Life is a weekly public radio program and podcast. Each week features a new theme and a few stories surrounding that theme. The creators view the show as an experiment and the interviews are always candid and intriguing. The show is known in the US for its excellent journalism and has won a number of awards, including the very first Pulitzer Prize ever awarded to a radio show or podcast.

Who is it for?

I would say anyone, really. The weekly topics usually feature guests with interesting stories – sometimes sweet, sometimes strange and sometimes inspiring. You definitely feel that you got to know the guests and learned something new during each episode.

Listen here

7. The Apology Line

In the 1980s, a New Yorker, known as Mr. Apology, conducted a social experiment by placing posters around Manhattan inviting residents to phone his answering machine- where they could apologize for their sinful acts. The recordings collected ranged from innocent apologies of selfishness to confessions of horrific crimes. Mr. Apology builds up a relationship with a few of the callers and eventually becomes obsessed with meeting them in person. In this podcast, you will hear the original voice recordings and the unbelievable but true story narrated by Mr. Apology’s wife.

Who is it for?

Any fan of weird true crime. Some of the original recordings are hard to catch, even for a native speaker, but the narrator does a good job of explaining what’s going on. Be prepared to be spooked out by some of the callers.

Check out the podcast here.

8. Astray

This podcast outlines the disappearances of several travelers in India. The young men all have one thing in common – they traveled from Western countries to India in the hopes of finding enlightenment or spiritual awakening. The producer interviews psychologists, family members and spiritual gurus to make sense of what happened and discover why disappearances are so common among travellers seeking spiritual meaning in the East.

Who is it for?

True crime junkies and anyone interested in social phenomena.

Check out the episodes here

9. Dirty John

The story of Dirty John was originally an LA Times story and later made into a Netflix documentary and series. This podcast focuses on a woman who was deceived by a man she thought she knew. Listening to the interviews with this woman and her children, you wonder how long she will stay in such a relationship and how on earth will it end. The interviews are captivating all the way up to the dramatic ending!

Who is it for?

This one is for anyone who likes listening to interviews about relationships. The complex story of Dirty John is recounted by his wife and her two daughters. It is VERY suspenseful!

Start listening here

10. Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend

Finally I put a comedy podcast on the list! Conan Obrien is a hilariously witty television comedian who never runs out of things to joke about. Although this is an interview podcast, Conan is just as entertaining and likeable between interviews as he is during them. Conan interviews a new celebrity guest in every episode. It doesn’t really matter who the celebrity is, the host is always a fantastic conversationalist.

Who is it for?

Anyone with a high enough level to understand humor in English. I ranked this one highest in terms of difficulty for that reason.

Listen here

A few last notes

The great thing about learning English by listening to podcasts is that you can put as much effort into it as you like. If you choose something easy, you can listen passively while cooking in the kitchen, driving or going for a walk. If you would like to be more active in your studies, you can write down new words and check the meaning later. These words can be added to your vocabulary list every day and reviewed every night before bed. It’s one great way to build vocabulary and use new phrases.

If you have more time to commit, you can summarize the podcast either in writing or by using a voice recorder. You should try to speak English as much as possible in order to activate your passive knowledge. Are you able to retell what you heard in the podcast? If you find writing easier, you can prepare a written summary of the episode and read it into the recorder aloud. Listen to your pronunciation and check how fluent you sound. Repeat the process every few days and see if you notice an improvement in your fluency. You will start speaking better English day by day, I promise.

Please let me know which podcasts YOU listened to and enjoyed!

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