The word 'podcast' (a fusion of 'iPod' and 'broadcast') was originally coined in 2004 to describe a new listening medium. Put simply, a podcast is a digital audio recording that can be streamed or downloaded from the internet and listened to on a media player, smartphone, or computer. I spend a lot of time listening to podcasts on my iPod when I’m at home doing the dishes, on the bus or train, or just out walking. My favourite podcasts would probably not be suitable for most learners of English (except those at a very advanced level). Fortunately, there are dozens of podcasts available specifically for learning English — and they are a great way to improve your listening and general English skills during so-called 'dead time', when you would otherwise not be doing anything productive. Here are some of the very best.
All Ears English — Learn advanced conversational English or prepare for your IELTS exam.
BBC World Service — 6 Minute English — Learn and practise useful English language for everyday situations.
BBC World Service — 6 Minute Grammar —Every Tuesday learn a new key area of grammar.
BBC World Service — 6 Minute Vocabulary — Every Monday hear about different ways to develop your vocabulary knowledge and skills.
BBC World Service — The English We Speak — Every week, a different everyday English phrase or piece of slang is explained in this fun three-minute programme.
Better at English — Real conversations for more advanced learners (with transcripts).
Business English Pod — One of the top ESL sites and normally a paid service, but you can also get free subscriptions without having to sign up.
Culips ESL Podcast — Learn conversational English for everyday use (from Montreal).
Deep English — Learn English with Stories —"Train your ears to understand fast English".
Grammar Girl — "Your friendly guide to the world of grammar, punctuation, usage, and fun developments in the English language" (for advanced learners).
English Across the Pond — Weekly podcast featuring Jennifer (the US) & Dan (England) that is fun and entertaining. Features include a grammar review, keywords and phrases.
ESL Pod — The "number one English learning podcast". Now a paid service but you can get some free sample lessons.
Happy English — Over 400 free podcasts from New York teacher Michael DiGiacomo.
Learn English Elementary Podcasts — British Council podcast with interactive tasks and transcripts.
Learn English Professionals Podcasts — This British Council podcast covers a large number of business and work themes and is suitable for learners at intermediate to advanced level.
Learning English Broadcast — Voice of America's 30-minute daily podcasts use a limited vocabulary and are read at a slower pace than VOA's other English broadcasts.
Luke's English Podcast — An award-winning podcast that started in 2009 and now has over 400 episodes, with transcripts, videos and a special series on phrasal verbs.
Podcasts in English — One of my personal favourites. The podcasts (at three levels plus a business podcast) are free, but you can pay to get transcripts and worksheets.
Real English Conversations —Listen to natural English conversations to quickly build your understanding of conversational American English. With free transcripts.
Real Life English Podcast — Casual, but very informative conversations between native English teachers and speakers. Over 100 episodes to download.
Splendid Speaking — Podcasts for advanced learners studying for IELTS and other exams.
The Business - Podcasts — This Macmillan podcast features authentic interviews focusing on working life in the UK. With tapescripts and worksheets.