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English language podcasts for international students

17th January 2018 Posted by: Duncan Chisholm - Editor

THERE'S no getting away from it: mastering the English language is as difficult as mastering any other, no matter what anyone says. The more practice we can get, the better. 

The Oxford Royale Academy, which is accredited by the British Council, have worked out that there are four major points of difficulty which are not unique to the English language but which help understand those who wish to master it why they may be experiencing difficulties. 

The English language has a very large and wide-ranging vocabulary. Some languages, like Russian or Finnish, require the learner to get to grips with large, relatively strict systems of grammar first before building vocabulary. The difficulty with English for learners appears not to be the volume of grammar to learn, but the volume of vocabulary. 

English pronunciation also differs greatly between accents and different countries of usage: compare South African English to Scottish English pronunciation, for example. 

So, how can learners find the best way to navigate the seemingly endless subtleties of the English language? One way is to practice your listening skills using podcasts. Unlike live radio, it's possible to stop and start and set your own pace and unlike watching movies you can listen on the move. Podcasts also offer a more informal tone in comparison to radio in some respects, so you're more likely to come across common (and polite) slang, too. 

The English We Speak - BBC World Service

This podcast, produced by the BBC World Service, focuses on particular quirks of English language and spend three minutes trying to help you work these phrases into your own speech. 

The English We Speak is ideal for those who have a good grasp of basic English, and even a large vocabulary of standard words, but who have trouble finding opportunities to get to grips with turns of phrase which are almost unique to countries where English is the primary language. 

The episodes are short, so you may want to download a few at a time. You can find them here.

LearnEnglish podcasts - the British Council 

This is surely one of the most comprehensive series of English language learning services out there.

The episodes are narrated by people with slightly different accents, meaning you're not only getting listening practice on anything from basics to advanced conversation, but you're also being gently introduced to the regional accents which are responsible for much of the difficulty faced by English learners. 

Another bonus with this podcast series is that written transcripts are also available for each episode - you can simply download them and listen back to anything you don't understand and get a dictionary out to properly visualise the word and translate it into your own language to get a solid understanding of what's being said in English. 

You can access the British Council's excellent resource through their website here and through iTunes.

Luke's English Podcast - Luke Thompson

The number of awards handed to Luke for his podcasts tells its own story. Started in 2009, there are now over 500 episodes of this podcast, with transcripts available for download. 

Subjects range from reviews of films to the grammatical usage of phrasal verbs. This is a truly astonishing resource for those who want to learn English - and even more astonishingly, it's all free.

Luke's confidence, which may well have been built up through years as a comedian, is totally infectious. We reckon he's probably responsible for a great many excellent English speakers in the UK and other countries. 

Take a look at the site for Luke's English Podcast, where you can find everything you'll need. 


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