Learning foreign languages can be a tough nut to crack, I know. But what if I told you that you can practice English/Italian/Spanish/whichever language you’re trying to master while doing your everyday mundane activities, like commuting, cooking, or cleaning? Yeah, you heard me. All you need is a smartphone and a set of earphones. Podcasts are this great source of exposure to a language if you don’t have enough time and money to travel or take classes with a native speaker. What are they, then? Etymology of the name itself explains it quite clearly. Podcast is a blend of two words: iPod and broadcast. It’s a series of audio or video files you can download on your device (more often than not for free!) and listen to wherever you are.
As a bachelor in language studies I can tell from experience, listening to podcasts really helped me improve my English and today I’d like to share with you a couple of my favourites:
I really do believe that almost everyone will find something for themselves in the wide range of programmes offered by the BBC, depending on their interests.
Some of them are probably more appropriate for more advanced learners, for example Woman’s Hour – a show presenting “a female perspective on the world”, The Essay where writers read their articles on a variety of topics, or The Infinite Monkey Cage a brilliant mix of comedy and popular science.
For those, who started their adventure with English only recently, the BBC offers the “6 minute” series: 6 Minute English, 6 Minute Grammar, 6 Minute Vocabulary, which are a part of their BBC learning English department, short and sweet.
Serial is this type of podcast that you just don’t want to turn off. I was absolutely engrossed in the series and if you have at least a little bit of interest in crime stories, you will be as well. It presents a different true story in each season – the first one reviews a murder case, while the second tells a story of an American soldier captured by the Taliban.
Welcome to Night Vale is a radio programme of a fictional town called Night Vale. Episodes include, among others, news from the town, events and weather, but don’t be discouraged – all is presented with an eerie atmosphere of a small, mysterious desert place. The show at first may seem confusing, but it’s also its advantage, as you don’t need to listen to the episodes in any particular order and, in a way, decide about the story yourself.
Listening to news in a foreign language might be a bit tricky. The vocabulary used by media is usually very specific, grammar structures are complicated and everyone speaks very fast. Thankfully, we have News in Slow English, which is in fact a part of a bigger project called News in Slow that deliver a summary of weekly news in a slow and clear manner. And if you feel like it’s still too confusing you can read the transcript of the episode on their website.
Obviously, podcasts are not the only one and right resource for learning English, as they develop your comprehension the most. But once you’re more comfortable with listening, it’s time to start speaking and Vicolocorto together with InformaGiovani have a perfect opportunity for people from Pesaro area – Talk Together! Talk Together is a project based on free conversations in the Caffé Letterario of Biblioteca San Giovanni in Pesaro. The conversations take place every Tuesday from 17:00 to 18:30 and are led by us, Vicolocorto volunteers. If you’re around, feel free to join us! Fluent English is not required, all you need is a smile and a bit of courage.