To learn to speak fluent English, you need lots of exposure to spoken language coupled with opportunities to use what you’re learning. Many learners think that going to a traditional English course is the best way to learn. Courses are great if you can afford them and if you can find good ones. But before you sign up for a course, why not try making the most of the audio and video resources for English learning that are widely available online?
There are many advantages to using audio and video compared to going to a traditional English class. Here are just a few:
- You can go at your own pace, and do as much or as little as you have time for.
- You can choose content that matches your needs and interests. You don’t have to do boring textbook lessons.
- If you don’t understand something while you’re listening, you can just press pause to give yourself time to think.
- You can rewind and listen to the same passage over and over again if you need to (and nobody will get impatient with you).
- You aren’t dependent on a teacher — you’re 100% in control of your own learning.
English is such a widely spoken language that the possibilities for finding great content are practically limitless. In that way learners of English are really lucky. It’s a lot harder to find good material if you’re learning a language that isn’t so widely used. So, dear English learner, make the most of your good luck!
Here’s one bonus tip before I dive into the list. Make sure to install a good audio player on your computer, phone, tablet, or wherever you plan to do your listening. Ideally it should be a player that allows you to easily loop sections of audio. Search the relevant app stores for “audio looper” and try a few until you find one you like. I am an Android user, and like Repeat Player the best. Don’t skip this step. It’s well worth the time investment to find a player you like and make sure you know how to use it for your listening practice.
THE TWO BEST PAID AUDIO AND VIDEO RESOURCES FOR LEARNING ENGLISH
Most learners are interested in free options for learning English, which I’ve listed after this section. But if you have a little bit of money to invest, there are a couple of paid sites that are totally worth it.
Both of FluentU and EnglishClass101 have basic free accounts with limited functionality, but the paid premium accounts are not expensive, and give you everything you need to take your English to the next level. One of the great advantages is that these sites offer a structured path to English fluency. When you’re all on your own, things tend to get a bit chaotic, and it’s hard to create a structure for yourself from the endless sea of free material.
If you do focused study of lots of audio and video material and then make sure to practice what you learn on FluentU or EnglishClass101 with an English teacher or speaking partner, your English speaking skiils will improve dramatically in a very short time. That is, provided you are consistent.
I understand that not everyone is able to invest money in their English learning, so here is a list with many great free audio and video resources to help you along your path to fluency.
FREE AUDIO AND VIDEO RESOURCES FOR LEARNING ENGLISH
Video – watch and listen for English learning
Videos of native speakers having conversations on many different topics. Transcripts and quizzes provided.
Behind the News
Australian educational video webcasts from Australia’s ABC-TV. Transcripts available. Designed for children, but the topics are interesting for adults as well.
The directory of available videos at CNN. So far the ads aren’t that intrusive. Lots of resources here for you to practice your listening comprehension.
CNN Video Podcasts
Video podcasts at CNN – lots of news and stories to help you practice your English listening.
BBC Video Nation
Short video clips on all kinds of topics.
BBC Comedy clips
Video clips from various BBC comedy series – laugh and learn!
BBC Film network
A collection of short films in various genres. Some of excellent quality. No exercises – just watch, listen, enjoy and learn.
Australia Network – Living English
Excellent videos, exercises and learning materials about general English – for beginning to intermediate learners.
Australia Network – The business of English
Excellent videos, exercises and learning materials about Business English – for intermediate to advanced learners
English language audio and podcasts
Some of these have video as well
Podcast directory at the British Council. Varied topics, transcripts available (PDF format). At the site you’ll also find quizzes and exercises.
Voice of America – Special English.
News and stories in Special English. Special English is English that is simplified and read slowly. Lots of great listening material here and many transcripts.
Podcasts at CNN – lots of news and stories to help you practice your English listening.
Breaking News English
Listening, exercises, and even lesson plans for teachers. Updated fairly regularly with current news stories.
BBC World Service – Learning English Home page.
Something for everyone – videos, listening, business and general English, grammar. Many listening activities have transcripts you can download so you read along as you listen.
NPR (National Public Radio, USA)
A wide variety of news, reports and broadcasts. Best suited for upper intermediate to advanced learners.
The BBC Online offers several channels to listen to. Wide range of topics. There’s something for everyone here.