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. But you can also study English on your own, often without spending lots of money. If you’re learning English on your own at home, you must make the most of the audio and video resources for English learning that are available online.
Jump directly to the list of resources.
Advantages of using audio and video for your English learning
Learning English on your own with audio and video has a lot of advantages over a traditional English class. For example:
- 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.
- You are free to take risks and experiment. There is no need to feel embarrassed in front of a teacher or other students.
- You can rewind and listen to the same little part over and over again if you need to (and nobody will get impatient with you).
- You’re 100% in control of your own learning. You aren’t dependent on a teacher.
The possibilities for finding great English listening input online are practically limitless &emdash; there is more content available online than you could possibly listen to in hundreds of lifetimes. It’s much harder to find good material if you’re learning a language that isn’t as widely spoken as English. So, dear English learner, make the most of your good luck! Here are some great audio and video resources to get you started.
FREE AUDIO AND VIDEO RESOURCES FOR LEARNING ENGLISH
Do you need lots of examples of how a word or phrase is pronounced in English? Youglish is as of 2020 the best place to thousands (literally) of examples authentic spoken English. It’s a searchable database of Youtube videos with subtitles. The search is very easy to use, and there are instructions here. I’ve listed Youglish first here because I think it’s such an invaluable resource for listening and pronunciation practice. Check it out!
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.
Put your learning into practice
Just listening is fine if that’s the only skill you are trying to improve. But if you want to be able to SPEAK English, make sure to practice what you learn. If you practice regularly with real live humans, your English speaking skills will improve dramatically in a very short time. That is, provided you are consistent. Here is my list of the best places to find people for real English practice.
Do listen-and-repeat pronunciation practice
Do not skip this step. Seriously. I’ve written about the importance of this here.
If you listen to podcasts in English, it’s very easy to do listen-and-repeat practice. Most podcast apps will let you rewind in short intervals. So you can listen to a phrase over and over again, and pause to repeat.
If your podcast or music app is too clumsy, you can level up your listen-and-repeat practice with a dedicated looping audio player app.
Using a good looping audio player will make it much easier and more efficient for you to learn from the audio resources that you use for listening practice.
There are many apps for A-B listening, but I found most of them super frustrating to use — so frustrating that I wanted to throw my phone against the wall! So have some patience while you are testing them (don’t throw your phone, you’ll regret it). The time you spend finding a good player will be totally worth it.
Here are the looping audio players I am currently using myself.
Language learning audio players that don’t suck
For Android, I like Repeat Player the best. It is a free app that offers in-app purchases.
On iOS, I think Speater is the simplest and easiest to use. There is a lite version so you can try it for free. The main limitation of the lite version is that you can only set repeats for the first 2 minutes of audio.
The key point is this: make sure to install a good audio player on your computer, phone, tablet, or wherever you plan to do your listening practice. Take the time to learn how it works. Keep notes of interesting vocabulary that you learn. Do lots of listen-and-repeat practice of sounds, words, and phrases that you find difficult. Do this regularly, and your listening AND speaking will improve by leaps and bounds.