Learn >> ESL listening practice with podcasts

This page will show you how to use iTunes to subscribe to the Splendid Speaking and other podcasts, enabling you to practise your ESL listening skills as effortlessly as possible.

ESL listening practice using iTunes
If you're looking for ideas for self-study ESL listening practice a great place to start is to listen to the many thousands of freely available English podcasts. (If you're new to podcasts you might find our guide for English teachers useful. See the link at the bottom of this page.)

Here's an example Splendid Speaking podcast if you're new to our website:

iTunes allows you to subscribe to a podcasting service like our own Splendid Speaking, and will download new episodes as soon as they're published. Here's how to subscribe to the Splendid Speaking podcast.

1. Download iTunes here (look out for 'iTunes Download now' or something similar):

2. With iTunes installed you can subscribe to Splendid Speaking by going to this address:
This will then start iTunes and open up the Splendid Speaking
page in the iTunes directory. Clicking the 'Subscribe' button will download the Splendid Speaking podcast as it becomes available each week.

Alternatively, you can search for Splendid Speaking or other podcasts in iTunes and subscribe that way. For up-to-date advice on how to do this with the latest version of iTunes, visit the Apple website:

You can then listen to the recording on a PC or, if you use a compatible MP3 player, on the move wherever and whenever you have the time!

And if you subscribe to the Splendid Speaking newsletter you'll also be able to follow the recording with our free transcripts. Sign up to the newsletter here:

Podcasts for ESL listening practice
Once you're set up and ready to go with iTunes, you'll be able to explore the various English speaking podcasts that are out there. Whatever your interest, be it English itself, art, business, sport or travel, you name it - there's likely to be a podcast for you. See our list of podcast sites to get started.

Tips for successful ESL listening practice using podcasts
You're likely to find using podcasts for ESL listening practice quite challenging, especially if the podcasts are by native speakers. Try these tips to help you:
1) Find podcasts that come with a text summary of the broadcast. You can use this summary for 2 and 3 below.
2) Read the summary and think about what the speaker(s) are likely to talk about. This will help you get 'switched on' to the topic.
3) Make a note of some questions you'd like the podcast to answer or come up with a list of words or expressions related to the topic you expect to hear.
4) Listen to the podcast the first time for a general understanding. If it's a long recording you might decide to focus on a particular section. Listen out for anything you listed in 2 and 3 above.
5) Listen a second time and make a note of key points. Don't try to understand every word.
6) Listen again and confirm the points you made in 5 above.

New to Podcasting?
If you're looking for ESL listening practice opportunities, see our introduction to podcasting for ESL/EFL teachers or watch this video about podcasting from Commoncraft:

Would you like more help like this?

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