In this post, I’d like to introduce you to the 6 best podcasts that can help you improve your English.
When you reach the intermediate level and have more or less a good grasp of grammar and vocabulary, it is time to increase the amount of exposure by listening or reading a lot of English. Podcasts are a great way to do this because you can listen to them during your commute or doing housework, when you are unable to use your eyes.
There are millions of podcasts with a variety of topics. The key is to choose the one with a topic of your interest. The podcasts made for regular English speakers tend to be more interesting than those intended for English learners because they are richer in content. You will be able to learn a lot more than just English.
However, when you are just starting, it’s best to choose one intended for English learners. When you don’t understand more than a half of the content, it’s as good as hearing random sounds and definitely not interesting.
In fact, it’s said that the level of the content you understand by listening is almost equivalent to the amount you understand perfectly in writing. It is not very likely for you to find such a podcast, so I recommend you continue with other fundamental skills such as grammar, reading and vocabulary and implement that with a podcast. Whether as a refresher, reward or fun, when you start listening to a podcast as entertainment or self-improvement, you’ll find more motivation and joy in learning English.
Let’s get to it, and let me introduce you to my favorite podcasts in order of difficulty.
- 1 1. English learning podcast for Japanese people: Speak UP Radio
- 2 2. English learning podcast for everyone in the world: All Ears English
- 3 3. Corporate life/Business: I hate my boss
- 4 4. Investment: InvestED The Rule #1 Investing Podcast
- 5 5. Health/Life Style: The Model Health Show
- 6 6. Self-Help/Motivational: The Secret to Success with CJ, Karl & Eric Thomas
1. English learning podcast for Japanese people: Speak UP Radio
It’s a podcast by the famous Speed Learning company. Two hosts, an American and a Canadian, who live in Japan, talk about various day-to-day topics and discuss the differences between Japanese and American culture. It’s an easy listen with each episode lasting around 20 minutes. It is organized in sub-sections such as intro, discussion, quiz and vocabulary, which makes it easy to follow. It answers questions that a lot of people have about “how to say XXX in English.” Since the hosts live in Japan and are familiar with Japan in general, it’s a nice and easy podcast for Japanese listeners. Very importantly, they speak relatively slowly. I recommend this for you if you are just getting started in the podcast world for the first time.
2. English learning podcast for everyone in the world: All Ears English
This is an American podcast hosted by two female English teachers in the US. As it targets not only Japanese students but also the rest of the world, it is a little more challenging than Speak UP Radio. Although the hosts speak almost at the regular speed, they take time to explain grammar points and expressions. Each episode introduces different questions about English learning and often they respond to the listeners’ request. I guarantee you learn a lot just by tuning into them.
Below is a list of podcasts targeting general English speakers (not English learners). The difficulty jumps to another level, but the good thing is that you can find a podcast of your interest.
Obviously they are a lot more challenging, so the key is to choose a theme which you are familiar with and have some knowledge in. Use your imagination and don’t worry if you don’t understand some words or parts of the podcasts. Just keep listening.
If you struggle to understand a great majority of the content, maybe it is better to start with the podcasts intended for English learners.
Almost all podcasts have sections such as introduction of the topic, discussion, interview, etc., so by listening to the same episode a couple times or listening to a few episodes in a row, you will find yourself understanding things you didn’t get the first time round.
Here are my favorite podcasts by theme.
3. Corporate life/Business: I hate my boss
It’s a light-hearted podcast that discusses and gives advice about human relationship in a corporate world. If you want to learn about business terms, especially those related to human resource, this is the one I highly recommend. The hosts are a male and female HR specialists, and they respond to listeners’ questions and struggles about relationships with their colleagues or boss at work. Some of the episodes are made into a drama series that follows a story about a business person that overcomes typical human relationship challenges. The length varies depending on the episode.
4. Investment: InvestED The Rule #1 Investing Podcast
Hosted by an investor father and his daughter who just started learning about investment. They discuss different topics surrounding investment, such as Warren Buffet, how to invest successfully, good businesses to invest in, etc. Investment as a topic is difficult for those who are not familiar with this world, like me, but they break the concepts down very well and it is fun to listen to honest exchanges between a father and a daughter.
5. Health/Life Style: The Model Health Show
Hosted by an American health coach who overcame a disease after he was told incurable by the doctor. He managed to reverse his health condition and regained perfect health by changing his eating habits and life style. Based on his experience, he gives health consultations with a focus on changing the diet and how you live. He invites guest speakers and discusses various topics related to health from the latest super food to the importance of getting quality sleep. The content can get very technical at times, but the podcast has a friendly and relaxing vibe. He is also a best selling author of a book on the importance of sleep.
6. Self-Help/Motivational: The Secret to Success with CJ, Karl & Eric Thomas
It’s a podcast hosted by a successful American motivational speaker Eric Thomas and his crew members, CJ and Karl. Not only will you be inspired and learn a lot about life, it is a friendly and intimate podcast as they discuss openly about their experience and personal life. Plus a lot of jokes and laughs. You can learn about the life style of American people and the way how Black Americans talk.
These are the podcasts I have discovered so far and still listen to this day. But what you find fun or good depends on your interest and whether you like the host or not. So go ahead and discover your favorite podcasts. There are podcasts of every theme that you can imagine: golf, finance, childcare, cooking, exercise, technology, storytelling to name a few.
Google keywords in English or search from your podcast app, and subscribe to a few podcasts that you think you might like and do a test listen. I often go back and listen to the very first episode because it usually explains the aim and the content of the podcast.
Here are some podcast listening apps that I recommend if you haven’t downloaded already.
Until next time! Happy listening![日本語文へ]