Podcasts for ESL Students


Here is a short list of podcasts and listening resources I would recommend for any ESL student, intermediate level and up. This list does not include podcasts about grammar or the act of learning English. Hell, who wants to learn English by listening to a podcast about learning English?

  • Graded reader CDs. Maybe the best resource to improve listening skills is the graded reader shelf in the local library. Find a level-appropriate book with a CD, copy the files to a portable player, and viola. Instant learning resource which meets the important i +1 principle of effective learning.
  • The Memory Palace. Lots of short stories with high quality writing and recording. There is a good range of story lengths, from a few minutes to 20 minutes. I like the one about a man who could see patterns in stock markets in The Rise and fall of Rising and Falling.
  • Serial. This series of podcasts tells a long story, one podcast at a time. Long stories – about an hour – are great for long commutes to school. Files can be downloaded, which is convenient and there are some transcripts.
  • CBC Radio – Ideas. Strictly for advanced listeners, this large collection of fascinating radio shows stimulates the mind and imagination, from politics to art. One of my favorites is a show about Auroville, a place where people tried to create a utopia.
  • 99% Invisible. Human interest stories about the odd things in life. Great writing and recording quality. The episode about fortune cookies, chop suey and a lottery is terrific.
  • CBC Wiretap. For years, this CBC staple provide intelligent stories, literature and comedy often with insight into the human condition. The show’s main writer and producer recently announced the end of the show but episodes can be found on the web. Missed Connections, a cult story from Craigslist, is thoughtful.
  • Skeptoid. Loads of science-based knowledge – often be-bunking urban myths like UFOs, monsters and human-made climate change – in podcast that usually run around 15 minutes.



The image in this post comes from Nicola Einarson and its use complies with the owner’s creative commons licensing terms.



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