One way to get your SS listening to English outside class is to encourage them to use podcasts. They don’t need an iPod or mp3 player – all they need is a computer with an internet connection. Some places to download podcasts from:
There are podcasts about everything you could possibly imagine. Here is a selection of the ones that I listen to:
- BBC History Magazine
- BBC Focus Magazine (Science, includes some natural discussion and some reports)
- Digital Planet
- Science in Action
- Stuff you Missed in History Class
- In Our Time (assorted topics, discussion)
- Thinking Allowed (sociology)
- Reduced Shakespeare Company (this is the podcast which is most like natural speech – lots of conversations)
- Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo’s film reviews
- Great Lives
- Best of Natural History Radio
- The Film Programme
- Excess Baggage (travel)
- Material World (Science)
- Friday Night Comedy
- Front Row Highlights (some interviews, some monologues)
- World Book Club
There are also many podcasts specifically designed for English learners, including:
- 6 Minute English (BBC) – a discussion programme including explanations of new vocabulary
- Talk About English (BBC) – lots of grammar focus, as well as in-depth looks at individual items of vocabulary.
It’s important that the SS know they don’t need to understand every word, but that the more they listen to English as ‘background noise’, the easier it will become for their brains to tune into it.
Update: I have created a complete beginner’s guide to podcasts, designed for teachers or pre-int and above students.