One thing to note: if you want to improve your English listening to podcasts, you should be 100% focused on what you are listening to. Active listening! But remember, any listening, passive or active, is better than no listening.
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to listen to language-learning podcasts
1. First just listen to it
Listen to a podcast with nothing. Just listen. No transcript. No dictionary. No stopping or pausing. No stressing out if you don’t understand half of what you hear. It’s ok. Just listen and understand what you can. Yes, it’s fine not to understand every single word. Learn this useful skill of being ok with not understanding everything.
2. Check up Vocabulary
Very often podcasts have a list of words that were used in the episode and the explanations of the harder words. Read the explanations, check up the new words in a dictionary, and write them down.
3. Now you know the words, so you can listen to the podcast again and understand more!
4. Listen with a transcript
Read the transcript of the episode, then switch on the podcast, read and listen at the same time. In this way, you can follow every word the speaker says. This is how you can get 100% sure of what is said on the podcast. Yay!
5. Read aloud
Imagine it is your podcast and you are the speaker. Read the transcript aloud and copy the speaker. Or you can read aloud and listen to the podcast at the same time.
6. Speak to yourself
You now know what the podcast is about so you can copy the speaker and tell yourself out loud what the podcast is about, what the most interesting thing is, or something new you’ve learned. This would help you with speaking!
7. Remember the words
Choose from 3 to 7 words from the podcast episode and write them down in your notebook or phone. Check them up in a dictionary and make sure you understand what they mean and how to use them. Then write sentences about yourself using these words. This helps you to remember the new vocabulary.
How to use Podcasts like a Pro
Have fun with the speed
Do they talk too fast? You can change the speed and slow things down. Lots of podcast applications allow you to slow down the audio or speed it up. It’s great! It will help you to catch what you’ve missed and understand everything before you listen at a normal speed.
You can speed it up if you wish. If you want a challenge after you’ve listened to the podcast several times, you can speed it up.
Replay your favourite episodes
Re-listen to your favorite episodes a few days, weeks, or months later. We tend to forget stuff and can forget about 70-80% of what we have learned. So, it’s a good idea to go back to the episode and listen to it again hearing all the good words you want to remember once again. You will understand it even more!
When you read a book, do you ever write down the quotes you like? It could be the same with podcasts! Take notes of good phrases you like or useful grammar you'd like to remember. You can even write down the whole sentences you enjoyed!
Perhaps, taking notes on your phone might be a good idea because your phone is always with you, right? So, instead of wasting your precious time on Facebook, you can read your lovely notes and remember some good language you’ve written down.
Make a habit out of it
Make podcasts your routine. Make them part of your everyday life. Podcasts should live on your phone and be with you any time you need them. They are there for you when you are happy or sad. On Monday morning or Friday night. If podcasts could speak, they’d say: listen to me. Every day. Just for 10 minutes
Listen to podcasts with friends
Usually, you listen to a podcast alone, but what if you listen to your favorite episode with a friend or friends? You can check who understands more: you or your friend? You can help your friend to catch this or that word, explain what it means, and talk about new words. Your friend can help you, you can laugh and have some quality podcast time together.
How to use Podcast Transcripts
- Listen to the podcast without the transcript first and understand what you can. Then, you can read the transcript and check up the words you don't understand in a dictionary
- Read as you listen: read the transcript and listen to the podcast at the same time
- Transcribe a part of the podcast. Choose a part that you like and would like to transcribe and transcribe 2 minutes of it. Listen, pause, write it down, rewind, and check or change what you have. Then compare it to the original podcast transcript
- Read the transcripts aloud. You can do it on a different day.
- You can read the transcript as a text before you listen to the podcast! Why not?!
What to do with Vocabulary
As you listen to the podcast or read the script, cherry-pick (choose) the words you want to learn and use. Choose your favourite words, no need to learn everything. Choose the words you want to remember and use.
Write down the words you want to remember and use in your notebook, phone or create flashcards on Quizlet.
Choose from 3 to 7 words from the podcast episode and write them down in your notebook or phone. Check them up in a dictionary and make sure you understand what they mean. Then write sentences about yourself using these words. This helps you to remember the new vocabulary.
How to Improve your Speaking and Pronunciation
- Listen, Stop and Repeat: listen to one sentence, pause the podcast, and repeat exactly what the speaker says. Copy the speaker’s intonation and the way he/she pronounces everything.
- Shadowing: listen to the podcast and say it at the same time as the speaker without stopping the episode. Copy the speakers’ voices. It’s great to improve fluency and pronunciation!
- Listen Repeat Record Compare: listen to a little section of the podcast, repeat after the speaker, record yourself saying it the way the speaker says it, copy the speaker, and then compare it to the original. A great way to boost your speaking along with listening!
- Record yourself: imagine you have your own podcast. Record yourself speaking about what you had for breakfast or what you did on the weekend.
- Speak out loud to yourself: talk to yourself about what you have heard on the podcast or what you liked in the episode. You can say the words or phrases out loud and also make up sentences with some of the words you heard on the podcast.
More Ideas and Podcast Wisdom
Do what Babies do
Babies don’t learn a language, they just pick it up naturally. They try new sounds and new words that they hear. They make mistakes. Babies know that it’s through trying new words and phrases that they will actually get it right. So, listen, re-listen, repeat, make noises, copy the speakers, and try out the super strategies we have written for you here. Choose the ones which work for you.
If it’s really hard for you to understand what people say on the podcasts, have the transcript with you as you listen. Or read the transcript before you listen to the episode to know the text. Then, when you feel more confident, you can listen without the script.
Convert your friends, colleagues, and random people you meet into listening to your favourite podcasts. You can then talk about them, help each other, and learn together. You can motivate your friends and they can support and motivate you.
Share the podcasts you listen to on Facebook, Instagram, etc., or just tell people about what you listen to. You can ask people what they do when they listen to a podcast. This is a great topic for your next post on social media.
You can even create a group for people who listen to the same podcast (on Facebook, WhatsApp, Telegram, etc.) to talk about the episodes, new words, and interesting things you’re learning. Or, ask your hyperactive friend to do that so you can join this group!
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