6 ways to learn English by listening

Don’t understand when people talk to you in English?  You understand the words but can’t grasp the meaning in the moment because of the phonetic block?  The ear is a muscle that needs to be exercised, often and at the appropriate level.  You need to find more opportunities per day to listen to audio clips that are a little challenging for you.  It doesn’t make sense to listen to audio clips that are too easy or too difficult for you.  Often the error that students of English make is to listen to BBC news (for example) – and they don’t understand a thing (because of the rate of speech and the difficulty of the vocabulary used) you will crush your motivation this way and you won’t do it anymore more.  Here are several places where you can listen. .

In the car

We spend hours and hours in the car – stuck in traffic, on the highway, taking the kids to school and going to work.  Take advantage of this time by listening to English and improving your capacity for ‘phonetic decipherment’ and acquire new vocabulary.  Before getting in the car your should make sure you have a number of good CD’s or downloads (and load them on your MP3 reader) the right amount of audio clips to have is dependent on your level of English.

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Buy CD’s

Buying good CD’s (appropriate for your level of English) is an excellent investment for your learning. You will find them online on amazon.it or in your trusted bookstore (for example, La Feltrinelli, Mondadori etc.).  Here are various types of English CD’s for your consideration.

1) Courses ‘boxes’:  A complete course that teaches you a bit of everything (grammar, vocabulary, etc.) while you travel. An example is Intensive English Course by Giunti. Or also English courses by ASSIMIL. Or ‘English in the car’ by De Agostini. Often the CD’s come with a textbook.

2) Vocabulary CD’s: CD’s that teach you vocabulary and that’s it. One example Word Power by Kaplan.

3) Tales in English or ‘readers’: Booklets that cost about 7 euros, accompanied by a CD (a complete audio version of the book).  The beauty of these readers is that they are fun, there are a variety of choices (You can choose if you want to read a novel or a non-fiction book) and you can find the right level for you. The various publishers include: Cambridge University Press; Oxford University Press; Pearson Educational; Black Cat; MacMillan.

Download MP3’s

If you want to take advantage of the free resources available on the internet you can download MP3’s and you can listen to them with your MP3 reader (or ipod, iphone, smartphone, etc.) or you can burn them onto a CD. Voice of American has hundreds of MP3’s for free download often with text. You will find the same MP3’s on the site Many Things. You can also download the MP3’s by the BBC to learn English. Also the site elllo.org gives you the possibility to download audio quiz MP3’s. Those who don’t have the patience to download them individually can download all of them with a payment.  All of the podcasts by Mr. Peter can be downloaded like MP3’s.


There are many podcasts that you can listen to in order to improve your English.  Usually you listen to podcasts directly on your smartphone, ipad or your PC.  It is a great technology because once you subscribe to a podcast new episodes are delivered to you regularly. To listen to podcasts you will need to use a podcast player such as itunes or Podkicker for Android.   You can find a list of the right podcasts on our page that lists all the Podcasts for learning English. Those who are advanced level can listen to ‘normal’ podcasts to practice with ‘true’ English.

Android or Iphone

Millions of Italians have a smartphone (iphone, Samsung, Android, etc.) but few know how to take advantage of this technology in their pocket to improve their English listening skills.  Many of the apps are also free. If you do some research on our page Free online courses choosing Android or iphone. 

Songs on spotify + subtitles

Spotify is a new way of listening to mustic online by way of streaming.  Listen free (with commecials) or pay a monthly subscription.  In either case you can choose between millions of songs.  What does this have to do with English? Spotify allows you to listen to music with subtitles (karaoke style).  It is an excellent way to learn, listen and sing in English.  Just download Spotify free and then download the app (Inside Spotify) that is called musiXmatch (always free). A piece of advice: you should choose more well known songs to be sure that they have subtitles available.  Remember to take note of new vocabulary.

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