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After all that hard work during the year you don’t want to go forgetting your English skills over the long summer break. How about a way to keep English fresh by using a very low input form of language learning which you can do even while relaxing on the beach (no textbooks required)?

Over the last few years, as smartphones have found their way into everyone’s pockets, podcasts have become more and more popular. Easily downloadable, mostly free, and a perfect way to keep yourself entertained on your daily commute; there are now thousands of podcasts available for even the quirkiest of interests. What’s more, there are plenty out there for the English learner and they provide that all important listening practice that so many students struggle with.  Likewise, because they are conversational, they offer the type of ‘real English’ which often doesn’t get as much exposure as it should when you’re studying for a specific exam. And they’ll expose you to a wide range of native accents.

So, I’d say downloading a few (or all) of the podcasts listed below is as important for your summer holiday as packing your sunglasses and sun cream…

English learner podcasts:

The English We Speak: This podcast comes from the BBC World Service and each episode is just 3 minutes long, focussing on a piece of English slang or colloquial expression. The podcast is aimed at an intermediate level but as you can find the audioscript for each episode on the BBC World Service website it could be useful for pre-int too.

Splendid Speaking: A podcast for the advanced learner, especially those preparing to take their Cambridge Advanced, Proficiency, or the IELTS/TOEFL exam. Non-native speakers give a presentation, or take part in a paired discussion (typical speaking exam type tasks) and then they are given expert feedback. See if you can spot the mistakes the students make!

Luke’s English Podcast: An award-winning podcast from a qualified English teacher / stand-up comedian. There are over 400 episodes, and a mini series on phrasal verbs.

General podcasts:

Desert Island Discs: Taken from a BBC Radio 4 programme, this podcast is one of the most popular downloads in the UK. It features the host, Kirsty Young, asking celebrities which eight songs they would take with them to a desert island. As they discuss and play these songs the celebrities also talk about their lives and their careers. The programme has been running for 75 years, and to celebrate it’s 75th anniversary David Beckham was the guest star. Find his episode and listen as Beckham chooses a song by Alejandro Sanz, reminisces about his time living in Madrid, and even speaks a little bit of Spanish.

TED Radio Hour: This takes the best of the famous Ted Talks and puts them into podcast form. All different topics are explored and you can allow yourself to learn new ideas, plus improve your English.

Up First: A daily 10 minute podcast that rounds up all the biggest news stories. Useful if you have already checked the headlines in Spanish and now want to review them in English too.

All these podcasts are available on itunes, or through their corresponding websites, and they all cost nothing at all. Get downloading.

Vocabulario de interés

(noun/verb) commute: travel between home and place of work or study regularly

(adjective) quirky: unusual or eccentric

(idiom) to struggle with something: to find something difficult

(noun) stand-up: comedy performed by someone standing in front of a crowd and telling jokes

(noun/verb) host: to receive and entertain guests

(noun) career: professional life

(verb) reminisce: to enjoy remembering the past

(phrasal verb) to round up: to collect and summarise events

(noun) headlines: The title of a newspaper article / the main news stories

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