Best Websites for Improving Listening

Listening is the Key to Fluency!Think of how you learned your native language. You listened for a long time before you ever began to speak. Reading and writing came much later.

Of all the skills, listening is the skill that helps you develop fluency: the ability to speak naturally. But just as you learned your native language, you need to listen a lot more than you speak. The sooner you get into the habit of listening to English, the faster you will develop your skills.

There are thousands of websites that will help you build your English listening skills. But how do you know which sites are good? And do you know how to use them?

The websites below are all excellent quality and will help you improve. We’ve included some notes to help you use these sites effectively. Happy listening!

News and Stories

Voice of America Learning English Website Voice of America (VOA) Learning English website has high-quality reading and listening materials for non-native English speakers. Each story on the site contains a transcript and MP3 with slower English, in case the original is too fast for you. There are some additional features, but I think the stories are all you need.
Level: Elementary to Intermediate
BBC Learning English Website BBC Learning English is similar to the VOA site, with high-quality listening, reading, and exercises. BBC also has the BEST website for practicing pronunciation, with videos that help you model yourself after a native speaker.
Level: All Levels

How to use these sites:

  • Select a story that interests you. Listen to it once without reading the transcript.
  • Read the transcript. Try to guess the meaning of any words and expressions you don’t understand. Use a dictionary only if you can’t figure out the meaning.
  • Listen again while reading the transcript.
  • Listen once more without the transcript.

Conversations and Short Talks

Randall's ESL Cyber Listening Lab Randall’s ESL Cyber Listening Lab has conversations, short talks, vocabulary exercises, and numerous other activities for learners. All are excellent quality.
Level: All Levels

How to use this site:

  • Select a story or conversation, and do the pre-listening exercises.
  • Listen to it without reading the transcript, and then do the listening exercises.
  • Listen again while reading the quiz script.
  • Do the vocabulary exercises only if you wish.
  • Listen once more without the transcript.
English Listening Lesson Library Online English Listening Lesson Library Online is similar to Randall’s ESL Lab above; this site also includes songs, games, and some short news stories.
Level: All Levels

How to use this site:

  • Same as above: select a story, and listen to it without reading the script.
  • Read the transcript and learn new vocabulary.
  • Listen again with the transcript, and once more without it.

General Interest

California Distance Learning Project The California Distance Learning Project site mainly contains reading materials, though many articles also include audio. This site adds a number of learning activities to each article, including comprehension questions. This site is suitable for students who don’t only want to read and listen, but also want to practice answering the kinds of comprehension questions you might find on standardized tests, such as the IELTS and TOEFL.
Level: Pre-Intermediate and above

How to use this site:

  • Select a story and read the Basic Story. You may also listen to the story if you like.
  • Go to the Activities page and answer the Pick an Answer questions
  • Read and/or listen to the Full Story version of the same article
  • Go to the Activities page and answer the What Did You Learn? questions.

Online Talks & Lectures

TED Talks Website I listen to TED (Technology, Education, Design) talks all the time. TED has inspiring speeches from some of the world’s foremost thinkers – authors, business leaders, scientists, artists, philosophers, etc. Every lecture comes with a transcript you can read. Note: these talks are geared toward native speakers, but if you find the topics interesting, you will learn a lot…and not only about English!
Level: Intermediate and above
Academic Earth Online Lectures Academic Earth offers free video courses and academic lectures from leading colleges and universities. Subjects include Architecture, Law, Physics, Religious Studies, and various Sciences. These are lectures from actual U.S. universities – a free freshman course online! These lectures come with NO transcripts, but they are one of the best ways you can prepare for your TOEFL or IELTS exams, and for university life afterward.
Level: Intermediate and above

In addition to these sites, I also suggest you read any newspaper or magazine, online or in print, that interests you, watch English TV and movies, and listen to songs. The main point is:

TRY AND SPEND AT LEAST 30 MINUTES EACH DAY LISTENING TO ENGLISH ON YOUR OWN!

It’s less work than studying, you’ll enjoy it more, and it will actually improve your English more than anything else you do!

What Do YOU Think?
What do you think? Do you listen to English online? Do you have any websites to add? Let us know in the comments section below!

One thought on “Best Websites for Improving Listening

  1. Pingback: Six Tips To Improve Your English Listening Skills | Language Link Vietnam Blog

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