I was always a bad listener.
I’d score really well in all my written tests but make an utter mess when it came to dictation.
I didn’t think much of it, until I had to take extensive notes in class.
I couldn’t write that fast, nor could I always make out what the teacher was saying.
In fact, I ended up recording lectures, and would have to rewind them repeatedly to transcribe them.
I realized that enough was enough. I had to improve my listening skills.
I forced myself to watch movies without subtitles, listen to podcasts, take notes instead of recording and, most importantly, listen to English audio and try to understand what they were saying in real time.
It worked wonders.
The only thing that could make this process better?
Absolutely free English listening resources.
In this post, I’ll help you achieve this same success. I’ll provide you with some excellent business English listening resources that are available as free MP3 files. Just download them and start practicing!
How to Make the Most of Your Audio Downloads
Following these tips will help you make the most of the audio downloads listed below.
- Minimize distractions and noise. Try to be in a quiet space when you’re studying, so that you aren’t distracted from your work. This will also make it easier for you to hear and understand the audio.
- Go slow and rewind when necessary. Most MP3 players have the option of playing an audio file faster or slower than the original recording. If you miss something, rewind the audio so you can try again. Try to increase the speed as you practice to familiarize yourself with the natural pace of speaking.
- Take notes, especially if it’s an educational or career topic. Have a sheet of paper at hand and make a list of the most important points while you’re listening.
- Pay attention to tone and diction. Pronunciation is key to making a good first impression. So don’t just listen to the words but also to how those words are being said, and practice imitating the audio afterwards.
- Make a playlist to listen to while commuting. If you spend a good deal of time driving or riding on public transport, make a playlist from your downloaded audio files and listen to them. You’ll transform your boring commute into a business English learning session.
- Learn the IPA for English accents/dialects. The IPA stands for the International Phonetic Alphabet. It’s a handy thing to know if you’re listening to unfamiliar accents.
By learning the IPA, you’ll be able to take down notes in terms of the “phonetic” sounds you hear, which helps you listen actively and makes certain pronunciations more memorable. You can check out the IPA chart here.
The more you listen to the resources below with these study techniques, the faster your comprehension skills will improve. You may even get hooked on English audio and want to graduate beyond just free downloads.
If that’s the case, the first tool to check out is FluentU. This innovative platform will take you beyond your initial business English listening sessions into personalized lessons based on authentic English videos.
There’s an entire business category filled with authentic business-related videos covering six language levels. You’ll get dialogues, interviews with entrepreneurs, business news reports and more.
For example, the business English videos cover everything from “Introducing Business Colleagues” to “Business Buzzwords” to “What Warren Buffet Thinks About Cash.”
Every video comes with interactive subtitles. You can click or tap on any word for an in-context definition, image and multiple example sentences.
So if you don’t understand something by listening, all you have to do is tap or click on one of the words in those subtitles to get more information.
For example, if you tap on the word “brought,” you will see this:
Plus, these great videos are all accompanied by interactive features and active learning tools, like multimedia flashcards and fun games like “fill in the blank.”
An added bonus is that if you want to work on other topics later, simply use the same, familiar FluentU platform to learn with videos from other categories, such as “Science and Tech,” “Politics and Society” or mix it up with “Arts and Entertainment” or “Health and Lifestyle.”
If you are interested in watching fun, relevant videos and practicing language actively in the process, be sure to create a FluentU account and try out this one-of-a-kind language learning program!
Ready to find out what other great audio resources are available to you?
Save Smart and Profit: 6 Incredible Free Business English Listening MP3 Downloads
This website is an excellent resource for free listening material for both teachers and students. They have audio files and transcripts neatly sorted into different categories like history, people and even words. It’s a convenient place to sharpen your listening skills, develop your vocabulary and learn new facts about the world to impress your co-workers.
They also have files devoted to news and current affairs. They’re in the form of news articles, so the formal tone and presentation of factual information might help your own business reports.
You can make the most of this resource by practicing dictation from it. Play a file, write down what you hear as fast as you can and then cross-check it with the transcript.
Podcasts are a fool-proof way to improve your listening skills. But Zapp! English’s podcasts are designed to improve both your listening and your overall language skills at the same time.
Their free audio files cover colloquial expressions that you can use to socialize with your co-workers, as well as develop your vocabulary and pronunciation to make a better impression at the workplace. You can download their free audio lessons directly from their website or subscribe to them on iTunes.
If you like what you hear, they also offer a full course on English vocabulary for work.
This page lists a number of free, easily downloadable MP3 audio lessons to improve your English. These files contain lessons from AJ Hoge, the founder of Effortless English and an excellent language coach.
The audio lessons cover a variety of topics, including business English as well as grammar basics and even common mistakes. I’d advise you to first download the ones that seem most relevant to you and listen to them daily before gradually working your way through the list.
Business English Pod is one of the best-known podcasts devoted specifically to business English. They’ve covered almost every aspect of business English, be it marketing, telephone calls, common business idioms and the like. You can subscribe to them or download their audio files for free, directly from the website.
What sets them apart from other resources is also the fact that they provide quizzes and PDF transcripts for each of their lessons, but for that you need to sign up to be a member first. In case you’re unsure, you can opt for a free trial. They even have e-books that are free for their Premium members, which also contain plenty of MP3 audio lessons.
Along with a nice variety of free English audio files, this site offers a free speaking and listening course that’ll help you remain disciplined during the learning process.
This is great for anyone who doesn’t have many English-speaking learning partners, since it’s focused on teaching you real, natural English. You no longer have to be intimidated by your boss and colleagues who are fluent in business English, because with adequate practice their speech will be much easier to understand.
For instance, with this download you’ll hear an English conversation about driving in North America. You’ll get an idea of what a proper conversation sounds like and how best to initiate one on your own.
In addition to an MP3 download, you get a PDF transcript and speaking and listening activities to make the most out of each lesson. You’ll also be guided on things like understanding people with accents very different from yours or being able to watch English movies without the aid of subtitles. Pretty comprehensive, in my opinion.
This is a wonderful website specializing in audio lessons. They have lessons for each level from beginner to advanced. You have to pay to make the most of their resources, but you can always opt for a free trial. That gives you five free audio lessons.
If you need to brush up on your everyday listening skills to interact with your colleagues better, this is a great bite-sized resource. Moreover, if you do decide to take up the course, you’ll get tons more material as well as a certificate that you can put on your CV.
These listening resources will teach you important words and phrases that you can use in everyday conversations and in writing, and give you solid training in how to carry on a meaningful conversation. In short, you have all the learning resources you need to succeed at the workplace—all you have to do is practice and cultivate your skills.
Archita Mittra is a freelance writer, journalist, editor and educator. Feel free to check out her blog or contact her for freelancing/educational inquiries.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn English with real-world videos.