My parents grew up in an era when having a TV was something that only the rich could afford.
As a result, much of their childhood was spent tuned into—you guessed it—the radio.
The radio was more than just entertainment. It was an integral part of their lives.
Sure, they heard fun music and audio dramas. But they also got daily news, local announcements, the weather and advertisements for a wide range of products.
This way, the radio did not just keep them up-to-date—it kept their English skills up-to-date, too.
A lot of time has passed since then, but business English learners can still get all those same benefits that my parents got, and even more.
Today, you can listen to programs specifically focused on business news and business language skills. And you can get them online, anytime, anywhere.
Here is how to do it, plus seven great business English radio and podcast programs you can start listening to today!
Why Is the Radio Useful for Business English Learners?
- It makes for great time management: You can listen to the radio anytime, anywhere and for however long you want. As we will discuss below, even 30 minutes a day is useful.
- It takes less effort on your part, yet delivers results: There is no teacher to connect with, no homework to complete, no deadlines to meet. You just have to show up every day and switch on the radio. Even when you write and review your notes, you can do it your way and there is no one to make fun of your handwriting.
- You can do it while you travel or when you are stuck in traffic: Whether you are commuting or waiting at the airport for a delayed flight, you can use your time productively by tuning into a radio station. All you need is an eager mind and good quality headphones.
- Your speaking and listening skills will automatically improve: You will hear correct pronunciation and different English accents. You will hear essential words for general business and specific industries. Your business English vocabulary and sentence construction will dramatically improve, so job interviews, presentations, project briefings and networking events will all become super easy to you. Tackling a conference call will no longer be a nightmare.
The radio will also teach you how to notice subtle changes in voice modulation. Intent listening will tell you a lot about the speaker’s background and culture.
- You will learn more than just language skills: Unlike some other audio resources, radio channels are usually centered on the latest news. So this is a very good way to stay up-to-date on whatever is happening in the business world and even impress your colleagues.
Meanwhile, listening to interviews of CEOs or business executives will teach you a lot about the nitty gritty (essential details) of the business field and it will help you to be better at your job. You will also learn to differentiate between standard English and business English, and know which to speak when.
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How to Make the Most of Radio Listening
Before you start learning, it is important to know how to make the most of this resource. Just follow the tips below:
- Take notes while you are listening: Whether you are listening to the local news or a heated debate (rigorous/impassioned debate), it is important to stay focused and give your undivided attention to it.
Taking notes is the best way to do this. It will help you notice words or phrases that you do not know, and confirm that you understood the main points of the discussion.
- Listen for a fixed period of time every day: You have to make sure your ears are attuned to the English language. Business English should not sound unfamiliar or difficult to you. So make it a point to turn on the radio every day and listen to it closely for 15 to 30 minutes at a time.
Listening for longer is perfectly fine, but there is a chance your attention might wander or you might get overwhelmed.
- Review what you have listened to: After listening to a radio segment, ask yourself, what have I learned from this session? Perhaps you learned to pronounce a familiar word in a different way, or you found a better way of introducing yourself at networking events—whatever it is, note it down so you will not forget it.
Make sure to also re-listen to parts of the audio you did not understand the first time.
If you enjoy this type of active listening practice, supplement your radio learning with FluentU.
Unlike traditional language learning sites, FluentU uses a natural approach that helps you ease into the English language and culture over time. You’ll learn English as it’s spoken in real life.
FluentU has a variety of engaging content from popular talk shows, nature documentaries and funny commercials, as you can see here:
FluentU makes it really easy to watch English videos. There are captions that are interactive. That means you can tap on any word to see an image, definition and useful examples.
For example, when you tap on the word "searching," you'll see this:
Learn all the vocabulary in any video with quizzes. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.
The best part is that FluentU keeps track of the vocabulary that you’re learning and recommends examples and videos to you based on the words you’ve already learned. Every learner has a truly personalized experience, even if they’re learning the same video.
You can start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, by downloading the app from the iTunes or Google Play stores.
Tune into the 7 Best Business English Radio Resources for Language Learners
Authentic Business English Radio
You can always tune into a radio at home or in your car, or you can access a wide variety of radio stations via the internet, tailored to your needs. The links below will send you to websites and apps where you can start streaming the radio stations instantly online.
All of these radio stations are authentic English stations, in other words, they are broadcast for a native English-speaking audience. That means you will be hearing business English the way it is used in real life.
CNBC Business Report
CNBC is an authority when it comes to international business. The CNBC Business Report is a bite-sized (short; easy-to-digest) twice hourly report on the latest happenings in the business world. It is a great tool to ensure that you are always updated on the most recent and important happenings in the world of finance and business.
The link above will take you to the radio show on TuneIn, an app you can use to listen to live radio anywhere. I especially recommend you catch the CNBC Business Report’s morning broadcast to start each day with important news and business English practice.
“In Business” from BBC Radio 4
Knowing business English will take you places. If you have always wanted to cultivate that authentic British accent, you might try tuning into BBC Radio 4, including their business-focused programming, “In Business.”
“In Business” covers a wide-range of topics that are relevant to both small businesses and large corporations. Recent coverage includes everything from the Russian economy, to the future of the electric car industry, to mental health in the workplace.
I would recommend that you sign up online by clicking the “My Radio” link and customizing your listening material. You can always save something to listen to later, if you are not in a position to listen “live.”
Bloomberg Radio is an international 24-hour radio station exclusively related to business. You can listen to Bloomberg Radio by directly streaming from their website or by downloading their app (scroll down to the “How to listen” section of the page linked above).
This radio station is especially useful because in addition to business news reports, they also feature interviews with executives and analysts. That means you get to hear a wide range of accents and speaking styles, along with essential insights from big names in the world of business.
Otto Radio’s “TED Talks Business” Compilation
If you are looking to be inspired or motivated, look no further than TED Talks. These are entertaining, insightful presentations by experts across many different professional fields. Otto Radio has made it easy to find business-related TED Talks with a compilation of audio clips you can listen to instantly.
Just click the arrow next to a title that sounds interesting and the audio will start playing. Unlike with live radio, you can easily pause and rewind if you miss something. You can boost your English listening while learning about employee-owned businesses, predictions for the economy, how to think creatively at work and more.
If you dream of being an entrepreneur, this series is for you.
Programs Created for Business English Learners
Listening to authentic business English radio is vital to becoming fluent, but you may also benefit from resources specifically designed for business English learners. The podcasts below are similar to radio shows, but they are pre-recorded (not broadcast live) and intended for language learners (not a native English-speaking audience).
They make a great addition to authentic radio programs for well-rounded business English listening practice.
“Down to Business English”
This podcast is designed to help you learn English through business news. Each episode consists of an in-depth discussion of business related news and headlines, through which the listener learns new words and phrases related to their line of work.
The hosts choose topics wisely and provide a lot of variety. From the business side of Marvel comics to key developments in Saudi Arabia, this podcast is a must-listen to keep up with international trends.
“Down to Business” offers its most recent episode for free so you can try it out. If you like what you hear, you can become a member and access all episodes. You will also get audio scripts so you can read along.
“Business English Pod”
This is one of the best podcasts focused on business English learning. They have over 400 lessons that cover every aspect of Business English, including presentations, interviews, telephone calls or simply decoding office jargon. Try to listen to an episode every day!
They also have online courses and even special benefits for members, such as PDF transcripts, online quizzes and access to greater resources.
“100 Percent Business English”
This podcast is hosted by Paul Urwin, an entrepreneur with experience in language teaching. Each episode covers a specific aspect of business English, be it phrasal verbs, American culture or even dress codes. The podcast also features guest speakers.
Each episode packs in a lot of information, so you may want to replay an episode or listen to a little at a time. If you need advice from the experts about any workplace issue, give this one a listen.
So go ahead. Go to any of the above-mentioned radio stations or podcasts and start listening.
And once you are done, think about the experience.
Try to remember what you have just heard and learned.
Make this into a daily habit and your knowledge of the business world as well as your business English skills will improve by leaps and bounds.
Archita Mittra is a freelance writer, journalist, editor and educator. Feel free to check out her blog or contact her for freelancing/educational inquiries.
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