16 ESL Listening Websites with Interactive Lessons and Audio Files [2023 Update]
Teachers take special pains to make learning fun for their students.
We bend over backwards to make vocabulary lessons sizzle and encourage learners to speak in class.
For students who learn best while listening, you can increase their engagement by pointing them to interactive websites with audio content.
In this post, I’ve put together a variety of ESL listening websites to fit different learning needs.
- 1. ESL Video
- 2. FluentU
- 3. ELLLO
- 4. EnglishClub
- 5. Easy World of English (EWE)
- 6. British Council Learning
- 7. BBC Learning English
- 8. VOA Learning English
- 9. Zapp! English
- 10. All Ears English
- 11. Real English Conversations
- 12. Randall’s ESL Cyber Listening Lab
- 13. StoryCorps
- 14. TED Talks
- 15. ESLKidslab
- 16. LyricsTraining
1. ESL Video
The clips you find here are divided by level: beginning, intermediate, intermediate low, intermediate high and advanced. Each category has approximately 40-70 videos and each video comes with a quiz.
Students can choose any video that catches their interest, like this beginning video with Lala the penguin. Those who are at the high intermediate level, on the other hand, can tackle their ESL lessons while debating about current issues like this one about climate change.
FluentU has videos that students of all ages can engage with, like children’s songs, movie trailers and clips, music videos, news segments, vlogs and inspirational talks (to name just a few).
The videos make it easier for students to follow what’s happening thanks to accurate subtitles with a built-in contextual dictionary. This means any time a student isn’t sure of what a word means, they can click on it to see an in-context definition with plenty of text and video examples, or add it to their flashcards to review later.
Reviews consist of different types of interactive exercises that include speaking practice, and questions adapt to each student’s comfort level with the words. Meanwhile, you can keep track of how your students are doing from your end, including seeing what videos they’re watching and which questions they’re getting wrong.
This is the first site many educators think of when it comes to listening exercises since it has thousands of topics to choose from. Many are interviews between native and non-native speakers, which gives the files an authenticity other sites sometimes lack.
The lesson will take you to a ton of audio lessons. Among other activities, students can find a section devoted to a game where they listen to a short audio description of a picture and choose the one that fits.
Most of the listening selections are easily downloadable and free. They also have a quiz or two for vocabulary and comprehension, and there are transcripts of everything. If your students prefer other types of content like video, they can find it here too.
Maybe your learners want to try their hand at listening and transcribing an entire paragraph?
If so, they’ll get the chance here. The exercises on this page are divided into three levels with increasingly longer excerpts of text: elementary, intermediate and advanced. Each level is then divided into categories like “common expressions” or “currency.”
After selecting their topic, users are given specific instructions on how to tackle the recording. Students can then see the correct answers and check their responses against them.
5. Easy World of English (EWE)
The main “Reading” menu on EWE gives users clear instructions on how to tackle the texts successfully. Each level has 20 readings with an audio recording.
After listening to the audio, there are three quizzes to choose from that increase in difficulty. I appreciate that the program asks students to fill in the answer instead of selecting one of the multiple-choice responses.
One of the quizzes really tests students by requiring them to look at a series of phrases and put them in the correct sequence. What a great way to encourage active listening!
6. British Council Learning
The British Council boasts learning pages for adults, teenagers and kids.
The listening section on the English for adults page allows users to choose their level and select a recording. Lessons come with a preparation activity, an audio recording and two tasks to complete when finished.
Younger learners will be interested in their English for kids page, and you shouldn’t hear any complaints from teenagers about their English for teens page, which uses audio on situations and topics relevant to teenagers.
7. BBC Learning English
This is another gigantic site with a variety of media options for all different levels. It includes full courses and shorter specialized audio for other topics.
The site goes into current events and serial programs for immersive lessons. If you’re looking for formats that can more easily fit into the classroom, it also has “6 Minute English” (as well as “6 Minute Grammar” and “6 Minute Vocabulary”) audio lesson podcasts, most of which are downloadable for free for 30 days.
The accents lean toward British English, which is good for getting a greater variety of accents if you’re in an environment that teaches American English.
The site is also available in different languages, allowing lower-level learners to navigate it more easily.
8. VOA Learning English
This one is admittedly smaller in scope, but it’s clear and easy to use. It’s also a great source for audio and video related to current events, this site’s bread and butter. Audio and video are specially made for non-native speakers.
There are sections that highlight science news, idiomatic expressions and life in the USA. There’s even a page with one-minute English lessons.
Audio files and videos can easily be downloaded by clicking “Direct link” and choosing the file size, and below the selections are a transcript and a section that highlights vocabulary used in the story. There’s also a page with a number of podcasts.
9. Zapp! English
Podcasts are a fool-proof way to improve your students’ listening skills. For example, Zapp! English’s podcasts are designed to improve their listening and overall language skills at the same time.
Their free audio files cover colloquial expressions students can use to socialize with others and develop their vocabulary and pronunciation to make a better impression.
10. All Ears English
All Ears English is a podcast designed for American English learners. The description notes that it’s appropriate for intermediate to advanced students and it covers topics geared toward adult professionals.
There are thousands of episodes that typically last less than 20 minutes. You can find episodes that deal with culture and etiquette as well as ones focused on grammatical aspects of the language.
11. Real English Conversations
Along with a nice variety of free English audio files, this site offers a trial course that’ll help students 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 real and natural English. Students will no longer have to be intimidated by those who are fluent in English because with adequate practice, native speech will be much easier to understand.
In addition to an MP3 download, students get a PDF transcript and speaking and listening activities to make the most out of each lesson. They’ll also be guided on things like understanding people with accents very different from theirs or being able to watch English movies without the aid of subtitles. Pretty comprehensive, in my opinion.
12. Randall’s ESL Cyber Listening Lab
This is just one of Randall Davis’s many sites. There are hundreds of listening quizzes on a variety of topics—so many that your ESL students might have a hard time choosing where to start!
For example, if they’re interested in fishing, they could start with a two-minute recording about a fishing trip. If you’re working with beginners, they’re probably already fluent in social media, so this recording about social media web sites should be right up their alley.
When you select an exercise, Randall provides a pre-listening activity along with the audio recording and quiz.
There are even quizzes for academic purposes and life tips. Who doesn’t need more of those?
This site allows you to choose from any of the stories that come up on the homepage that strike a chord. If nothing piques your students’ interest there, they can also choose a year, state or collection to see more options.
After making their selection, users can see an excerpt of the story and engaging pictures, as well as access the audio. I’d encourage listeners to try to understand as much as they can before looking at the transcript.
14. TED Talks
Available in a variety of topics, this has over 4,200 TED Talks your students can check out. Learners can search by topic or duration, or simply browse all of the available discussions right there on the homepage.
This resource is a great way to encourage students to increase their comprehension and learn more about the world at the same time.
You may have students who like challenges that allow them to beat their previous score. If so, you can point them to this website, which features a plethora of audio memory games about a variety of topics that allow users to do just that.
As the name of the site clearly states, it’s geared toward young learners. However, it’s a great low-key yet stimulating activity for ESL students of all ages.
This resource combines music with ESL learning. English learners have their choice of video selections in American, Canadian or British English at the beginner, intermediate, advanced or expert levels. The category changes the number of words listeners will have to fill in.
Responses are timed and the website keeps a record of correct and incorrect responses. Users also have the opportunity to watch the videos as they play.
As with everything, you’ll want to make sure videos are appropriate for the age group you’re working with.
No matter their learning needs, students will find something they like from this list of ESL listening websites. Let’s help them tune their ears to English!