learn esl english podcasts

12 Native English Podcasts for Learning English

Tired of the classroom, flashcards, and repetition?

Listen to a podcast show in English.

I’m not talking about an English learning podcast, but a science, entertainment, news or comedy show aimed at native speakers.

There are so many benefits. You’ll hear English spoken in many different contexts by a range of speakers. You’ll hear idiomatic English as well as American slang. This is great way to listen to everyday English and to increase your English vocabulary.

As a result, whether you’re an ESL student or a business person, you’ll learn to speak better English.

Here’s a selection of 12 great native English podcasts for English learners:

12 Native English Podcasts for Learning English

12 native english podcasts english learners

1) This American Life

This American Life is consistently ranked as the most popular podcast in the United States.  On average, there are approximately 1 million downloads of each episode.  They feature unusual and fascinating stories of real Americans from the successful radio show of the same name.  The podcast follows the same format as the radio programme.  Each episode is themed and includes a variety of true tales of everyday people.  Past themes have included “Back to School”, “Amusement Parks” and “Fear of Sleep”.

Why This American Life is a great podcast to learn English:

The podcast features interviews with real Americans up and down the country.      For the language student this is a terrific way to become familiar with regional accents and the different speeds that US English is spoken.  This American Life is also an exciting listen.  Some of the stories are moving, funny and surprising.

native english podcasts english learners

2) Global News

Global News is produced by the BBC World Service, the world’s largest international broadcaster.  The podcast is published twice daily and is a roundup of the latest global news.  The stories have been collected from World Service news output and include interviews and location reports from BBC correspondents.

Why Global News is a great podcast to learn English:
Some of the best English you will hear will be on the BBC.  The presenters and reporters are well spoken and easy to understand.  They possess an excellent command of the English language that will help students to increase their vocabulary.

12 native english podcasts english learners

3) Scientific American Podcast: 60-Second Science

Scientific American is one of the world’s premier science magazines, bringing the latest science news, features and analysis to the general public.  The magazine’s science journalists and writers have now branched out to the podcast world with a daily update of some of the most important developments in research.

Why Scientific American Podcast: 60-Second Science is a great podcast to learn English:
Scientific American’s presenters speak with authority on many different scientific topics.  They use language that communicates the excitement of scientific research and in a way that the average person can understand.  This is particularly useful for anyone wanting to work in science-related fields or who has a love of astronomy, biology, chemistry, physics and how nature works.

12 native english podcasts english learners

4) Freakonomics Radio

Freakonomics Radio is an award-winning podcast that “explores the hidden side of everything”.  It is inspired by the series of Freakonomics books and is hosted by co-authors Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner.  The podcast is an entertaining and riveting examination of many aspects of our lives.  This includes news, pop culture and global and local political issues.

Why Freakonomics Radio is a great podcast to learn English:
This is a wonderful podcast series that explores subjects from a different angles and in some depth. There is a lot of light-hearted banter between the hosts which helps to ensure that concepts, issues and points of views are understood.  The breadth of topics covered means that you will be able to pick up English for many different facets of life.

native english podcasts english learners

5) Here’s the Thing

Here’s the Thing is one of the most fascinating radio shows and podcasts to emerge in recent years.  American film, television and stage actor, Alec Baldwin interviews some of the biggest names in politics, the arts and show businesses.  He is a probing interviewer who quizzes his guests on why they do what they do, their inspirations and the pivotal decisions they have made in their careers.  As a prominent movie star, Alec Baldwin is able to attract high calibre guests to his show.

Why Here’s the Thing is a great podcast to learn English:
The show features learned and inspiring discussions in several fields of human endeavour, particularly those related to creativity.  Some of the guests are among the most celebrated people in their fields.  It is full of rich and engaging conversations.

12 native english podcasts english learners

6) NPR

NPR is a public radio network that syndicates news and cultural programmes to hundreds of radio stations across the United States.  Some of their content is available to listeners via podcasts.  These include Planet Money that reports and translates what is going on in the global economy, and NPR News that covers national and international stories.

Why NPR is a great podcast to learn English:
The language student can benefit by listening to any of NPR’s podcasts.  The accents are clean and strong and words are well enunciated.  All of this makes the podcasts easy to follow.  NPR programmes contain a vast repertoire of vocabulary as well as many phrases and expressions that are in everyday use.  Language students will find that they are able to acquire a broader range of vocabulary in no time at all.

native english podcasts english learners

7) Stuff You Should Know

The world is a curious place, and as humans we are intensely inquisitive creatures.  Stuff You Should Know appeals to our inquiring minds by providing answers to a host of funny, stimulating or offbeat questions and topics.  Previous areas tackled by the podcast include: “Do Zombies exist?”, “How Black Boxes Work” and “Do objects or experiences make us happier?”

Why Stuff You Should Know is a great podcast for learning English:
The podcast is aimed at anyone who is fascinated by the world we live in and who wants to know more about how it works.  The diverse topics and occasional use of technical language exposes the student to a rich source of vocabulary.

12 native english podcasts english learners

8) The Nerdist

The Nerdist is a place where nerds hang out and discuss all things nerdy.  Hosted by three stand-up comedians, it is a hilarious interview-style show about the pastimes that some people obsess about. These include collecting comic books, playing video games and watching television shows.  The Nerdist also features interviews with famous comedians and other celebrities.

Why The Nerdist is a great podcast for Learning English:
One of the ways you can tell if your English is really improving is if you can enjoy a podcast without it seeming like hard work.  And if you can keep up with the witty and fast-paced conversations of comedians then you really are doing well.  This is also a good podcast for intermediate students.  They may find some parts challenging, but they’ll enjoy a laugh or two along the way.

native english podcasts english learners

9) Entrepreneur on Fire

The title certainly grabs attention and so does the content of this engaging podcast.  John Lee Dumas presents a lively business show to help entrepreneurs grow their small businesses.  For each program he interviews business people who share their journeys of success, and the tough moments along the way.  The podcast covers such important topics as marketing and starting a business, and is a good resource for new and experienced entrepreneurs.

Why Entrepreneur on Fire is a great podcast for learning English:
This podcast introduces the English language student to a lot of business jargon and related terms.  This is useful for anyone who needs to hold business discussions in English.  It also includes lots of everyday language as well as inspiration for business owners.

12 native english podcasts english learners

10) Comedy Bang Bang: The Podcast

Scott Aukerman and his guests mix hilarious banter with comedy songs and performances.  Each weekly episode features games, interviews, characters, sketches, improvisations and celebrities.  It all adds up to more than one hours’ worth of non-stop fun and laughter.

Why Comedy Bang Bang is a great podcast for learning English:
This is a very funny show with many laugh out loud moments.  It is fast-paced, but easy enough to follow.   The podcast features many characters so you will hear a lot different accents and dialects.

native english podcasts english learners

11) Stuff You Missed in History Class

For many people, history is a dry subject that reminds them of long, boring lessons at school.  However, it’s an exciting genre full of fascinating stories as demonstrated by this superb podcast.  Holly Frey and Tracy Wilson are two history enthusiasts who discuss major events of the past.  Their approach is casual and informal with podcasts full of intriguing facts.  Among the topics previously featured are “Crucifixion in the Greco-Roman world”, “Elizabeth Blackwell, America’s first female M.D.”, and “The Boston Massacre”.

Why Stuff You Missed in History Class is a great podcast for learning English:
The content is so engaging and well-presented that the listener is instantly hooked.  The conversations are conducted at normal speed, but there’s never any confusion about who is speaking.  Students will pick up a lot of great vocabulary here.

12 native english podcasts english learners

12) Stuff to Blow Your Mind

Another podcast with a great title. Robert Lamb and Julie Douglas are on a mission to demonstrate the amazing world of science.  They explore the limits of human knowledge in science, technology and philosophy.  Their passion for science is infectious as they touch on technological marvels, cosmic mysteries and medical advances.

Why Stuff to Blow Your Mind is a great podcast for learning English:
The show is aimed at anyone with an interest in scientific advances.  This is a highly informative podcast that is of benefit to anyone who wants their vocabulary to include such useful science terms as genetics, DNA, nanotechnology and quantum physics.

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