English learners live in two completely separate worlds.
One could be called the “Study World.” Time can feel painfully slow here. There’s usually a specific (and unexciting) goal, like getting to the next chapter or passing a test.
In “Study World” you may feel the pressure to always succeed in your learning.
The other world is the “Real World.” This is where you get to use your English skills for informal, sometimes spontaneous tasks. While this world can get confusing, it’s generally a more fun place to be.
What if I told you that you could merge these two worlds together?
You can get all the excitement of “Real World” English with all the benefits of the “Study World.” These situations can be more enjoyable and can improve your English even faster!
All you need are some resources to learn English through real conversations. In this article, we’ll show you our seven favorites!
Why Real Conversations Are so Important for English Learners
Learning a language is a multi-sensory activity. There’s only so much you can learn from the written language alone. By using your listening and speaking skills to interact with the English language, you’ll develop well-rounded skills and make faster progress toward fluency.
Conversational English also exposes you to the type of language you would use day-to-day in an English-speaking region. This includes not just proper pronunciation but also slang, expressions and casual speech patterns.
This is indeed an important point to consider. Sometimes the English that you learn might not always match perfectly with the English spoken in everyday conversations. What’s great about English conversation is the variety in the language used. For example, take the video below. There are at least 16 different ways to respond to “you’re welcome” in English.
Many of those are much more common than the standard you’re welcome. Learning many ways to say the same thing in English is the key to a great conversation!
You can learn all about how to sound more native with videos on native content, expressions and more once you subscribe to the FluentU English channel.
How to Create Your Own Language-rich Conversations
Practicing your own English conversations will help you get the most out of the resources below. Try these tips the next time you talk with English-speaking friends or have an English language exchange!
- Ask questions to drive the conversation. For example, “What makes you say that?” “Why do you think of this?” “What would happen if…?” “Have you considered…?”
- Ask questions to deepen your learning. For example, “Can you tell me more about it/this?” “Please explain it in another way.” “So are you telling me that…?”
- Repeat information to understand it better. Simply repeat the last fact or opinion shared with you in similar language. This often encourages further explanation from others!
- Identify and discuss shared interests. Find something you both like to talk about. This will help you to direct the conversation away from being short, simple or dull.
- Be brave and try new words. You’ll never learn how to use them until you give them a try in real conversations!
- Encourage friendly feedback. Invite your English-speaking friends to suggest words you could use or change. This turns every conversation into a learning experience!
How to Learn English Through Real Conversations, from Home!
Unable to create an English discussion in your current situation? No need to worry. We’ve got the best resources to help you immerse yourself in real spoken English, from anywhere.
Zapp! English’s easy-to-download podcasts are created by British and American English teachers. It’s as simple as adding the MP3 lessons to your smartphone or listening device, popping in some headphones and enjoying a good chat!
The program is focused on casual English vocabulary and expressions, to improve your comprehension of authentic English in a variety of contexts. You’ll hear American, British and international accents.
Choose podcasts that fit your level whether it be beginner, intermediate or advanced. With a range of categories such as colloquial language, pronunciation, language for work and relevant news topics, you’ll never get bored!
Simply download their audio lessons straight from their website or iTunes. You can also purchase their whole audio course, complete with e-books to support your learning.
FluentU is the most innovative resource on this list for learning English through real conversations.
FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
Each FluentU video has interactive captions. You can click on any word for an instant definition, picture and native pronunciation, so you’ll learn new vocabulary naturally while you watch. There are also flashcards, full transcripts and exercises to help you remember what you’ve learned when you’re done watching.
Better yet, FluentU remembers what you’ve studied and uses an algorithm to quiz you at just the right moment before you forget vocabulary. It’s an efficient, fun way to actively build your English skills—while absorbing real English the way native speakers really use it!
The videos are organized by genre and learning level, so it’s easy to find ones that work for you. For example, beginners might love these cute interviews with kids during Google’s “take your child to work day,” while advanced speakers will enjoy this conversation between the famous talk show host Ellen DeGeneres and singer Ed Sheeran.
Study at home on your computer or take your authentic English practice anywhere with the FluentU mobile app. You can check out the full video library for free with a FluentU trial.
Better at English
If anyone knows how difficult it can be to learn a new language, it’s the founder of Better at English, Lori Linstruth. She has learned five languages (Swedish, Spanish, Dutch, German and Indonesian). She also has her master’s degree in English and works as a corporate language instructor and translator.
Lori’s used her experience as a language learner to create Better at English.
The Better at English podcasts are recorded conversations from real life, between real people. Most of the topics spoken about in these podcasts involve everyday routines like shopping or greeting people. Some of Lori’s podcasts also talk about special themes to help you learn more specific vocabulary, like office culture or pet ownership.
Each audio lesson comes with a PDF for you to download that includes the discussion transcript and vocabulary notes.
Lori’s website provides lots of information and great advice including videos on staying motivated as a language learner, blog articles on different aspects of English grammar and extra resources to try. Go to the top menu of the website to explore these and more.
Learn Real English
Learn Real English prides itself on moving away from traditional teaching methods and helping you learn English through relevant, natural conversation. They have transformed those boring lessons that make you study grammar rules, memorize word lists and follow textbooks into more immersive English experiences.
Learn Real English comes in a 30-lesson pack for $97. You receive lessons from the course straight to your email inbox. You can download them and listen to them on your computer or MP3 listening device.
Their lessons teach you about everything from English idioms to common pronunciation mistakes. Learn Real English also gives you study tips on how to learn grammar and vocabulary without memorizing or how to meet and speak to other English speakers.
Teachers created Learn Real English with the goal to boost students’ confidence when using English in the workplace, traveling or socially. They want you to learn useful English fast so they have designed their program with that focus.
Real English is just that—real people speaking real English! The videos don’t include actors. They’re simply conversations from people in real life who’ve been stopped on the streets and asked several questions.
These videos are the basis for the lessons. Each lesson also has many interactive tasks you can complete. Watch sections of the video with either subtitles or vocabulary pictures and answer the quiz questions.
Real English captures spontaneous situations to help students improve their English listening comprehension naturally. Although other English educators believe it can be a bad idea to show grammatical errors, the makers of Real English don’t. They consider it a learning opportunity to see that even native speakers can improve their English! Each video has a feature that highlights any grammatical mistakes and provides suggestions for the correct use of language.
This can be a very beneficial way to deepen your understanding by learning what not to do!
Don’t be fooled by its simple looks! ESL Fast is a large online hub of easy-to-use English resources.
If you’re short on time or just need a touch-up on your knowledge, head to the “Speaking is Easy” and “Easy Conversations” lessons. Here you can practice reading along with the written words as you listen to English on the online audio player. These quick and simple lessons will help you with varying topics including traveling by bus, completing small jobs around the house, shopping, dating and voting.
If you’re looking for something a little more in-depth, try the “English Level” lessons found lower down on the homepage. With six levels and over 300 progressive lessons to move through, you can continue to support your skills and advance in English successfully.
Each lesson focuses on a passage of English that’s based on a theme. Learners read and listen to the audio conversations to complete various activities. These activities include investigating the vocabulary, completing fill-in-the-blank passages, constructing sentences and following the audio to write a dictation.
With the language becoming more difficult as you progress through the levels, ESL Fast is a great free resource for you explore simple versions of real English conversations and build your skills at the right pace for you.
Real English Conversations
Real English Conversations is more than just a website to practice your speaking and listening skills. This fabulous resource also helps you to learn new techniques to enhance the way you study English!
Not only do lessons focus on listening and engaging with natural English conversations, but there are also specific audio courses that aim to teach you how to listen to English conversations. For example, by learning how to break down verbal English conversations properly, you’re more able to understand and interact with the spoken language in real-world situations.
You can access Real English Conversations by subscribing to their free podcast or by downloading it from the website. It’s created especially for intermediate and advanced learners. You can start with the podcast and free “mini course,” and if you enjoy what you get, you can sign up for an online course or a “fluency power pack” that includes conversations with native speakers.
Time to get chatting! Use our resources and handy tips to speak up and get real in your English discussions. Let the language and learning flow.
And One More Thing...
If you like learning English through movies and online media, you should also check out FluentU. FluentU lets you learn English from popular talk shows, catchy music videos and funny commercials, as you can see here:
The FluentU app and website 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 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? FluentU remembers the vocabulary that you’re learning. It gives you extra practice with difficult words—and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. You have a truly personalized experience.
Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or from the Google Play store.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn English with real-world videos.