Lisa's week

lisas week teaser

Lisa's week: Learning by Listening – part 2


Last week, we talked about the possibility of downloading digital audio files to your smart phone or computer to support your exposure to English outside lessons. These podcasts have become so popular in recent years that it can be difficult to know where to start.

First of all, I’d just like to remind you that you will need to set up your own podcast application on your smart phone or find a podcast app to download for your use. All podcasts can also be downloaded and listened to directly on your computer but the phone in your pocket is by far the easiest way to practice listening to authentic English when you have a small amount of time. Familiarise yourself with your app and adjust the settings for what makes sense to you. If you download something by mistake or set up a download subscription, these can be easily deleted or unsubscribed so don’t worry about just roaming around and seeing what’s what. Although there might be one or two private podcasts where you need an individual log-in, the vast majority of shows are free of charge and openly available to anyone who wants to listen to them.

You won’t be surprised to know that I’d like to recommend the BBC for its wide range of downloads available for both native speakers and learners of English as a second language. To be honest, I know that there are many, many wonderful podcasts from the USA and no doubt all English speaking countries, but I’m rather biased towards the British Broadcasting Company!

Podcasts are particularly good for students to enjoy in a short and learner friendly way and in just a few minutes, cover a particular topic in an easy to understand form at a reasonable language speed. Vocabulary or grammar is discussed, or typical everyday or slang English is described. You can use the search criteria “ESL” (English as a Second Language) or you might want to try one of the following.

  • BBC Learning English News Review
  • BBC The English We Speak
  • BBC 6 Minute English / Grammar / Vocabulary
  • Business English Pod (US English business vocabulary)
  • All Ears English podcast (US English at an advanced level - mixed topics)

Of course the BBC also offers hundreds of broadcast radio programmes and I would suggest that you have a look at those on offer. Search in your podcast provider app for “BBC” to see the full range but again you might want to look into one from the list below.

  • From Our Own Correspondent – differing levels of English by mostly native speakers but also includes some international correspondents around the world. Several short reports on one show so you can just listen to one or two as you have time.
  • Best of Today – for the advanced listener. Reports and interviews from BBC Radio 4’s morning news show. Two or three downloads per day differing in length and complexity depending on the topic.
  • The Documentary – for the advanced listener. In depth reports related to news or current issues across the globe.

However, I also listen to some American podcasts such as TED Talks Daily, the TED Radio Hour, This American Life, the New Yorker Fiction and more.

If you were to look at my podcast list, you’d find drama, comedy, radio-based soap operas, the arts, current affairs, book clubs, music, history and creativity. So why not think about what interests you and find an English language podcast to fit and start downloading and listening for free. You will familiarise yourself with the sounds and rhythms of the language and find your understanding improving as time goes on.

Go on, give it a try!


What is Lisa's week?

"We’ve (hopefully) been entertaining you so far with the meaning and background of a weekly English idiom and now we’ve decided to expand that a little to give me the chance to share some details that come my way in my daily life as a Business English teacher. I hope to find weekly tidbits of information and experience to tell you about such as British traditions that I (or we) celebrate, or typical mistakes made when speaking English, or even some of the funny things I come across in my daily life. We hope that you’ll enjoy the insight into the life of a Brit in Germany!"


Episode 1: The Queen's 90th birthday

Episode 2: What did you do last Sunday?

Episode 3: What's the best way to answer?

Episode 4: The sound of London

Episode 5: Not just a last resort

Episode 6: Quick tip of the week: advice vs. advise

Episode 7: Title talk

Episode 8: The Union Jack

Episode 9: Why Thursday?

Episode 10: Quick tip of the week - Are you watching or just looking?

Episode 11: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

Episode 12: Don't forget to take you handy to the public viewing!

Episode 13: Up in the Highlands

Episode 14: Quick tip of the week - "Popular" false friends

Episode 15: Pie in the sky 

Episode 16: Through the tunnel

Episode 17: Keep left!

Episode 18: Quick tip of the week - Rise vs. raise vs. arise

Episode 19: How do you say that?

Episode 20: Back to School!

Episode 21: Sweet cravings

Episode 22: Can you change a fiver?

Episode 23: Grabbing some "me time"

Episode 24: Typical Mistakes (part 1)

Episode 25: Fancy a cuppa?

Episode 26: Quip tip of the week - Fell vs. fall etc.

Episode 27: Things that go bump in the night!

Episode 28: Remember, remember the fifth of November, gunpower, treason and plot

Episode 29: What's that badge you're wearing?

Episode 30: Bless you!

Episode 31: What are you thankful for?

Episode 32: Where's the larget Christmas Market outside Germany or Austria?

Episode 33: What's behind the door?

Episode 34: The joy of a Christmas cracker!

Episode 35: Does it all fit on the table?

Episode 36: Seeing in the New Year

Episode 37: How are your resolutions going?

Episode 38: Quick tip of the week - "Popular" false friends - part 2

Episode 39: What will the Year of the Rooster mean for you?

Episode 40: Sweet Valentine

Episode 41: A Reminder

Episode 42: I'll have mine with sugar and lemon juice, please!

Episode 43: The joy of golden daffodils

Episode 44: To correct or not to correct, that is the question

Episode 45: The whole world's going green!

Episode 46: Idiom of the week - Raining cats and dogs

Episode 47: The joke's on you!

Episode 48: Left over from the Middle Ages!

Episode 49: More calendar food-based ponderings

Episode 50: We use German words too

Episode 51: Celebrating St George

Episode 52: The perfect start to the day

Episode 53: The tiny apostrophe is actually something big (part 1)

Episode 54: The tiny apostrophe is actually something big (part 2)

Episode 55: The tiny apostrophe is actually something big (part 3)

Episode 56: Holiday season is coming!

Episode 57; ‘Tis the season (of Bank Holidays) – part 1

Episode 58; ‘Tis the season (of Bank Holidays) – part 2

Episode 59: Summer Solstice

Episode 60: Harry Potter turns 20

Episode 61: Quick Tip of the Week - live, life, live

Episode 62: Oh I do like to be beside the seaside

Episode 63:  I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!

Episode 64: Stick a stamp on it!

Episode 65: Idiom of the week - Water under the bridge

Episode 66: I say QWERTY, you say QWERTZ

Episode 67: Doing your homework and making mistakes! (Part 1)

Episode 68: Doing your homework and making mistakes! (Part 2)

Episode 69: Joking around in Scotland

Episode 70: The first day of school

Episode 71: Let's go down to the Wiesn!

Episode 72: Celebrating language

Episode 73: It's a Harry thing!

Episode 74: My favourite time of the year

Episode 75: TED-Ideas Worth Spreading

Episode 76: Grinning like a Cheshire cat

Episode 77: Enjoying the downtime

Episode 78: Talking Tenners

Episode 79: Do you need anything from the Hight Street?

Episode 80: Just another few minutes!

Episode 81: Counting the cards on my shelf.

Episode 82: What sign are you?

Episode 83: Great if you have a sweet tooth

Episode 84: It's an acquired taste!

Episode 85: New Year's Resolutions

Episode 86: Quick Tip of the week - go/come & take/bring

Episode 87: My Luve is Like a Red Red Rose

Episode 88: Once in a blue moon

Episode 89: Learning by Listening - part 1