One of the biggest difficulties English learners encounter is understanding people when they speak. Listening or aural comprehension is one of the areas that you must work the most to achieve fluency in your English.The variety of accents in English: British, American, Irish, Australian or South African add more difficulty if possible. If you get used to an accent (for example British) it is usually common that later another accent (such as South African) is difficult for you to understand. But do not be discouraged, once you have reached a considerable level, understanding the other accents will take you very little time.There are many free resources on the Internet to help you improve your listening comprehension. In this article we present three reference Web pages where you will find a multitude of podcasts (audio files) in English that you can listen to directly from your browser or download to your computer.
BBC Learning English
Contains multiple educational resources for learning English. It also has very interesting podcasts like the 6 Minute English series or hundreds of articles that you can read while listening to them at the same time. With the BBC you will mostly practice British English as it is a UK service.
VOA News Learning English
It is a section of VOA (Voice Of America) in which you will find many interesting articles to read and listen to. It also has a wide variety of podcasts and videocasts (video files) specially prepared for English learners. Special mention should be made of the Listen to VOA Special English resource, which is a 30-minute daily podcast. With VOA you will improve your listening comprehension in general and your understanding of the American accent in particular because most of the people who edit their material are from the United States.
It’s a great online radio specially designed for English learners. One of its most notable characteristics is that it is a bilingual radio (in English and Spanish). So the programs are primarily in English but Spanish is used to explain more difficult vocabulary or grammar or to give helpful advice. This radio can be listened to both online, FM or DTT. It is also possible to download the previous episodes in its Podcast section. Remember that the more time you spend studying and practicing English, the better your level will be. Consistency is very important and as you spend hours listening to podcasts in English you will notice that the number of words and phrases you understand increases significantly. – Guest post by David Garca. David collaborates in the blog Learn English Online where you will find hundreds of resources and learning guides to improve your level of English. There is also an English version of the blog at Learn English Online.