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A man listening through headphones
Yes, Learn English Podcasts Help
Perhaps I’ve just started to self-learn English and I’m a little skeptical about the actual benefits I’ll get from certain modes of study. I want to learn quickly, but I don’t want to waste my time if it won’t show any results. There are an overwhelming number of resources to sort through and some are avenues I’m unfamiliar with, like podcasts.

The support of podcasts is a toss up—some people find themselves immersed in the radio-like shows on a regular basis, while others haven’t had much experience with them. If you’re trying to learn English and fall into the latter category, it’s time to branch out and see how useful English language learning podcasts can be. How are they useful ? You ask? When learning a language, people are always told to expose themselves to as much of it as possible beyond the classroom. As a beginner, turning on an English television series or radio show can be overwhelming, but it is true that without this kind of exposure, you’re missing out on ways to improve.

When using podcasts, you’re exposed to conversations designed specifically for people on the course to learning English. These conversations are constructed so that they flow like natural ones, while accounting for the level of the speaker when it comes to vocabulary and speed. This one has three difficulty levels as well as a business English option.

Listening activities are important to English language acquisition because they introduce you to pronunciation, style of speaking, and slang terms—things that cannot be found in a textbook. When you listen, your ear begins to recognize how words are said and how they fit into natural conversations, and the flow of English speaking style is naturally ingrained. Many podcasts also make it a point to include slang terms and idioms in the dialogue, providing explanations either in the actual conversation or in accompanying resources, like this one.

The more you listen, the more you’ll remember. The ear is a resource that oftentimes people don’t think to use when learning a new subject, since books have been the prominent form of study for so long. Podcasts play on the ear and your brain naturally soaks up what is heard. The more you listen, the more you soak up. That’s part of the reason why full-immersion language acquisition techniques work so well—conversational forms of the language are heard constantly.

On top of the benefits, it’s convenient. Podcasts can be played in the car while driving to work, on your phone while working on the yard, and in the background as you get ready in the morning, to name a few. You don’t even have to set aside time to use them.

If you’re wary about jumping on the English-learning podcast train, don’t be. They’re simple, easy to incorporate into your daily life, and produce results. Give them a try, because yes, they do really help.


Photo Credit: William Brawley


Reading a book at the beach
ESL Reading Picks
One of my favorite ways to practice a language is through reading novels written in that language. Reading books is a great way to get more involved in your language acquisition, helping you gain new vocabulary and becoming more familiar with English as it is naturally written. The City College of San Francisco and Spokane Community College have compiled some useful lists to help you figure out which books to consider, and I’ve included a few of my personal picks for ESL learners.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is a short and easy to read American classic often taught in high schools. The story takes place in early 1920s New York from the point of view of Nick Carraway, who has recently moved next door to a mysterious man by the name of Jay Gatsby, who throw legendary parties, is incredibly wealthy, and is hopelessly infatuated with a woman he shouldn’t be.

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom is a delightful nonfiction book about a man’s visit to his old college professor and his insightful outlook on life. Inspiring and heartwarming, this book is sure to encourage any reader to live life passionately and to never give up on the things they love.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is a young adult series that, over the past few years, has acquired many passionate followers for its engaging storyline and powerful female protagonist. These books are a major part of America’s pop culture and have even been made into films. Start off with the first book, The Hunger Games.

The books take place in the future, where, after a major period of destruction, the nation of Panem is formed and divided into twelve districts ruled by the Capitol. Back in Panem’s history, the districts once revolted against the Capitol and lost. The annual Hunger Games was created as a reminder of the Capitol’s ultimate rule and punishment for the revolt. So every year, one child between the ages of 12 and 17 from each district is randomly chosen to compete against one another to the death in a location designed and controlled by the Capitol’s gamemakers. The stories follow Katniss Everdeen as she fights for survival against the Games and the Capitol.

Harry Potter by JK Rowling is a household name worldwide, with the series translated into 68 different languages worldwide! The series is one of my personal favorites, even though I’m not usually a fantasy fan. I’ve read the books multiple times in English and read the French translation to practice my own language learning.

Reading a book you know in English helps with your comprehension, so it can be helpful but certainly not necessary if you’re already familiar with the story.

Young Harry Potter, a scrawny orphan neglected by his guardians, finds out that he is a wizard and will be taught at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, following the footsteps of his parents. He struggles with classes, plays Quidditch on a flying broomstick, and meets best friends and mortal enemies all within is first year in the wizarding world. Start with the Sorcerer’s Stone and you’ll be addicted before you know it.


Photo Credit: Simon Cocks


Cap des Rosiers in Quebec City, Canada
Top 5 Places for English Teaching Job Opportunities
If you know that you’re interested in teaching ESL but don’t know where to start your search, don’t worry. Some of the best places for ESL teaching are right here.
  • South Korea
    The U.S.’s influence on South Korea and its rapid economic growth has lead to an increase in demand for EFL teachers. Salaries are generally about $2,000 per month with supplemental benefits. You have the opportunity to teach in a variety of South Korea’s major cities, including the bustling Seoul and Busan. South Korea offers a vibrant culture with a deep history, with popular modern favorites that include K-Pop and soccer.

  • Japan
    Consistently a country where EFL teachers are in high demand, Japan offers a wealth of opportunities to live and teach. The country is home to such cultural experiences as the tea ceremony, bustling cities such as Tokyo, and the natural landscapes of Mount Fuji and the coral reefs off Okinawa. Salaries range from about $2,000-$3,000 (USD) per month, but keep in mind that living costs are less expensive, and generally includes supplemental benefits. The U.S. Embassy has provided a list of resources for more details.

  • Québec
    Canada’s predominately French-speaking province offers a unique setting that blends North American and European cultures. Though French is used for commercial signs and at-home speaking, with English as the second most prominent language (nearly half of the province’s population considers themselves to be bilingual) there is a definite English presence that encourages people to learn to speak it. The high immigrant population is also key in the prominence of ESL work in the province.

  • China
    With China’s rise in the global eye comes a greater demand for English teachers. The positions range from kindergarten to boarding schools, so there are endless options and opportunities. China is a great place to experience a culture all of its own, with unique cuisine, history, and traditions. Salaries vary between programs but, due to the high demand for teachers, are comfortable and often include supplements for housing and airfare. This post gives you all you need to know about money during your time teaching ESL in China. Check out the U.S. Embassy for more details and this blog to hear some first-hand experience.

  • Chile
    There has recently been a great deal of growth in Chile’s demand for EFL teachers and its Latin American location puts a spin on the oftentimes Asia-focused opportunity. Salaries range from about $500-$1000 per month, but keep in mind the differences in cost of living. By teaching here, you’ll get to experience being immersed in Chilean Spanish, see sights like the San Rafael Glacier and Valle de la Luna, and visit the beautiful cities of Santiago and Valparaíso.

Remember that wherever you choose to teach will surely expose you to a new, exciting culture and give you countless opportunities to immerse yourself in a new language.


Photo Credit: Dennis Jarvis