If you’re an ESL teacher like me, you’re always on the lookout for new listening material.
If you’re an ESL teacher like me, you feel the CD that comes with the coursebook is not enough to really boost students’ listening comprehension. If you’re an ESL teacher like me, you’re gonna love these seven websites. They offer audio and video that you can use in the classroom or recommend to students so they can work on improving listening comprehension in their own study time.
7 Great Places to Look for ESL Listening Material
ESL Cyber Listening Lab
ESL teacher Randall Davis put together a very impressive site, filled with listening quizzes. One of the things you’ll notice about the ESL Cyber Listening Lab at first glance is that the quizzes are divided into Easy, Medium and Difficult. Each quiz comes with a pre-listening activity, a multiple-choice quiz based on the listening and post-listening activities that include vocabulary exercises. These are wonderful ready-to-use listening activities for any level.
Newsy features short news segments across a variety of topics from business to entertainment, international to US news. One of the best things about Newsy is that each video is posted with a transcript of the news report, giving ESL students the choice of just listening, or listening and reading. It’s a great site for students who need something a bit more challenging. The added bonus? The site offers an app for iPhone, iPad, Android and Blackberry – perfect for students on the go!
Voice of America
Voice of America is a multimedia platform that delivers news to English learners across the globe. The site features MP3 audio and video that are public domain, which means you may not only use the files in the classroom but also download them through VOA Direct. Each video is less than three minutes long and comes with subtitles. They may be downloaded in video format or as MP3 files students can listen to anywhere. VOA also has a handy little app for iPhone and Android, a Mobile Wordbook that teaches students how to say and use a word in a sentence.
Talk English has listening lessons for Basic, Intermediate and Advanced students. Students have the possibility to listen to a conversation, complete a multiple choice quiz and read a script of the audio. Teachers and students can use the website online free of charge or pay a small one-time fee for unlimited downloads – we’re talking hundreds of dialogues in different levels. Additionally, there is an app for iPhone and Android.
ESL Fast offers 365 short stories with audio and text for intermediate students. The best thing about this site is the sheer number of stories available. At the bottom of the page, you’ll see a vocabulary list for each listening, plus a variety of exercises, including dictations. The site also offers easy conversations for beginner ESL students who have the unique opportunity to listen to short conversations on a variety of topics and speak to Mike, a “robot” that replies to questions and statements students type in a dialogue box, thus creating an actual, virtual “dialogue”.
Easy Listening for Kids
This website has short and easy listening audio tracks that are tailored to young learners. Each audio track comes with the text for reading, a vocabulary list, and exercises your young learners won’t have any trouble completing. There’s a second website with additional listening exercises for children.
Special Note: While the listening exercises are great, the sites are filled with ads, so be sure to monitor browsing for content that may be inappropriate for children.
Elllo provides a wealth of listening exercises in video or audio format. You can sort search results by level, topic, country or media; the last option allows you choose from games, audio or video. All of the exercises come with vocabulary lists, additional exercises or quizzes, as well as download links. Unlike the other websites, this one includes audio with English speakers of different nationalities, thus effectively exposing students to a variety of English accents like Australian, Scottish, South African, and others.
No matter which site you choose, you’ll be giving your students ample opportunity to fine tune their listening and hone those skills that may be a little rusty.
Don’t forget to encourage them to try as many listening activities as they can in their free time. The awesome thing about these sites is that they offer scripts, vocabulary lists and plenty of other resources that won’t leave your students navigating alone in a sea of English listening exercises. Most of these sites are tailored specifically to English learners and the audio is high quality, with conversations spoken by native speakers. What more can you ask for?
Have you ever tried any of these websites for listening practice? Which of these are completely new to you? Any others to recommend? Share below!
Claudia has been an ESL teacher for 20 years and has taught a wide variety of students from pre-schoolers to senior citizens, complete beginners to advanced students. This vast teaching experience has helped her write over 100 articles for BusyTeacher.org. When she is not teaching, she is also a freelance travel writer contributing reviews for V!VA Travel Guides' upcoming Uruguay edition, as well as travel articles and blog posts for a variety of online publications. She is currently living in Buenos Aires, Argentina with her spunky 7-year old daughter and crabby 10-year old cat, Ulysses. Google +.
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I have recommended Randall's ESL-lab for many years. He works very diligently on it, always adding new material and entirely for free. My students at all levels benefit from it and also enjoy the section on culture. One of the aspects I appreciate as a university ESL teacher is that one isn't bombarded with pleas for money, nor ads. If you like, you'll be notified when there's new material, but only then. Randall certainly deserves remuneration, but my salary is in Mexican pesos and it doesn't stretch very far. Therefore, I'm always on the lookout for free sites and this is definitely one of the best. Thanks, Randall.
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