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When you’re an ESL teacher, you can never get enough ESL listening material.
Because listening is something that students need to practice – a lot – the audio CD that comes with the coursebook simply falls short.
There are some great places to look for ESL listening material, but for advanced students the real deal is the best deal. They need to be challenged a bit more and need to develop an ear for speech that is delivered at a normal flow and not slowed down for students. Here are my top 10 choices for sites that offer authentic listening material that is ideal for advanced ESL learners.
The news broadcasting site offers a lot more than news articles and reports. Advanced ESL students may take full advantage of the BBC’s World News TV service, with hundreds of short videos and programs to watch. The video page has one-minute world news reports, plus plenty of other short videos on business, science and entertainment.
BBC Radio is a separate service that allows users to listen to radio programs online or with a mobile app. There are countless radio programs to choose from, but I recommend starting with the categories page. There students will be able to choose from news, sports, entertainment or documentary programs to listen to.
Like its British counterpart, CNN provides an excellent video channel, on which students are able to catch the latest news. CNN also offers a podcasting service with shows for a wide variety of interests. And there’s more. CNN offers transcripts for some of these very same shows, giving students an additional resource to improve listening skills with.
Repeat After Us was created by a high school student with a true love of literature. Here, students will find a variety of recorded texts, classified into three categories: beginner, intermediate and advanced. There is a lot of original material in this site, so for listening practice, students should go to recorded texts, and from there choose poetry, drama, prose or even children’s short stories if the previous categories prove to be too difficult. Listening practice and English literature combined!
The Canadian broadcasting company has an astounding variety of news, sports, and entertainment programs – and a whole lot more. Students may download the MP3 file or subscribe via iTunes so they won’t miss any of their favorites.
Of all of the websites that offer news reports on video, Newsy is my favorite because they offer the transcript directly below the video, a big plus for ESL students. Still, students may choose to display the transcript or keep it hidden for more challenging listening practice.
You’d think The Weather Channel offers mostly the weather forecast on video, but it provides a lot more than that. It has very interesting TV shows, like the fascinating Hurricane Hunters, which are great for adventure-seeking students. The clips are short and the audio that is difficult to hear due to weather conditions is subtitled.
For additional sources of authentic listening material, students may visit Schackne Online. This website offers a very comprehensive list of listening resources, including links to video sites, like YouTube and UStream, and podcasts, like CBS Radio Mystery Theater, a show that students who enjoy a good mystery will enjoy. Schackne Online also lists podcast directories like Podbean. The number of video sites and podcasts is staggering. Please be advised that some of this content may not be appropriate for all audiences. Adult students should be warned and proceed with caution when choosing a video channel or podcast (some comedy shows may have offensive language, for example). Children should not be selecting podcasts or any type of audio material on their own.
Truth be told, some of these will be very difficult for some of your learners, no matter how advanced they are. But at this level, there is nothing better for them than to try and try again. Don’t let them get discouraged and make sure they don’t feel bad if they must still rely on a script. Everything they do helps, and soon enough their efforts will pay off. They will have better listening skills to show for it.
Do you have any other online sources of real audio to recommend?
If so, share them below!
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