If you want real sources to pick up your target language from, TV and radio can be some of the best places to start. Your lessons can be as involved as you choose to make them; translate what you’re hearing word for word, or have it play in the background so the language is absorbed. However you study, whatever method you choose, we’re here to help you get started. Here are some of the best TV and radio programmes to help you learn English.
Newsround is a BBC programme that aims to summarise the latest news headlines for children and teenagers. For this reason, the language is straightforward and simple and is a perfect way to get some English practice without being overwhelmed by anything too complicated. Newsround has been on our screens since 1972 providing the latest news in a language that doesn’t talk down to viewers, so there is no need to feel silly for watching a kids programme.
Broadcast five days a week for just a few minutes a day, Newsround could be a great bit of learning to slot into a daily routine. The show also has a website so you can search through for older stories if you want something to specific practice with — like this story about astronaut Tim Peake. Happy watching! This is bite-sized learning at its very best.
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Radio can be a daunting tool for language practice because presenters tend to speak quite fast. So Tune In from the Voice Of America is perfect; presenters are aware of their audience and read at a much slower pace, even taking the time to explain language when the vocabulary is difficult.
This is a news programme so is a great way to keep up to date with what is happening in our world as you learn, though each episode also gives additional practice with a different subject. This episode, for example, gives the day’s news but also talks about American history. Tune In’s thirty-minute programmes are a great introduction to using radio as a listening tool, and we are confident after listening to just a few episodes you will be eager to seek out other radio stations as well!
It’s hard to believe, but The Simpsons has now been on our screens for thirty years! So it’s hard to imagine that you will ever run out of something to practice with when tuning in; that is a ton of episodes to work through! The Simpsons works as a learning tool because like most cartoons, subtitles will be available for whatever country you’re watching from — as well as in English. The language is relatively simple, and though there will be some jokes that need a little explanation, this is an easy, fun way to expose yourself to the English language without getting overwhelmed.
The Simpsons has its own YouTube channel, so if an entire episode sounds too daunting then scroll through for a clip to practice with first, like this one when Homer goes to prison. There is no reason why you can’t wedge a three-minute clip into your English practice every day!
National Public Radio
If you’re looking for a radio station to play in the background as you do other things, National Public Radio (NPR) might be perfect for you. This station plays continuously so whenever you feel like tuning in for some practice it is there, keeping you up to date on US and International news. One of the best things on NPR is its Fresh Air programmes, which are up to an hour in length and interview some of the most interesting people around. Like this one with John Mulaney, which will keep you amused and intrigued from start to finish!
The only thing we think NPR could improve with for its English learning listeners would be to provide subtitles for its Fresh Air programmes. Though with the ability to pause or jump back in fifteen-second blocks as you listen this is still a great tool for learning once you’ve built up a little confidence.
TV and radio are great ways to get some language practice in. Once you’ve started off with the more simple of programmes there is an endless number of others out there just waiting for you to discover them. So which are you starting your English learning with?