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May 2017

Best Resources for Finding Free Language Listening Material Online

Improve your listening comprehension with these sites

For those studying a foreign language from a textbook, developing listening comprehension can be a challenge. Books do not teach one how to understand native speakers. Even the audio companions that come with textbooks fall somewhat short of preparing a student for native speaker speeds.

Students must look elsewhere to truly develop strong listening comprehension. In this quest, it’s best to listen to the same sources to which native speakers listen. Only then can a student prepare oneself better for conversing with more fluency.

Whatever medium one chooses, it’s best to select material appropriate to the learner’s fluency level. For beginners, sources like the news may be too complex. It may be better to opt for children’s books. It’s important also to listen to a variety of sources, so that a wide breadth of vocabulary can be acquired.

One doesn’t need to pay a lot of money to acquire listening material. In this lovely age of the Internet, many of these resources are available online for free. Here are some sources worth checking out.


TuneIn is a website that hosts free radio channels from music to news to sports. Listeners can browse stations by location, meaning you can select the location of your target language. Recommendations suggest the most popular stations as favorited by users. Trending charts also show what's most popular on the site. The site is organised and easily browsable. TuneIn also works via mobile apps, so you can take your stations with you as you move.

YouTube Trending

By now most of the world is intimately familiar with YouTube, but many don’t realize that users can browse by country. At the bottom of the YouTube page, there are options to change the site language and, more importantly, change the content location. By changing this location, users see videos for the selected country. Going to the trending page on YouTube shows what's most popular, essentially showing you what most users in your target language's country are watching. What better way to learn the language than to watch the same popular videos everyone else is watching? And because YouTube is a user-generated content site, new videos appear constantly, providing plenty of fresh listening (and viewing) material.


Most mobile phones are equipped with the ability to download and listen to podcasts. This was popularised by the iPod and, later, the iPhone, with which iTunes users can browse podcasts effortlessly. Android and other mobile OS users can find similar podcast apps for their respective devices. Podcasts are convenient because they provide a regular flow of listening content. Unlike Internet radio, podcasts are organized by segments, so learners can more easily segment their daily listening.

Audio Books

A quick search on the Internet yields a wealth of free audio books. While most downloadable content is in English, one can occasionally find audio books in French, German, and other popular languages. The benefit of audio books is that the material is longer, ensuring an engaging source that lasts, assuming the stories are good.

Where do you turn to for listening material? Let us know your thoughts on our Facebook Page, and be sure to “like” TELC English for more articles on language and study tips!

Picture: (c) MEV, 85015 Jens Schmidt