Essential Podcast Guide. Learn English and Prepare for IELTS Speaking Exam

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Have you ever heard about podcasts? Have you ever listened a podcast? Do you use podcasts to prepare for IELTS and improve your english? Do you know what are the best podcasts for IELTS candidates and how you can find more podcasts based on your interests and hobbies?


What is a podcast. Podcast  Factst

How you can benefit from listening podcast

Key to Consistency: Find Your Topic

My Favourite Podcasts

Are you beginner? Educational and Adapted Podcasts

IELTS Podcasts

Authentic Podcasts


Podcast Transcripts

English Pod

SlowEnglish Podcast

Luke’s English Podcast

All Ears English

I Will Teach you a Language Podcast

Happy English Podcast

6 Minute English

Go Natural English

Let’s Master English!

Podcast Networks, Directories and Websites

IELTS Topics: List of Useful Podcasts Episodes

What is Podcast. Podcasts  Facts

I expect that large portion  those who read this article are familiar with podcasts and know what podcast means. Nevertheless, I believe, it’s worth giving you short info on how podcasts work and couple of interesting facts about podcasts.

This is how wikipedia describes Podcast:

“A podcast is an episodic series of digital audio files which a user can subscribe to so that new episodes are automatically downloaded via web syndication to the user’s own local computer, mobile application, or portable media player”. As an example I can refer to iTunes, something that most of you familiar with. To get an idea of a podcast you can visit iTunes Store and  chose among “hundreds of thousands of free podcasts”. Click any podcast Title and  play button. That’s it. You are listening podcast.

On the one hand, over the last years podcasts getting more popular and more people listen podcasts. On the other hand, there are still a lot of people who have  never listened podcasts. Chances are that, having read this article you will discover a hole new world of podcasts for yourself or even become a podcast fan.

There is no data for worldwide podcast statistics, but we can get an idea of how many  podcasts have been hosted by one of the largest podcast network – Libsyn.  According to Lybsyn’s website podcasts accounted for 35K and there were 4.6 billion (!!!) podcasts downloads  in 2016.


What’s more, podcasts are  experiencing significant growth and  becoming more popular. The number of podcast download requests made in 2012 more than doubled in 2015 (Edison’s survey data).




With a growing use of mobile devices, podcasts are becoming more accessible. Edison’s survey data (publicly available) shows that 69% of podcast consumers used mobile devices  to listen to podcasts in 2017

Listening – Your First Step. 2 Comes After 1

Have you ever asked yourself, what part of exam and what skill (listening, reading, writing, speaking) you should develop first? What is the most natural and effective way. It is considered by many experts and language learners, that to learn foreign language in a natural way we should follow the same way we learn our native language. We discussed that in the episode 3 of the test taker podcast with Dmitry Zolottsev. For more information you can refer to Nikolay Zamyatkin, Srijaya N Char’s Article “Listen, speak, before you read and write”. You can also see from this quora discussion, that most people believe that listening comes first.

How You Can Benefit From Listening Podcast

Undoubtedly, it is important to work hard and practice consistently. However, have you ever  asked yourself, what is the main problem when it comes to english learning? I am sure, for many people, it is lack of time they can allocate for practice.

With podcasts, we can increase time we spend for language learning without actually allocating more time for studying. What I mean is that you can listen podcast

  • at home
  • commuting to work/study (public transport)
  • in car
  • at work
  • doing routing tasks (cleaning house)
  • doing sports (while you workout in gym)
  • on foot / walking around

As Edison’s research data shows,  most  popular locations are home and car/truck with  84% and 65% of those who ever listened to a podcast.


There are probably lots of other places/activities when you can listen podcasts. How about riding a bike or kayaking?



I listened english podcast almost every day while walking to work. In this way, daily, I consumed 20-30 mins of audio in English. Every single day. At some point I noticed, that this practice improves my ability to understand English speech, learn new words and phrases. Start listening podcast on everyday basis and, believe me, you will see positive result in 2-3 months.

Key to Consistency: Find Your Topic

Consistency is the key. However, another problem is that it takes discipline to maintain consistent practice. It is not easy. I know from my own experience, it is much  easier for me to listen my favourite music/podcast,  write new article or read blog post about marketing rather  than learning Autocad or reading Wiring Rules. That’s where  podcasts may be very helpful to help you practice consistently, because you can easily find your topic.

After I started to feel comfortable with educational beginner level podcasts, I started to look for topics and podcasts which were interesting for me.I encourage you to do the same.

My Favourite Podcasts

Here is the list of my favourites:

  • Lukes English Podcast (English Learning)
  • Adam and Joe Podcast (comedy)
  • Kermode and Mayo’s Podcast (Film Review, BBC)
  • Resident Advisor Exchange (Electronic Music)
  • Nichepursuits Podcast (entrepreneurship, Spencer Haws)
  • SmartPassiveIncome Podcast (entrepreneurship, Pat Flynn)
  • The Amazon Seller (entrepreneurship, Scott Voelker)
  • Health Model Show Podcast (entrepreneurship, Shawn Stevenson)
  • Language Mastery Podcast (John Fotheringham)


Who knows, maybe you will find interesting some of the podcasts from this list above. You can always find a lot of podcasts using Google, iTunes and podcast directories. Keep reading, I will list below  number of places where you can podcasts and also give basic information on how to use iTunes – probably the largest podcast directory.

Firstly, lets take a look at different types of podcasts and what type is right for you.

Are you beginner? Educational and Adapted Podcasts

I think this is where you should start. The first podcast I startled to listen was simple and easy to consume – EnglishPod. The main reason why I liked it because it had a number of episodes for beginners (elementary level).

Initially it was difficult for me to understand English speech, because of number of reasons:

  • I had  limited vocabulary
  • I couldn’t understand someone speaking quickly
  • I couldn’t understand because of accent and slang

Educational  podcasts, by contrast, use simple vocabulary, recorded at a slow pace and with good pronunciation.

These podcasts can  teach you, just like a real teacher (to some extent of course). This kind of podcasts usually adapted, so that even beginners can understand language and effectively consume information.

For example, EnglishPod  has a range of episodes for listeners with various language proficiency:

  • elementary
  • intermediate
  • upper intermediate
  • advanced

IELTS Podcasts

This is the next step. Once you see that it is easier for you to listen educational podcasts and you can understand 60-90% – move to the next level – IELTS Podcasts.

You can gain a lot of knowledge  from IELTS specific podcasts including:

  • Exam format
  • Frequently asked questions
  • Tips about exam parts and topics
  • Useful Resources
  • Other test takers experience


They might be a bit more difficult to listen than beginner level educational podcasts but most of them have simple vocabulary.

Authentic Podcasts

This is the most common  type of podcasts. If you will go to any podcast catalog (eg iTunes) and search for podcast, almost all  of them will be authentic (not adapted for language learners). The bad thing is that most likely it will be harder to understand speech. Speed, different accents, audio quality, vocabulary range, slang – all these factors make it more difficult for language learners to listen authentic podcasts.

On the other hand, it is much more enjoyable experience. As I wrote above, you can find topic you are interested in. This can make a huge difference  to your results because you are most likely will listen them consistently.


Take your time and keep moving from simple to more advanced audio materials. Eventually,  you  will become comfortable with authentic podcasts. This is what I did:

beginner level educational podcasts – > IELTS podcasts (intermediate level) – > authentic podcasts (advanced level)

Particularly, I started from EnglishPod and Effortless English audio materials. Then I discovered Ryan Higgins IELTS  podcast 

After 3-4 months I started to listen authentic podcasts and increased amount of listening english audio materials significantly, because I found  a lot of  topics that resonated with me.

Podcast Transcripts

Both educational and authentic podcasts may come with transcripts. That means you can you can use it to learn vocabulary and training your reading skills. Have a look at one of my favourites SPI Podcast. Each episode has a transcript so that you can download PDF file.
How To find (list of podcast sites and Apps)

Podcasts to Learn IELTS Topics Vocabulary

Ok. Now it’s time to be more specific. Below I listed podcasts, compiling them in two groups:


I  gave short description with some useful information about  each podcast. You can easily choose something depending on your needs, english proficiency, interests. You can find podcasts with transcripts or Podcasts produced by someone who has British/American/Australian accent. To save your time, for each podcast  I also provided a few links so that you can quickly download them.

I think your  English proficiency is the most important factor when it comes to choosing right podcast. Decide what is your current level. Don’t think that you have to understand 99%. It’s ok if you get the idea of what this episode about and are able to understand at least 50%. You will pick up remaining 30-50% from the context. Moreover,  you will be forced to learn new words and get used to this level.

English Pod. “Learn English on your terms”

Website: EnglishPod (original website is no longer available)

Level: Elementary, Beginner, Intermediate, Upper Intermediate,  Advanced

Duration: 5-15 min

Author/Publisher: Praxis Languages Ltd.

Transcript: Yes

Accent: American English

Description: This podcast had been produced between 2008 and 2011. It is no longer updated. However it is still very popular among  English learner  all over the world. Although website is no longer available, you can easily google  EnglishPod episodes on the web (try link above). It is a series of short topic based dialogs with interesting context, plus vocabulary explained by hosts in each episode.


  • 001-Elementary-Difficult Customer
  • 003-Elementary-Hotel Upgrade
  • 006-Elementary-Road Trip
  • 012-Intermediate-Cleaning the House
  • 018-Upper Intermediate-Protest

Podcast consists of 3 range of dialogs for all kinds of  English learners: beginners, intermediate, upper intermediate and advanced. Each episode has transcript – PDF file. Vocabulary explained  and examples are given. Good audio quality, clear pronunciation. Interesting stories and context. Each dialog is repeated several times so that it is easier to understand it and learn new vocabulary.

SlowEnglish Podcast. “Learn English while learning about daily life in Australia”


Level: Intermediate

Duration: 10-15 min

Author: Rob McCormack.

Transcript: No

Accent: Australian English

Description: Podcast with new episodes published roughly every 3 weeks, SlowEnglish is produced by Rob McCormack from Melbourne, Australia. He talks about Australian life including such things as: food, culture, nature, cities, traditions, famous Australians. By the time I am writing this article (April 2017), there are 88 episodes available.

In fact, I interviewed Rob and you can listen  our discussion in Episode 1 of The Test Taker Podcast.


Have a look at some of the episodes, which I am sure will be very helpful for you when practicing IELTS topics:

  • Podcast 7 – Melbourne’s Tram System
  • Podcast 13 – Health Care in Australia
  • Podcast 16 – Pets in Australia
  • Podcast 17 – Schools in Australia Podcast 19 – Working Life in Australia
  • Podcast 19 – Working Life in Australia
  • Podcast 37 – Australia’s Kangaroos.

Clear pronunciation, host speaks slowly, good audio quality, wide range of topics, vocabulary list  and quiz  for each episode.

I think it is very good podcast for english learners, so it is difficult for me to find cons.

How popular: By the end of 2016 the podcast had 330 000 downloads, 100 000 website visitors, 800 Facebook followers from all over the world.

Luke’s English Podcast. “Learn real british English with Luke Thompson”


Level: Intermediate, Advanced

Duration: 1h:20m-1h:40m

Author: Luke Thompson

Transcript: Yes

Accent: British English

Description: Luke’s English Podcast  can be considered one of the most popular and quality podcasts for English learners. With more than 400 episodes (by April 2017), transcripts, videos and phrasal verbs, the podcast provide tons of free materials and produced by DELTA-qualified teacher from London. Luke’s English Podcast  won four Macmillan Dictionary Awards. In 2016 it was nominated for an ELTon award in the category of Digital Innovation.

Luke is not only a teacher and a podcaster. He is also a stand-up comedian which definitely makes it much more fun to listen his episodes. I didn’t find recent numbers, but in 2013 podcast had over 1.2 million downloads. I  am sure, since then its popularity was growing because Luke regularly published quality content.


  • Episode 8 – Dating and Relationships
  • Episode 9 – Travelling in India
  • Episode 11 – Men vs Women
  • Episode 14 – British & American Pronunciation
  • Episode 27 -British Weather (Lots of exciting vocabulary!!!)

All Ears English. “Connection NOT perfection”


Level: Intermediate, Advanced

Duration: 15-25 min

Authors: Lindsay McMahon, Michelle Kaplan, Jessica Beck

Transcript: No

Accent: American English

Description: All Ears Podcast is produced by three qualified English teachers with extensive experience. By the April 2017, the podcast had over 45 million downloads and more than 700 episodes! With such a huge number of episodes, it covers wide range of topics. What’s important, All Ears Podcast team has IELTS expert, namely Jessica Beck. She creates IELTS Energy Podcast (as a part of All Ears Podcast). In IELTS Energy Podcast You can find topic vocabulary, idioms and phrases, IELTS tips, common mistakes discussed and success stories from IELTS candidates. In fact their IELTS podcast covers all parts of exam: listening, reading writing and speaking.


  • IELTS Energy 391: An Honest Look at Your Lack of IELTS Preparation
  • IELTS Energy 390: How Lucas Stayed Calm for 9’s on his IELTS Exam
  • 8+ IELTS Phrases for Speaking about the Past
  • Speaking Tips: 7+ Answers About Movies and Books

I Will Teach you a Language Podcast


Level: Intermediate, Advanced

Duration: 10-30 min

Author: Olly Richards

Transcript: Yes

  • Description: The author, Olly Richards is a polyglot who speaks 8 languages and runs popular blog I Will Teach You a Language. By the May 2017 there have been 186 episodes on a variety of topics.This podcast has a lot of good advice on how to learn a language and overcome common problems for language learners. Although this is very helpful podcast, to find topic vocabulary, English phrases and  examples, try other ones from my list. Most popular episodes: “I’m too busy to learn a language”, “Skype conversations as a beginner”, “How to learn a language from home”, “The truth about flashcards and language learning”.


  • IWTYAL 003: How can I stay motivated in my language learning?
  • IWTYAL 012: How can I learn advanced English vocabulary?
  • IWTYAL 151: Why am I still a beginner?
  • IWTYAL 146: How to enrich your vocabulary
  • IWTYAL 124: Shadowing and self-talk

Happy English Podcast


Level: Beginner, Intermediate

Duration: 3- 15 min

Author: Michael DiGiacomo, English instructor with over 20 years experience, owner of English tutoring company in New York City.

Transcript: No

Accent: American English

Description: More than 400 episodes that usually last less than 10 min and cover extensive range of topics, grammar structure , phrases and idioms with lots of examples. I find this podcast very helpful because there are a lot of vocabulary English lessons on different topics that explain differences between synonyms and how to make your sentences sound  more natural.


  • Talking about doctors and hospitals in USA
  • Shopping vocabulary and grammar
  • Phrasal verbs using take – English Phrasal verb lesson
  • Talking about experience

6 Minute English “Learn and practice English language for everyday situations with BBC”

Website: 6 Minute English

Level: Beginner, Intermediate

Duration: 6 min

Author: Dan and Neil

Transcript: Yes

Accent: British English

Description:  Very popular podcast. Probably one of the most popular among english learners all over the world. I like the fact that each episode has a separate webpage with media player, vocabulary list, transcript and one question. Episodes are not only help you to learn English but also do it in a fun and engaging way. Podcast  uses wide range of interesting topics to expand your  vocabulary. The fact that each episode lasts only 6 min makes it very easy to listen this podcast.


  • The way we look
  • The commute
  • Life on Mars
  • Domestic chores

Go Natural English. “To express and impress”


Level: Beginner, Intermediate

Duration: 5-15 min

Author: Gabrielle Wallace, English teacher and fluency coach with over 15 years experience

Transcript: No

Accent: American English

Description: In this podcast you will find a lot of  tips  on how use grammar structures, how to overcome common problems which language learners face and different strategies on how to learn language and  improve your skills in listening, reading writing and speaking. What I would also recommend you is to visit Gabby’s youtube channel which has more than 300 0000 subscribers. She published a lot of useful English lessons.


  • 3 Biggest mistakes often made when talking about yourself.
  • 7 Steps to fluency in listening and speaking
  • The first thing you need for fluency in English
  • 5 Best apps to learn English fast

Let’s Master English! “Study With Coach Shane”


Level: Beginner, Intermediate

Duration: 5-60 min

Author:  Shane Petersen, teacher from Wisconsin, USA with almost 30 years experience.

Transcript: Yes

Accent: American English

Description: By visiting website you can find two podcasts, produced by Shane: Lets master english  (40-50 min each episode) and Daily Easy English Expression Podcast (4-6 min). The author of this  podcast does really good job. If you want to know why, go to Shane’s website and listen to  his podcast episodes.  Shane also produce useful and funny videos for ESL learners. Each video will introduce a common American English expression. Have a look at some of the comments from podcast listeners:

“Coach, don’t stop to make Let’s Master English Podcast!”

“I really enjoy this potcast! Dont retire please~ :)”

“You are so funny ^^ all the lesson are so interesting for me and i think it’s very easy to understand”


  • Let’s Master English 42: Who’s the boss?
  • Let’s Master English 38: Travel forever
  • Let’s Master English 20: Global warming will kill us all!

Podcast Networks, Directories and Websites

Finally, I would like to encourage you and try to find  podcasts that reflect your passions or interests. When you feel that you are ready to listen not only educational podcasts but also podcasts for native speakers, use the links below to research topics you are interested in. For example, you can go to iTunes, choose “podcasts” in top left corner and type “Movies” in search bar (top right).

Similarly, you can use websites/podcast directories to search any topic.



IELTS Topics: List of Useful Podcasts Episodes

In this section I did a small research and picked up podcast episodes that might be helpful when you  prepare  particular topic. For example, such topics as Health, Education and Hometown are well presented in some of the episodes of podcasts I recommended you above. So, to save you some time, just scroll down, download episode mp3  or go to episode page (some of the episodes have transcripts).

Food and Diet



Money and Finance

How to Describe a Person

Clothes and Fashion


The Internet

Health and Healthcare




Science and Technology

The Media

The Weather



Town and Country


Men and Women

Business and Industry

Global Problems


Personality and Character. People – Physical Appearance



Books and Films




Buy vs Pay – English Vocabulary Lesson | Happy English Podcast | mp3

Shopping Vocabulary & Grammar | Happy English Podcast | mp3

Cost vs Spend | Happy English Podcast | mp3



The Arts

Children and The Family

Crime and The Law

Social Tensiones

The Environment



Share and Leave Your Comment

Well, now it’s your turn. Take the information and links I provided and start listening. If you do it consistently you will see progress in your vocabulary and overall english ability.

As you can see, some topics miss links. I hope that you will leave a comment, share your findings (podcast episodes) so that I will update this post and cover more topics.  Thank you!



Download PDF - Podcast Guide

2 Responses

  1. Michael
    | Reply

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Maxfaber
      | Reply

      You are welcome! Thank you for the Podcast

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