A lot of people have told me they'd like to listen to English while they're driving, and until recently it was difficult to think of things. However, today there's a large choice of mp3s (audio files) and podcasts (see wikipedia to find out what they are).
You'll need a computer with an internet connection and a media player like RealPlayer or Windows Media Player. Then you'll need to transfer the files you download to a CD or an mp3 player such as an iPod if you want to listen to them in the car.
Let's start with a couple of examples to see how it's done.
BBC Learning English - Talking Business (mp3 download)
This is a section of the BBC website which gives useful language you can use in various business situations. So far they include telephoning and meetings, but other topics are planned.
Go to bbc.co.uk...talkingbusiness. You'll see Module 1: Telephone. Click on the word 'connecting'. You'll find yourself on a page dealing with the first stages of a phone call. After you read 'Introduction', 'Think' and 'Listen', you'll see a link for 'audio'. Click on the link and you'll hear two short phone calls through the speakers of your computer. On my computer this is done using RealPlayer, which connects itself automatically. The script for the phone calls is given immediately below the audio link (and can be downloaded as a pdf file where it says 'download scripts and phrases' at the end of the script).
Just after the script you'll see a link saying 'download audio'. Right-click with your mouse and then click on 'save target as...'. You'll be able to choose exactly where you want to download the file on your computer. I recommend that you create a new file where you can store everything you download for English because then you'll know exactly where to find it.
So, download the audio file and check it's where you expect it to be on your computer. Then you can transfer it to RealPlayer, for example, make a playlist for English files and burn a CD. If you've got an iPod, for example, just transfer the file to your usual programme, in this case iTunes, and it will automatically transfer to your mp3 player next time you update it.
Guardian Daily podcast
This is one of the many podcasts available from The Guardian website. You'll need to have iTunes installed on your computer. If you go to guardian podcasts you'll find details of how to download podcasts and links for downloading the programmes you need to do so.
Go to guardian.co.uk/podcasts. You'll see there are a number of podcasts available. Look down the page until you see 'Guardian Daily podcast'. Click on the title and go to the Guardian Daily page. At the end of the notes - before the comments - you'll see some links. Click 'listen now' and you can hear the podcast on your computer immediately. If you right-click on 'download this to your computer' and then click on 'save target as...', you can download the podcast into the file you've hopefully created to store your English stuff. You can then transfer it to RealPlayer and burn it onto a CD.
However, the advantage of a podcast is that it can be updated at regular intervals, so the best thing to do is click on 'subscribe free via iTunes'. The link will connect you to the iTunes page (which you will need to install on your computer first) and you can subscribe just by clicking on the link. You will automatically receive the latest Guardian Daily podcast every time your iTunes page connects to the internet. Just download it onto your mp3 player every day and you can listen to it on the way to work. You can unsubscribe whenever you want.
Pronunciation. BBC website. Find Radio programmes 1, 2 and 3 on the right-hand side of the page. Each of them are available to be downloaded in mp3 version. You can also download the scripts and do exercises while connected to internet.
Language used for phone calls and meetings. BBC website. This is the main page for the Talking Business section (mentioned as one of the 'test downloads' above). There are different sections for both areas of language with mp3 files to download, scripts in pdf format and exercises. You'll need to follow the links to the pages you want.
Grammar questions. Or grammar answers - the questions can be seen on the BBC website, but the download only contains the explanations. The scripts can't be downloaded but are shown on-screen. The question areas can be seen on the left-hand side of the page.
Audio and/or video downloads of general interest. The BBC again. You'll see several topic areas plus extensive archives. Just follow the links to topics you think might be interesting. Scripts are also available in pdf format.
Different aspects of language learning. Programmes from the BBC involving students of English asking experts about areas of learning. Mp3 and script usually available for download, but in some cases are not possible for copyright reasons.
Audio books. Free books to download from the Gutenberg Project. Naturally these are old books out of copyright otherwise you'd have to pay. Authors I'd probably recommend are Jane Austen, Lewis Carroll and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but there are more available. Depending on the length of the text, each story or novel will be made up of a number of consecutive mp3s.
The Guardian. This is the main page listing the different podcasts available.
The BBC. List of podcasts.
iTunes. Look for podcasts instead of music.
Now what are you looking for?
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