Below is a compilation of some American produced audio sites, many from public broadcasting, which can provide authentic listening for EFL students, and great material for discussions.  Some also have written transcripts available.  Because most are not produced as EFL/ESL materials, the level tends to be fairly advanced.  They are in no particular order.

 The beauty of these sites is that you, the teacher, can give students theurl and your students can listen on their own as many times as they need to, and either come to class prepared to discuss the listening, or practice listening again after they first hear the recording in class.  Furthermore, once they have the url, language learners can access their own English language listening material.

1.  Bits:  English Language Learning                                                  Intermediate / advanced

  My current favorite:  a site I recently discovered that has entire books - from Agatha Christie to Margaret Atwood - Ted Talks, Voice of American broadcasts and famous speeches, American pop songs,  old radio dramas from the 1940s and 50s.  All include the choice of faster (normal) listening speed orslower listening speed, as well as written transcripts.

2.  This I Believe                                                                                         High inter. / advanced

         A series of short (about 3 minutes) radio essays about core beliefs and values, first started by famed journalist Edward R. Murrow, in 1951, and revived a few years ago by National Public Radio.  Although predominately American, contributors come from all over the world.

         Graded teachers' materials available for a minimum $15 donation, which I plan to get for ALC with my resource money.

3.  Story Corps.                                                                            High inter. / advanced


         With the motto " Every Voice Matters," Story Corps is an American oral history project that records and archives short personal stories. Most are under a minute, in an interview format, one person interviewing a family member or friend, or one person telling another about something of personal significance.  Sometimes the voices or accents are a bit difficult to understand.

         In the upper left corner of the webpage, look for the Question Generator. There you will find extensive questions and hints on recording your own stories, very useful for teachers who may decide to do a class interview project.  You don't have to submit to Story Corps, just use it as a guide for your own oral history project.

4.  Voice of America                                                                     High inter. / advanced

         The VOA has long produced English language broadcasting for the overseas listener.  Topics are more wide ranging that those in the above site;  they include technology, health, environment, economics, history, politics, as well as "human interest."  In addition, the site provides a wealth of resources for both teachers and students - worksheets, idiom sites, a dictionary. Broadcasts come with written transcripts for reading/listening practice.

         In spite of the rather condescending name, "Special English," accessed directly by the second url, includes dozens of shows about all sorts of themes, all read at a slower speed for ELLs who might have trouble with full-speed speech.

5.  This American Life                                                                                       Advanced                                                                                 

         Archives of an hour-long show that airs one to 4 or 5 stories weekly about a theme.  All are available on the archive (except the current show of the week) for either listening or download.  Occasionally there is some adult content and some words that may have been edited from the radio broadcast.  Weekly podcast also available.

         If you enter "transcript" into the site search box, you will have access to a written transcript of every show.

6.  The Moth Radio Hour:  True Stories Told Live                                     Advanced

         This is an itinerant radio show that travels from city to city.  The stories are recorded live, on-stage.  It tends to be less polished than This American Life, because the storytellers are often not professionals.  They are usually younger and edgier than This American Life storytellers, and they provide a good opportunity to hear a lot of current idiomatic language.  Again, there is occasional adult content.

7.  TED Talks                                                                                              Advanced

         Speeches about innovative ideas and products.  Often very fast-paced (the speaker only has 18 minutes, after all!).  These are people who hope to change the world, or who have changed their own lives and hope inspire others.  They usually succeed. Transcripts of talks also available.

8.  Selected Shorts                                                                                       Advanced

         A weekly radio broadcast of (mostly) contemporary Americans short stories read by actors or the authors.  The current 5 shows are readily accessed at this url.  The half hour broadcasts begin with a promotion for the program, and an introduction.  There is also a podcast available. But the archive is still being constructed, and I wasn’t able to listen to any of the stories listed there.  Still, this is a great source for literature-lovers. No written text available on the site.

9.  The Third Coast Festival Radio                                                           Advanced

A collection of more than 1,000 audio stories - no written script - for advanced listeners.  They range from 2.5 minutes to 1.5 hours long, and come from English speakers from all over the world.

10.  Youth Radio                                                                                   High inter./advanced

Short   (1 - 2 minute) radio broadcasts by young Americans, especially urban youth.  These particular broadcasts are all from Atlanta Georgia radio, but more exist from other radio stations.  These may contain a fair amount of contemporary slang.  Available in written form and audio.                                         

11.  Snap Judgment                                                                                    Advanced

"Story-telling with a beat." Hour-long, radio broadcasts of stories centering around a weekly theme.  These are a bit off-beat stories, often by African American story-tellers.

12.  The Story Collider                                                                               Advanced


Audio stories about science, for the science-minded or generally curious among us.  Definitely for the advanced listener.  If you go to the 'about' tab, many stories can also be found as transcripts.                                                  

13.  The Memory Palace                                                                            Advanced

Mostly 12-minute audio pieces - some very moving - available in a podcast archive.   The topics vary; all are by the same commentator                                            

14.  2nd Story                                                                                        High inter./Advanced

Listen or read stories told by a variety of storytellers.  This is a very easily accessible page of selected best stories from the series.  Written transcripts as well as audio.


Additional resources for less advanced EFL students


1.      Many Things                                                                      low intermediate/advanced

Many resources originally from VOA, some reformatted to make them more accessible to ESL listeners; all with written text.  From American short stories and articles to listening cloze, a bit of something for all, maybe even high beginners.

2.  365 ESL Short Stories                                                                           intermediate

A story a day for a year!  Written text with  Microsoft Media Player available at the top of each story page for listening.  This site has quite a few ads however, and it costs $75 for a 3-year, ad-free membership.