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July 2, 2013

American English Podcasts to Improve Listening Comprehension

"At times when there is more than one person speaking on the US side, how do we know when to enter back into the conversation?"  

Understanding conversational cues in American English is very important. Fortunately or unfortunately, there is no formula to memorize and apply. The best way to understand this is through immersion or exposure. The best immersion is to go to the US and interact with American English speakers. However, most people do not have this luxury, so I suggest listening to Hollywood movies or podcasts that have interviews or group discussions.  (Listening to lectures or one sided talks will not provide a give and take that a conversation does.)  

With some of these listening exercises, it's important to actively listen - or listen with full attention. Take the below video, for example. In this video, an interaction is role played where it is possible to see people interacting in American English- agreeing, disagreeing, interrupting, trying to enter back into the conversation, etc. Watch the entire video for a good introduction to this topic. 

(This video is not produced by Authentic Journeys. To see it on YouTube, click here.) 

Or, as active listening is quite time consuming, and not many examples like the above video are available, try passive listening. Listen to some podcasts in American English or two or more people having a conversation. Put it on in your office as background noise. Like how we hear a song, and over time pick up the flow, words, and rhythm  this can be done when listening to conversation as background noise as well. I'm always on the lookout for more kinds of podcasts, but in the meantime, find below podcasts from National Public Radio (NPR), the US radio station. 

This video is a podcast of one of my favorite NPR shows, Car Talk. This show is hosted by two older men. People call in and ask questions about their car problems. The answers that ensue are quite humorous. In the Car Talk podcasts, you will be exposed to people from all over US with various accents, local slangs, idioms, and jokes. You will be exposed to people who talk fast, and people who talk slow.  (The most recent episodes can be listened to on streaming audio for free, here.)
(This video is not produced by Authentic Journeys. To listen to this on YouTube, click here.)

Some additional podcasts include (Open any story, and in the box it opens it, it should give a download option.):

Other podcasts of other shows available here.

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We help build effective, culturally competent global teams with focus on the cultures of the USA and India. Jennifer Kumar, Managing Director, an American citizen, has almost 10 years experience living, studying and working (owning a business) in India. Authentic Journeys Consultancy is registered as a Private Limited in India (Kerala) and an LLC in the USA (Salt Lake City, Utah). We provide onsite and live-online instructor-led courses, facilitation and corporate coaching.