'LISTEN' photo (c) 2013, Britt Reints - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

This “The Best…” list was initially a difficult one for me to compile. A number of my previous lists, including the ones on reading and conversation, can also be characterized as “listening.”

I finally decided on the following criteria for sites that would appear on this list. They would need need to:

… be free.

… be accessible to English Language Learners.

… let English Language Learners listen to pretty much anything they would either write or anything they could find on the Internet, OR

… have a wide range of listening options that would be combined with comprehension assessments.

I’m not listing these sites in order of preference, as I’ve done with a majority of my previous “The Best…” lists. Instead, I’m just dividing the list into the two categories that I’ve shared in my criteria.

Also, check out The Best Sites For ELLs To Practice Online Dictation.

Here are my choices for The Best Listening Sites For English Language Learners:


Read The Words lets you convert any text – from a document, blog, or website – into audio with your choice from a variety of voices. You can then embed the voice player into your site. English Language Learners can easily copy and paste an essay they’re writing to hear if it sounds “right.”


This section of sites itself is divided in two — first, I’ll share excellent resources that offer specific listening exercises that are then generally followed by questions to measure comprehension; then, I’ll share links to sites that provide online dictation activities.

ELLO provides hundreds of listening activities that are well-designed and engaging. Randall’s ESL Cyber Listening Lab does the same — it has great activities, though I just don’t think it’s as user-friendly as ELLO.

Now I’d like to list some excellent online dictation sites, where student listen to audio and have to type what they hear:

Listen and Write is a new web tool that I think has a lot of potential for English Language Learners. A user first chooses a text he/she wants to hear read to him/her. Many of the choices are from the Voice of America, and are both high-interest and accessible. Their levels of difficulty are also indicated. Then the story is dictated to you, and you have to type it correctly. You can choose the speed of the reading and how often it’s repeated. When you type, only the correct letters actually show-up on the screen, and you can ask for hints.

The English Club has a series of simple and effective dictation exercises. They’re well organized, simple, don’t require registration, and have ones for a variety of English levels.

English Speak has 100 listening lessons (framed as dialogues) that give you two different speeds in which to listen to them.

Many English Language Learner teachers and students are familiar with Randall’s ESL Cyber Listening Lab. It’s provided high-quality listening exercises on the web for a longtime.  It’s now gotten even better with the addition of videos. Video Snapshots for ESL/EFL Students show short video clips along with comprehension quizzes for students to take.

David Deubelbeiss has posted a very good document for ESL/EFL teachers sharing ideas for listening activities to do in the classroom.  Even thought it’s for teachers, it’s so good that I’m adding it to this list.

Quizlet is on The Best Tools To Make Online Flashcards list. They’ve just added the great ability to have users listen to a word and then have to spell it.

Listen A Minute is another great site by Sean Banville.


The importance of active listening and how to do this in an EFL classroom is a useful #ELT Chat summary from Twitter.

The British Council shares a number of good listening activities to do in class.

Nathan Hall has a great collection of ELT Listening Material.

Balanced Listening Instruction is from TESOL and is one of the most useful pieces on listening for ELLs that I’ve seen.

Elementary Podcasts are from The British Council. There are tons of English-learning podcasts out there, but this one stands out because each one includes web-based interactive exercises. I’m not aware of any other one like it – am I missing them?

I’ve posted a lot about StoryCorps resources. I just now learned that, in addition to the wonderful short audio stories they provide on their site and on radio, each one now has an audio transcript that can be viewed on line or printed-out. Just click on the audio story you want and when it brings you to its own webpage, you’ll then see the option “Read The Transcript.”

25 ideas for using audio scripts in the ELT classroom is from the English Language Teaching Global Blog.

Study Supports What ELL Teachers Have Been Saying For Years – Surround Yourself With New Language

How to use the internet to improve your listening skills is from Dynamite ESL.

5 great zero preparation lesson ideas is by Steve Smith and shares good listening activities.

10 Best Free Listening Websites with Quizzes to Practise for Listening Exams is from Blog de Cristina.

StoryCorps Begins Weekly Video Series That Would Be Excellent For ELLs

Eight listening-research findings every teacher should be aware of and their implications for teaching and learning is by Gianfranco Conti.

StoryCorps Unveils Searchable Archive Of 400,000 Interviews

Using graphic organizers as scaffolds while listening is from Cambridge University Press.

Developing listening skills with storytelling is from Oxford University Press.

Listening and Speaking With Digital Assistants is from TESOL.

12 LISTENING ACTIVITIES FOR ESL STUDENTS is from English Teaching 101.

Ten activities to practise listening fluency in the English classroom is from The British Council.

My latest Tech Crush: Fluentkey. An Interactive Listening Competitive Game is from Blog de Cristina.

Here are a number of listening activities created by Cristina Cabal.

123 Listening has lots of listening activities.



Feedback and other suggestions are always welcome.

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