A man host streaming his audio podcast using microphone and laptop at his small broadcast studio, close-up

There’s English, and then there’s business English. Even if you studied English extensively in school and have a good level of fluency, using English in the workplace could introduce you to many words and phrases you’ve never heard before. If it makes you feel better, your colleagues who are native English speakers probably aren’t fans of business jargon, either.

However, that doesn’t change the fact that we all need to know at least a little business English in order to perform our jobs. But what if we told you that there’s a simple tip that makes learning business English easier — and it’s even kind of fun?

So what is this magic tool? Podcasts! Today we’ll share with you some of our favorite podcasts for learning business English, plus some strategies to speed up your learning.

Why Do Podcasts Help with Learning English?

You may be wondering why podcasts are so effective as a tool for language learning. First, many podcasts tell stories — and we humans love stories. Think about it: Kids become fluent in their first language when we read them stories, tell them stories about family, and watch stories on TV with them.

Podcasts are like storytime for adults. Bonus: When a podcast tells a memorable story, you are also more likely to remember the English vocabulary used in the podcast.

Podcasts are also conversational. When you listen to native English speakers ask and answer questions on a podcast, you’re learning more about conversations in English work — knowledge you can apply to your conversations at work.

Podcasts can even be great conversation starters with your English-speaking co-workers — especially if you can share something you heard on a podcast that’s relevant to your jobs.

Great Podcasts for Business Professionals

If you’re just beginning to learn English, stick with podcasts that are specifically geared toward language learning. But if you’re at a B2 level of fluency or higher, you should be able to follow engaging business podcasts like these:

  • How I Built This with Guy Raz” As you’re improving your business English skills with the podcast, you might also get inspired to start your own company. “How I Built This” has profiled business leaders like Whitney Wolfe of Bumble.
  • Planet Money” By using conversational language and fascinating stories, this podcast actually makes it interesting to learn more about the economy.
  • HBR Ideacast” What are the latest big ideas in business? This podcast will keep you up to date through interviews with top thought leaders.
  • WorkLife with Adam Grant” Grant is an organizational psychologist and bestselling author who shared innovative thinking about how to make work better.
  • The Tim Ferriss Show” You might remember Ferriss’ bestseller “The 4-Hour Workweek.” On his podcast, top performers across a variety of fields share their wisdom with Ferriss.
  • Your Next Move With Kimberly Brown” If you have your eye on a leadership role, be sure to check out this podcast from a leading career expert.
  • Akimbo: A Podcast from Seth Godin” Godin has long been revered as one of the most creative thinkers in business.

One more note about choosing podcasts that will help you learn business English: Try to find shows where the hosts and guests speak with the same accent that your English-speaking colleagues have.

Quick story: One of our Korean clients had been working in the U.S. for about five years when a British colleague came to visit. He called us laughing after his first meeting: “I didn’t understand anything he said!” He was very surprised at how different British English sounded.

Luckily, the colleague was only there for a day, but we encouraged our client to start listening to some British podcasts if he thought he would be working more with this gentleman.

English Exercises Using Podcasts

So many of the professionals we’ve worked with have successfully used podcasts like the ones above to dramatically improve their business English skills. Simply listening to podcasts is beneficial in itself: The more time you spend with English, the faster you will gain fluency. But there are a few ways you can speed up your learning even more:

  • Print out the transcript of a podcast episode you’ve listened to. (The transcript can usually be found on the episode page of the podcast’s official site or on the podcast platform you’re using.) Next, read the transcript for five minutes and highlight words and phrases that are new to you or that you’ve heard at work but aren’t sure how to use in conversation.
  • Once you’re finished highlighting, investigate what those words and phrases mean. If you have an English instructor, bring your highlighted transcript to your next class. You could also ask a friend at work. Either way, be sure to show the native speaker the full transcript so that they understand the context of the word or phrase you’re asking about. You might be wondering why you can’t just Google this information. Well, you could, but you might get a secondary or outdated definition or explanation. That’s why we always suggest taking your questions to native English speakers. If you do need to use an online resource, we recommend wordreference.com instead of Google or another online dictionary. This site is made by real people who understand context.
  • After you learn the meaning of the word or phrase, try to use it at least 10 times this week, even if it’s only when you’re talking to yourself.
  • As you listen to a podcast, pause periodically to repeat what the speaker is saying. Try to capture their pronunciation, tone and intonation. Do this for five minutes. If you hear something interesting or different, bring it to your private English lesson to discuss.

Want to Improve Your Business English? We Can Help!

If you are looking for more ways to improve your business English, we invite you to learn more about Fluency Corp by reading our client testimonials and case studies, or exploring what makes our proprietary Bellieu Method unique and effective.

We’d also love to talk with you about how English language training can support your unique goals. To open the conversation, get in touch with us now.