How Starting a Podcast in English Helped Me Improve My English

Published on
June 10, 2020
|
📖
6
min read
Written by
Daniel Goodson

Discover the story of Daniel, an English learner from Switzerland who decided to start his own podcast in English as a way of improving his English.

How Starting a Podcast in English Helped Me Improve My English

A bit about me

I'm Daniel, a 34-year-old English learner from the German-speaking part of Switzerland. 

I'm the host of the podcast called "my fluent podcast" which I created in 2016, mainly to improve my English speaking.

My father originally comes from Argentina, so, I grew up bilingually and came into contact with different languages and cultures at a young age. I love languages! 

In Switzerland - even though it’s a small country with 8 million inhabitants - we officially have 4 languages (French, Italian, German and Rhaeto-Romanic) and English is not among them.

Trivia: A German person will not understand me when I am speaking in my regional Swiss dialect. Actually, even some of my Swiss German colleagues have difficulty understanding me (my dialect is known to be very strong and kind of exotic).

Why I decided to start a podcast to improve my English

Even though I studied English in school for about 3 years, I've never been able to express myself properly in English, especially when it comes to speaking.

Another of my passions is watching TV series and movies. 

When I watched a movie in English for the very first time, I quickly realised, that my English was not as good as I first thought, and I wanted to change that! 

I attended an English class, which I think didn't really help me to improve my speaking skills. 

I have been an aspiring podcast listener for many years, and as most of the podcasts were only available in English, I ended up listening to a tonne of different shows in English. 

Finally, I've found myself being rather passive when it came to learning the language.

That was the point when I had the idea to start my own podcast. 

It was like killing two birds with one stone: Producing a podcast would enable me to talk about a thing I love, which is learning languages, and at the same time I would improve my English and be able to share my knowledge with other language learners.

The main idea was to keep myself engaged, also in terms of accountability. Just the idea that somebody could be listening to an episode of my fluent podcast made me eager to pronounce the words correctly and sound as "natural" as possible.

Making a podcast to learn English
My home podcasting setup


How I do it

How I go about it changes depending on the project I'm currently focusing on. 

Each episode comes with a slightly different small goal in mind, that I have to reach. 

My very first episodes were all scripted as I was not able to construct phrases on my own when speaking into the microphone. In one of the older episodes, I even showed my draft to a professional translator, who then corrected it. 

I did some interviews with English native speakers, which really pushed me forward because I had to do a lot of research beforehand, and at the interview, I was forced to listen very carefully and then ask questions. 

Sometimes, I just read an interesting text out loud. The goal of that is to pronounce the words correctly and to work on my intonation.  

What I like about it

By podcasting in English, you will definitely be dealing with your own voice on a regular basis. This will help you to become a better speaker over time, and help build your confidence.

The possibilities are literally endless and you can let your fantasies run wild (interviews, reading a text out loud, singing, recording a discussion, movie reviews, book clubs etc.).

You may get in touch with other like-minded people, natives or non-natives who come across your podcast. These connections will help you massively.

You can keep track of your progress. It's funny (or horrible) to re-listen to the very first episodes of my fluent podcast. It's incredible how a person or one's voice can change over a relatively short period of time.

Some things to watch out for

Focusing too much on the podcast aspect instead of the actual English learning can easily lead you astray. 

Depending on how "seriously" you take the podcasting in terms of becoming more popular, the tasks that may come up take a lot of time: editing, conducting research, setting up a website, marketing, making transcripts, just to name a few.

My advice to English learners 

In general, starting a podcast is not difficult anymore. Decent microphones have become accessible for the layman. Even your mobile phone will do the trick. There are tonnes of resources available that will help you to get going (by the way: I can help you, too).

Don't put too much thought into it.

You can just podcast in English about something you love. It doesn't matter if you have an accent or if you are not able to speak freely (yet). The most important thing is to start out and then do something consistently. For example, if you are a beginner, you could do short 30-second episodes. 

If you are not keen on the idea of publishing your recordings you can just record and listen to yourself. 

Podcasting is just one little piece of the whole. Nevertheless: Not only will it boost your English but also it will help you to grow as a person.

Has this helped me improve my English?

Absolutely! But the journey on my fluent podcast goes on...

Podcasting in English helped me build my self-confidence over time. 

I know that I'm capable of forming articulate sentences and even though I might not have a huge listenership, there are a couple of people who are actually signed up to my fluent podcast, which is a great feeling (yes, they seem to understand me so my pronunciation may not be that bad). 

I'm not saying that I have mastered the language yet but I feel more confident, which is very important when you want to get a message across. 

When I compare my older recordings to my newer ones, it seems to me that I’ve improved my “fluency”, which is/was actually one of the main goals of the show. 

In the first episodes, literally everything was read out loud. 

Nowadays, I can manage to talk about a topic or express my opinion more or less freely if needed. 

While in the early days of my fluent podcast I sounded like a robot, I picked up better intonation patterns over time so that my speech sounds more natural now. 

I'm more at ease today and less tied up in knots. 

I expanded my vocabulary as well. As a matter of fact, when I listen to other podcast shows, I can easily follow them even if they’re not specifically designed for English learners.

Final words

It finally comes down to being more active. In the era of YouTube, Facebook, Netflix etc. it is even more important not only to consume content in English but also to produce something yourself. Being active will make the learning process faster.

Leonardo English’s thoughts

Daniel’s story is really inspiring. It’s one thing listening to a podcast in another language, but actually deciding to start your own as a way to improve your English takes bravery, determination, and skill.

It’s no wonder that Daniel has improved so much since he started, and we hope that his story will inspire you to follow in his footsteps.