Free English Audio Lessons

How can I finally learn to understand native speakers of English?

If you’re struggling to understand native speakers of English despite many years of studying, then my audio lessons for those with an intermediate level or above can help.

Here you can listen to short, English audio recordings of real dialogues, stories, anecdotes and English speakers’ answers to questions on a whole range of topics. Each recording comes with a transcript and I even translate some common English phrases and idioms for my Russian-speaking learners!

By listening to a little bit of real English every day, you can get used to hearing and understanding genuine, often repeated speech patterns and common phrases.

That’s one big part of breaking the language barrier.

The audios are short, so you can listen to English on the metro, in your car or whenever it’s convenient for you.

Best of all, I’m always recording new audios – if you’ve got a question of your own, why not let me know and I can dedicate the next audio lesson to you!

Lesson
Transcript
Audio
A discussion about Edinburgh
Show transcript

Liam: Male, 25, Standard British Accent
Rebecca: Female, 40, Northern English (Manchester) accent, Liam’s auntie

Rebecca:           Just to give people an idea of what we’re going to talk about, erm, you did your Master’s degree in Edinburgh –
Liam:                I did!
Rebecca:           -the fair capital of Scotland!  And, erm, it’s not a place that I know a great deal about, but you really enjoyed it there, didn’t you?
Liam:    Yeah I, I’m… it’s one of my favourite cities to be quite honest.  Erm, y’know a lovely mix of history, culture, erm, great university…
Rebecca:           Yeah…
Liam:    Erm, lots of amazing bars and restaurants and things like that, lots to do.  Erm, just a… yeah, a very – a great mix of everything, a very nice place to be.
Rebecca:           It’s really nice Edinburgh though, isn’t it? ‘Cause I think, erm, I mean I’ve only been a few times myself and not seen it, erm, in y’know, I’ve done a few “touristy” things, but the feel that I got from the place – it’s not cosmopolitan.  It feels like – it feels very traditional, but it’s a really, really welcoming place, erm…
Liam:    Yeah, very much so, I think… I think it’s an old – because it’s such an old place, erm, it’s steeped in history anyway, erm, but there’s such… because of the university, I think there’s such an international crowd that kind of goes to the city, so it gives… It can give it a… yeah an “international-kind-of-edging-on –cosmopolitan” feel…
Rebecca:           Yeah…
Liam:    But, erm, but yeah it’s the… offset with the, with the tradition as well.
Rebecca:           Yeah, yep.
Liam:    That whole bag of things.
Rebecca:           Aww, nice one.  What was your favourite place in Edinburgh, would you say?
Liam:    Umm…
Rebecca:           If you could…
Liam:    I mean besides my flat!
Rebecca:           Yep!
Liam:    ‘Cause that was, that was a very special little place.  I would say… my favourite place… Erm, probably Arthur’s Seat, to be…to be quite honest.
Rebecca:           Right.
Liam:    Um, the little…kind of, small hill, just outside of the city centre.
Rebecca:           Yeah.
Liam:    Erm, climbed up there on the last day and yeah – amazing views from the top.
Rebecca:           Right, right, aww nice one.  Is that something that, like, basically everybody does at some point, if they’re spending time in?..
Liam:    Yep.  I think it’s er, I think it’s a bit of a rite of passage in… in Edinburgh –
Rebecca:           Right, right…
Liam:    Absolutely have to do it when you go.
Rebecca:           Yeah.  Could you see anything from up there?!  ‘Cause Edinburgh – well, Scotland’s – notorious for the bad weather as well, isn’t it?  So…
Liam:    Funnily enough that – that day had been bad in the beginning, really bad weather, very cloudy and overcast, but in the evening when we…when we climbed up towards the end of the day to catch sunset, it was beautiful –
Rebecca:           Aww!
Liam:    As far as you could see – as far as the eye could see…wonderful sunset –
Rebecca:           Aww!  Nice… nice one…
Liam:    Erm, and great views over all of Edinburgh.
Rebecca:           Aww… ‘cause you’d be a bit gutted, I think it was – erm… I know someone went up there once and they were gutted ‘cause they’d taken ages to climb up there, obviously spent a hell of a lot of energy… and, er, they got up there and they couldn’t see a thing ‘cause of the mist!
[fades]

A discussion about the Fringe Festival, Edinburgh
Show transcript

Liam: Male, 25, Standard British Accent
Rebecca: Female, 40, Northern English (Manchester) accent, Liam’s auntie

Rebecca:           Just to give people an idea of what we’re going to talk about, erm, you did your Master’s degree in Edinburgh – were you ever there when The Fringe was on?
Liam:                Yeah, yeah!  That was err, that was my… so that would – that’s during August, The Fringe.  I was doing my dissertation at the time.  Erm, and… our flat was right next to one of the main areas of The Fringe, by the university.  So it did… erm, four or five shows during the, during the time, whilst trying to write a dissertation at the same time! It was-
Rebecca:           Fair enough, fair enough!
Liam:    It was… a challenge! ‘Cause there’s so much to do during the Fringe and there’s so many…shows and things to see.  But what I did do, I loved, it was… it was brilliant.
Rebecca:           Aww brilliant.
Liam:    Yeah, one of my… I think Edinburgh is probably one of the best places to be in… in August-
Rebecca:           Yeah, yeah…
Liam:    With the amount of stuff that’s going on.
Rebecca:           Yeah…  Just in case anyone’s not familiar with The Fringe, I think there’s a lot, erm… I think it – it centres around comedy, a lot of it as well, doesn’t it?  Or…
Liam:    Just the arts in general to be honest-
Rebecca:           Right.
Liam:    Mostly theatre, erm, but there’s definitely, er, music thrown in there as well, but it’s just a… just an arts and culture festival-
Rebecca:           Right.
Liam:    But there are a lot of… a lot of comedians do go.
Rebecca:           Mmm…
Liam:    There’s a lot of, err… comedy troupes as well, and like, improvisation groups and… and you name it!  But there is some more serious stuff and-
Rebecca:           Yeah.
Liam:    Weird and wonderful stuff, but erm… Yeah, it… there’s something for everyone really.
Rebecca:           Nice one, nice one…
[fades]

A discussion comparing Edinburgh with London
Show transcript

Liam: Male, 25, Standard British Accent
Rebecca: Female, 40, Northern English (Manchester) accent, Liam’s auntie

Rebecca:           Just to give people an idea of what we’re going to talk about, erm, you did your Master’s degree in Edinburgh-
Liam:                I did!
Rebecca:           The fair capital of Scotland!  So, from one capital to another then… Obviously we’ve spoken a little bit about Edinburgh and these days you live and work in London – well, work remotely in London!
Liam:    Yeah.
Rebecca:           Erm… How do the two compare?
Liam:    Um, yeah, I think… in some respects they’re similar, you know, they’re both places that are steeped in history and tradition.  Both the… kind of… the seats of government in the respective countries.  Erm, but, London, for one, is far, far bigger-
Rebecca:           Yeah…
Liam:    Than Edinburgh.  Edinburgh’s somewhere you can walk from one side to the other.  London – there’s not a chance of being able to do that!  Erm, it…  London’s just a bit mad!
Rebecca:           Really?!
Liam:    To be quite honest!  There’s always something going on, erm, there’s, y’know, restaurants serve every cuisine around the world…
Rebecca:           Yeah.
Liam:    Erm, and…it’s just a whole – I dunno – it’s a huge, huge place, there’s always something going on.  You’ll never get to explore all of it, which I think with Edinburgh is something that you could do-
Rebecca:           Right, right.
Liam:    With a bit of time.  But London there’s just not a chance.
Rebecca:           Does it sort of help you… again, is that another thing that you enjoyed about Edinburgh, the fact that you could get to know it so well?  Erm…
Liam:    Very much so.  Yeah, very, very much so.  I think that’s important for me.  Erm… and I don’t feel as at home in London as I did in Edinburgh-
Rebecca:           Right.  That’s interesting.
Liam:     It’s such a big place that it’s difficult to know – you know your neighbourhood, or your tube stop…
Rebecca:           Yeah…
Liam:     Erm… but in, in Edinburgh, yeah, you can walk everywhere in the city, so you can – you do feel you get to know it a lot better and that, for me, helps you to feel at home.
Rebecca: Fair one, fair one… Yeah I’ve noticed with London it’s kind of divided up into, sort of little “pockets” depending on where you live, I guess, and people talk about getting a “villagey” feel for – y’know, in the place that they live.  That’s kind of like the ultimate goal for a lot of people, to feel like they’re part of a smaller community, when I guess they’re in the middle of a massive, massive…yeah, erm, well, city, obviously!
Liam:     Yeah, very much so.
Rebecca: Erm, but yeah… So, you – is it fair to say then, you prefer Edinburgh to London… Hands down?
Liam:     Hands down!  Absolutely hands down.  I think London has been fun, erm… and it’s, it’s a – I think it’s a difficult one for people in this country because, if… certainly from my university background, most people then got a graduate job in London-
Rebecca: Mmm hmm.
Liam:     A lot of your friends are down there, y’know, a lot of my school friends are there, so it seemed like the logical step, not to mention that the, the job market is very centred around London. So, erm, most of the opportunities are there, so it made total sense to go and it’s been… it has been a good few years, y’know?  Being… of living with my friends, and being in such close contact with loads of other people.  Erm… but, in terms of where I would see myself settling – I don’t feel settled in London.  It’s always Edinburgh that I’m thinking of.
Rebecca: Right, right…
Liam:     Y’know, it would be more of a… more of a home, so…
[fades]

The Future of UK Pubs
Show transcript

Ramon: Male, 85, Northern English (Manchester) accent – former pub owner
Rebecca: Female, 38, Northern English (Manchester) accent, Ramon’s daughter

Rebecca:           So, obviously, we talked a bit about how things’ve changed and pubs have probably got a lot quieter.  What do you think the future holds for the industry? ‘Cause, I mean, you’ve always said, like, the pubs are closing at quite an alarming rate…
Ramon:            And still are…and still are.  I think it’s down to…I think it’s about twenty a week, still closing.  The amount – I can’t remember the exact figures now – but the amount in the last ten or fifteen years that were in Britain and that are there now is..is… astronomical, the figure.  Thousands have closed over those years.
Rebecca:           Yeah.
Ramon:            I fear, in a way, for a pub like The Bull [the name of Ramon’s pub] – whether they will survive.
Rebecca:           Yeah.
Ramon:            Once the pub groups came on the scene – like we had Punch Taverns [the name of the franchise that Ramon’s pub eventually belonged to] – you’ve got to sell their beer…
Rebecca:           Yeah, yeah.
Ramon:            And they even put monitors on the pumps now to make sure… if I’ve bought, just for an example, fifty gallons of bitter off them – in a week – and I’ve sold seventy gallons…
Rebecca:           Yeah.
Ramon:            They’d say, “well where’s the other twenty gallons come from?”
Rebecca:           Mmm.
Ramon:            And they’ve got monitors now on all the pumps, they know exactly when you’re selling, even to the time.  They even know when you’ve cleaned your pumps.  They have now decided really how you operate, what you’ll charge, all because of the price they set.
Rebecca:           Yeah, yeah,
Ramon:            Err, depends on how much you charge, because you’ve still got to make a living…
Rebecca:           I suppose it’s – you’re self-employed in a way but you’ve got…. You’re beholden to the companies that’re…
Ramon:            Exactly, exactly.
Rebecca:           …actually selling you beer, so you’ve got no… you’ve not really got a say in your own –
Ramon:            No.  On your own – in your own destiny…
Rebecca:           Yeah!
Ramon:            A lot of people don’t know much about how a pub like that works.
Rebecca:           Yeah.
Ramon:            And the amount of time that’s involved as well.
Rebecca:           Yeah.
Ramon:            People go in and think, “Ooh, the till’s ding, ding, dinging there, I’ll take this on board!”  They don’t realise how much time you put in when it’s not even open.
Rebecca:           Yeah.
Ramon:            Cleaning the lines every week.
Rebecca:           Yeah, yeah.  I noticed it was always – I’d say it was a twenty-four hour job.
Ramon:            Oh it is!
Rebecca:           Erm… you know, you never really rest and… I remember you and mum racing up to bed one night ‘cause there was a chance you were gonna get into bed before midnight –
Ramon:            Yeah!
Rebecca:           And it was the first time it had happened in about twelve months or something!
Ramon:            Yeah!  I think in the sixteen years almost – that we had it – the amount of time I went to bed…
Rebecca:           Yeah.
Ramon:            …The same day I’d got up…
Rebecca:           Yeah!
Ramon:            …Pretty, pretty rare!
Rebecca:           Yeah.  It was hard work, but very –
Ramon:            Very rewarding!
Rebecca:           Yeah.
Ramon:            ‘Cause we had a super pub.
Rebecca:           Yeah.
Ramon:            And the people in it – I always said at the end that they weren’t customers, they were my friends – and a lot of them still are… [fades]

Pulling the perfect pint
Show transcript

Ramon: Male, 85, Northern English (Manchester) accent – former pub owner
Rebecca: Female, 38, Northern English (Manchester) accent, Ramon’s daughter

Rebecca:           Can you tell me a little bit about the perfect pint, please.  So take us into the cellar, err…
Ramon:            The perfect pint… I’ll talk “Boddingtons” now, ‘cause that’s the one I know.  It’s got to be kept at 53 degrees…err, give or take…
Rebecca:           Fahrenheit…
Ramon:             Yes, Fahrenheit, sorry, yep – err, give or take a couple of degrees either way – so of course we had coolers in the cellar, and err, thermostats that kept it to that. If it – if it varied a lot, it would start to go a little bit cloudy.  But a lot of people drink with their eyes, and they’d look it up, and think…  It might taste beautiful, but if it’s a bit cloudy, they didn’t want it.
Rebecca:           Yeah…
Ramon:             A good… a good top on the beer to be sure… And obviously, glasses to be clean – well, that’s an absolute must.
Rebecca:           Yeah.
Ramon:            You need the glass to be clean.  Err, every now and again I used to have to renovate the glasses.
Rebecca:           So what – when you say renovate, what did you – what was it?
Ramon:            It was a powder that you put in water that you’d clean them in, in hot – it was a bit like a soap powder in a way – but it wasn’t – I don’t know what it consisted of, but the brewery supplied it.
Rebecca:           Erm… just going back down the cellar again… So you…  You get the delivery, erm…you get the barrels, rolled down into the cellar – or the kegs, I should say…
Ramon:            Yes, you put them on the stillage, it meant that the barrel had to slope slightly, so the back wood was higher than the front.  And then you’d put little wedge-shaped blocks either side to stop the barrel moving, because if the barrel moves while you’re… while you’re serving it, obviously, straight away, the lees – or the sediment – from the brewing process’ll stir up and you’d be as… well, it’d be ruined then.
Rebecca: Yeah, yep.
Ramon:            It wouldn’t only just be cloudy, it tastes sour as well.  So you’d make sure that once the barrel’s on…  When you get it, you leave it for a few hours after the draymen have put it on the stillage for you.  Then you put your – you tap it then: there’s a small hole in the top…
Rebecca: Yep.
Ramon:            You drive a tapered peg into it –
Rebecca:           Yep.
Ramon:            And then you put a tap in the front.
Rebecca:           Yep.
Ramon:            So you hammer that in, obviously make sure the two taps are switched off, or else it’ll pour all over the floor!
Rebecca:           Right!
Ramon:            Err, if you’re not serving it immediately, you’d change the soft peg –
Rebecca:           At the top?
Ramon:            The soft peg at the top lets the air through it – if you, if you blow it, you can blow air through it, it’s very, very – you wouldn’t see the holes, they’re only very tiny – but it’s porous.
Rebecca:           Right.
Ramon:            And then you’d change that for a hard peg, which won’t let the air in.
Rebecca:           Right.
Ramon:            Because if air gets in the barrel ‘n you haven’t served it for… a couple of days – which is nothing wrong with it being there for a couple of days – the air’s got in via the soft peg –
Rebecca:           Yep.
Ramon:            -it starts making it cloudy.  So you only take the hard peg out when you’ve actually put the barrel on.
Rebecca:           Yeah.
Ramon:            Or, or connect your pipe to the tap, which is already there, and you put a soft peg back in then.
Rebecca:           Right.
Ramon:            Because of…obviously, if you know anything about physics, if you draw…
Rebecca:           You’re not gonna get the… liquid out
Ramon:            -liquid off, and there’s no air getting in, it’ll stop!
Rebecca:           Yep.
Ramon:            So of course, the soft peg lets the air in, and then obviously, you keep the temperature right, make sure all your glasses are clean, and then back upstairs, err, you’ve got a sparkler you call it – it’s a screw part with very tiny holes in it
Rebecca:           That goes on the end
Ramon:            -that gives you the top when you pump it…
Rebecca:           Yep.
Ramon:            It gives you a bit of froth on the top and every night those are taken off, and put in… I used to put mine in soda water; it tends to clean them.  So, other than that, you’d make sure that it’s a good top on it, if anybody makes a complaint, you might not agree with them…
Rebecca:           Yep.
Ramon:            But you’d give them another pint.
Rebecca:           Yep.
Ramon:            The customer’s always right.
Rebecca:           I remember you lifting up a pint just before the pub’d open – “It’s clear as a bell that today!”

Yes.  I liked to…I liked to think it was… it was right, and so would any decent landlord.

What makes a good pub landlord/landlady?
Show transcript

Ramon: Male, 85, Northern English (Manchester) accent – former pub owner
Rebecca: Female, 38, Northern English (Manchester) accent, Ramon’s daughter

Rebecca:           It sounds obvious really, but I think you’ve got to be a people person to run a pub. I mean, would you say that’s perhaps…perhaps top of the list in terms of what, y’know what a landlord or landlady needs to be?
Ramon:            It’s very high on the list, because people, err, would… you need, you need to be seen, you know, especially at weekends when it’s usually busier, erm, and I think if you’re absent a lot, people don’t really know who’s running the place.
Rebecca:           Yeah.  Yeah, that goes again towards creating the atmosphere that we talked about before, ‘cause I think, erm, I don’t know, the thing I find when I’m going out to a pub or a bar now is you don’t get many landlords and landladies anymore, you don’t know who’s running the place.
Ramon:             No.
Rebecca:           It doesn’t… it doesn’t quite give you the sense of loyalty to the pub either.
Ramon:             No.
Rebecca:           Whereas I think if you’ve met the landlord, you’ve met the landlady, you… suddenly – again – you’re becoming part of this small community, you feel a sense of loyalty, and you feel like it’s your place to go to.  Whereas, say, if I went into the city centre, I go into a bar and nobody, y’know, knows my name when I go in the bar and nobody knows my name when I go out of the bar. I might go again if the food was good, erm… or if, y’know, if there was a nice particular drink that I enjoyed, or –
Ramon:             Yep
Rebecca:           Y’know, if I had a good time, if it was convenient, but there wouldn’t be that extra reason for me to go in, but, y’know, a good landlady or landlord… I remember watching people on, say, like a Friday night when you were in, and you could see some people in the lounge and they’d want to speak to you, I could see people actually sort of sitting up like and “ooh we’re gonna get our, er, little chat now and…”
Ramon:             That’s right, that’s right.
Rebecca:           It wasn’t false on your part either, y’know, and I know you enjoyed doing it, y’know.
Ramon:             I did.
Rebecca:           You enjoyed welcoming people.
Ramon:             I did.  Especially at weekend if people, some people only came in perhaps, once a fortnight
Rebecca:           Yeah, yeah.
Ramon:             But I’d make sure that when they did, I’d go over and speak to them… I say especially at weekend if I wasn’t on the bar.  And quite often at weekend we’d have staff –
Rebecca:           Yeah.
Ramon:             -but we’d be around.
Rebecca:           Yeah.  Well you were engaging with them at the end of the day, weren’t you?  Y’know, showing them that you were grateful for the custom and the fact that they’d chosen to spend their time…
Ramon:             That’s right
Rebecca:           It wasn’t a false thing, it wasn’t like, “Ooh now I must circulate with everybody” it was like, “Ooh let’s see who’s in!”
Ramon:             That’s right.
Rebecca:           But I mean I think that’s key as well with a good landlady or landlord, obviously, you are running a business, y’know.  People appreciate the fact that you’re running a business, you need to make a profit, but, I don’t think that people felt in your pub – I know I’m biased obviously, ‘cause you’re my mum and dad – erm, but I don’t think anybody felt in your pub that it was money first, custom second.  I felt like you put the customer at the top.
Ramon:             Yes.
Rebecca:           And everything else flowed from there.
Ramon:             That’s right, that’s right.
Rebecca:           Y’know, what would the customers want?  What would they appreciate… (fades)

What should a true British pub have?
Show transcript

Ramon: Male, 85, Northern English (Manchester) accent – former pub owner
Rebecca: Female, 38, Northern English (Manchester) accent, Ramon’s daughter

Ramon:            Well, I think it should have, err, cleanliness for a start…
Rebecca:           Mmm…
Ramon:            Ambience…
Rebecca:           Mmhmm, yep…
Ramon:             Warmth in the winter…
Rebecca:           Yep…
Ramon:             Err, a good interaction with the customers is…is vital, I find – or we found.
Rebecca:           Mmm…
Ramon:             Erm…
Rebecca:           I mean how… how did you, erm, so when you’re talking about the, er, being warm in winter, about you…
Ramon:             Yes, we had an open type fire.
Rebecca:           Yep.
Ramon:             Err, either coal burning, wood, or whatever other fuel you could put on it.
Rebecca:           Yeah.
Ramon:             Err, which did draw a lot of people in, they loved to see an open fire because they are few and far between now.
Rebecca:           Yeah.
Ramon:             Even in houses, to see an open fire with flames burning away, it was quite, quite an attraction.
Rebecca:           Yeah, yeah, it just made it nice and cosy I found, when…
Ramon:             It did indeed, it did indeed.  People’d quite often sit round it, to some degree we’d have to say, “will you please move out of the way, because you’re blocking the heat to everybody else!”
Rebecca:           (Laughs) Yeah!

……..

Rebecca:           …about ambience as well, and like the atmosphere…
Ramon:             Yes, your mum often err, at weekends, she’d perhaps just disappear for half an hour… and come back with a tray of sandwiches…that were all “on the house”, err, and that was appreciated.
Rebecca:           Yeah.
Ramon:             Very much so. Err, we had a football team as well, err, they used to come back after they’d played on a Sunday morning.  They used to come back probably half past twelve, quarter to one, which was a good thing for us because not many pubs have customers at that time on a Sunday, since they changed the opening hours – err…and she’d do food for them, which was very much appreciated.
Rebecca:           Yeah.  It makes the…again it makes the atmosphere I think and it-it gives people a sense of…they belong to a community.
Ramon:             Exactly, exactly…
Rebecca:           I mean you’ve always said as well it’s – the pub was much more than just drinking a beer, it was, it was about somewhere for people to go.
Ramon:             It was a community place, in a way, err, a meeting place where you could exchange your views, err, even share your troubles perhaps sometimes, if people wanted to listen…
Rebecca:           Yep.
Ramon:             I would often join in conversations with people at the bar when I was behind the bar, if…. I could tell that they wanted me to join in.
Rebecca:           Yeah.
Ramon:             (Clears throat) Excuse me.  If they didn’t, I’d keep my distance, because obviously they were having a private conversation, but if they wanted to involve me, I’d willingly join in… (fades)

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