Internet radio: listening practice you’ll really enjoy doing

Tired of listening to the same songs on the radio every single day and a bit bored with my mp3 music, I was talking about this ‘matter’ to a friend and fellow CELLEP teacher a few months ago. “Why don’t you try listening to Internet Radio?”, she suggested. That was one of the year’s best tips I’ve had so far. Not only did I find countless options from classical music to obscure, noisy indie rock, I also had lots of flashback moments as I listened to them, and that’s why I’m sharing this with you all.

We teachers are always preaching: “listen to songs in English to practice your listening comprehension and get familiar with the phonemes and sounds of the language” and, surely, that’s a great hint. But it’s even better to have something fresh and new to keep us motivated and thus more attentive. First, through internet radio you get to have access to hot new artists and releases sooner than everyone else (unfortunately, it’s still true that most songs and bands arrive down here with some delay); there are virtually unlimited choices among dozens of music styles and categories: so many rock varieties you wouldn’t imagine, American country, folk, gospel, new age, r’n’b, rap, soul, top 40 (the big hits, no matter the style or genre) and, of course, pop. And the best thing of all is most stations broadcast music, talks and even commercials! That’s what brought back so many memories to my mind: the days when I would commute to school or work abroad with the company of those, say, very ‘peculiar’ radio ads (you’ll know what I mean when you listen to them).

You’ll notice that most radio hosts love talking between songs, and understanding what they say has a sweet taste of achievement. It’s listening and practicing English, after all, with a feeling of living in a different country.

All right, now, how can one have access to all that?

It’s a lot more simple than it seems: if you have iTunes or Windows Media Player in your computer or notebook, explore them until you find a tag or option named ‘radio’. There are also iPhone and Android apps that grant you access to them. They are usually free and grouped by music style, and all you have to do is choose one and try it out. My favourite is indeed the one Renata, the friend I mentioned above, recommended: WFNX, from Boston, US (you can also listen to it by clicking here and then on the “live radio” tag). It plays the best selection of indie rock, something hard to find among Brazilian radio stations. WFNX’s only drawback is the audio quality: it’s around 96 kbps, whereas the best ones star at 128 kbps – you don’t need to understand all this technology, though; these numbers are usually displayed next to the stations’ names and the rule is: the higher the better. Sometimes I listen to classical music and chill out songs as well, depending on my mood. If you’ve got the privilege of being able to listen to music while you work, that’s even better, since you can do it all day long if you want to.

So, what are you waiting for?! Find the station that pleases you the most and share this with your friends!

Thanks to Renata Chinen from CELLEP São Bernardo for this great tip!