Free audio books

There are many free audio books online. They normally come with the texts, so you can listen and read at the same time. Try these sites:

Searching the web for free audio books will reveal other, similar sites.

Some of the Resource Centre’s graded readers come with audio CDs. You can also borrow a CD player from us and connect it to your laptop.


Science Weekly podcasts

The Guardian’s Science Weekly podcasts have been broadcast from 2006 to the present.

For example, earlier this month a podcast discussed finding life on other planets.

You can listen to the podcasts on the Guardian website, or on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or Spotify. They can also be downloaded as MP3 files.



Tatoeba is a database of sentences and translations. Enter a phrase and it shows example sentences in several languages.

For example, a search for get drunk finds 95 English sentences, such as:

Let's get drunk.
Don't get drunk.
Tom is getting drunk.
I never get drunk.
Getting drunk won't make things better.

Sentences come with a varying number of translations.

Tom gets drunk almost every evening.
Том се пијани скоро секоја вечер.
Том напивается почти каждый вечер.
Tom se emborracha casi todas las noches.
Tom hemen hemen her akşam sarhoş oluyor.
Том напивається майже кожного вечора.

Some sentences have been given tags such as “present continuous”, which you can then search for:

You are abusing your authority.
My heart's aching.
My brother is always acting foolishly.

Some sentences include sound recordings.



The Shtooka Project is a collection of sound recordings of words and sentences in several languages.

For example, here is the English word university:


Recordings can be downloaded in various formats. They are used in Wiktionary. They are also being used for our own minimal pair pronunciation quizzes.



PsychCrunch is a series of podcasts from the British Psychological Society’s Research Digest.

For example, one episode is How to be Funnier:

Can psychology help us to be funnier? Our presenter Ginny Smith hears how a key ingredient of humour is “incongruity” and the surprise of unexpected meanings. Individual words too can be amusing, but actually most of the time we laugh not because we’ve seen or heard a joke, but as a natural part of friendly interaction.

Besides the podcasts themselves, each episode is accompanied by links to background reading.

So far there are seventeen episodes:

  1. Dating and Attraction
  2. Breaking Bad Habits
  3. How to Win an Argument
  4. The Psychology of Gift Giving
  5. How To Learn a New Language
  6. How To Be Sarcastic
  7. Use Psychology To Compete Like an Olympian.
  8. Can We Trust Psychological Studies?
  9. How To Get The Best From Your Team
  10. How To Stop Procrastinating
  11. How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep
  12. How To Be Funnier
  13. How to Study and Learn More Effectively
  14. Psychological Tricks To Make Your Cooking Taste Better
  15. Is Mindfulness A Panacea Or Overhyped And Potentially Problematic?
  16. What’s It Like To Have No Mind’s Eye?
  17. How To Make Running Less Painful And More Fun

Why spelling is hard – but also hard to change

In Lingthusiasm Episode 33 Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch discuss spelling.

Gretchen: I think of spelling systems across languages as kind of like living in a house. When you first move into a house, you unpack everything and you hopefully say, “Okay. I’m gonna be organised this time.” And you say, “This is where everything’s gonna go.” But the longer you’ve lived in a house, the more random boxes of stuff in the attic you have.

Lauren: English has lived in the house of the Latin alphabet for a very long time.

You can listen to their discussion or read it.


The Public Domain Review

The Public Domain Review is “dedicated to the exploration of curious and compelling works from the history of art, literature, and ideas”, especially works in the public domain.

It has essays on a variety of topics. For example:

There are also collections of images, books, films and sound recordings.



YouTube Audio Library

Need background music or sound effects for your video or slideshow? A previous post suggested the Free Music Archive. Another option is the Audio Library from YouTube.

Music tracks are categorized by genre (e.g. ambient, cinematic, classical, pop, reggae) and mood (dark, funky, sad, etc.). You can listen to them online and download them as MP3 files.

Here is “Bubble Walk” by Aaron Lieberman (categorized as ambient and funky):

There is also a large collection of sound effects. These include Creaking Wooden Door, Dissecting a Body, Human Eating Watermelon, Subway NYC In Motion, Thunderstorm, Laundromat Sounds and so on.

This is a Monster Alien Grunt Hiss:




Lingthusiasm is:

A podcast that’s enthusiastic about linguistics! Make your boring commute or chores feel like a lively, nerdy, language-y dinner party with real linguists! Gretchen McCulloch (All Things Linguistic) and Lauren Gawne (Superlinguo) bring you into fascinating and hilarious half-hour conversations about the patterns behind language which you never realized you were already saying.

A new episode comes out every month. You can listen to the podcasts and/or read the transcripts. There is (so far) a single video episode, Why do we gesture when we talk?

Some recent topics:

  • You heard about it but I was there – Evidentiality
  • The verb is the coat rack that the rest of the sentence hangs on
  • Words for family relationships: Kinship terms
  • This, that and the other thing – Determiners
  • Talking and thinking about time

Podcasts on the history of English

Kevin Stroud makes podcasts about the history of the English language.

So far he has recorded 124 episodes and only reached the 14th century!

All Things Linguistic describes them as “Meticulously researched, professionally produced and engaging”.

They are free to listen to and download.


Free Music Archive

If you need background music for a video or slideshow, you could try the Free Music Archive.

The music is arranged by genre – Blues, Classical, Country, Electronic, etc. – and then sub-genre, such as Rock > Loud-Rock > Noise-Rock > Sludge. (More suitable, perhaps, as background music are genres such as Instrumental > Ambient.)

Tracks can be downloaded as mp3 files and then added to your project. Most of them have Creative Commons licences such as Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike.