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Improve Your Listening Skills with True Stories

March 8, 2022

Do you want to improve your listening skills?

Listening to true stories is a great way to improve your listening skills. Storytellers are everywhere, but today I want to tell you about my favorite place to find them.

The Moth Radio Hour

The Moth Radio Hour is a free storytelling radio show that you can listen to as a podcast. I listen to The Moth on Spotify, but there are lots of other places to find it.

The stories on The Moth are all true. Some stories make me laugh out loud. Others make me cry. I've never been disappointed by a true story from The Moth.

Each week there are new true stories to listen to. Most episodes have three stories. Each story is about 15 minutes long. The stories in one episode all follow a certain theme. This week's theme was shoes. The theme is in the title of the episode, which is called "If the Shoe Fits." If a theme doesn't appeal to you, you can always listen to past episodes. Some recent story themes at The Moth were siblings, love, and surprises. 

"The Moth was founded by the novelist George Dawes Green, who wanted to recreate in New York the feeling of sultry summer evenings in his native Georgia, when moths were attracted to the light on the porch where he and his friends would gather to spin spellbinding tales."


How to Improve Your Listening Skills with The Moth

Make Listening a Habit 

I listen to true stories from The Moth whenever I'm preparing dinner. I can usually fit in at least two stories when I'm prepping and cooking. Sometimes my teenagers hear a story playing in the kitchen and join me. 

Try making a habit of listening to stories (e.g., listening on the train, listening on Sunday mornings, listening in the car). 

Learn Some Idiomatic Language

The Moth's episode titles and descriptions often include everyday language and collocations that you may find useful to learn, such as "divine intervention," "a loss for words," or "letting go."

The true stories you listen to will help you remember these expressions.

If you don't understand some of the everyday expressions the storytellers use, you can always ask about them in English class or leave a question right at the bottom of this post! 

Share the Stories 

A friend told me about The Moth a few years ago, and I'm so happy that she shared it. 

I often retell bits of the stories I hear on The Moth to a friend or family member. Retelling stories is a great way to practice your speaking and vocabulary. You can practice important skills, such as paraphrasing, summarizing, and recounting. Reported speech is another important, yet tricky, language structure you can practice. 

Unlike TED Talks or celebrity podcasts, the storytellers at The Moth are often just regular people like you and me. You can't help wanting to tell a related story after hearing their stories.

I hope The Moth inspires you to tell your stories too!

By the way, if you hear a great story on The Moth, be sure to stop by this post again and recommend an episode! I recommend "Put to the Test" and "Where We Belong."


  • podcast: a series of audio files that you can listen to online
  • episode: one part in a series, such as a TV or film series
  • theme: the main subject or topic 
  • appeal: to like the look, sound, or appearance of something
  • sultry: hot and humid
  • moth: an insect with feathery wings 
  • porch: an enclosed outdoor seating area
  • spellbinding: holding one's attention, very interesting
Question of the Month

Who is the best storyteller you know? What makes this person a good storyteller? Share your comments with me below!

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Comments (17)

Dana F.(Teacher)

Can I assign this to my students?

Reply to Comment

Tara Benwell(Author)

Hi, Dana! We don’t have an assign option for blog posts yet, but you can just share the link with them. If they are logged in, they can reply in the comments as themselves. Thanks! I hope they like this For Students area of the blog.

Pam S.(Teacher)

Thank you for sharing this resource. I will check it out and share it with my students.

Reply to Comment

Tara Benwell(Author)

Thanks, Pam! I hope they like The Moth as much as I do.

Afaf S.(Student)

I'm happy to find this wonderful opportunity to develop my my listening skill.
Afaf S.

Reply to Comment

Tara Benwell(Author)

Hi Afaf S.,
Please let us know if you come across any great stories! I just heard that my daughter's high school English teacher used The Moth to help her students learn some useful presentation skills too. They studied how to keep the audience engaged through story.

Tanya Trusler(Author)

Hi, Fadumo! Good luck with your studies.

Reply to Comment

Carolina B.(Teacher)

Thank you so much for all the things you share for our growth as teachers, I was wondering if you have any useful resources to create our own podcast with my students?

Reply to Comment

Tara Benwell(Author)

Here is another tool I just stumbled on:

Diogo Sousa(Guest)

You guys are the best. I can't stop thinking how lucky we all are to have this amazing resorce handy.
I Love ELLII so much and hope you keep helping us to teach our best classes every day.

Reply to Comment

Tara Benwell(Author)

Hi Diogo,
What a nice comment to start our Friday! Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with our team. Testimonials like this motivate us to continue making Ellii as good as it can be for teachers like you. Have a great weekend! (I hope you hear a good story or two.)

Denzil B.(Teacher)

Hi Tara,
I enjoy listening to The Moth Radio Hour on my local NPR radio station here in southern California. It never occurred to me to share this as a listening opportunity for my students - this is an excellent way for students to improve their listening skills. Thank you!

Reply to Comment

Tara Benwell(Author)

Hi, Denzil!
Thanks for stopping by! I'm glad you enjoy The Moth Radio Hour, and I hope your students enjoy it too. Please let us know if you have a favorite Moth story or one that you think would be appreciated by English learners.

Luciana G.(Teacher)

I'll share it with a B2 student, so we can talk about it tomorrow in our conversation class. I'm such in love with ellii <3

Reply to Comment

Tanya Trusler(Author)

That's really great to hear, Luciana! Let us know how it goes.

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