Using transcripts to learn English by English with Stephen

Using Transcripts to Learn English

This is the transcript for the Learning English with Stephen episode on transcripts!

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Hello everyone. My name’s Stephen Greene and this is Learning English with Stephen, a podcast designed to help everyone learn English as quickly and effectively as possible. All of the episodes are short so that you won’t get tired concentrating in a foreign language. Also, they all have a transcript so you can read any words you didn’t understand and find new vocabulary.

And best of all, this is all completely free!

You can find the transcript by going to my site

In every episode, I talk about how you can find the transcript. And today we are going to look at how you can use transcripts. It is a very important learning strategy that most students, and indeed teachers, ignore.

You can find out more about this essential strategy after this…

Let’s start with a basic question.

What’s a transcript?

A transcript is a written version of what I am saying now. It means that you can read the transcript and listen to me at the same time. If you don’t understand something that I say, you can read it and see how to spell it.

Why is this important?

Well, put simply, it’s an excellent way to learn English, and today we are going to look at some ways you can use a transcript.

Nearly every English language coursebook has a transcript at the back. The transcript can use up to 10 pages, depending on the coursebook. That is a lot of pages, so it must be important for publishers to include it. Unfortunately, though, a lot of the time teachers and students just ignore it.

But it isn’t just course books that have transcripts.

Many podcasts have transcripts. Two of my favourite podcasts are The Allusionist and The British History Podcast. If you go to their sites you will find they have transcripts. You can find links to their sites if you go to my transcript at Have I mentioned that already?

If there is a film or TV series you like, then google the name plus transcript and there is a good chance you will find it.

If you go to sites that help you learn English, like BBC Learning English, they nearly always have transcripts for their videos.

So, now you know there are lots of ways to access a transcript, but what should you do with them?

If you are using a resource that it trying to help you improve your listening skills, like a coursebook or BBC Learning English, then the best thing to do is to listen the first time without using the transcript. Try to listen to answer any questions or to see how much you understand.

Once you have done this, you can check your answers with the transcript.

You can also listen again and read along at the same time. This will help you to identify words you didn’t understand when you were just listening. You will also get the chance to notice the pronunciation of individual words as well as how they connect together.

It can be difficult to notice something when you are not sure what to look for. Here is a short list of things to pay attention to:

  1. Think about how the pronunciation of a word is sometimes different to spelling, for example, ‘thought’.
  2. Think about where the stress goes in a word. Is it computer or computer?
  3. Think about how words join together so they sound like one long word?
  4. In a sentence or phrase, which words are stressed?
  5. In a sentence or phrase, are there any words that almost disappear?
  6. Does the intonation go up, down or up and down?

But it is not just the pronunciation of words and phrases you can pay attention to.

Let’s say you want to learn some prepositions. Well, after you have listened to something take a look at the transcript and identify all of the prepositions. Following this, analyse the prepositions. You can ask yourself questions like this:

  1. What does the preposition mean?
  2. Does it have a literal or metaphorical meaning?
  3. Is it part of the word that comes before it, or the word that comes after it?
  4. What is its pronunciation?

I will do an episode purely on learning prepositions in the future, but this is one excellent way to learn them, just be paying attention to them.

It isn’t just prepositions that you can analyse a transcript for. Perhaps you are interested in improving your understanding of the present perfect tense, or how to express the future, or when to use -ing forms. Well, go through the transcript and identify all the examples of the structures you are looking for.

Finally, you can also use a transcript to learn new vocabulary. As you read a transcript, underline any new words. Try to understand their meaning from the context and then use a dictionary to confirm your ideas.

Just before I finish for today, I’d like you to leave me a message telling me if you have had a teacher who has used the transcript in class and whether you liked it or not. Or maybe you have another way of using transcripts. Leave me a message on my site or on social media. I promise to answer everyone.

You can find me on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook under the name of Learning English with Stephen.

Don’t forget to check out my transcripts at You can also find information there about how you can have online classes with me as well as links to things like Twitter and Facebook.

Goodbye, and see you soon.

A blue and yellow background. A young black man sits in front of a computer screen with headphones on. Text: Learning Strategies - Using transcripts to learn English by English with Stephen
There’s always a transcript for English with Stephen


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