I have been a fan of Elllo.org for quite some time. It is a free website that allows visitors to listen to dialogues on a variety of subjects. There are several reasons why I like it so much:
1. You don’t need to register
This makes it incredibly easy to use with students, and to recommend to students, because you don’t have to walk them through a registration process or deal with personal information worries.
2. Incredible variety
The site has over 1,000 conversations at time of writing, and more are added on a regular basis. The range of topics is incredible, and many of them are genuinely interesting.
3. Different accents and Englishes
Elllo has a huge variety of accents represented in its content. This is extremely useful to my students, as they mostly have only encountered North American, British, and Japanese English. Given that most conversations in English now take place between non-native speakers, it is clear that getting used to different varieties of English is a necessary part of preparing to be a user of English in the future.
4. Natural Conversation
The conversations appear to be largely unscripted, as they show features of spoken English (false starts, ungrammatical features, etc.). This makes them much more useful than most materials, which still tend to be read from a script.
5. Full Transcripts
The site provides transcripts for all the conversations that can be hidden or shown as necessary.
6. Complementary exercises
The site also includes follow-up exercises for each conversation, including vocabulary work, comprehension questions, and a very interesting speaking practice section.
Students can also download all the conversations as mp3 files to listen to on portable devices.
Basically Elllo.org provides almost everything my students need to seriously increase their listening ability in casual contexts. I recommend it to all my classes, as it only takes about five minutes to showcase how and why to use it, and for a motivated student it could make all the difference.