In the year of social distancing, what’s better than escaping into the world of podcasts?

Not only are podcasts entertaining, but they can also help you with your communication skills. By listening to other people speak, you can improve your own oral abilities, learn new words, and gain a better grasp of the English language.

Below are some of my favourite podcasts for this year. The podcasts are not in any particular order. I recommend that you give them a try while jogging, cleaning, cooking, and, well, doing pretty much any other activity where you want some company. Happy listening!

Stuff You Missed in History Class Podcast Logo

Stuff You Missed in History Class features co-hosts Tracy V. Wilson and Holly Frey, who explore lesser-known historic events, people and stories.

Although this podcast isn’t new in 2020it’s been streaming for yearsit is a classic. I can’t create a list of top podcasts without mentioning it; this is the podcast that first got me interested in podcasts, and one that I recommend to all first-time podcast listeners.

Episodes are around 40 to 60 minutes. Approximately two episodes are released weeklyand the episode back catalogue is massiveso you’re unlikely to ever run out of episodes to listen to, or topics that interest you.

Dolly Parton's America Podcast Logo

Yes, this is a podcast all about Dolly Parton, the country music singer-songwriter. And yes, you will like it regardless of whether you like Dolly’s music.

Host Jad Abumrad (creator of podcasts Radiolab and More Perfect) and producer Shima Oliaee creatively tell the story of Dolly Parton from the perspective of how she manages to bring people together in these politically and socially divisive times.

The nine-part podcast explores Dolly’s rise to fame, the meaning behind some of her most famous lyrics, and the impact she has had on music-lovers around the world. Each episode features interviews with Dolly, inter-spliced with snippets of her music.

Dolly Parton’s American is co-produced by WNYC Studios and OSM Audio.

13 Minutes to the Moon Podcast Logo
13 Minutes to the Moon is a dramatic re-telling of the space race by host Kevin Fong and the team from the BBC World Service.

Season 1 details the Apollo 11 moon landing, beginning with the early days of the space race and culminating in the astronauts’ return to Earth following the first moon landing.

Season 2 is the story of Apollo 13, told by the people who flew and saved it.

Each episode in Seasons 1 and 2 are is masterfully pieced together, leaving you on your toes for the entirety of the space journey. Both seasons have been released in full, so you can binge them now.

The NPR Politics Podcast Logo

Although 2020 is the year of surprises, there is on thing that we all saw coming: the U.S. presidential election. This makes it more important than event to stay abreast of current events.

The NPR Politics Podcast is a daily (Monday to Friday) show in which NPR’s top political reporters discuss the news of the day and how it impacts American politics. Along the way, you’ll learn new political and legal jargon, and also gain a better understanding of the American political system.

I love the NPR Politics Podcast because it breaks down complex events into easy-to-understand discussions. Each show is typically 15 to 20 minutes long, although you’ll wish the episodes were longer.

Throughline Podcast Logo

Throughline is a recent history podcast from NPR. Each week, co-hosts Ramtin Arablouei and Rund Abdelfatah delve into the history underpinning current events and topics.

The topics explored in Throughline are wide-ranging and, at times, seemingly random—podcast themes range from the powers of the president to the modern history of bananas, and everything in between.

Each episode is approximately one hour long. The podcast first aired in 2019, so unfortunately there isn’t a large back catalogue of episodes to explore.

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