At CISL, we believe that the language learning process continues long after your trip to San Francisco or San Diego. Perhaps this is why so many of our students return for another round of English classes! But in between your first and your second (or third, or fourth) trip to California to learn English, there are plenty of ways for you to continue practicing English. Our latest recommendation? The podcast Serial.

Serial is a 12 episode podcast about a real life murder trial in Baltimore in 1999. Hae Min Lee, a high school senior and Korean-American, was murdered. The suspect? Her on-again, off-again boyfriend, Adnan Sayed: a popular Muslim-American kid with a bright future. Adnan was convicted of her murder, and has claimed his innocence since his arrest. He has been in jail since 1999. The host, reporter Sarah Koenig, revisits the crime and the trial to decide if the verdict was fair. Along the way, we learn a lot about the justice system in the United States, what can go wrong when investigating a crime, and how often people lie. We also learn a lot of phrasal verbs, idioms, and slang . . . and come into contact with many different native speakers and dialects.

Serial is an excellent way for intermediate to advanced English students to practice their listening skills. To access the 12 episodes (for free!) visit We also recommend looking at the transcripts so that you can read along while you listen: all transcripts for all 12 shows can be accessed on Reddit by clicking here.

Make sure to also access the additional features on the Serial website: by clicking on the lines in the upper left corner of the podcast website, you can view maps, read copies of actual letters by the victim and witnesses, and see other important pieces of evidence used in the investigation.


 Are you listening to Serial, or another podcast? Tell us about it on the CISL Facebook page. Or, are you listening to something else to improve your English skills? Let us know what works for you! And be sure to check out our other articles on how to practice English outside of the classroom: