I’ve been thinking for a while that it would be nice to find a good ESL podcast, and boy, have I found one! Although I’ve been a fan of Alberto Alonso for a long time on Twitter and YouTube, and I knew he had an English radio show in Madrid, I didn’t realize until recently (see V below! 💚) that you could listen to a recording of his program later as a podcast. Sometimes when I listen to ESL podcasts, I find myself thinking, “This is good information, but do students actually remember this? Can they actually pay attention to this for more than a few minutes?” My reaction to Alberto’s program was exactly the opposite. I’m a native English speaker, and I was listening for over an hour with a smile on my face, enjoying every minute. If you’re looking for fun English listening practice while you drive to work or get dressed in the morning, The Show with No Name is a great place to get it!
Read more to find out if Alberto Alonso’s The Show with No Name is a good fit for you, and to find out how you can listen to it!
I. English Listening the Fun Way
Your first moments of listening to The Show with No Name are like your first moments before flying forward on a roller coaster. Rock music plays in the background, and a voice tells you to “hold onto your hats, strap on your seatbelts…and get ready for the ride of your life!” You know instantly that this is not going to be a traditional ESL podcast. This is going to be a rip-roaring romp across the radio waves.
Here are three things about the show that I think make it a really fun way to improve your English listening skills!
1. The show is conversational.
Alberto is your host throughout the show, and his voice is sonorous and full of life. You can hear the smile in his voice as he speaks, and he makes you feel as if you’re actually in a conversation together.
And when I say that you feel as if you’re actually in a conversation together, be prepared for real English listening practice. He is speaking real, natural English at a real, natural conversational speed. Do you ever find yourself wondering why you can understand your English teacher but not someone on the street? It’s because your English teacher will often speak to you in slower English, emphasizing the sounds of each syllable, and purposefully using easy vocabulary. This is great and necessary when you’re first starting out, but as you progress, you need to be able to move beyond that. You need to listen to shows like Alberto’s. And because he has such a warm, likeable personality, you will look forward to it every time. The show feels like a conversation with an old friend.
2. The show has an interactive format.
When I first listened to Alberto’s show, he was talking about Thanksgiving. As you can imagine, he didn’t simply talk for 2 hours about Thanksgiving. Rather, he had different segments to give his show structure and to allow the live radio audience to interact!
In the episode I listened to, he had a multiple choice vocabulary challenge and a Thanksgiving-themed word scramble that the audience could participate in via social media, a segment on song lyrics, a pre-recorded story with focus vocabulary that he discussed before playing the story, and a question of the week where he actually played voice messages that fans of the show had sent in via WhatsApp in response to a previously given question. I challenge you to participate in those weekly questions. Send Alberto a WhatsApp message in response to his current question of the week, which he posts on Twitter! As an English learner, can you imagine being able to hear your voice on a live radio show in Spain? If it were me, I’d be doing cartwheels!
On Alberto’s show, you’re not just a passive listener. You can actually play along! Even if you’re listening to the podcast instead of the live radio broadcast, you can pause the show and play the games anyways. Alberto won’t see your responses unless you’re interacting as a live listener, but you still have fun, and it’s still an interactive English experience!
3. He gets personal.
When you listen to Alberto Alonso on The Show with No Name, you actually learn about him in addition to learning lots about the English language. In the episode I listened to, he talked about being from New York, about his wife and family, about some of his personal memories, and a little about his plans for the week ahead. You learn about things that he likes and doesn’t like. You feel invested in him as you listen. You feel like you know him.
Not only does this make the show more fun and interesting, but it’s hugely motivating. Sometimes, you’re excited to work on your English listening skills. But let’s face it, there are some days when it just feels like an overwhelming task and it’s simply the last thing in the world that you want to do. Having the personal connection that Alberto establishes in his show will make it easier for you to want to work on your English on those days. You’re not showing up for a lecture, you’re showing up to hear what’s going on in your friend’s life…and, hey, you’ll learn English while you’re at it!
II. Boost Your English Vocabulary
As you know if you’ve been here before, I love English vocabulary! English vocabulary is my passion! So, I’m a sucker for any resource that helps students learn new English words!
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first listened to Alberto’s show on Thanksgiving. I had my vocabulary notebook with me, and I figured I’d write down maybe a page of interesting words that came up during the course of the show.
My estimate was way off. During the first hour of his show alone, I wrote down over five pages of notes on vocabulary that I thought was expressive, useful, and potentially new for English learners. Over five pages! This show is great listening practice, but it’s also a fabulous way to improve your English vocabulary.
Here are 25 English vocabulary words or expressions that came up in just the first hour of the Thanksgiving episode, to give you an idea of the type of vocabulary you could be learning if you listened to Alberto’s show. Are any of these new to you? If so, commit to using at least one today to help you remember it, and respond in the comments with which new English word or expression you chose!
Something that is heart-warming causes feelings of happiness and pleasure, usually because of something nice that someone has done or something positive that has happened to someone. When something is heart-warming, it makes you say, “Awwwwww!”
2. switch things up
If you switch things up, you change the way you normally do things, usually for the sake of adding variety to your normal routine.
3. party animal
A party animal is a person who is known for frequent and wild partying.
4. sound asleep
In English, instead of saying that someone is very asleep, we say that they are sound asleep or fast asleep.
Some countries are divided into provinces, but the United States is divided into 50 states. So, in informal conversation, stateside means in, towards, or connected to the United States. When Alberto talks about being stateside, he is talking about being in the United States.
This is one of my favorite words in English, probably because pedantic people are one of my pet peeves, so I use this word a lot to when I’m venting. A pedantic person is someone who is too worried about small details or rules, especially regarding grammar. A pedantic person (called a pedant) is usually obnoxiously ostentatious about their knowledge, making sure everyone knows how educated they are.
7. a pain in the ass
A pain in the ass is a person or a thing that is very annoying. Vacuuming is a pain in the ass! Because this expression uses the word ass, we reserve it for informal conversation, and it’s probably not something you’d use with your grandmother or a priest.
8. look up to someone
If you look up to someone, you admire or respect them.
9. The Scrambler
In The Show with No Name, you’ll learn plenty of words related to pop culture, too! The Scrambler is the name of a popular carnival ride.
10. la crème de la crème / the cream of the crop
Alberto introduced both of these in his show, and they both have the same meaning. If someone or something is the la crème de la crème or the cream of the crop, it is the best person or thing of its kind.
Here’s another pop culture reference! There are some games that are so beloved that everyone in the U.S. has played them at least a few times. One of these games is Scrabble. Scrabble is a board game in which players try to make words from letters printed on small blocks and connect them to words that have already been placed on the board.
12. take a stab at something
If you take a stab at something, you attempt it. Does the Sunday crossword have you stumped? Let me take a stab at it!
Someone who is hard-headed is stubborn, so it’s difficult to get them to change their mind.
14. it takes one to know one
We say it takes one to know one when we want to say that someone must have a bad quality themselves if they are able to recognize it in other people. If I tell you that I suspect Bridger of being dishonest, you might respond by saying, “It takes one to know one.” If you say this, you’re accusing me of being dishonest myself.
15. pay off
Another phrasal verb! We use pay off to talk about a plan of action, especially one that was risky. If something pays off, it is successful and brings good results.
The harvest is the time of year when crops are gathered on a farm, etc. The harvest can also refer to the act of cutting and gathering crops.
If someone offers you more food during a meal, you can respond by saying, “No thanks! I’m stuffed!” If you’re stuffed, you’ve eaten so much that you cannot eat another bite.
18. have been around the block (a few times)
Some who has been around the block (a few times) has a lot of experience. Shakespeare had been around the block a few times by the time he wrote The Tempest, which was one of his final plays.
19. pig out on something
When you pig out on something, you eat too much of it. I frequently pig out on cookie dough. Eek.
20. au jus
If you serve meat au jus, you serve it in the natural juices that flowed out of it while it was cooking.
Crafty is an adjective to describe someone who is clever at getting what they want, especially by indirect or dishonest methods. This is usually said in a disapproving way.
22. rain on someone’s parade
If you rain on someone’s parade, you ruin something for someone. I waited until after the party to tell Gwen about her test results. I didn’t want to rain on her parade.
23. go all out
When someone goes all out, they make a very great effort. If we win the bid to host the Olympics, we will go all out. We’ve got investors ready to pour over $50 million into the city just for the games.
A stanza is a group of lines in a repeated pattern that form a unit in some types of poem. Because song lyrics are a type of poem, song lyrics can also be comprised of stanzas.
25. stick around
Alberto asks his audience to stick around before taking a short commercial break. When you ask someone to stick around, you’re asking them to stay while they wait for something to happen or wait for someone to arrive.
III. How to Listen to The Show with No Name
There are a few different ways you can listen to The Show with No Name.
If you live in Spain, you should try listening to the program live on the radio! That way, you’ll be able to fully participate in the vocabulary games and challenges that Alberto gives you. It broadcasts on weekdays from 10:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. CET on Vaughan Radio.
Are you unable to listen live? No problem! The recorded episodes are also available in podcast format via iTunes.
IV. Is Alberto’s Show Right for Me? Is It Only for Spanish Speakers?
Alberto records his show in Vaughan Radio’s studio in Madrid. He broadcasts live to an audience in Spain. The show’s commercials are in Spanish. So, is the show only for Spanish speakers?
On the one hand, Spanish speakers will benefit from the show a tiny bit more than anyone else. (So, if you’re a Spanish speaker, what are you waiting for?!) This is because, from time to time, he will translate an English word or expression into Spanish for the benefit of his Spanish-speaking audience.
That being said…
The show is in English. Any advanced English learner would benefit from this show, whether they speak Spanish or not. Alberto just sprinkles Spanish into the show; he doesn’t use Spanish all that often. The language of the show is English, and it’s an English immersion experience.
However, this show isn’t suitable for every English learner. Just as I focus on helping advanced English students here with Next Step English (can you imagine a beginner tackling the double entendre or a 50-question exam on the word get?!), Alberto’s show would be almost incomprehensible to the complete beginner. But if you’re an intermediate or advanced English learner, you are going to grow by leaps and bounds listening to his show.
Let me put it this way…
If you like Next Step English, you’ll like The Show with No Name.
V. How I Came to Listen to Alberto’s Show
Simply put, I came to listen to his show because Alberto Alonso has a heart of gold.
When I woke up on Thanksgiving morning, I yawned, kissed my husband’s shoulder, and leaned over to check the notifications on my phone. The first thing I saw was this message:
— Pablo G (@barrasa44) November 23, 2017
When I scrolled down, I saw this:
hey @NextStepEnglish give this a listen!
— Alberto Alonso (@imalbertoalonso) November 23, 2017
You can imagine my surprise when, about 10 minutes in, Alberto says, “Alright, guys. I want to see if she notices this. Now, there’s a teacher in Washington, DC…”
Needless to say, his broadcast completely made my day. And not just because he had mentioned me and asked his listeners to follow me on Twitter (!!!), but also because I discovered this amazing resource that I would be able to recommend to my own followers!
You can listen here!
(In case you’re wondering, I’m not writing this because Alberto did such a nice thing for me. I don’t recommend resources that I don’t think are stellar. I’m writing this because it’s a fabulous resource that will improve your English listening skills and help you grow your vocabulary.)
VI. One Good Turn Deserves Another…A Special Favor, Please
We have a fabulous saying in English: one good turn deserves another. It means that you should help someone who has helped you.
So, would you please help me do something nice for Alberto to thank him for what he did for me?
Please follow him on Twitter, and when you do, scroll through his page and find one tweet to retweet to your own friends. His tweets are useful and quirky, so your friends will thank you for it!
Here are just a few examples:
We got there in the _______of time.
— Alberto Alonso (@imalbertoalonso) November 18, 2017
to beat around the bush – To delay or avoid talking about something (andar por las ramas) pic.twitter.com/xRHNOlPLjs
— Alberto Alonso (@imalbertoalonso) October 27, 2017
— Alberto Alonso (@imalbertoalonso) November 7, 2017
It really would mean a lot to me if you would do this. Twitter can feel so impersonal at times, but people like Alberto make it warmer, more human. Let’s all support that!
And most important of all, check out his program! You won’t be sorry!