As we in GLS continue to prepare to welcome the LL.M. Class of 2019 at Orientation, we hope everyone is getting excited! One of the amazing things about CLS is the exchange of ideas that occurs among professors, students and guest speakers, both inside and outside of the classroom. These conversations can be freewheeling and fast! If you do nothing else to prepare for CLS this summer (except, of course, everything we ask you to do in our “To Do Tuesday” emails!), our best advice may be to practice listening to English speakers—and it doesn’t have to be about law.
One possible way to practice is to listen to podcasts. There are a million (maybe only a slight exaggeration) to try, but it really doesn’t matter the topic—the point is to get used to hearing different accents and voices. Here are a few suggestions:
If you’ve never listened to a podcast before:
The podcast that arguably started the podcast revolution, This American Life, hosted by journalism legend Ira Glass, boasts an audience of 2.2 million each week. Listeners eagerly tune in to hear stories with “compelling people at the center of them, funny moments, big feelings, surprising plot twists, and interesting ideas. Like little movies for radio.” It’s hard to explain exactly what the show is about, other than American life, as the theme changes weekly, but know, it’s definitely worth your time. Glass gave the commencement speech this year at the Columbia Journalism school; read it or give it a listen as well!
If you are really excited about living in NYC and want to learn more about its history:
Want to be an expert on the Five Boroughs before you arrive in New York? This is the podcast for you. The Bowery Boys tell the tale of New York’s history by focusing on specific people, places, and events in each episode. Learn about the secrets of the Guggenheim Museum, the less than pristine Times Square of the 70s, and even a time when pirates roamed the island of Manhattan! We love NYC, and hope this show will help you to as well.
If you love a good crime story:
Brought to you by the same team behind This American Life, Serial is a journey through a true murder mystery, so maybe don’t listen to it before bed… In 2014 when it debuted, it was something of a zeitgeist, capturing the uncertainty of the country. After the conclusion of the show’s first season, the man convicted of the murder was granted a new trial , a testament to the power of popular media.
If you want to be up-to-date on American pop culture:
To know about shows like Serial before all your friends, give this show a try. A bubbly, round-table discussion of movies, television, music, books and other manifestations of pop culture, Pop Culture Happy Hour is an easy listen for your morning commute. Learn about upcoming attractions from the lovable team, and be tipped on more obscure notes of pop culture from the section “What’s Making Us Happy.”
If you need to know what is going on:
Another show from National Public Radio, Up First gives you a quick, neutral run-through of the day’s news. It’s an easy way to stay “in the know.”
Similarly, The Daily podcast of The New York Times offers a morning roundup of the day’s news, except this one is typically about twice as long as the NPR variety.
If you want to hear real-life stories from real-life people:
“True stories told live.” That’s The Moth. Hear global citizens tell heartwarming tales from their lives around a given theme — but in five minutes or less. The stories are shared at intimate live events across the country. Once you’re in New York, stop by and tell a story of your own. Maybe we’ll hear you on the podcast someday!
Listen as former senior White House Adviser David Axelrod conducts interviews with famous politicians, artists, athletes, and celebrities in The Axe Files. Hear from news-makers Michael Phelps, Steve Kerr, Justin Trudeau, and Condoleezza Rice, to name a few of the hundreds of fascinating, in-depth conversations in the files.
And of course, some podcasts about the law…
If you like your law with a dose of humor:
“The Legal Podcast that helps you make sense of the news.” In each episode, a lay person asks questions to a real lawyer, helping you understand the ins and outs of exactly what is going on in some of the day’s most talked about legal decisions, and giving you “all the tools you need to understand the issue and win every argument you have on Facebook, with your Uncle Frank, or wherever someone is wrong on the Internet.”
If you want analysis of fictional legal issues in pop culture (heavy on the Sci-Fi!):
In today’s society, being a “geek” is no longer an insult. This podcast, hosted by “proud attorneys and geeks,” fuses discussion of the law usually with conversation about Star Wars and the Marvel Universe. If complex legal topics make more sense to you when explained in the context of even more complicated galaxies far far away, this might be the podcast for you.
If you want to casually learn about the country’s most influential Supreme Court cases:
This captivating, incredibly accessible (even for non-lawyers) podcast is where you turn to learn how the Supreme Court shaped the United States — from gun regulation to gender equality. From the team behind Radiolab (a stellar podcast for those interested in science and the mysteries of the universe), each new episode of More Perfect presents the law in a way that will have you craving to learn more even after you’ve left the classroom.