Shaggy Dog Stories and other mp3 recordings for English learners
Here are 10 short “Shaggy Dog Stories” in mp3 format that you can download free of charge. You can also download a story called “Going to California”.
The story of the stories
We got the stories from our English teacher in high school around January 1994. The stories were on a vinyl record attached to a copy of the English Teaching Forum, which is a magazine for English teachers published by the United States Department of State. Our teacher knew we were interested in learning American English, so he copied them to tape, and gave them to us. We copied the tapes from each other, and listened to them many times – so many that we can still tell the first story (“The Intelligent Dog”) from memory.
We listened to the tape almost every day, trying to imitate the American accent — with success. The tapes were an important reason why we learned to speak excellent American English in high school.
In 2001, Tom decided to make an Audio CD with the stories. He had two reasons. He wanted to have the stories on a more robust medium than a tape (tapes wear out when you play them many times and lose sound quality). He wanted something that he could play as many times as he wanted and something that he could copy for his students. So he sampled the stories from his old tape into his computer, cleaned up the recordings digitally, and burned them as audio tracks onto a CD.
Later, Tom found the owner of the recordings on the Internet (the English Teaching Forum) and contacted the magazine. As a result, Antimoon got the permission to distribute the recordings freely in a digital format. In July 2002, we finally found the server space to make the recordings available.
How you can use the stories
We think the stories can be very useful for learners of American English. The actors speak clearly and slowly, so you can understand the recordings quite easily.
- Listen to the stories frequently.
- Pay attention to the actors’ pronunciation of English sounds and words.
- Try to repeat individual words.
- Pay attention to the grammar and vocabulary.
- You can also make an Audio CD out of the mp3’s and play them on your CD player.
The stories are rather silly, but we still think they’re funny. You would think so too, if you had listened to them a few hundred times. :-)
The recordings are the property of the English Teaching Forum magazine — a publication of the United States Department of State. They are published here by permission.
- William Ancker (Editor of the English Teaching Forum) for giving Antimoon the rights to distribute the recordings digitally.
- Krzysztof “Albercik” Urbański for donating the server space and bandwidth needed to make the recordings publicly available (from Jul 2002 to Dec 2005).
All files are in mp3 format, compressed to 64 kbps mono.
The sound quality is not perfect. Imagine a 10-year-old worn-down vinyl record, which is then copied to tape on home stereo equipment, then played about 500 times in 8 years, then sampled to a computer. Before we cleaned it up digitally, the tape had mostly noise on it... The quality is worst in the first story, because we have listened to it the most times.
Right-click a link and choose Save Target As to download the mp3 file to your hard drive.
Shaggy Dog Stories
Each file is between 600 KB and 1 MB.
- The Intelligent Dog (1:35)
- The Amazing Act (1:57)
- The Unknown Girl (1:23)
- The Hunter and the Lion (2:16)
- The Practical Country Boy (2:14)
- The Excessive Bill (1:45)
- The Hayseed and the Taxi Driver (1:45)
- The Secret of a Long Life (2:00)
- The Doctor and the Painter (2:14)
- The Patient and the Doctor (2:09)
Going to California
We don’t have the transcripts of these stories. We could type them up, but then people would likely read them before they listened to the stories. This would turn the stories into a poor listening exercise. It would take away the whole pleasure of understanding spoken English without reading it at the same time.