A guide to language learning through podcasts

With jobs becoming increasingly remote and border restrictions easing, there’s never been a better time to begin learning a new language.

Learning a language is estimated to add between 10% and 15% to your salary, not to mention how much more enjoyable your overseas endeavours become.

Thanks to the digitisation of information, we can learn languages from our laptops, smartphones and e-readers. Students can even take advantage of discounts for learning a new language, which is a great base for your language learning. Using online tools in addition to podcasts is a great way to supplement learning for free.

Whilst you can’t rely solely on podcasts, they can definitely take your verbal comprehension to the next level – something that many people find to be the most challenging aspect of learning a language. So, here are some of the best podcasts for accelerating your language learning journey:

Top 5 podcasts to help learn a language

German GrammarPod

The infamous rules of German grammar can be a tough one to crack, and this podcast is exclusively dedicated to solving that issue. The German GrammarPod aims to explore these nit- picking details of the German Grammar system, such as verb tenses and word order, to help wrap your head around some of the nuances. Googling specific issues can be both difficult and time-consuming, so having a podcast cover a lot of ground each episode can be a great way to supplement what you have learnt during your more formal lessons.

30 Minute Italian

30 Minute Italian is exactly what it says on the tin – it’s a podcast that teaches the Italian language with episodes of 30 minutes or less. Episodes cover vocabulary, phrases, grammar problems, and even some local culture. Most episodes are centered around a theme, such as phrases for when you’re on a date in Italy. Episodes are numbered and are running into their hundreds now, so there’s well over 100 hours of free content to explore that’s delivered in a very fun and accessible way.

Coffee Break Spanish

Coffee Break Spanish is run by veterans in the podcast space. Starting back in 2008, they have been producing language learning podcasts of high quality. With hundreds of episodes of around 20 – 30 minutes each, there are beginner lessons in season 1 which eventually progress in difficulty. Instead of just language teaching in isolation, they try to do it within the context of current affairs or other topics so more context is provided.

The Fluent Show

The Fluent Show is a podcast about learning languages. Instead of teaching a language, it’s aimed at getting the listener motivated to learn a language. Given that it’s a long, long road, staying in the right mindset with constant tips and reminders of why you’re doing this shouldn’t be overlooked. This is where to come if you’re in the middle of a plateau, or want to discover language-learning communities.

News in Slow…

This podcast is something a little bit different. Instead of acting as a seminar in teaching a language, the podcast simply reads out current affairs slowly with perfect diction. This gets straight to the point of verbal comprehension, and it’s made slightly easier because you’re likely going to guess what they’re talking about (if you’re somewhat already up-to-date on news).

It’s also a new type of vocabulary that you may not have been exposed to yet. The podcast is available in Italian, Spanish, and French.

How to use podcasts to accelerate learning

As we touched on before, nothing beats foundational learning like a physical or online classroom. Whether it’s 1-on-1 tutoring or a large class, the interaction with the teacher and bespoke syllabus is profoundly effective.

However, this may only be for a couple of hours per week, and you can progress much faster if you fill in the blanks with daily refreshers. Podcasts are the perfect way to do this because they can be accessed via mobile, downloaded for offline use, and listened to on a commute, gym session, or making morning coffee.

It’s a good idea to make a daily routine out of it to develop the habit. There are plenty of studies showing that learning before sleep can help consolidate and retain the information better – so listening as you’re dropping off to sleep can be a good idea.

Finally, there are plenty of language podcasts out there, but you can divide them into three categories: School-like teaching, content and entertainment (in the foreign language), and listening to conversations about the language. All three have something different to offer, so it’s best to try out many different podcasts and not to feel like you have to pick only one.

It’s also worth choosing a podcast app that has the feature of 0.75x playback speed to help catch everything, and keep a notebook on hand to jot down things you learn – which will further improve your written language skills.

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