When to Search for Podcasts
When people give advice on learning a language, they will inevitably talk about the importance of engaging with content in your target language. That content often includes watching TV and films, following speakers of your target language on social media, reading books, and listening to music and podcasts.
When it comes to podcasts, it can be difficult to know where to start. If you are a beginner and dive headfirst into a native level True Crime podcast, you are going to feel completely overwhelmed. Likewise, if you’re an intermediate or advanced learner and you’re listening to a slow news podcast, you may bore yourself to tears!
Podcasting has blown up in recent years, and there is likely to be something appropriate for you at every level.
Podcasts for Beginners
When you are just getting started in a new language, lengthy podcasts with large blocks of the language you are learning can feel daunting. At the start, I would stick to podcasts designed specifically for learners, particularly if there is input or explanations in a language you already understand well. I really like the Bluebird Languages app for this. They have 5-10 minute daily podcasts on the app that teach you specific phrases.
If you’re looking for something with a more cohesive story, check Coffeebreak Languages to see if they have a podcast in your target language. I used them for German and Spanish initially, and I desperately need a Russian version! If these options don’t suit your mood, check around on your podcatcher of choice or Google for learner-specific podcasts.
Podcasts for Intermediates
Once your understanding has improved and you’ve reached the intermediate stages, finding content according to your interests is more important. In the beginning, developing your listening skills is often exciting enough, but eventually, you will get bored of call and repeat listener materials.
You have two choices when you are an intermediate podcast listener, you can throw yourself into native content (see the next section) or you can try podcasts specifically for intermediate learners. Duolingo has a fantastic podcast for Spanish and French learners (and hopefully more languages in the future). These podcasts have the storyteller speak with intermediate vocabulary, and the host provides context in English. There is also a free transcript of each episode on their website.
Another excellent example for Spanish learners is the Espanol con Todo podcast. My longtime Spanish tutor hosts this show, and it is exclusively in Spanish. However, she speaks slowly and clearly, and there is a free transcript available on her website. If you’re a learner of other languages, try to find something that fits these suggestions in your target language.
Podcasts for Advanced
It’s now or never! By the time you arrive at the advanced level of language learning, you should be consuming native content. Explore the top charts of countries that speak your target language and see what exists in your language that also aligns with your interests. I like podcasts about True Crime, so I listen to these in my target languages.
If you find that your vocabulary is weak in a particular subject area, podcasts are an excellent way to build that. Listening according to your interests is still what I prefer, but if you’re learning about language related to climate change, for example, search for an engaging podcast episode about the topic. You’ll hear the relevant vocabulary over and over again, solidifying it in your memory.
If you’re feeling stuck, want more guidance, or want some recommendations, feel free to send me an email or hit me up on Instagram @Getfluentwithhannah.
Happy Language Learning!