- 01. Why Learn German by Podcast?
- 02. Best Podcasts for Learning German
- 03. German Lessons with Slow German
- 04. Learning German: Warum Nicht?
- 05. Learn with German LingQ
- 06. Train Your Ear to Understand German with Deutschtrainer
- 07. Learn German Survival Phrases
- 08. Learn German by Podcast
- 09. Learn How to Speak German with German Pod 101
- 10. Immerse Yourself in Audio Lingua
- 11. Immerse Yourself in German with the SBS Podcasts
- 12. How to Learn German with Coffee Break German
- 13. Learning German with Radio D
- 14. Kiraka: a German Radio Station of a Different Type
- 15. Professionals, Learn the Language with Marktplatz Business German
- 16. Learn German with Current Affairs through News in Slow German
- 17. Learn German through YouTube
- 18. Learn German While You Travel Through Time with Zeitsprung
- 19. Die Frage: The Question of German Podcasts
- 20. For the Pros: The Podcasts that Native Speakers Listen To.
- 21. Conclusion
We all know that learning a language like German is never an easy ride! The pronunciation in German, for one thing, doesn't come easily to all of us - nor the grammar.
However, if you are struggling, there is no need to worry. Nowadays, there are so many ways to improve your knowledge and fluency in German. It's so easy to just get yourself a German tutor or subscribe to Rosetta Stone - and there are many ways to get to grips with German online.
On the other hand, you should still always be looking for different ways of engaging with the German language. By this we mean gaining exposure to the spoken sound of German, the different accents, and the cultural references that German speakers deploy.
Listening to podcasts is a great technique for this - and we figured it might be helpful to help you find the best ones around.
Why Learn German by Podcast?
There are plenty of benefits of using podcasts to study German - and indeed any foreign language. Part of the problem of language learning is that people can't always afford an intensive language course or online German lessons. Maybe you don't have the time in your schedule to fit in weekly German classes. Life's a bit too hectic for this - and trawling through textbooks has never been a fun way to learn to speak a new language.
So, the benefits of podcasts?
- They're expressive: by listening to podcasts on a regular basis, you'll get used to the real German pronunciation, whilst improving your listening and comprehension of the language of conversation a great deal. In language learning, this is what is called 'receptive skills': as opposed to your 'productive skills' - such as speaking - listening is important, otherwise you aren't going to get anything.
- They're transportable: you can listen to a podcast anywhere and everywhere! Once you have downloaded them, all you need is your smartphone or laptop and headphones. Listen to them whilst driving, on the bus, walking to school or uni, or on your break at work.
- Most of them are free: we can all agree we saved the best benefit until last! Listening to a German podcast on YouTube or on the BBC is absolutely free. All you need is an internet connection. There is no need to subscribe or to commit yourself to a costly price every month.
- It's not just grammar: podcasts show language in action. Rather than the stale language of textbooks, learning by podcasts reveals all the real dynamics of a language when it's lived and experienced.
So, without further ado, we'll take you through some of the best German podcasts around - and you'll become more familiar with the language in no time at all. They are available for people of all interests, levels, and ages - so there is no excuse not to use them.
For those of you who don't have the time and need just a quick read, you'll find an easy table right below that summarises all the information here. For further, though, you'll find everything you need below.
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Best Podcasts for Learning German
|Slow German||Aimed at intermediate learners||Transcript available|
|German LingQ||For beginners and intermediates||LingQ also have language learning apps.|
|Survival Phrases - German||Aimed at all levels||Lots of different languages to choose from.|
|Learn German by Podcast||Just beginner right now, but working on future levels.||Accompanied with a textbook, language exercises, and vocab lists|
|German Pod 101||All levels||An account unlocks lesson notes and a forum.|
|SBS Podcasts||Intermediate and advanced||A whole news site too!|
|Coffee Break German||All levels||Comes with video lessons and transcripts|
|Radio D||Beginners||Receive the podcast in text format too.|
|Marktplatz Business German||Intermediate||Exercises and helpful diagrams.|
|News in Slow German||Intermediate||Grammar and vocabulary alongside main current affairs content|
German Lessons with Slow German
Slow German is a great way to enhance your level in German, whether you're an advanced or an intermediate learner. Each episode is hosted by a German native journalist, Annik, who lives in Southern Germany.
These podcasts help towards situations you may find yourself in Germany. For example, on how to order in a restaurant or to ask where the toilet is in German. Each episode is based around different themes - from art and history to eating and drinking, music, and health and fitness.
For intermediate learners, each lesson is held entirely in German at a slow and easy pace. This will give you the opportunity to get to used to hearing German. A transcript for each lesson is also provided - for an extra fee.
There are now almost two hundred podcasts to catch up on - and Annik has won lots of awards for her work, so this is a great place to start.
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Learning German: Warum Nicht?
If you know any German words at all, you might already know that this particular podcast has a very inviting name: Why Not?
Deutsch: Warum Nicht? is perfect for beginner speakers of German because the hosts speak nice and slowly; their relaxed manner entices you to follow along as they explore a variety of topics, including German grammar.
But they're not all about language mechanics. Tune in to hear their well-paced, amusing stories about life in Germany.
During each session - sometimes at the end, they provide summaries of all that they talked about along with a recap of that day's story.
Warum Nicht? is available on ITunes.
Wieso Nicht? German Learning
Like the Warum Nicht? podcast described above, Wieso Nicht? - a more sophisticated form of 'why not?' whose literal translation is 'how not?' is targeted to the intermediate speaker of German.
You can find both Wieso and Warum Nicht at dw.com
Learn with German LingQ
Have you ever sat in a coffee shop trying to eavesdrop on what the people around you are saying? Yes? Well, we've all done it! It must be frustrating to not understand what they're saying if they're talking German but don't worry, that won't be for long!
LingQ is a multi-platform language learning application that uses multi-media content to make the process of speaking German a much less painful experience. You have fourteen languages to choose from, and the company has been endorsed by lots of different publications - so you know it's going to be good.
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With German LingQ, you can listen to native German speakers talking about common topics, such as, spending the day at the beach or the zoo, going to a restaurant. You can listen to country profiles or conversations about the clocks changing.
Their podcasts are specifically designed for beginners and intermediates, so you won't feel left behind. That means you'll find them particularly useful if you're getting ready for GCSEs in German.
Train Your Ear to Understand German with Deutschtrainer
Formerly called Audio Trainer, this podcast has diversified into a video series but still offers podcasts for download on their website.
They do not offer serial narratives; rather the downloads consist of soundbites - 100 interjections, words you need for birthdays, holidays, to describe your feelings or sad events, much like you would get from a Pimsleur or Rosetta Stone series.
If you don't have time to sit in front of the computer or you're out of WIFI range, you may download each lesson - averaging around three minutes and listen while on the go.
Once you've downloaded and cycled through their audio/video series, feel free to access everything else they have on their site; you might enjoy opinion columns, recipes or thoughts on current events.
Learn German Survival Phrases
As the name suggests, Survival Phrases German offer an excellent podcast series packed with all the essential travel phrases that you'll use in Germany. They offer extremely dynamic and educational podcasts that aim to give you all the essential knowledge for your travels in Germany, allowing you to enjoy yourself a lot more!
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The podcasts are held in a variety of languages, so wherever you may be across the globe, you can watch these podcasts to learn German online fast! Not only will you learn essential phrases for your time in Germany, but these podcasts will also give you an insight into the German culture, as wherever you travel to, you'll always face some culture clashes.
How does it work?
Survival Phrases German only hire qualified German teachers to carry out the podcasts, they have either grown up in Germany or have experienced Germany, for example, maybe they completed a Year Abroad there. The podcasts not only cover essential phrases in German, but they also cover a lot of vital information that text books forget to add in.
After you have watched each podcast, you can ask questions regarding the German phrases or any queries you may have. Your questions will then be answered in the following podcasts!
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Learn German by Podcast
Are you a beginner looking to learn German fast? Learn German by podcast offer beginners the basic understanding of the German language. The podcasts are native German speakers who act out a scene. With each podcast, you'll get the full transcript of the podcast, the vocabulary list and new exercises to try!
Unfortunately, these podcasts come at a price. You can opt to choose to listen to the samples to gauge whether or not these podcasts are for you. However, all good things do come at a price, so let's make this one worth it!
Learn How to Speak German with German Pod 101
German Pod 101 tailor to your German needs! Whether you're a beginner starting from scratch or are an intermediate German speaker, you can watch podcasts according to your level.
They also offer different courses depending on what you want to get out of your language. So, whether it is business German you are after or German for studying, you'll find the course that suits you.
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Throw away your boring old German text books and grammar exercises, German Pod 101 are here to help. You can learn German easily with the help of fun and interesting podcasts that are spoken by a native speaker.
These podcasts are also related to the German culture. They are cool and effective. You'll notice your proficiency in German will quickly improve.
Immerse Yourself in Audio Lingua
Audio-lingua.eu is not a podcast-laden website in the usual sense; what you'll find there is short recordings - under two minutes, for the most part, that describe points of interest - not just of German culture but of culture in general.
The best part of this site is that native speakers who upload these recordings do not speak 'school German'.
To be sure, they are targeted at students of German but they are not of the word-for-word speech patterns you might hear in other recordings meant for learners. You will be treated to the type of German speech that you would commonly hear on any street in any German city.
This site even provides options to subscribe to podcast feeds.
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Immerse Yourself in German with the SBS Podcasts
SBS is an Australian media outlet that publishes content on TV, in print, and on radio. They are a pretty cool organisation, because they create content in multiple languages, so that Australians get a sense of what is going on outside of the country.
And obviously this is why they are in this list. They do broadcasts in German - of which there is an online archive - and they have podcasts on every subject from kids' books to rock climbing.
They are a really good asset for your language learning.
How to Learn German with Coffee Break German
Coffee Break German offers a series of podcasts tailored to those who are looking to learn German from scratch, as well as those who just want to enhance their level in the language. Each podcast features German native speakers, Thomas and Mark. Every podcast lasts around 30 minutes, and are jam-packed with a lot of new vocabulary and detailed explanations.
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The idea is that using Coffee Break German feels like you've just sat down in a cafe with your German mate: it's intended to be as relaxed, stressless, and casual as possible. Honestly, you may well find yourself sitting down for a coffee, plugging your headphones in, and learning a language whilst taking your break. It's a pretty good way to do it!
Whilst audio versions of each podcast are available, Coffee Break German works best if you watch it too. The video has flashcards and explanations too - and a visual cue is always welcome.
And a Flavour of German
The same people that do Coffee Break German also do another fun podcast. This one has slightly shorter episodes and follows the same format, but the focus is slightly different.
Rather than learning German grammar and the structure of the language, you'll rather be exposed to key phrases, idiomatic expressions, and cultural references.
This is more about immersing you in the culture of Germany - and the sides of the language that you probably won't learn anywhere else.
If you use it in conjunction with Coffee Break German, you are onto a winner.
Learning German with Radio D
Radio D features Paula and Phillipp who are journalists who travel around Germany. These podcasts are nothing like the others. Rather, they narrate a story, through which you are exposed to new linguistic points in German.
They are fun and mysterious - and the podcasts have a lot of humorous elements and are extremely interactive. Not only will you improve your level in German - but you'll actually enjoy it too.
These podcasts are available for download on iTunes and don't have a direct website. So, download these podcasts onto your smart phone or tablet and get started with improving your level in German fast! Discover other German learning apps, here.
If you're stuck and don't understand some of the podcasts, an English speaking host is available for help!
Kiraka: a German Radio Station of a Different Type
Learning German (or any new language) is a serious endeavour but that doesn't mean you can't have a bit of fun along the way.
Kiraka is an acronym for Kinder Radiokanal or children's radio channel. Suitable for young kids and teenagers, anyone young at heart will enjoy the happy mood projected during the broadcasts and the fun activities on the site's videos.
A word of warning, though: just because it is meant for kids doesn't mean that it will necessarily be easy to understand. For one, the website (kinder.wdr.de) is all in German - there's a chance to practise your German reading skills!
At the top of the page is a series of tabs; the second one is for news (Nachrichten), under which is a menu item called Lexicon: a built-in dictionary! You will also find Thema des Tages, a page loaded with podcasts about anything from environmental concerns to parental concerns over smartphones.
Clicking around a little bit, you will discover videos of musicians talking about their craft and their life, games and activities for kids.
At the end of your study sessions, you may close your books a few minutes early and poke around a bit on Kiraka. Let us know what you found most interesting in the comments below!
Professionals, Learn the Language with Marktplatz Business German
This is the place to come for those of you looking to learn German for business purposes. If you are trying to enter into the German market or you have to go to Germany for work, Marktplatz Business German will give you the vocabulary required for all your professional needs.
Alongside the podcast, there is extensive written material too - all with diagrams, clearly explained grammatical points, and vocab lists - to help you get the most out of your learning.
The creators, Deutsche Welle, have a range of different podcasts too. So, if you are not a businessperson, you can find plenty of other options with them.
Learn German with Current Affairs through News in Slow German
This is a hugely innovative way to learn a language. No more of listening to characters talk through increasingly improbable scenarios. News in Slow German does something quite different: it condenses current affairs into weekly podcasts that explain the news in German - spoken slowly.
However, it isn't so slow that you forget the beginning of the sentence before you reach the end. Rather, all the content is spoken very naturally - but in such a way as to be manageable for the listener.
Learn about Venezuela or the French president, in German - and be exposed to authentic content that isn't just designed for the language learner.
If it sounds a bit intimidating, don't worry. Every series is followed by a grammar and vocab section, so that you can catch up on anything that you missed.
Learn German through YouTube
If none of these podcasts appeal, then there is always that great educational resource, YouTube, to fall back on.
You can find videos on almost any subject you can imagine on this world's biggest video sharing site - and they needn't all be cat videos, pranks, or Rick Astley.
Some of the best videos for learning German are by Get Germanized, the Language Channel, or Learn Out Live. These channels all offer long series of German lessons, covering the basics of German grammar, key German vocabulary, and listening, speaking, and reading exercises - all interspersed with cultural references and points to make the your learning that little bit more entertaining.
Whilst YouTube doesn't host podcasts strictly, videos are really just podcasts with visuals - so you might find them in even more useful!
Learn German While You Travel Through Time with Zeitsprung
If you have been studying German for a few years - or, if you're particularly adept at picking up languages, about a year and a half, you may be advanced enough in your learning to become enthralled with Zeitsprung.
The name translates to 'A leap in time', which gives you a clue about the topics discussed on these podcasts.
Presented by two historians, they dissect stories that are widely known, such as The Pied Piper or Operation Mincemeat and delve into the story behind the story.
Unless you're a history buff as well as a master at absorbing languages, their show might seem a boring premise. Perhaps that is why they added such an intriguing twist.
From week to week, each presenter has no idea what topic - (historical? fictional?) the other will broach. Thus a mad scramble ensues in which we listeners are shown the surprising connectivity of history, dazzled by deeds of extraordinary personalities and reminded of pivotal events that shaped the world as we know it.
Seriously, who remembers all about Operation Mincemeat, anyway?
Die Frage: The Question of German Podcasts
This site (br.de) hosts a collection of podcasts over various topics, anything from psychology to the coronavirus. They even have a channel for kids' podcasts!
When you land on their homepage, you will be greeted with a 'We recommend' (wir empfehlen) selection of some of the latest uploads. If nothing there strikes your fancy, you may comb through their Podcasts A-Z tab to browse by title or click on 'Kategorien' to find subjects of interest to you organised by category.
If there is a particular podcaster whose work you'd like to follow or channel you'd like to subscribe to, you may find them under the 'Sender' tab.
Again, the caveat: this site is all in German and the language used in the podcasts is fairly advanced, except for the kids' casts.
Still, there is nothing wrong with presenting yourself with new challenges and, even if you only play them in the background while running or cycling - or even cleaning up the kitchen, these recordings are a valuable tool for training your ear to understand German.
For the Pros: The Podcasts that Native Speakers Listen To.
At a certain point, you'll outdo the possibilities that podcasts for language learners can offer. You'll have to then bump up your practice and do what the Germans do. (And, by the way, that's listening to proper podcasts designed for German listeners.)
This might be a little intimidating for those who are beginners. However, just as people suggest listening to the radio in a foreign language, or watching movies or the television - to get a sense of German used in authentic contexts - you can think the same of podcasts.
It's pretty easy to track these down, as, believe it or not, Germans use things like iTunes, Spotify, SoundCloud, and YouTube to download or stream their own digital content too. At the time of writing (April 2019), on iTunes, the following podcasts are leading the download charts:
- Gemischtes Hack - a comedy show by Felix Lobrecht and Tommi Schmitt. These guys call it 'the most influential podcast in Europe', but maybe that's their own little hyperbole. They discuss whatever happened that week in their own lives and in politics, and it mixes humour with serious political themes. A challenging one, but a German favourite.
- Verbrechen - translated as 'crime' (but you probably knew this), this is a podcast from the newspaper, Die Zeit. As its name suggests, it deals with the theme of crime, asking ethical - and practical - questions about those who commit and those who suffer crimes.
- Hotel Matze - this podcast interviews different people and asks them about their lives, their motivations, and their personal histories.
- Lage der Nation - der Politik-Podcast aus Berlin - Lage der Nation is hosted by a journalist, Philip Banse, and an activist, Ulf Buermeyer, and they discuss the political events of the week in their weekly podcast. One of the most highly regarded political podcasts in Germany - and a winner of multiple awards - this is a really great way to nail your German whilst learning about the world around you.
- Steingart Morning Briefing – Der Podcast - Gabor Steingart is a journalist and author - and now podcaster - who writes and talks about politics and economics. This is another very popular one, and it's released daily.
If you are understanding these, you may as well clap yourself on the back and call yourself fluent!
Throughout this article we have seen that listening to German podcasts is the perfect way to improve your level in the language, you can have fun in an interactive way. You can pause the podcast when you feel like it and pick up from where you left off later on.
Listening to podcasts featuring German native speakers give you an insight into what to expect when you visit or, should you be lucky enough to, move to Germany.
You can listen to these anywhere and everywhere, there is no pressure and you can learn German at your own pace, with no homework!
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