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Why you should be using podcasts to learn German, and where to find some of the best

You’re in the car, waiting for the traffic light to turn green. You wish you could be doing something productive with your time. “If I were at home, I’d read an article or a book in German…” you think to yourself. Enter the podcast.

We all know that the internet has become an important part of our lives, especially when it comes to learning foreign languages. Instead of flying to the German-speaking world, you can simply listen to a podcast in the vernacular online. “German podcasts?! Where, on YouTube?” - It goes without saying that YouTube is a great choice for the visual learners among us, who prefer to watch documentaries or videos to improve their German.

A podcast recording setup. Photo: Csaba Nagy via Pixabay

But there is also another category of people who prefer to learn foreign languages through listening solely to audio content - I have met people on countless occasions who have told me that they learned English slang through songs. But, today, there are more alternatives to music than there were in the past. Many of the songs in the German charts are in English, sometimes hindering international radio as a consistently useful language-learning opportunity.

Instead, podcast services such as Spotify are a more reliable choice because, besides music, the app has a wide range of podcasts in German as well as in a whole host of other languages. By just relying on the sound, increased concentration is required and language skills are guaranteed to improve. There are German podcasts on just about any topic you could think of: politics, news, science, history, lifestyle, the list goes on. Some even specialise in ‘slow German’, aimed at those who are still learning the basics. Here are some of the best German podcasts which most definitely deserve a space in your online library:

1. Nachrichten – Deutschlandfunk

If you’re the kind of person who can’t live without being up to date with everything that’s happening on a daily basis, then this podcast is perfect for you! Not only will you hear the latest news, but it will also be presented to you in German.

2. Der Politikpodcast – Deutschlandfunk

We all know that one person who is a keen political debater. How about listening to a podcast where politics is debated in German? Maybe you’ll be able to surprise that cocky colleague or relative with some impressive new German vocabulary!

3. Eine Stunde History – Deutschlandfunk

If you are passionate about history in general and want to find more about different historic events from all over the world and in German, this is a brilliant option.

4. Realitäter*innen - Gizem Adiyaman and Lúcia Luciano

In this German-language podcast, friends and hip-hop artists Gizem Adiyaman and Lúcia Luciano amplify marginalised voices, discussing topics of social importance such as sexuality, mental health and feminism. Definitely a must-listen.

5. Deep Talk – Deutschlandfunk Nova

Deep Talk is a popular option in the German podcast world. The approached topics are a little bit more personal and delicate, and the people who are interviewed also share their opinions on the matters discussed.

6. Deutschland 3000 – ‘ne gute Stunde mit Eva Schulz

The perfect podcast for teens and young adults, Alltagsdeutsch (everyday spoken German) is used, unlike in the more elevated news and political podcasts. It can be an interesting exercise to hear colloquial and informal German, so this is well worth checking out.

7. Deutsche im Alltag – Alltagsdeustch – Deutsche Welle

This podcast by Deutsche Welle also uses accessible German that is easy to comprehend. Current affairs in Germany are top of the agenda, so this is very useful for keeping up to date with Germany in a relaxed way.

8. Easy German: Learn German with native speakers

As the name suggests, the episodes of this podcast are specially created for beginners who would like to practise their German listening skills.

All of these podcasts are a perfect listening exercise both for beginners and advanced learners of German. Language learners mustn’t be intimidated by the fact that some podcasts are a little bit more complex and the language used can vary in formality - with time, your listening skills are sure to improve. As with all elements of language learning, consistency is key!

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