Learning German with Podcasts
Podcasts are a great way to improve your listening and pronunciation skills. Listening to a German podcast just a few minutes a day can help to tune your ear and develop the fluency of your speech.
A bit about me
I am an online German language teacher, based in Vienna. I am also a content creator, editor and podcaster. My podcast covers a range of topics including grammar, cultural customs and other topics interesting to German learners. It reaches listeners in over 80 countries worldwide.
My main focus in teaching are language exams: TELC, Goethe, ÖIF, ÖSD, TestDaf. I hold examiner licences for several TELC and ÖSD levels and have been preparing my students worldwide for all common German language exams for the last 8 years now.
Why listen to podcasts to learn German?
They are free. There are huge variety of podcasts out there, some geared specifically for German learners and others with a range of topics, produced by native speakers. While some may have a small fee for things like transcripts and vocabulary guides, most are completely free.
They are interesting. What better way to learn about German-speaking culture than straight from the source.
You can multitask. If you are just beginning you may want to concentrate while listening to a podcast, but once you are a bit more comfortable you can multitask while still improving your German.
They improve your hearing skills. Listening to German podcasts will help you to improve your ear for German sounds and improve your general understanding.
They improve your speaking skills. Improving your German 'ear' will certainly improve your pronunciation, since you have more familiarity with how the words should sound when they are pronounced properly.
They improve you vocabulary. Hearing new words consistently from native speakers will certainly improve your speaking vocabulary. To transfer this to your written vocabulary make sure to look up and make note of new words.
How to listen to podcasts for language learning
The more you listen to the sounds and cadence of a new language the better you will be able to speak it. You will also become more attuned to the grammatical structure of the language and more familiar with its idioms and expressions. The key is to be consistent and listen regularly. After a while you will see an improvement in your ability to understand, hear and speak. Here are a few tips to get you started:
Start with just a few minutes a day. Try and make it a regular part of your schedule, a nice time to listen is during your morning commute.
Listen to podcasts on subjects that interest you. News, politics, lifestyle, there are a million options out there and many podcasts to explore, even for beginners.
Don't get hung up on words that you don't understand. Instead of focussing on the things you don't understand, try and relax and work on understanding the general ideas being discussed.
Some recommendations to get you started
A question that many of my students often ask is, "What kind of podcast should I choose?" This depends on your level and your interest. If you are just starting to learn German, then podcasts specifically geared towards language learners are best. If you have a little bit more fluency, then try to push yourself and listen to podcasts by native speakers. You may not understand everything, but the subject matter is more wide ranging and you will have a more authentic experience. Here are a few to try:
Coffee Break German This podcast starts at the very beginning and gives explanations in English. (A1)
Deutsch – warum nicht? Created by Deutsch Welle, who offer a number of German learning resources, this podcast takes you through the story of Andreas, a journalism student, who has just moved to Germany and is trying find his way. (A1-B1)
News in Slow German Just as the name describes, this podcast is a recap of the daily world news in slow German. (A2-B1)
This is my podcast! I have a couple of different episode formats that allow you to improve your German in just a few minutes a day.
#2MinutenDeutsch allows you to revise your grammar in only 2 minutes! (B1+)
#Deutschevents invites you to join different real-life situations and work on your vocabulary. (B1)
Easy German You may know Kari, Manuel and Januz from the Easy German videos, but they also do a podcast where they discuss a range of topics. If you become a member you can also have access to a transcript and vocabulary list. (B1)
Deutsch Wieso Nicht? Another podcast in the Deutsch Welle series, this podcast is not a story, but discusses a whole range of issues. (B1-B2)
Once you get to this level you have much more selection and can browse any number of native speaker podcasts on a range of topics. These are a couple that I recommend to my students:
This podcast has 3 journalists from Switzerland, Austria and Germany to discuss current events and news. (C1-C2)
If you are interested in listening about the future with a focus on environmental concerns and sustainability, this podcast run by an Austrian newspaper is very interesting and topical. (C1-C2)
This podcast is the right source if you are interested in science and various topics in this fields. In short episodes you will not only have the chance to learn new vocabulary but also get the chance to learn something new in general. (C1-C2)
If you like reading and especially being read to like me, you will love this podcast. Most of the authors read a part of their books themselves. A podcast for book lovers – while listening you might even forget that you are trying to learn German. (C1-C2)
I hope this article helps you to improve your German and discover some new podcasts. If you have any podcasts that you would like to recommend, please mention them in the comments.
Sabine Erker is an online German language teacher, content creator, editor and podcaster. She holds several examiner licenses for TELC and ÖSD and prepares students for all common German language exams including Goethe, TestDaF, ÖIF, and more. Her podcast focuses on interesting topics for German learners and reaches listeners in over 80 countries worldwide.