We’re living in the age of a million podcasts. Not only are there podcasts about every single topic, but there are multiple podcasts about every single topic. That can make it a bit difficult to choose which podcast will be the best for learning about something — decision paralysis is real. To help you out, we’ve put together an overview of some of our five favorite German podcasts for language learning. Whether you’re just starting out or you’re looking for something more advanced, there’s a podcast out there for you.
Annik Rubens started this podcast back in 2007, well before the boom in audio learning. Also, interestingly, Rubens is not a teacher by training. But this podcast is one of the strongest introductory tools to the language, with very short episodes — around 5 minutes each — covering a wide range of topics. From absolute beginner lessons recorded in English all the way up to readings of German fairy tales, you can cover a lot of ground. And as the name implies, everything is spoken slowly and clearly for you to understand more easily.
Coffee Break is from the Radio Lingua network, which offers podcasts on multiple languages. Thus, it’s a tad more organized than Slow German is. Each episode is about 20 minutes long, and it’s hosted by a native speaker, Thomas, who is teaching a student, Mark. With this framework, it feels like you’re in a classroom setting. They also bring on a cultural correspondent and grammar guide to share their own insights on the language. All together, it’s a very well-produced introduction to the language.
Once you’ve got the basics down, you can start listening to podcasts that aren’t as explicit in their teaching. Warum nicht? (“Why not?”) was created by German broadcaster Deutsche Welle in collaboration with the Goethe-Institut, and it follows a journalism student who works as a doorman through a series of adventures. There’s a whole cast of entertaining characters, and it’s all done in service of teaching you German vocabulary and grammar. All four seasons together make this about 26 hours long, and it’s designed to take you from beginner to expert.
Maybe, like many people, you’re learning German for business reasons. In that case, you may want to use a different Deutsche Welle show: Marktplatz (“Marketplace”). This show is for people who already have a good command of the basics, but want to learn vocabulary on topics like finance and trade. It’s a pretty quick course with only 26 episodes, but one of the most useful out there.
After you’ve learned enough German, you’ll be able to start listening to podcasts that don’t try to teach you grammar or vocabulary at all. There are plenty out there, but Elementarfragen is a good one. The name means “elementary questions,” and it’s a long-form podcast featuring interviews with experts on a variety of topics. One of the latest episodes was about the relationship between social media and authoritarianism, which gives you a good idea of the kinds of questions the show covers. It can often be a bit dark, but it is always interesting.