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 to help as you learn German.
Annik Rubens started this podcast back in 2007, well before the boom in audio learning. Rubens is not a teacher by training, but this podcast is one of the strongest introductory tools to the language. Each of the very short episodes — around 5 minutes each — explains a wide range of topics. From lessons for absolute beginner, which are recorded in English, all the way up to readings of German fairy tales, this show covers a lot of ground. And as the name implies, everything is spoken slowly and clearly to make it easier for you to understand.
Coffee Break is from the Radio Lingua network, which offers podcasts in a whole host of multiple languages. The language lessons are more strictly organized than Slow German’s are, witch each episode coming in at about 20 minutes long. It’s hosted by a native speaker, Thomas, who is teaching a student, Mark. With this framework, it mimics the feeling of a classroom setting. To broaden their coverage, they 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 German language.
In Babbel’s first podcast for English speakers learning German, we look at perhaps the most famous German city of all: Berlin. Each episode follows a different person as they encounter the city, exploring its rich past and present. Each episode is around 15 minutes and links to a transcript, making it a great bite-sized lesson for beginners. Speaking of Berlin is a bilingual podcast, featuring both English and German, but more advanced learners may want to check out So ist Berlin. The episodes are the same, except monolingual, so you can really challenge yourself to understanding what’s going on in German.
Once you’ve got the basics down, you can start listening to German 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.
A lot of German podcasts targeted toward language learners tend to be shorter, but that doesn’t have to be the case. At about an hour each, episodes of Easy German have a lot of material for you to sink your teeth into. Topics range from the meaning of “philosophy” to travel, and the hosts also answer questions from the audience in each episode. If you have trouble following along, they also offer a paid version that provides a full transcript and vocabulary guides to each episode. The podcast is created by the same team that created Easy German on YouTube, which is an excellent language resource for people who prefer to have visuals to look at.
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 of the language, you’ll be able to start listening to German podcasts that don’t try to teach you grammar or vocabulary at all. There are plenty available, and Elementarfragen is a very 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 episodes is about the relationship between social media and authoritarianism, which gives you a good idea of the kinds of questions the show covers. It can be a bit dark, but it’s always interesting.