Top 50 podcasts for learning a foreign language

Now that we’ve established the importance of learning a foreign language, regardless of where you live: South Carolina, Rhode Island, South Dakota, West Virginia, Ohio, Oklahoma, let’s take a look at some resources that will help you learn and practice. Of course, textbooks and word drills are important as you learn, but even more valuable is practice listening and speaking the language. These podcasts will help you hone your listening skills and increase your proficiency in no time!

Spanish

1. Audiria

Audiria offers daily podcasts, which you can search by topic (songs, grammar, culture, books, etc.) or category (short phrases, idioms, vocabulary, tips, etc.). Each podcast includes a text file so that new learners can test their listening and their reading skills (and to double check accurate listening comprehension). Content is organized by difficulty level, and users can also register with the site to track learning. Other useful resources are offered through the site, including a wiki book and associated exercises.

2. Voices en Espanol

These conversational Spanish podcasts are meant to help those learning the language and those who want to become more fluent. Each podcast is accompanied by a short reading selection — often a bit of fiction or part of an essay. Between the podcasts and the accompanying blog, Eleena also offers reflections on various topics and interviews people of interest. You can also toggle the language on most pages for an English or Spanish text, depending on your level of proficiency.


3. Notes in Spanish

Choose from three levels of learning — inspired beginners, intermediate, and advanced — and listen to podcasts designed for your needs. There are worksheets available to help you learn the concepts, and podcasts can be listened to on the site or downloaded to your computer or mp3 player. A store and blog are also available on the site, as well as the free 12-page report, “Kick-Start Your Spanish.”


4. Espanol Podcast

Each of these weekly podcasts is accompanied by a written guide to read along with as you listen. Episodes have fun titles and scenarios, such as “My Ideal Man,” “Chimpanzee Brother,” and “Work Addict.” There are also episodes that cover puzzles, riddles, funny stories, grammar, vocabulary, and more. Listeners can choose to download episodes or listen to them online. The whole site is in Spanish — an added challenge — and there is an accompanying blog.

5. LdeLengua

This multi-faceted podcast is great for both learners and teachers. Learners can listen to it and test their skills, challenging themselves with advanced content. Teachers can learn much from the interviews with educators and other experts, as well as the discussions about Spanish education. Many of the podcasts discuss different tools and instruction methods, such as using technology and social networking for education. The entire site is also in Spanish.


6. My Spanish Connection

This Spanish survival guide is focused on travelers who want to learn basic conversational Spanish when visiting a Spanish-speaking country. Episodes often focus on a specific situation or need, such as what to say if your car breaks down, phrases for the supermarket, and vocabulary for emergency situations. Podcasts are often accompanied by a list of vocabulary or transcripts. The site includes a blog, and the author has plans to add a video podcast segment and interactive apps through iTunes.

7. Rolling Rs

This series of video podcasts help both auditory and visual Spanish learners: users can listen to the lesson and watch host Larry Keim write notes and vocabulary on a white board. Some episodes are very specific (such as a lesson devoted to the word “prestar,” which means “to lend”) or focused around a central point or lesson (such as a lesson on the past subjunctive). Other episodes are more general, covering broader topics such as informal Spanish, conversational Spanish, helpful phrases, and more.


8. Lingus TV

These video podcasts are presented as a parody of a television sitcom. Subtitles are provided, and supporting materials explaining grammar and vocabulary on included on the Web site. There is also a transcript of dialogue.

9. Study Spanish

These Spanish grammar podcasts are available to stream on this site or can be downloaded to your computer or mp3 player for portability and convenience. Only two podcasts are available for free; the rest are only available to premium members. The premium membership costs $9.95 per month, or $39.95 for six months.

10. Web Spanish

Beginner and intermediate learners can find useful podcasts here to help them practice their listening skills. Each podcast is labeled according to difficulty, and each covers a different language lesson, such as using the imperfect subjunctive, future perfect tense, and prepositions and adjectives. You can download podcasts or stream them from the site. There are also many more audio files on the blog, which has weekly lessons that include current events, key vocabulary and commentary.

French

1. Learning with French-Podcasts

Students of French can hone their skills by listening to these interviews and discussions of various subjects in French. Some episodes are more specific, and are targeted at vocabulary or pronunciation. Each podcast includes a transcript and translation, and users can search podcasts by category.


2. Daily French Pod

Most episodes of this podcast discuss a topic in the news, and are accompanied by a learning guide and transcript. The site includes grammar and vocabulary lessons, as well as supplementary exercises. The podcasts are free, but users must become members of the site to access all the materials.


3. French Etc.

This inclusive site has several podcasts devoted to learning French: one focused on a word or expression of the day, two for advanced learners, and two for beginners. There are four weekly podcasts, and additional materials such as worksheets are available. Users can sign up to become members for premium content.


4. French LingQ

French LingQ promises that you can “dramatically increase your vocabulary so you’re comfortable and confident in any situation.” Podcasts offer content for all levels of learners and topics include language basics, conversational French, social interactions, greetings, and much more. Transcripts are also available.

5. Fancy French

These podcasts offer a free online learning course that uses the Manesca method, which teaches formal, literary French. All episodes are free to listen to on the site or to download, but a small donation is requested.


6. Learn French by Podcast

Beginner, intermediate, and advanced learners can find lessons tailored to their needs in these podcasts, which cost a fee. Each episode includes a guide. Users must become paid members to access content.


7. Learn French with Alexa

This podcast includes 15 lessons aimed at beginning students of French. Episodes include a support sheet for lessons learned in the podcast. The site has not been recently updated with new podcasts, but the archives are still available for beginners starting out at any time.

8. Loic Le Meur

Techies interested in learning French will love this podcast. Episodes have nothing to do with learning French — they are focused on news and discussions about technology and computers. However, the whole podcast is in French, and for those who are interested in technology AND French, they offer a perfect combination and an interesting way to practice your French listening and comprehension skills.

Italian

1. Learn Italian Pod

These weekly podcasts each include transcripts, dialogue, a glossary and a quiz. Users can search by categories such as learning level, “five minutes a day,” culture, and more. Paid members have content to additional premium content.

2. Max Mondo

Users must register for free access to these podcasts, which cover topics such as dialogue, humor, film, and more. The site has a lot of additional content to support your Italian education — much of it premium content that is available for a fee.


3. Pastacast

This easy language-learning blog features a variety of episodes covering basic language concepts. Some topics include personal pronouns, numbers, pronunciation, spelling and letters, prepositions, and more. Perfect for beginners!

4. Let’s Speak Italian!

Each weekly lesson includes a review of key vocabulary or concepts. Users can directly download podcasts from the site. Also available are the first 100 lessons — either on CD or for download. The archives cost $15 and include all 100 episodes.

5. Survival Phrases

Going on a trip to Italy and want to learn how to order from the menu or ask for directions? This podcast can help. You must register in order to access the first 10 lessons, and the remaining lessons are available to members only. A lifetime membership costs $24.99.

6. English 24

This podcast begins with English phrases from American or British commentators (either political figures or those featured on newscasts) and then offers the Italian translation. The translation also offers discussion about the nuances between a literal translation and a more natural translation.

7. Ad Alta Voce

What better way to learn Italian than to read from some of Italy’s most respected writers? Whole novels are read aloud on this podcast, strengthening both listening and comprehension skills.

8. Il Gastronauta

Learn about Italian culture — and practice your listening skills — with this podcast about Italian food and wine. You won’t learn language drills, but you will gain valuable insight into Italian culture and learn from the everyday use of the language.

German


1. Pukka German

“Pukka,” as defined here, means “genuine, authentic, top notch, the bees knees.” These podcasts promise to teach you “TRUCK LOADS of cool German words and phrases and … HIP to the STREET LINGO that your German teacher was too SQUARE to teach you!” This includes slang, idioms, and common words and phrases. This is a fun, user-friendly site that is sure to rev up your German practice.

2. My German Class

Clark Shah-Nelson has been teaching online German since 1999. His video casts offer fun scenarios to teach basic German language and grammar. The site also offers online German courses, for different prices. The courses include additional materials, including transcripts in English and German, quizzes, and discussion forums.

3. Learn German with this Free Podcast

The name says it all. Each podcast includes a German lesson that focuses on basic vocabulary and grammar. Blog posts are also included among the podcasts, and they are often in German, adding a reading comprehension component to your learning. There are also occasional video podcasts, transcripts, and language exercises.

4. German Grammar Podcast

Podcast host Laura aims to teach German learners what eluded her proper understanding of the language for so long until she mastered it: Grammar. In addition to podcasts on standards such as adjectives and pronouns, there are also tips and tricks. Each podcast is accompanied by an explanatory blog post that highlights some of the main points.

5. Young Germany Podcasts

The Young Germany Podcast includes a “starter kit” with some of the most important German phrases for beginners, as well as a variety of listening and speaking exercises for more advanced German learners.


6. German LingQ

Here’s another great podcast from LingQ — this one focusing on German lessons for all levels of learners. Transcripts are also available for each episode. Users must sign up for a free account to access the materials on the site.

7. Slow German

For true beginners, this podcast offers slow-paced lessons that are meant to be easier to hear and understand. Additional materials are available — for a fee — that include important words and translations and multiple-choice tests. The site is entirely in German, so the beginners that is hopes to attract will likely need to use a site like Babelfish to navigate it.

8. A Flavor of German

Intermediate to advanced speakers can learn idiomatic German with this 10-minute podcasts. Episodes can be purchased through iTunes or in the Web store.

Chinese

1. Chinese Lessons with Serge Melnyk

This site offers theme-based, progressive lessons, which host Serge promises “means that you can start from ‘zero’ level and after completing this course, you will be able to speak fluent Mandarin Chinese on the variety of topics.” Each lesson builds on the one before it. There are also transcripts and worksheets, but users must subscribe to access them.

2. April’s Mandarin Podcast

Formerly the Learning Mandarin Podcast, this site offers several topical episodes that discuss news, health, science, and other issues as a means of strengthening Mandarin skills. Users have the option to have transcripts mailed to them for a monthly fee of $1.99. There are also links to useful resources.

3. Popup Chinese

Each episode is labeled according to the level of learner, and there is a short narrative attached to each episode. Podcasts are topical and feature discussions rather than lessons. Users must sign up for an account to gain access to the site, including additional learning materials such as flash cards and charts. An account is free.

4. Learn Chinese Pod

These beginning Chinese lessons cover basic vocabulary and simple concepts such as pronouns, use of the possessive, and rules for asking questions. All of the podcasts and transcripts are available to download for free. There are also links to lots of useful resources for learning the language and the Chinese characters.

5. World Languages Podcasting

These podcasts offer up conversations in Chinese about Australian culture. Practice your Chinese and learn about Australian culture at the same time! Transcripts are available for each episode, but they cost $1.99 to access


6. Chinese Pod Cast

There are dozens of conversational Chinese podcasts available here. Episodes are topical, and each is labeled with key words, functions, and learning level. The site also offers demos, a variety of more advanced courses, and training for business settings.

7. E-Chinese Learning

These podcasts offer beginner, intermediate and advanced Chinese lesson plans. Episodes focus on useful, everyday Chinese, such as how to order dishes in a restaurant, or how to talk to members of the opposite sex. The site includes much more learning material that is available for a membership fee, but the podcasts and their transcripts are available for free.

8. CSL Pod

There are sections here on language learning, pinyin (Chinese characters), culture and games. You have to sign up for a free account to access most content. Lessons can even be translated into English, French, Spanish, and Japanese.

Japanese


1. Learn Japanese Pod

Native Japanese speakers record these podcasts, which focus on everyday, conversational Japanese. Topics include ordering coffee, asking someone on a date, adjectives and color, going to the doctor, and much more. All podcasts and the archives are free, and there is a user forum for further discussion.

2. Japan Cast

These free video podcasts are produced in HD and focus on everyday conversational Japanese. Examples are taken from Anime and popular culture to make the content more relatable. There are also recommendations for other study resources.

3. Japanese Lessons

NHK World presents these lessons, which focus on important phrase and vocabulary through the use of conversation and scenario. There are also useful resources provided to support your language learning.


4. Learn the Japanese Language

There are podcasts included amongst extensive blog posts, all related to learning Japanese. Lessons focus on specific vocabulary and grammar rules, as well as situational phrases and language. The site is easy to navigate with an extensive sidebar of categories so that you may find the lesson that most suits your current needs.

5. Japanese Pod 101

Users must sign up for a free account in order to access the content on this site. These conversational podcasts are designed for busy adults who want to learn Japanese in a fast and efficient manner.

6. The Japanese Page

Beginning and conversational phrases are the focus of these podcasts, which include supplemental show notes highlighting important concepts. The site has not been updated in some time, but the archives are still available and useful for beginners.

7. Japanese Listening (Advanced)

This challenging podcast features natural Japanese speakers talking at a normal speed (read: fast) and using everyday expressions (read: slang). However, there are transcripts available, as well as English translations, so students can check their comprehension.

8. The Japanese Learner

This blog and podcast focuses more on how to learn Japanese than it does on actually teaching Japanese. Still, students of the language will find much useful information here by way of helpful ideas and resources. There is also a good bit of discussion about Japanese culture, always helpful when learning a new language.

Posted on 11/18/10 | by maria magher | in Education, Technology | 2 Comments »

2 Comments on “Top 50 podcasts for learning a foreign language”

  1. Sharonda Lenon Says:

    This may not be the best place to ask this, but, I want spanish classes and I have no idea who is good and who is not… do you have any info on this spanish tutoring provider? They’re based out of Chicago, 20 min from my apartment I can’t find reviews on them — Spanish Classes Chicago, 305 South Federal St, Chicago, IL 60604 – (773) 417-5396

  2. Aihua Says:

    Kids Chinese Podcast is designed for kids from 5 years old up and adult Chinese learners to learn Mandarin Chinese. This Chinese course helps you to learn Chinese listening and speaking via podcast, and Chinese reading and writing via podcast transcript and exercise worksheet. Lessons’ topics are designed using practical dialogues starting with focusing on kids’ daily life in the United States while you receive systematic training on Chinese listening, speaking, reading and writing.

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