How Podcasts Can Help You Learn Another Language

Looking for new ways to engage your curious mind? Seeking some hands-free learning? You’ve probably tried out lots of apps that have made some big promises, and you’ve likely encountered some slightly sinister nocturnal cheerleaders along the way (Duo, we’re looking at you). Podcasts could be a great addition to your learning landscape - think screen-free engagement and the ability to multitask.

Keep reading for five tips on learning another language through audio.

Audio is excellent for sparking the imagination. 

English podcasts with subtitles, interactive transcripts and key vocabulary? Leonardo English knows what works! Their founder Alastair asked, "What if there were a way for people to improve their English while learning interesting things about the world?"

Well, audio is the perfect audio for sparking the imagination. Pioneers Of The Continuum is their eight-part series, using gripping fiction to engage listeners and facilitate language learning. Whether you sit back and close your eyes, take a well-deserved lunchtime walk, or listen whilst you cook dinner, you can become immersed in a whole new world and learn while you do so.  

Podcasts for learning

Podcasts can complement an immersive approach.

Actively listening to podcasts and radio can be a massive part of immersing yourself in a language. You can note down unfamiliar vocabulary, become comfortable with colloquial language, and get used to hearing people speaking with varying speeds and tones. It might be hard work (if you’re doing it properly, at least!), so regular breaks are essential. You might not be able to travel, but that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on immersive language learning.

There are plenty of free podcasts out there covering a myriad of topics and ideas. Find a theme you’re interested in and press play to be transported to somewhere new (no flights required!)

You can take audio with you.

Podcasts are great for on-the-go learning in the time you might currently feel is empty, wasted or just really boring. Whether you’re at home hoping to learn something new or on your travels and looking for more language-learning content, audio is for you. Whether you’re driving (so you can’t read or watch a video) or on a train to a new holiday destination, podcasts are ideal. 

Consider times when you might have opportunities to access micro-learning: at the gym, on your commute, gardening, running, resting, cooking, or even fishing! You don’t even have to be in one place to learn. In fact, being on the move and away from big distractions can undoubtedly help.

With audio, you can focus on what’s being said.

Ever felt screen fatigue or just a general sense of visuals being too much? This is where podcasts come in. Our eyes are often tired after a day of work (or even a day of rest). 

Sometimes you don’t need animations or even a video to watch. When it comes to audio, there’s so much content that doesn’t require you to look at a screen. It can be distracting to have lots of images to look at or huge amounts to see.

Accessing crucial information where the points have been carefully selected and distilled doesn’t need you to use your eyes - maybe it’s just 5 minutes of audio that helps cement a language point. Similarly, for longer content, don’t worry about your eyes tiring or getting bored of seeing arbitrary images. Just sit back, listen, and enjoy! Distractions are minimal, and you have a reliable imagination to fill in any gaps.

You’ll have something to talk about!

You’ll soon be feeling confident listening to podcasts and engaging with audio. You’ll be able to immerse yourself in new worlds (fictional and real) and hear new voices. You’ll be absorbing new ideas and perspectives in no time at all.

What next? Time to speak about this experience, of course. Why not use audio as a springboard for speaking assignments and chatting with people in your chosen language?

Sure, you’ve probably covered “I am reading…” but what about discussing what you’ve listened to recently? It’s a great way to form new connections and practise your language skills.  If you’re part of a learning community, why not introduce them to new podcasts and ask for recommendations too?

So, we’ve covered five ways podcasts can help you learn another language. Audio sparks the imagination, complements an immersive approach, and is great for when you’re on the move. It’s portable, practical, and you can focus on exactly what’s being said. Plus, you’ll have lots to talk about with other language learners. Happy learning!

Looking to unlock your potential with innovative podcast-style training? Check out Assemble You’s comprehensive library here.