More than a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us find ourselves running out of entertainment to fill the hours (who knew it was possible to watch everything on Netflix).
Before turning to extreme measures (like learning a TikTok dance), try checking out some of our favourite language learning podcasts. Language buffs comprise a huge community of podcasters, and there are series out there for nearly every language and proficiency level. Plenty of pods offer actual language lessons, while many others simply cover topics designed to inspire and pique the interest of language learners.
If you’re not already on board the podcast train, all you need is a computer or a smartphone and you’re set; most of these podcasts are free and can be accessed on most platforms that host podcasts (iTunes, Spotify, etc.). Perfect for your morning commute, or, as the case may currently be, walking around your living room for the 300th time.
The gold standard for instructional language learning podcasts, Innovative Language’s Language Pod101 regularly posts new lessons for the 34 languages it covers (including English, French, Spanish and Japanese). While access to Language Pod101’s archive comes with a fee, new lessons are totally free on iTunes.
Another great source for lessons, Coffee Break Languages’ short and sweet (as the name suggests) courses cover useful vocab and grammar from beginner to advanced in seven languages (including English, French and Spanish).
With a mission of helping listeners to “get excited about language learning,” hosts Kerstin Cable and Lindsay Williams interview famous polyglots and cover topics like how our personalities change in another language and how to remember new vocab.
Danish language aficionado and self-proclaimed bad language student Kris Broholm hosts the Actual Fluency Podcast, which is driven by his love of all things language. Kris was inspired to start his own journey towards multilingualism after becoming obsessed with well-known polyglots, many of whom he has since featured on his own podcast.
A favourite of many of our students, News in Slow is exactly what it sounds like: news reports delivered at a slower-than-natural speed to assist language learners with their listening skills. Reports can be played at half speed, but are also available in regular or even 1.5x speed. Languages include French and both Spain and Latino Spanish. There's a monthly subscription fee of around $20 US, but you can try it out for seven days free.
The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is a great resource for English learners, and their 6 Minute English podcast is an especially useful tool to have in your toolbox. Each episode explores a different current issue in roughly six minutes. What makes the podcast so useful is the online resources you can follow along with, including comprehension questions, a list of new vocab and full transcripts.
For those of you who love all things language—not just learning new ones, but actually understanding the nitty-gritty of how language works—this one is for you. Hosted by a Columbia University linguistics and philosophy professor, Lexicon Valley explores topics like why ‘ph’ is pronounced the way it is in English and the large role women play in language innovation.
The Magnetic Memory Podcast aims to help listeners hone their own memorization skills by exploring various techniques, personal anecdotes and expert opinions. This podcast is useful for just about everyone, but especially relevant to those trying to remember new vocabulary!