10 Best Podcasts for Language Learning

In the last couple months, I’ve posted links to free language courses and the best YouTube channels for language learning.

Here’s my final collection of links: The ten best language instruction podcasts.

With the free courses, the YouTube channels, and now these podcasts, you have mountains of material to go through–and you don’t have to pay a penny. You literally have no excuse not to get going on learning a language.

Image Source

By Isalinky (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], Image Source

I love podcasts for three reasons:

  • They’re verbal. If you’ve read my book Language Master Key, then you’ll know how important I think the verbal component of language is. With podcasts, you’ll hear proper pronunciation, you’ll improve your listening comprehension, and you’ll get all the benefits that come with that.
  • They’re portable. You can download a podcast to your mp3 player and listen to it anywhere. Right now, my old Honda Civic has a CD player, so I burn podcasts to a disc and play it during my commute.
  • They’re free. Part of the deal with podcasting is that they have to be offered at no cost. Some companies might charge for additional services, such as accompanying notes or transcripts. But the actual podcasts will always be free.

So here are my ten personal favorites.

HINT: For ease, I’ve linked to the actual websites. Sometimes these websites are difficult to navigate, though. (If I had to guess, I would say it’s to encourage people to sign up for subscriptions.) It may be easier to search for the name of the podcast in iTunes.

1. Radio Lingua – Radio lingua offers high-quality, comprehensive, professionally produced podcasts in French, Spanish, and German. They also offer shorter “one-minute” podcasts in twenty different languages.

The lessons break things down really well and are appropriate for rank beginners. Intermediate students will get benefits from some of the podcasts as well.

2. Language Pod 101 – This site offers language instruction in 31 different languages. Each podcast has a unique name tied to its language–for example, ArabicPod 101, Bulgarian Pod 101, Cantonese Class 101, etc. The sheer number of languages represented and volume of lessons are amazing.

3. Notes in Spanish – Ben from England and Maria from Spain have beginning-, intermediate-, and advanced-level Castilian Spanish conversations about a variety of topics. Don’t let Ben’s non-native status fool you. He speaks Spanish like a pro, and on the rare occasion when he slips up (possibly on purpose) Maria corrects him. This podcast significantly improved my Spanish comprehension and acquisition, and I hope that other students check it out.

4. Melnyks Chinese – Well-produced, easy-to-follow lessons. The website is also easy to navigate. Recommended for Mandarin students.

5. Better at English – I’m a native English speaker, but I listened to a couple of these podcasts while researching this article. Really good stuff. I recommend it.

6. Slow German – I came to this podcast with a certain amount of skepticism, because I don’t really like the “slow” approach to hearing foreign language texts. I think listening to a natural speaking speed is better in the long run. But Annik at Slow German won me over. She speaks at a moderate speed, so that she still sounds natural, and her choice of texts and vocabulary is spot on. She also has a great speaking voice. I’m using this right now to build my German vocabulary, in fact.

7. Brazilian Pod Class – There are a couple good options for people learning Portuguese, but I chose to highlight this one because the website contains both the audio and the transcript.

8. Viloria Pinoy Class – This is like sitting in on a Tagalog class, but from the comfort of your desk. In the samples I listened to, the content was explained clearly and succinctly. Manuel, the host, is a great teacher. When I begin studying Tagalog, I’m definitely going to use this as a resource.

9. Lingq – Lingq offers podcasts in several languages, which are designed to be studied using Lingq’s software. Even if you don’t use the software, though, the podcasts are great standalone material for intermediate to advanced learners. They’re a little difficult to find, but a Google search or an iTunes search returns them.

10. Survival Phrases – These podcasts cover very, very basic words and phrases for tourists. I think they’d be great for students who are brand new to the language as well. They’re available in 26 different languages, so there’s a good chance the one you want is covered.


Bonus 11: I also want to mention Kerstin and Lindsay’s Creative Language Learning Podcast, since they were nice enough to have me on as a guest. A great resource for people who want to get the most out of their language learning, and who treat language learning as a lifelong lifestyle, not just a temporary project.


Any I missed? Let me and others know in the comments.

  • Hitrizie

    Thanks Ron for posting this podcast info:)

    • http://www.languagesurfer.com/ Ron G.

      my pleasure! :)

  • http://www.tobefluent.com/ Stephanie

    Out of the podcasts you listed, I’ve only listened to Notes in Spanish – but I agree with you that it’s one of the best tools for learning Spanish! Now, I’m listening to KalyeSpeak for Tagalog: http://kalyespeak.com It’s goofy and the newbie lessons have a lot of English in them, but it’s fun and useful.

    • http://www.languagesurfer.com/ Ron G.

      Hey Stephanie! Thanks for the link, and I’ll definitely check that out. How’s the Tagalog going?

      • http://www.tobefluent.com/ Stephanie

        It’s going! It’s much slower than Spanish was, but it’s fun to learn. It’s a very melodic language and *very* different from my other 3 languages (French, English, Spanish). You’ll have to let me know what you start learning!

  • vern777er

    Hi Ron, Thanks for the info. I used Notes in Spanish awhile ago but now that I’ve improved a little I’m finding it very useful…. comprehensible input??!! I was wondering if you used the transcripts or just listened to the podcasts?
    I’ve been learning Spanish for 7 months now and am making progress. I’m doing a language exchange 3-4 times a week but it can be a struggle. I think it’s helping although sometimes I wonder.
    I enjoy your articles, they help keep me motivated, keep them coming!

    • http://www.languagesurfer.com/ Ron G.

      Hi Vern, hahaha, I suppose “comprehensible” is relative. I didn’t listen to Notes in Spanish until I had been studying Spanish for several months–close to a year I guess. I still missed words, but they spoke at a moderate pace and kept the vocabulary reasonably tight. I didn’t try the transcripts, but if I had continued with Spanish, I would’ve definitely given those a try.

      Congrats on the progress, and struggling during a language exchange is a sign you’re pushing yourself and making improvements. :) I remember your previous post. Do you feel like you’ve got past that initial beginners’ frustration?

      • vern777er

        Hi Ron, I think maybe my expectations are too high. I see the titles of articles and books that claim you can learn a language in 3 months or 6 months etc and it makes me wonder if I’m making normal progress because I feel like I’m a long way from really learning the language.
        I’m not noticing any improvements and every time I think I’ve made progress I see how much more there is to learn. My exchange partner keeps telling me how much I’m improving but I can only understand roughly what she’s saying. She speaks at normal pace and we don’t have any structure to what we do, we just talk about anything. I am hearing the words now but by the time I’ve processed them I’ve missed the next sentence!

        • http://www.languagesurfer.com/ Ron G.

          You know, I like setting a goal with a timeframe, but the risk is that you become discouraged if you don’t meet that goal. 3 months is not a realistic time to decent proficiency for most people, and 6 months isn’t either. If you’re starting from scratch studying an hour a day, expect at least a year before you’re *starting* to feel comfortable. Here’s a post with a chart: http://www.languagesurfer.com/2012/08/21/how-long-does-it-take-to-become-fluent/

          It sounds like you’re at the point where you’ve made progress, but can better recognize your shortcomings. I’m not saying this as a cheerleader but just as someone who knows that feeling: Please do not give up right now. Google “Dunning-Kruger” for more on this topic.

          Keep doing what you’re doing. The language exchanges are vital. My only other advice is to try and learn, memorize, and be able to produce 10 new vocab words a day. (You can learn them alone or in chunks, i.e. as part of short phrases or sentences.) I recommend flash cards for this, with periodic review. Also, keep up with the free listening. That will help most with at least half (the listening half) of your speaking sessions. Pocoyo, Easy Spanish on YouTube, Dora la Exploradora…and don’t be afraid to push yourself and watch Spanish translations of movies or television shows you know really well. You’d be surprised.

          Keep it up!

  • http://lindsaydoeslanguages.com Lindsay Dow

    I used to have an abundance of language podcasts on my iPod and a few months ago it decided to break after an update. I found a cheap mini thing in a supermarket that week out of luck and it does the trick and although I don’t miss the iPod itself, I do miss language learning podcasts! You’ve made me miss them even more with this post!

    • http://www.languagesurfer.com/ Ron G.

      Oh man, that had to be frustrating. On the plus side, the podcasts are (probably) still out there and free. On the down side, that’s a lot of work finding them and uploading them. Yikes! Hate to end on a bad note, so on the plus side again, it’s cool you found a replacement player. I’m still using my five-year-old iPod and am keeping my fingers crossed that it won’t break on me anytime soon.

      • http://lindsaydoeslanguages.com Lindsay Dow

        Yeah, I’m sure there must be a way to get them onto my little mp3! I need to have a play. :) Fingers crossed for your iPod, Ron!

  • http://blog.fluenthistorian.com/ Natalie

    Language Pod 101 is AWESOME! I have listened to their podcasts many times before and love them all. Thanks for sharing this list.

    • http://www.languagesurfer.com/ Ron G.

      Awesome :) No problem.

  • James Hall

    If you’re looking for Brazilian Portuguese, we’ve just started publishing podcasts of our very popular beginner’s series here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/semantica-portuguese/id917333215

    Semantica Portuguese

  • spanishobsessed

    I’d suggest Spanish Obsessed – we’ve got podcasts for all levels, and in the more advanced levels get a ton of different native accents in (disclaimer – I run the site 😉 )

    • sds

      fuck you foda se

    • Amanda Talbot

      I just discovered spanishobsessed last week and I subscribed. I love it! are you still making new videos each week?

  • http://www.businessenglishace.com H. E. Colby

    Great list. You’re right..podcasting is a wonderful tool for language learners. There are so many resources available today it is difficult to choose or have time for all (or some!) of them. I would add mine to the list – Business English Ace Radio – businessenglishace.com/podcast. I listen to RFI Journal en francais facile if you have a pre-intermediate level of French.

  • Anton

    I did not find good Russian language podcast here. I’d recommend http://srlpod.com/ . They are only beginning, but I was impressed.

  • http://realpolish.pl Piotr RealPolish

    What about learning Polish? Please try my website http://realpolish.pl you can find there free podcast for Polish learners. Pozdrawiam serdecznie – Piotr.

  • http://www.learnargentinianspanish.com Josh Silvina

    My girlfriend and I recently set up http://www.learnargentinianspanish.com for anyone who is interested in learning Spanish with the Latin American accent. Personally I find it easier without the ththth sounds! We are on iTunes and talk about anything and everything to do with Argentina. They are 100% in Spanish so not for a beginner, but if you are looking for an advanced Spanish one then please come check us out!

  • Marina Apukhtina

    If you looking to learn Polish or Russian or practice your skills join http://gordeschool.pl

  • http://www.fluentlanguage.co.uk Kerstin


    Creative Language Learning Podcast! http://www.fluentlanguage.co.uk/podcast

    *mic drop*

    *not really mic drop because it’s a podcast after all and we are dedicated to creating good audio*

    • http://www.languagesurfer.com/ Ron G.

      LOL. Mea culpa–I hadn’t really discovered your fantastic podcast when this post was written. Hit refresh on the page. :)

      • http://www.fluentlanguage.co.uk Kerstin

        Aww <3

  • Darya Molchanova

    for those who learn Russian and want to find something like Slow German and pod101 in one – welcome to the Slow Russian podcast https://itunes.apple.com/ru/podcast/slow-russian/id1069742339?mt=2

  • Moses

    Hello! Good one! For Spanish I would recommend http://www.podcastfromspain.com/ as well.

  • Catherine Lufei Wang

    Offline podcast is also a better way to spend the time on travel and vacation. My must-have point is numerous free audio and video radio podcast about language learning, cuz i’m learning French right now. So that I can add favorite radio and podcast to personal stations that stay up to date when new episodes become available. I personally installed CastBox APP onto my phone and download many podcast episodes before I start the travel and sometimes the way back home. You can download from Google Play if you like: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.podcast.podcasts

  • Chao Wang

    CastBox is an APP mainly about podcast for Android devices, which significantly improved my Français comprehension and acquisition. Here to discover and subscribe 220,000+ podcast content. Listen to 16,000+ radio stations for free. It offers podcasts and Radio from 30+ countries & languages. It enables you to choose to download new episodes such as free music, audio books automatically when they become available. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.podcast.podcasts

  • evachao

    Podcast app is one of the most frequently used thing on my mobile. I get addicted with CastBox with a lot of choices of channels about audio discussions and stories for bedtime or driving, moreover, I’d like keep updated with Ted and BBC news, with this Podcast APP, no more need single apps installed on my phone. Just one click to subscribe music, best podcast and audio books as your favorite channels. Download CastBox APP from Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.podcast.podcasts

  • Ying Liu

    I really would like to suggest you to install the Podcast APP onto your mobile phone through Google Play https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.podcast.podcasts It is a geogerous multi-channel and multi-language radio product for your enjoying FMs as you like, no matter you are on the way driving or during bedtime before a nice dream.

  • Vasile Şi Diana Vaganov

    It’s a great list! But there is another podcast that it’s worth listening. It’s http://teacherluke.co.uk/
    I find Luke’s English Podcast as one of the best podcasts. It’s real, authentic English, not dull. Some people may argue that his podcasts are long but only listening for extended periods of time, the language sticks and it becomes part of our personality.

  • H.D. Andrews

    Great resources! I’m sending my language learning readers your way! :)