7 Awesome Podcasts Every Arabic Learner Should Listen To
Ready to treat your ears to something special?
The Arabic language is surely one of the most beautiful and captivating on Earth.
Luckily, to continue advancing towards fluency, you can make podcasts part of your unforgettable journey—listening to the unique sounds of Arabic wherever you are.
Podcasts not only get you familiar with the sounds and structure of Arabic, giving you that necessary exposure to native speakers, but they also provide you with an important cultural element that can spark your learning motivation even further.
But what does the Arabic world of podcasts look like? Where can you find them? Below we’ve put together seven of the best resources for finding and listening to Arabic podcasts.
Why Learn Arabic with Podcasts
One of the key components to learning a new language is listening, and that’s why podcasts are so important. Listening to your Arabic teacher at school or college, or following the audio tracks from your class textbook isn’t the same as listening to real Arab-speaking people talk on the streets of Abu Dhabi, Fes or Cairo.
Arabic podcasts are an excellent way to learn more about the culture and to understand the reasons behind many of the nuances of the language and why people act in certain ways.
Not only will you be practicing your listening and training your ear in different Arabic dialects and accents, but you’ll also learn about how people feel about current affairs, cooking, traveling, writing, science and anything else that piques your interest.
Listening to Arabic speakers conversing about political events, swapping anecdotes or discussing their weekends is an excellent way to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Begin before you’re “ready,” and you’ll grow. Not to mention, you’ll learn a ton about a wealth of other subjects.
Another great feature of podcasts in particular is that you don’t necessarily need to stop what you’re doing to sit down and watch and pay full attention visually, as you do with a film or a book. You can listen to podcasts at a convenient time, while driving to work, commuting on the subway or even doing push-ups at the gym.
You can also select the level of difficulty to suit your needs, and choose subjects that resonate with you. By being somewhat familiar with or interested in the topic, you’ll know the context so that you can anticipate what the people might be saying. Figuring out new words and expressions through context clues is so much more memorable than turning to a dictionary.
7 Great Places to Find Arabic Podcasts Online
If you simply do a search on Google, you’ll see that podcasts in Arabic abound, but not all of them are the best quality or have something to offer every user. Not all of them are free, either. Check out our top seven resources for awesome Arabic podcasts to see what you should start with.
Arabic Pod claims to be the quickest and easiest way to learn Arabic at your own convenience. With apps and games, user discussions, forums, an audio dictionary and both audio and audio-visual podcasts at your disposal, it’s certainly a great resource straight from the beginner level.
You can download ArabicPod to your Apple or Android phone free of charge, and get access to a ton of podcasts to suit your level. You can even sign up for paid classes if you like what you see, so you’ll have greater access to all levels of Arabic learning and individual classes.
2. SBS Arabic
SBS Arabic is a great source of news and current events in Arabic, although probably more targeted to intermediate level and above. You can select topics that are interesting to you, from food to football, or stay in touch with the latest on world events and opinions from prominent Arabic speakers.
SBS Arabic has grown dramatically as a resource for listening to Arabic podcasts, and gives you a chance to listen to male and female voices, interviews with important figures and inspirational stories.
You can tune in and listen to live interviews and comments, or catch up on programs that have been previously scheduled. The cool thing about SBS is that it gives you a chance to listen to a wealth of different accents discussing interesting content, which greatly aids your learning.
The only potential downside? Currently the Arabic channel is for use at the computer only and not directly to your phone, so you’ll need to listen to SBS podcasts from your desk.
While you’ll probably get through this selection fairly quickly, the best thing about AiringPods is that they’re packed with information and language learning tips. Beyond listening to regular news, radio shows or music, you can check out special podcasts, such as Arabic Survival Phrases, One Minute Arabic and Arabic Grammar 2010.
Even better than that? If you’ve got an Android smartphone you can download AiringPods straight to your phone and listen while you’re on the go.
Many of these podcasts are religious in nature, making them educational for more reasons than one, but perhaps not to everyone’s taste. Remember though, the more listening you do, the greater variety of voices and opinions you’ll hear. The further you venture into your Arabic learning journey, the more you’ll also realize that religion is a focal part of most Arabic speakers’ lives.
4. BBC Xtra
Where would we be without the BBC? Any list of quality language podcasts would be incomplete without a mention of BBC Xtra. As their flagship Arabic podcast program, this page is updated daily with a two-hour show where you can listen to the topics that are trending on social media, dominating the news and driving conversation throughout the Arabic-speaking parts of the world.
These are great podcasts for intermediate level learners and above, as you won’t always understand the context (it’s a two-hour show covering all different topics) and the speed of speech can be a little fast for beginners.
5. Alarabiya.net’s Podcasts
Alarabiya offers a ton of interesting and informative topics of podcasts that will make learning Arabic fun. Most of them are audio-visual, so you’ll get the most out of these podcasts by watching them as well. You can hear different Arabic accents and listen to interviews with popular artists and bands.
If you’re interested in cookery, there are short visual shows that you can pause while translating the Arabic to English, matching the words with the images to produce a typical Arabic treat.
Ar-Podcast is an excellent resource for all kinds of different Arabic podcasts on just about any topic you can imagine. Simply visit the site and browse the topics, and you can listen on iTunes or Sound Cloud. You won’t find any instructions in English here, but you can get an idea of what the podcast is about by simply looking at the picture next to it.
If you’re a beginner, you can certainly listen to the topic of your choice, but the speed of the podcasts and in-depth nature of the topics mean that these are better for intermediate level learners and above. From soccer and technology to business, movies and news, there are plenty of interesting topics to entertain and educate.
7. Sharjah Art Foundation
If you’re interested in learning about classical Arabic music and art, the Sharjah Art Foundation hosts an excellent and exhaustive podcast series. With 168 separate episodes so far, you can get the context of the podcast by reading the brief overview in English before you hit play.
The Sharjah Art Foundation was established in 2009 to support the flourishing arts community across the Gulf and to nurture artistic opportunities in the region. With mainly Emirate accents, these podcasts are excellently researched and highly educational, offering deep insights into the world of Arabic culture and arts. Not for beginners.
While total language immersion is arguably one of the fastest (and certainly more enjoyable) ways to become fluent, if you can’t take a year out to live in a Medina in Marrakesh, that doesn’t mean you’ll never be able to speak Arabic well.
Let podcasts play a huge role in your journey to fluency, and they’ll push you forward quicker than you thought possible!
Sean Patrick Hopwood is a language polyglot and a language enthusiast. His goal in life is to bring world peace through education, tolerance and cultural awareness. He is also the President and Founder at Day Translations, Inc., a global translation company.