Until I discovered podcasts, I wasn’t really a big radio person—but it turns out they are a great German learning resource.
Great German podcasts are a fun and convenient way of experiencing language immersion wherever you may be.
To help you select the best, I’ve sampled the most popular podcasts around and discovered an impressive number of quality podcasts suitable for intermediate learners.
Advantages of Learning Intermediate German with Podcasts
Whether you are learning German on your own or following a formal course, podcasts offer a wide array of unbeatable advantages.
- Skill training. Listening requires different skills than watching videos, offering great training for oral communication.
- They are free. While the Internet offers some paid audio content, consumers are not used to paying for podcasts. Even paid publications for which you need a subscription often offer free podcasts. This trend has made hundreds of free intermediate German podcasts readily available for learners.
- Enlightenment. With podcasts, you can learn more than the language. You can look for podcasts on topics that interest you in order to learn more about them. This will enhance both motivation and perceived benefits of following a certain podcasts.
- Vocabulary building. They allow you to learn vocabulary in context.
- Real-life factor. With podcasts by native speakers, you can learn real-life language and expressions in fun, dynamic ways.
- Time optimization. You can listen to them while doing other activities, like working out at the gym or during your commute.
How to Learn German with Intermediate Podcasts
Over the years, I have developed a few tricks to maximize my use of podcasts in language learning. While everyone is different, and you may come up with your own, here are some ideas to get you inspired.
- Be an active user. Podcasts may make you feel a bit like a passive user. To put the vocabulary and grammar you are learning into practice, you can try to engage in forums, make comments and respond to the podcast’s content. This can be a great way to practice by interacting naturally with native speakers and other language learners.
- Prepare before listening. Sometimes, when I’m getting ready to listen to a podcast that seems way off my league, I look at some vocabulary lists to get ready. Alternatively, you can listen to a podcast in your native language on a similar topic. This technique helps you get more out of a podcast with difficult or unknown language than you normally would.
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FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
The videos on FluentU can be sorted by topic and difficulty level, making it easy to find something that interests you at the intermediate level. The videos have interactive subtitles that let you look up words while you watch, and you can review what you learn with flashcards and personalized quizzes.
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- Make it fun. If you choose too many “heavy” podcasts in a row, you can lose your motivation. Try to find light, fun podcasts with accessible language to listen to in between the hard stuff.
- Record yourself. Record yourself using new words and phrases in your own sentences. This will help memorization and keep you on “active mode.”
How to Choose an Intermediate Level Podcast
If you see B1 or B2 listed as the level of a podcast, that means it is for the intermediate level. Some podcasts meant for German natives can be good for intermediate learners, depending on topic and host styles.
On the other hand, it’s not a bad idea for upper intermediate learners to listen to advanced German podcasts, because the challenge can be a great motivation. I love a challenge—I get bored otherwise. If you share this quality, pushing your own limits is the best you can do for your German skills.
10 Irresistible German Podcasts That Intermediate Learners Will Love
Learning-centered German Podcasts
If you prefer the more didactic type of podcasts, there are many especially designed for language learners. They often feature exercises, specific Grammar units and fun interactions in accessible language for intermediate learners.
1. Deutsche Welle Warum Nicht
The Warum Nicht series goes from level A1 to B1, or from basic to lower intermediate. It follows the adventures of a journalism student in Germany in search of a mysterious ex-girlfriend.
Warum Nicht introduces grammar points and vocabulary in carefully structured PDF files. Dialogue transcriptions and practice exercises with English language instructions are also available. There are four parts to the series. For the intermediate level, you should begin with part 3. Simple and entertaining, with lots of learning points, the Deutsche Welle podcasts are top-notch.
2. Wieso nicht B1
This is also a Deutsche Welle creation. It’s different from Warum Nicht in that it includes no explanations or commentary in English. The podcasts portray colorful scenes of everyday life in Austria and Germany. The topics are fun and relatable, and the production is flawless. PDF files with full transcriptions of each episode are conveniently available.
3. Marktplatz Business German B2
Also from Deutsche Welle (they really want German to conquer the world), this is a fantastic business German podcast for the upper intermediate level. If you need German for your job or are planning to start doing business with Germany, this is your go-to podcast.
Each episode is a full thematic lesson. You can download both the lesson PDF and the full transcription of the episode. I especially love the exercises, which are dynamic, with visually attractive layouts as opposed to long strings of text with no graphic differentiation.
If you’re looking for a great immersion podcast with no English language introductions, yet which is still geared towards language learners, LingQ will be your favorite. Each episode has a theme; from pets to books and camping trips, LingQ has it all. The native German hosts speak in a conversational tone that’s great for jumping right into real-life German.
While all the episodes are free to download via iTunes, transcripts and exercises require signup. A free signup has certain limitations, and there are two different paid options starting at $10 per month. But if you just want to train your ear listening to some cool intermediate podcasts, it will cost you nothing, which is not bad at all.
5. Das Treffende Wort
This intermediate level podcast from the University of Wisconsin-Madison ended in 2006, but episodes are fortunately still available for direct download on iTunes. Hosted by Käthe and Manfred, it presents interesting topics, featuring expert guests.
The themes are generally geared towards university students, some examples being multiculturalism and technology across generations. Professionally produced, the podcast offers PDF transcriptions and useful worksheets for download.
There are only five episodes available, but I highly recommend them. I particularly like the way arguments between people holding different opinions are presented in this podcast.
Theme-centered German Podcasts
Theme-centered podcasts are great because hearing people talk about something you are passionate about can make language learning entertaining and accessible. Whether you are into hard science or soft yoga, there is a German podcast for you.
6. 1st Intergalactic Podcast
This daily podcast by a self-professed enthusiast of “banalities and important things,” is as colorful as they get. From Depeche Mode or Mao to a review of the latest Apple gadgets or Artificial Intelligence, you can find virtually anything here.
It’s long discontinued—the guy got a great job in Dubai—but he made a good 9o episodes before vanishing from the airwaves, so, you will have plenty to keep you busy with all sorts of randomness. It was sad to see him go, because he had an engaging style. I highly recommend the podcast for upper intermediate and advanced learners looking for sheer immersion with a bit of a quirky angle.
7. Wanhoffs Wunderbare Welt der Wissenschaft
If you are interested in science and your level is at least upper-intermediate, you will love this podcast. From the life of microorganisms to expanding galaxies, if it has to do with science, you will find it here.
The topics are explored somewhat in depth, which means that the podcasts can present some difficulty if you are still closer to lower intermediate level. There are some complementary texts included with each podcast that can make the audio content more approachable.
8. Yoga Vidya Tägliche Inspirationen
This is kind of the opposite of the previous podcast: all spirituality and little science. If you are into yoga, wellness and mindfulness exercises, you will love it. These short daily podcasts are still being produced today. They can be a great way to practice your German and tune in to your spiritual side for a few minutes every day.
If you are a parent or, like me, trying to become a parent, a fun parenting podcast like Kinderwahnsinn will be right up your alley. For a podcast named Children Madness, this one really delivers on its promise.
Discussing lego, bedtimes, Halloween and what not, the episodes typically jump from one topic to another, making some very dynamic episodes. The available introductory texts are great to help understanding.
General German Podcast
If you don’t want your podcasts to focus on a specific topic, there are many general intermediate podcasts to choose from. The one I chose is quite unique, because it’s not based on language level, but rather, on speed.
10. Slow German
As its name indicates, this is a podcast where native German speakers speak slowly. Transcripts are also available, which makes it super easy to follow.
Presenting interesting topics like German films, German autos or the Berlin Wall, this is a truly accessible podcast for any intermediate learner. You will need a paid subscription if you want to access additional learning materials for each episode.
Annik Rubens, the podcast guru who created Slow German, was also the brain behind the popular Schlaflos in München. I was planning to include the latter on this list, but it’s sadly no longer available for listening online. If you did download some episodes before it disappeared, you are among the lucky ones who can still enjoy it. (Care to share in the comments on Facebook or G+?)
Podcasts are a fabulous tool. You can learn anywhere, anytime and at your own pace. If you are not in “learning mode,” you can just listen to them for fun. (That’s my favorite part—I do tend to get lazy).
In any case, I actually know a girl who learned Japanese through podcasts. She was really smart, I give you that, but if someone can learn Japanese (of all things!), boosting your German with podcasts should be a piece of cake, oder? Viel Glück!