Hey, can you hear that?
The best German learning audio courses and resources are hiding right under your ears.
Listen closely to this amazing little secret: if you have internet access, headphones and a pen and paper, you already have the tools to find and use them.
In this post, I will guide you through some of the best German audio courses, lessons and learning tools out there. Whether you are a beginner or near-native speaker, looking for a university-grade course or podcast German lessons for your commute, we have got you covered with some great audio resources to learn German online.
Why Learn German with Audio?
In this post, we will present a variety of German learning audio tools organized by category:
- German learning podcasts
- German audio courses
- German language courses on YouTube
- MOOCs for German learners
If you first understand why these resources are so important for language learning, you are a lot more likely to take them seriously, and will therefore get much better results in a shorter time.
One reason why so many people take audio resources for granted is that they do not think they will learn all that much.
However, this could not be any further from the truth! It is in fact very productive for language learning, even if it may not always feel much like hard work.
If you take care to consciously listen to your audio resources, you will quickly start to pick up new German skills through osmosis, also known as “passive listening.” This is when you absorb new vocabulary and grammar concepts just by being exposed to the language. So even though it may not feel as strenuous as running through a set of vocabulary flashcards, it is just as important!
But German audio learning is also great for focused language study, or “active listening.” Most of the resources I will cover in this post specifically focus on the more difficult aspects of the language, such as sentence construction and specific grammar points like the gender of nouns.
So if you have been struggling with a certain part of grammar in your German classes, you will be able to find a YouTube video or episode of a German-learning podcast that focuses specifically on this point.
Learn German Audio: 14 Incredible Audio Resources for All Your Language Goals
German Learning Podcasts
Podcasts are a great way to learn German online, because you can leave them on in the background while you are getting on with housework or cooking. There are also various ones for numerous subjects, from sports to film reviews, so you will surely be able to find one to suit your personal tastes!
When you are listening to German-learning podcasts, you can simply follow along with all the exercises and tests. However, to take your learning up a level, you should also note down any new vocabulary you hear so that you can review it on your own time.
One great podcast to start with, specifically created for German learners, is Deutsch—warum nicht? (German—why not?). This podcast is from the people at DW. Each episode follows the story of Andreas, a journalism student who also works as a hotel doorman.
The story is peppered with quick language questions and exercises. The episodes cover beginner to early intermediate proficiency levels.
This is an outstanding resources that is so much more than a podcast.
It offers hundreds of audio and video German lessons, catering to all skill levels from newbie to fluent. They come complete with interactive features like vocabulary tools, SRS flashcards, transcripts, bustling community forums and a handy app.
If learning with podcasts is working for you, a GermanPod101 membership is highly recommended.
The goal of this podcast is to teach you German you can use in real-life conversations. Each podcast episode offers a lesson on a different theme, some teaching specific German expressions and others teaching conversational skills like how to introduce yourself.
You can download the audio German lessons to your phone, mp3 player or computer, and they even come with PDF lesson guides if you want to sit down for some focused, active listening practice.
German Audio Courses
Just like podcasts, you can play a German audio course in the background whenever you are busy with some housework, commuting or doing other mundane tasks. You may find that words and grammar start to stick in your brain because these courses often repeat a lot of the vocabulary and grammar constructions in certain sections.
However, because these courses are designed for focused study, similar to classroom learning, you will get more out of them if you listen with a notebook, pen or pencil and your full concentration.
While you are listening, take down notes. This will be just like being in a German lecture, except with the advantage that you can follow along at your own pace. Feel free to rewind difficult parts of the audio course, or pause the recording and repeat words out loud until you nail the pronunciation.
There are lots of foreign language CDs and audio courses that provide a range of benefits to learners. However, it is worth noting that not all of these are quite as good as their marketing campaigns may suggest! Some solid courses that are among my favorites are below.
Radio D is a structured audio language course designed for beginners. You will learn foundational German language skills in the context of a compelling story.
Follow the main character Philipp as he travels to Berlin, meets new people and eventually embarks on a mysterious investigation with his colleague Paula.
These audio lessons also come with manuscripts, vocabulary lists and grammar exercises.
Want a free German audio course you can listen to anywhere? Here it is.
Similar to Radio D, DeutschAkademie teaches you language through a story (yet again with a character named Philip!). You will follow Philip as he arrives in Germany and has many real-world conversations you yourself will have if you visit. You can listen on your computer or an iOS or Android device.
As a bonus, you can find lessons and exercises on pesky German cases on this site.
Pimsleur is a German learning program which is perfect for on-the-go learning. It is ideal for anyone who spends lots of time driving in their own car, because the program constantly prompts you to listen, repeat and answer. Talking to yourself on the bus might come across a little strange, but you can go ahead and do it anyway!
It is also a pretty affordable option as you get plenty of material to work with, and there are almost always discounts for interested learners.
German Language Courses on YouTube
YouTube is a great resource for free German audio learning because of the wide array of content that is available.
There are loads of YouTubers who regularly upload videos aimed at German learners of various levels. Whether you are a beginner or have been studying German for a number of years, you will definitely be able to find lessons that can greatly supplement your studies.
I am also sure you will find the visual prompts that often accompany YouTube videos extremely useful! If you are struggling to understand the German in the video, do not forget that you can often turn on subtitles. To do this, simply click the “CC” icon that is on the bottom bar of the video player.
Here are some suggestions to get you started.
Deutsch für Euch (German for You)
This channel has some great videos for beginners covering a range of topics, from how to introduce yourself to pronunciation of the German alphabet.
Head to the Playlists to focus on specific language concepts like pronunciation or fun stuff like German music.
To get the most out of the authentic German videos available on YouTube, check out FluentU.
FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
Since this is the content that native German speakers actually watch, you get the chance to experience how modern German is spoken in real life.
Here’s just a brief example of the variety of content you’ll find on FluentU:
Watching a fun video, but having trouble understanding it? FluentU helps you get comfortable with everyday German by combining all the benefits of complete immersion and native-level conversations with interactive subtitles.
This way, you get German immersion online without ever worrying about missing a word.
Just tap on any subtitled word to instantly see an in-context definition, usage examples and a memorable illustration to help you understand how the word is used. If you see an interesting word you don’t know, you can add it to your vocabulary list for later review.
Once you’ve watched a video, you can use FluentU’s quizzes to actively practice all the vocabulary in that video. Swipe left or right to see more examples of the word you’re on.
Access a complete interactive transcript of every video under the Dialogue tab, and review words and phrases with convenient audio clips under Vocab.
FluentU will even keep track of all the German words you’ve learned, then recommend videos and ask you questions based on what you already know. Plus, it’ll tell you exactly when it’s time for review. Now that’s a 100% personalized experience!
The guys at smarterGerman have some top videos aimed at advanced learners. It is run by professional, native-speaking language tutors.
It is a great place to pick up those German nuances and casual expressions that will make your speech sound much more natural, like words used by today’s German youth.
To give your ears a real workout, listen to their pronunciation explanations.
This video from Polyglot Pablo will help you work on your pronunciation. It covers 100 of the most common and basic German phrases. This is a great one to put on in the background or before you go to sleep for some of that osmosis learning.
The German Professor has videos that cover grammar topics suitable for German beginners, as well as some more advanced lessons. For some quick audio study, put on the 5 Minute German playlist.
MOOCs for German Learners
Heard about MOOCs yet? The acronym stands for “massive open online courses.” They are often organized by colleges and universities. No matter what you are learning, you will be able to find a MOOC that has your subject covered. So it is well worth searching for a great German MOOC.
One great advantage of MOOCs is that instead of having to physically turn up to lectures and seminars, you can simply join them virtually online. More often than not, they are free of charge and are open to anyone, even if you are in a completely different country from the organization that is hosting.
MOOCs often do not require participants to have any prerequisites for enrollment, either. So, as you can see, these provide a great way to learn German with the help of some of the world’s top universities and colleges!
You can find a list of some German MOOCs currently available for signup at this website. Some of the best courses, though, include:
- The Open University’s free German audio introduction to German food and drink
- The University of Texas’s Deutsch im Blick (German in View) audio course
- You can also find a MOOC aimed at German beginner learners from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Even though there are often set online seminars and lectures for MOOCs, they are usually totally self-directed, so that students can look over the materials, assignments and other tests in their spare time. So you should be able to fit all the work into your schedule, no matter how busy you may be!
Hopefully, all of these amazing German learning audio sources sound good to you. Once you start learning German with audio, you should notice the benefits pretty much right away!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn German with real-world videos.