Hey, can you hear that?
The best audio to learn German is hiding right under your ears.
Listen closely to this amazing little secret: if you have internet access, headphones and a pen and paper, you’re all set to find and use them.
In this post, we’ll guide you through some of the best German audio courses, podcasts, CDs, lessons and apps out there. Whether you’re learning German for beginners or want some authentic listening material, we’ve got you covered with great options to learn German audio-style.
So pop in those headphones and we’ll explore why German audio learning can be so important.
Why Learn German with Audio?
In this post, we’ll present a variety of German learning audio tools organized by category:
- German audio courses
- German learning podcasts
- German radio stations
- MOOCs for German learners
- German audiobooks
- German music
If you first understand why these resources are so important for language learning, you’re 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 don’t think they’ll learn all that much.
However, this couldn’t be any further from the truth! Audio is in fact a very productive way to learn German online, even if it may not always feel much like hard work.
If you take care to consciously listen to your German audio, you’ll 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’ll cover in this post 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’ve been struggling with a certain part of grammar in your German lessons, you’ll be able to find a YouTube video or episode of a German-learning podcast that focuses specifically on this point.
Dodging Regional Blocks with a Virtual Private Network
Have you ever searched for a German resource on Google, only to find that it redirects you to the English version of what you’re looking for? Just the other day I tried to pull up a popular German podcast (produced and spoken in German) but Google sent me to a version with English audio dubbed over it. The nerve!
How do you get around this problem? With a virtual private network (VPN) of course! This is a legal way to block your IP address and pretend like you’re browsing from a different country. By using a VPN, you can access content as if you were in Germany, Austria or Switzerland.
An easy way to set up a VPN and magically change your location to Germany or elsewhere is by installing HideMyAss! VPN on any of your devices—it works on your computer, smartphone and internet-enabled TVs and game systems.
As you’ll soon see, a VPN will be particularly useful for the German podcasts and radio stations that we’ll cover later in this article.
Learn German Audio: 30 Incredible Audio Resources for All Your Language Goals
The Best 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 audio 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’ll get more out of them if you listen with a notebook, pen or pencil and your full concentration.
While you’re 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’s 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 German beginners. You’ll 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 that’s perfect for on-the-go learning. It’s ideal for anyone who spends lots of time driving in their 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’s also a pretty affordable option as you get plenty of material to work with, and there are almost always discounts for interested learners.
The “All Audio German” CD is another valuable tool for learning German in your car or anywhere you go. The six CDs focus on bringing you to fluency with short and easy-to-follow lessons. The CDs tackle areas like grammar, dialogues, culture and vocabulary.
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 tab 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 German learners. It’s run by professional, native-speaking language tutors.
It’s a great place to pick up those German nuances and casual expressions that’ll 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.
Polyglot Pablo: 100 Basic German Phrases Lesson
This video from Polyglot Pablo will help you work on your pronunciation. It covers 100 of the most common and basic German phrases.
It’s a great German audio lesson 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.
German Podcasts and Radio Stations
Podcasts are a great way to learn German online, because you can leave them on in the background while you’re getting on with housework or cooking. There are also various ones for numerous subjects, from sports to film reviews, so you’ll surely be able to find one to suit your personal tastes!
When you’re 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.
We’ve also included some authentic German radio stations here. Nowadays, podcasts and radio stations are pretty much the same thing. Since a person in the U.S., or any other country for that matter, would have a tough time finding a German radio station on an FM/AM receiver, we’ve provided a few digital radio stations for fun music, morning talk and other ramblings.
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 German for beginners to early intermediates.
This is an outstanding resource that’s so much more than a podcast. It’s my favorite audio to learn German, since it has beginner, intermediate and advanced levels.
GermanPod101 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.
The videos and audios are made by professional teachers, and overall GermanPod101 is one of the most prolific and consistent German resources in the game. It teaches grammar, vocabulary, everyday conversations, real-life situations and culture. So, basically, you’ve got all your bases covered here.
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.
Much of the radio station plays music, but they also go through opinionated conversations about world news, and you can check out some of the other podcasts like “Fortuna,” a show covering everything in terms of soccer (or football).
Schweiser Radio provides a gigantic list of podcasts for you to choose from, and the best part is that you can listen to most of them directly from you computer. I like grabbing the feed and inserting it into my podcasting phone app, so everything is in one place.
This is similar to how NPR releases some affiliated talk shows, making it easy for people to choose from the subjects they want to listen to.
For example, Radio Bremen lets you select from options like the Comedy Club podcast, a place to hear jokes and laugh about the world, or the Voll im Film (Full in Film) podcast for your movie fix.
This podcast is a favorite, because several known voice actors lend their voices to entertain you, simulating thrilling stories that may or may not have actually happened. If you’re into thrillers, this is your podcast.
The shows usually last about an hour and features a new story every time.
The Braincast Podcast places a hard focus on the study of the brain. It’s a show for people interested in science, as they bring on guests and experts from all over the world.
If you’re familiar with the popular Radio Lab podcast, I would recommend you check this one out.
ListenLive offers a huge list of German radio stations, all streamable from your computer. This is the closest thing you can get to tuning your box radio to a station in Germany.
Choose from regional locations like Munich, Hannover or Potsdam. You can find everything from pop, top 40, news, adult contemporary and Christmas music.
Last FM is your ultimate source for music produced in Germany or created by German artists. Most of the music you’ll find on here is in German, but the occasional English song is thrown into the mix. Listen to music genres like German speed metal, German jazz, rock and classical.
How about German audio learning that feels like a newspaper? Listening to Deutschlandfunk is like checking out USA Today or The Huffington Post. Deutschlandfunk covers politics, sports, culture, the economy and more.
German Audio Lessons from MOOCs
Heard about MOOCs yet? The acronym stands for “massive open online course.” They’re often organized by colleges and universities. No matter what you’re learning, you can find a MOOC that has your subject covered.
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. You’ll get audio from the lectures, as well as supplementary readings and assignments.
More often than not, they’re free of charge and are open to anyone, even if you’re in a completely different country from the organization that’s hosting it.
MOOCs often don’t require participants to have any prerequisites for enrollment, either. So, as you can see, these provide a great way to learn German through audio with 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!
German Audiobook Resources
German audiobooks allow you to immerse yourself in a world of fantasy, science fiction or romance, all with the help of an MP3 player and headphones. Consider listening to your favorite books in German to learn something new.
The LoyalBooks database consists of public domain e-books and audiobooks, meaning it’s free to listen. Click on the German tab on the left to reveal options like “Die Elixiere des Teufels” (“The Devil’s Elixirs”), “Michael Kohlhaas” and “Der Schimmelreiter” (“The Rider on the White Horse”).
Listen directly through your computer or download the audiobooks to your device.
Audible is owned by Amazon, so you can find most of the same audiobooks on both. Regardless, try using a VPN to access the best content on German Audible.
Listen to bestsellers like “Game of Thrones” and “Fifty Shades of Grey,” all in German. Audible provides a handy app for listening on your phone or tablet.
No VPN? You can still easily find German-language content on Audible using search filters.
Catchy German Music Playlists
I enjoy compiling my own playlists, since services like Spotify and Pandora can be a little scattered. However, the greatest part of these services is that you can search for other playlists that people have created and shared online.
German Pop on Spotify
Start with the German Pop Spotify playlist, which is from the popular Goethe Institute, a place for German online and offline learning. This playlist includes favorites from artists like Clueso, LOT, Madsen and Ferris Mc.
It’s an exciting selection of songs, all of which experienced popularity at some point. I recommend this music if you’re trying to stay upbeat, like when you’re at the gym or while working.
German Folk Music on Spotify
This German Folk Music album is obviously a little different from the pop extravaganza you listened to above. This playlist is for the purists. Those who want to hear what people were listening to hundreds of years ago in Germany.
This list includes around 20 songs, starting with “Echo Der Berge” and ending with “Servus Pfuat Gott und Auf Wiederseh’n.”
It’s also not a bad idea to check out other streaming services. I recommend this Pandora station—all you have to do is click on the Create Station button, and Pandora compiles a beautiful list of classic German folk songs and chants.
Every time you create a station you receive new songs, so it’s kind of fun to try it out.
Here’s a solid online radio station for similar results to the Pandora one above.
Hopefully, all of these amazing German learning audio sources sound good to you. Once you start to learn 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.