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LEARNING GERMAN

The best podcasts to take your German to the next level

Podcasts are a great tool when it comes to language learning. So why not put those spare moments to use and improve your German, whatever your level.

The best podcasts to take your German to the next level
Listening to podcasts is a great way to learn and practice a new language. (Photo by Firmbee.com on Unsplash)

Beginner level

1. Learn German by Podcast

This is a great podcast if you don’t have any previous knowledge of German. The hosts guide you through a series of scenarios in each episode and introduce you to new vocabulary based on the role-plays. Within just a few episodes, you will learn how to talk about your family, order something in a restaurant and discuss evening plans. Each phrase is uttered clearly and repeated several times, along with translations.

Learn German by Podcast provides the podcasts for free but any accompanying lesson guides must be purchased from their website. These guides include episode transcripts and some grammar tips. 

2. Coffee Break German

Photo by Jason Villanueva on Pexels

Coffee Break German aims to take you through the basics of German in a casual lesson-like format. It is extremely easy to listen to. Each 20-minute episode acts as a mini-lesson, where German native Thomas teaches Mark the basics.

All phrases are broken down into individual words. After new phrases are introduced the listeners are encouraged to repeat them back to practise pronunciation.

The advantage of listening to this podcast is that the learner, Mark begins at the same level as you. He often asks for clarification of certain phrases, and it can feel as if he is asking the very questions you want answered.

You can also stream the podcast directly from the provider’s website, where they sell a supplementary package from the Coffee Break German Academy, which offers additional audio content, video flashcards and comprehensive lesson notes.

3. German Pod 101

German Pod 101 aims to teach you all about the German language, from the basics in conversations and comprehension to the intricacies of German culture. German Pod 101 offers various levels for your German learning and starts with Absolute Beginner.

The hosts are made up of one German native and one American expat living in Germany, in order to provide you with true authentic language, but also explanations about the comparisons and contrasts with English. This podcast will, hopefully, get you speaking German from day one.

Their website offers more information and the option to create an account to access more learning materials.

4. Deutsch Warum Nicht

Warum Nicht is a language course that follows the character Andreas, who is a journalism student, working as a doorman at a hotel. You will hear natural, German speech as Andreas interacts with people in his life.

An English-speaking narrator presents the situations and encourages you to understand as much as you can but to try at least to get the gist of what is being said. This podcast has a more formal feel to it and is a great way to train your listening skills. 

Deutsche Welle also offers other podcasts for German learning on their website.

A German for Dummies language book sits atop a desk next to a pen and a cup of coffee. Photo by Jan Antonin Kolar on Unsplash

A German for Dummies language book sits atop a desk next to a pen and a cup of coffee. Photo by Jan Antonin Kolar on Unsplash

Intermediate

5. The Easy German Podcast

There’s the German we learn in school, and then there’s the German we actually hear on the streets. Filled with particles like mal and halt, and endless colloquial terms, everyday German sometimes leaves learners with a baffled “Bitte?” The Easy German Podcast, a addition to the popular YouTube channel, gives listeners a taste of German as it’s actually spoken, through lively weekly discussions between its Berlin-based co-hosts Carina Schmid and Manuel Salmann, and sometimes guests.

There’s a new episode every couple of days, and the hosts discuss topics from around the world with a lot of honesty, humour and personal anecdotes. They also break down vocabulary and answer questions from listeners. As an added plus, a transcript is available for every episode, as well as several lists of Vokabelhilfe and German resources.

6. A Flavour of German 

The makers of Coffee Break German bring you another podcast to improve your German skills after you’ve mastered the basics. A Flavour of German follows a similar pattern to Coffee Break German, with a native German speaker and German learner. This time, however, the focus is on idioms and common phrases, ranging from the weather, to love and anger. Each episode is just eight to ten minutes long so is perfect to enjoy in those spare moments.

7. Slow German by Annik Rubens

This podcast does exactly what it says on the tin. Annik Rubens, a journalist from Munich, has casual conversations entirely in German about different themes related to daily life and culture. The language is authentic and everything is spoken in a slow and clear voice. Vocabulary lists can be found on the website, along with a catalogue of episodes and streaming services.

A premium package is available with access to bonus materials, including grammar lessons, quizzes and fun facts.

8. News in Slow German

This is a fantastic podcast to improve your German listening skills. The content of the show is based on the things really going on in the world today, so you can simultaneously find out more about current affairs and learn German. The speakers are extremely clear and aim to make the podcast enjoyable to listen to. For the first part of each episode the hosts talk about a current big news story, then the second part usually features a topic which is underlying in society.

Additional subscription packages, which include many fun interactive exercises, are available on their website.

9. Expertly German

Some German words can look intimidating but don’t have to be, especially when placed in a real world context. The new podcast Expertly German includes and explain a lot of economic and business terms from current news stories, and also provide a helpful transcript at the bottom of each episode. They also include interactive exercises, usually in the form of grammar-related quizzes.

German is not an easy language, but there are a lot of resources to help you study. Photo: Jeswin Thomas / Unsplash

Advanced

10. Sozusagen!

Bayern 2 present their podcast Sozusagen! for all those who are interested in the German language. The level of this podcast is slightly higher and is aimed at advanced learners. Each episode explores a different linguistic question, from a discussion on German dialects to an analysis of political linguistics in Germany.

11. SBS German

This podcast has the feel of a well-produced radio talk show. In each episode they discuss either a global current event, or a heavily-debated topic within society. Previous episodes have included talks on the World Cup, staying healthy and the taboo subject of death. The hosts speak very naturally and are very easy to listen to.

12. Elementarfragen

Elementarfragen is produced by Viertausendherz and is a German podcasts aimed at German speakers. The episodes are in depth and definitely on the long side, lasting from one to two hours each. More serious topics are discussed, from Chernobyl, to psychiatry, to the Red Army. Experts on the issues are invited to present certain facts and give their opinions.

Not the most light-hearted show to listen to, but it will definitely have you speaking more like a native in no time.

13. Was Jetzt?

Die Zeit’s daily news podcast, Was Jetzt, is aimed at fluent speakers but the host speaks clearly about a wide range of topics, all concerning the most interesting daily news from Germany and around the world. With each episode around 10 minutes long, it’s a fun way to digest the top news stories of the day in the eyes of Germans.

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GERMAN LANGUAGE

The German language you need for summer in Austria

Summer in Austria is when people go outdoors to enjoy public pools, swim in rivers and lakes and complain about the weather. Here are a key few words and expressions to have at hand.

The German language you need for summer in Austria

As we near summer and scorching temperatures, it is about time to brush up on our (Austrian) German in order to enjoy the season to its fullest.

There is no shortage of activities that Austrians enjoy during the hottest months of the year and it’s essential to know some basic vocabulary to enjoy them to the fullest.

READ ALSO: Five of the best things to do in Vienna this summer

If you are more advanced, we also bring a couple of phrases and idioms locals use so that you don’t get too confused when you hear that it’s emperor weather outside.

Basic summer vocabulary

Here are some basic words to get you through the season:

Der See, or the lake. Especially in Austria, with its numerous beautiful lakes (and best bathing waters in Europe!), going for a swim in the lake or a river (der Fluss) is a perfect summer activity.

READ ALSO: Austria home to the ‘best bathing waters’ in Europe, new ranking claims

If you are in Vienna, you’ll likely visit one of the great Freibäder, the outdoor public swimming pools. Another common pastime during the season is parties and barbecues, die Grillparty, but don’t forget to check the rules in your area to see if you are allowed to light up the grill and which type.

Some basic vocabulary for these popular summer activities include die Sonnenbrille (sunglasses), das Wasserrutsche (water slide), das Eis (icecream), der Hut (hat), die Sonnencreme (sunscreen), and die Radtour (bike tour).

If you go through a summer heatwave (a Hitzewelle), you might look for places to cool down. Austria offers spots with Trinkbrunnen (drinking fountains), Bodenfontäne (ground fountains), and Sommerspritzer, which are cooling water sprinklers.

Some common expressions to use in summer

A few words are a bit more advanced or just more informal and a perfect way to describe certain summer feelings.

For example, the “monkey heat”, or Affenhitze, is a word German speakers use to describe those extremely hot days. So if you want to comment on what a scorcher of a day it is, you should say, “Heute ist eine Affenhitze”.

A similar expression is Sauheiß, literally translated to “pig hot”, for those unbearable heat days.

On the other hand, if the day is simply beautiful, sunny, with no clouds in the sky, Austrians will call it “Emperor weather”, or das Kaiserwetter. The urban legend goes that the idiom stems from Austrian history. Kaiser Franz Josef’s birthday, the August 18th, was often bright and cloudless.

And if you ever get caught in one of Austria’s Sommergewitter, the summer thunderstorm, you might hear someone say, jokingly: “Du siehst aus wie ein begossener Pudel!” it literally means “you look like a wet poodle” and, really, they won’t be wrong.

Heading to a public pool? This is what you should know

Sometimes, not speaking the local language can prevent people from trying activities involving talking with someone in German. While swimming in lakes or rivers won’t require any particular German vocabulary, if you want to enter the public pools (and you should, they are fantastic), you might need to know a few words.

Some public pools are “natural” ones, located by river banks. (Photo: PID / Christian Fürthner)

First, the open-air pools are called (singular) Freibad, an area by the river that is closed off and used as public natural pools would be a Strandbad (something like “beach pool”), a Hallenbad is indoors, Kombibad will have both indoor and outdoor pools, and a Familienbad is for families (adults are not allowed in without children).

Öffnungszeiten: opening times. The websites and signs will also state the “Kassaschluss”, which are closing times for buying an entry (usually you will see they are “eine halbe Stunde vor Badeschuss”, or half an hour before the pool closes).

READ ALSO: The best lakes and swimming spots in Austria

Eintrittspreise. These are the entry prices. There might be many different options here, including Kleinkinder (small children), Kinder (children), Jugendliche (young people), and Erwachsene (adults). If you feel young at heart and are confused about how much you must pay, don’t worry: there are usually birth years next to the prices. So, for example, adults are those born in 2003 and earlier.

Other entry options may include Familienkarte (family card, they will specify how many adults and children) and time-based cards, such as “Nachmittagskarte”, for example, for people who want to spend half a day or less.

You can also find season passes, but in general, the whole process of buying and entry is relatively straightforward. In Vienna, it is even possible to buy day tickets online. However, not every pool will have online sales for many weeks in advance or on weekends when demand is high.

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