I strongly believe that everyone studying German should listen to German podcasts. Luckily, that doesn’t mean listening to something that you’ll understand nothing of. There are some great options for everyone, from beginners to nearly fluent speakers.
After all, getting lots of exposure listening to German, especially at a level suitable to your own, is one of the best ways to improve.
Most of these podcasts would be better as a supplemental tool to a more structured course. Fortunately, most people have lots of small gaps in time throughout the day that they could use to get more listening practice.
German in particular can be a tough language for English speakers to learn. Although there are some similarities, you’ll notice that many letters are pronounced differently than they are in English – and some letters, like ß, don’t appear in English at all!
If you learn German only by reading and writing the language, then you’re more likely to pronounce words wrong when you say them aloud. You may find yourself being able to read but then feel completely lost when someone speaks German to you.
In order to get enough German into your ears, I’d strongly recommend adding some podcasts to your routine. This will undoubtedly help your listening comprehension improve dramatically.
You can choose from podcasts that are structured like language lessons and intended for new learners, or you can listen to more advanced programs on topics like history or politics, just like the kinds of podcasts you would listen to in English.
We’ve picked some of the best podcasts to learn German to help you get you started. Check out our list of the 20 top German podcasts below. Try a few of them out, and then use one or two of your favorites to study regularly.
These podcasts are intended for beginners who are new to learning German. Most of them are structured as lessons with at least some English-language guidance mixed in.
They would be ideal as a supplemental tool to a good textbook or a great course, such as smarterGerman. Several of them have transcripts and PDF guides you can download.
Coffee Break German
The Coffee Break lessons are some of the best language-learning podcasts out there. In addition to German, there’s French, Spanish, Italian, and Chinese. Although you can pay for a Premium subscription to access additional material, the audio lessons are available for free.
The Coffee Break podcast is perfect for beginners and gradually progresses as you go. Mark, who is usually one of the Coffee Break language teachers, takes a turn as a student while Thomas, a native German speaker, guides him through the basics. They’ll discuss the lessons in English so you aren’t thrown entirely into the deep end. Review.
Deutsch Warum Nicht?
Deutsch Warum Nicht? is a classic audio series that students have been using since 1991 – before podcasts were even a thing! Some of the references may be a little dated, but the story will keep you intrigued, as it follows the tale of Andreas, a student who meets a Heinzelmädchen, a creature from German folklore.
There are 4 series with 26 lessons each, and all are available on iTunes. You can also download PDF lessons to go along with the audio. The lessons are designed to get you to a B1 learning level, regardless of how much German experience you have.
Radio D is produced by the same team behind Deutsch Warum Nicht? but is a slightly more modern radio show, with lively sound-effects. Journalists Paula and Philipp are investigating UFO sightings and other mysterious happenings across Germany.
This podcast is suitable for A1 and A2 level learners, and includes transcripts and some English commentary to keep you from feeling lost.
Learn German for Free
This is a simple and straightforward introductory podcast hosted by Stefan and available to listen to for free on TuneIn. Topics include asking for directions, traveling by bus and train, and more. Since this podcast is about both Germany and Switzerland, it’s great for listeners to plan to travel through the German-speaking areas of Switzerland.
Innovative Languages, the makers of GermanPod101 have a reputation for quality language lessons for a variety of learning levels. I like most of the languages they teach, but their German lessons were pretty disappointing, often feeling uninspiring to listen to.
There are over 1,000 podcasts already at around 15 minutes each. A subscription gives you access to flashcards, lesson guides, the mobile app, and a lot more. You can follow a “Learning Path” or hop around to whatever lesson interests you.
Since this one is subscription-based (starting at $8 per month for the basic plan), you can work your way through different levels at your own pace. Review.
Learn German by Podcast
Learn German by Podcast is a solid option for those new to the language. If you’ve been dabbling in German and want to focus on the basics, then this would do the trick.
Unfortunately, it’s not free, but you can buy the first 20 lessons for $30. Having this structure can be a less daunting way to begin your learning than a more conversational podcast. That said, there are other resources I’d prefer to spend money on.
Each lesson lasts for around 20 minutes, and you’ll also have access to a PDF guide with transcripts and exercises.
DaZPod is no longer updated, but it contains 50 episodes of situation-based language lessons you can listen to on the website or iTunes. There’s not a lot of guidance, but the scenarios are easy to follow, such a customer calling a company to complain about an appliance. Each 15-minute episode will give you a little insight into German culture.
Twilingo is a unique podcast that proposes to teach German via “neuro-based speed learning.” On this podcast, you’ll hear a story in German, and then you’ll hear it repeated in German and in English at the same time. It’s like an instant translation.
The creator of the podcast, Klaus, says you’ll learn faster with this method than by any other learning style. But because this podcast is so new, we can’t tell you how effective it is. You may enjoy it, or you may simply find it confusing. Since it’s free, there’s no harm in giving it a try and seeing if it works for you.
For Intermediate Learners
These intermediate podcasts are best for those who already have some experience with German and are looking to improve their listening comprehension. Several of them are structured as lessons, but there won’t be much – if any – English to guide you along.
News in Slow German
I’m a big fan of News in Slow German. It’s easily one of the most effective and fun resources for studying German.
As the title implies, a large part of the episodes is focused on current events, discussed in German spoken at a slower pace. However, there’s more to them than that. I especially enjoyed the way they teach grammar and expressions by first using them naturally in a discussion, only to explain them later on.
News in Slow German is a slightly more advanced podcast, for those who already have some level of listening comprehensive. There’s no English here – episodes are entirely in German, but their interactive transcripts make understanding them much easier to comprehend.
You can try a free lesson but regular access requires a subscription. Review.
Conversations was created by Olly Richards of the hugely popular website I Will Teach You a Language. Sticking with his philosophy of using stories as a means to learn a language, Conversations is actually a 20 chapter dialogue-based story.
Although it’s not a podcast, those with an intermediate level of German may find this to be exactly what they’re looking for. The dialogues are spoken at a natural pace using conversational language that was written specifically for those with an intermediate level of German.
Additionally, it includes transcripts in English and German. However, it’s not particularly cheap, costing $97.
Slow German mit Annik Rubens
Slow German is a podcast hosted by native German speaker Annik Rubens. Like News in Slow German, she speaks at a slower pace so you can follow along.
You can start with the introductory lessons to learn some basic words and phrases and work your way up to the more advanced episodes, which explore different aspects of German history and culture.
You can listen to most episodes for free, or you can pay for a Premium subscription and get access to lesson guides and bonus content. If you want to take a deeper dive into German culture while you learn the language, then Slow German mit Annik Rubens is a great place to start!
Authentic German Learning
Authentic German Learning is another intermediate podcast that requires you to have some basic understanding of grammar and vocabulary but is suitable for new learners. There are transcripts and translations on the website to help you out.
These episodes are hosted by Marco, a language tutor who also offers Skype lessons and an online language academy. Mark uses modern language-learning techniques and a fun, everyday style so it doesn’t feel like a textbook German lesson. The episodes typically involve themes of personal growth and development.
Deutsch Wieso Nicht
This podcast picks up at level B1, where Deutsch Warum Nicht? left off. But instead of a story, you’ll hear the hosts discuss all sorts of topics, including relationships, roommates, shopping, going to the dentist, and more. All of the lessons are available for free.
The team behind Deutsch Wieso Nicht also has a series called Marktplatz, which is intended for level B2 learners and covers topics related to business and finance. This is a must-listen for anyone planning to work in a corporate position in Germany, since it will teach you much of the relevant vocabulary and cultural attitudes around work.
Bayern 2 – Sozusagen!
Sozusagen is a podcast that explores the German language in more depth, including grammar quirks and regional dialects. Produced by the Bayern 2 public radio station, this is a great way to understand the nuances of the language. Episode topics include words borrowed from other languages and the technicalities of punctuation. Not for the casual learner, this podcast is more suitable for the linguistics nerd.
Weisst Du’s Schon?
This podcast, which means “Do you already know?” is intended for German-speaking kids, but it’s also great for language learners. These short episodes use riddles to teach children about animals. Follow along and see if you can guess the solution to the puzzle before it’s revealed at the end of the episode!
If you’re feeling confident in your skills and want to challenge yourself even further, check out a few of these native German podcasts. They aren’t designed for language learners, but if you can keep up, they’re a great way to improve your ear for new words and dialects. Many of them explore current events and cultural issues.
SBS is an Australian news station and this is their German-language section. In addition to listening to the news in German, you can check out the Abentueur Lesen podcast, in which hosts Adrian Plitzco and Eva Murer explore the impact of children’s books.
With over 120 episodes available on iTunes, this is a great way to improve your listening skills while learning about books that your kids or grandkids might enjoy reading. Each episode is around 30 minutes long and explores a different theme, such as stories about grandparents, gardening, or cooking.
Elementarfragen is an advanced podcast intended for German audiences that features in-depth interviews on particular topics. Episodes run for one to two hours and are free wherever you listen to podcasts.
The guests on this podcast discuss the “elementary questions” in life, covering topics ranging from science to politics. While intermediate learners may have a hard time keeping up, this is the perfect podcast for learners who plan to speak German in a professional or academic setting.
Durch Die Gegend
Produced by the same team behind Elementarfragen, this show features host Christian Möller as he interviews writers, musicians, artists, and other cultural figures in places that have some relevance to their lives, such as their birthplace or neighborhood.
This podcast, which translates to “through the area,” can help get you familiar with more voices and dialects in an interview context.
The Zeitsprung podcast, which translates to “time jump,” dives deep into German history, with episodes exploring everything from German immigrants in New York City to the revolutionary history of Bavaria. Not for newbies, these 1 to 2-hour episodes will give you a crash course in German history in the mother tongue.
Fest und Flauschig
Fest und Flauschig is a German-language podcast produced for Spotify in which hosts Olli Schulz and Jan Böhmermann talk about everything and nothing. If you want to get an ear for casual banter with exaggerated stories and some social commentary, then this is the podcast for you. Olli and Jan often host guests and occasionally record shows on the road. This is the most popular German-language podcast, on Spotify with over 100,000 listeners.
Regardless of your German level, podcasts can play a supporting role in helping you improve. There’s no need to try to listen to everything on this list, but try a few that seem interesting to you, and see what sticks. Try to get into the habit of regularly listening.
If you’re looking for something with a bit more structure, I’d recommend choosing an online German course. Additionally, if you’d still like more German practice materials, be sure to check out these YouTube channels.