If you want to learn German, podcasts are a great tool.
No books, no videos: just hands-free with some headphones.
It’s great for people who want to make the most of their commute or workout.
As German is a very popular language for learners, there are quite a lot of podcasts to choose from.
I’ve picked some of the best ones I’ve used. I’ll start off with some podcast series that are more like full German courses, from absolute beginner to advanced.
After that, I’ll go over some podcasts that will sharpen your listening skills a bit; these are mostly aimed at intermediate learners.
I’ll finish it up with some examples of popular German-language podcasts for people who are confident in their language ability and just want to keep it up to date.
If you prefer video courses, make sure to check out my favorite German YouTube channels, as well.
Best podcasts for learning German
These podcasts are ideal for learners of German looking for structured course content.
They’re presented in a more lesson-type format.
NOTE: If you’re looking for a high quality, 100% audio-based course (not a podcast) for starting out with German, then you should also try out Pimsleur.
I’ll kick off with the podcasts by GermanPod101, from their popular language-learning course (which you can test out here).
You can also read our full GermanPod101 review.
There is a wealth of knowledge here, ranging from the elementary to in-depth looks at specific issues.
GermanPod101 nails the basics in all their courses, so you’re in good hands here. The main attraction here though are the more specific lessons.
Some are about a particularly tricky part of German grammar — and there’s plenty of those, let’s be honest — while some will deal with specific social situations.
There’s lessons about going to the pharmacy, about going to restaurants, meeting people; you name it, it’s there.
I really like the podcasts Germanpod101 has on offer, the worst thing I can say about it is that it can be hard to find what you’re looking for.
The lessons have all been put together in numerical order, but that’s the only logic they follow.
If you want a lesson on, say, the future tense in German you’re going to have to look through the whole list; there’s no search function.
If you’d like a course that has more of a clear start and finish than GermanPod101, Deutsch, Warum Nicht? (“German, why not?”) is a great choice.
For one, it’s made by one of the most professional organizations out there when it comes to German courses, Deutsche Welle, an international news organization that aims to spread German language and culture over the globe.
Deutsch, Warum Nicht? is a long-running course which covers all the CEFR stages from A1, A2 and part of B1 (beginner through to intermediate) through lessons that teach through basic interactions.
The production value is high and the actors are by and large very good. Even without workbooks and the like you can probably get by just fine.
That said, the course comes with downloadable materials that you can use to help you along.
If you like Deutsch Warum Nicht? _and you want to continue onto B2 and beyond, DW also offers a follow-up course along the same lines called _Deutsch, Wieso Nicht? (which also means “German, why not?” because that’s German for you).
However, there is a downside to these courses: they’re a bit old, made as they were in the early 90s.
As such, they figure some social ideas some might find outdated, as well as referring to currency units that are no longer used.
If you don’t mind people saying “Deutschmark” instead of “Euro,” though, Deutsch, Warum Nicht? is a great course.
The last proper course I’ve picked is Learn German for Free, which is exactly what it says on the tin: a full course, offered for free, that teaches you German.
Like our previous entries, it uses social interactions as its red thread, but explains what’s going on in English before getting started, which is nice.
Another thing that sets this course apart is that it doesn’t only talk about the “proper” German spoken in Northern Germany, but also discusses southern dialects, particularly that of Switzerland.
This makes Learn German for Free a very good choice for people who are traveling in or moving to Austria, Bavaria or Switzerland.
As I can tell you from experience, going to Vienna or Munich with my schoolboy German in no way prepared me for the way people speak down there.
Words are pronounced very differently in the south, so having a course to prepare you for that is very useful.
Best podcasts to improve German listening comprehension
Once you get beyond the basics, you’ll need quality German audio content to consume for listening practice.
These podcasts are the best for this.
Next up is a set of podcasts from Easy German which aren’t quite lessons, but aren’t purely listening exercises, either.
The Easy Languages approach — they also have a series of Greek YouTube videos, for example — is all about the way languages are spoken in “real” life.
As such, while there is structure to their lessons, they all focus a lot less on the intricacies of the grammar and instead have you trying to keep up with what’s being said and encourage you to imitate it.
It’s a really good approach if you already know a bit of German through more conventional channels as you can train your ear for “real” German.
To help you along, all lessons are accompanied by a transcript and a basic vocabulary of all new words, which should help you on your way.
If you’re looking to understand German better and also improve fluency, Easy German’s podcasts are a great choice.
If you’re working on your listening comprehension, there’s another DW show I’d like to recommend, called Radio D.
It’a set of fake news shows (like a UFO being sighted) that use simple German to get you started with understanding spoken German.
The actors do a good job and the subjects are well chosen. The episodes are all solid and can be used by people of any age.
The shows are a lot of fun and ramp up very well in difficulty. The only downside is that there aren’t too many of them and they’re very much focused on beginner learners.
If you’re more advanced the fun’s kind of gone, which is a shame.
That said, DW has a lot of other podcasts to choose from, so when you’re ready to move on there’s plenty to choose from.
If you’re a fan of “slow” learning, where a text or dialog is read out at a measured pace to make sure you catch up on everything, then there are several great German podcasts for you.
I’ve picked two, the first of which is Slow German mit Annik Rubens, which covers all levels, from beginner to advanced.
However, I wasn’t blown away by the beginner lessons, so I’d recommend it instead for intermediate and up.
Other than that, there’s a lot to like here. Many episodes are themed, which is great if you need help in a certain area, like figuring out how to talk about clothes or food or relationships.
Unlike many entries on this list, it comes with a great search function, which makes life a little easier for learners.
My favorite part, though, are the topical episodes, which don’t just go over what’s going on in Germany, but also explain the significance of events.
Overall, it’s a great website to check out.
If you’re a news junkie, News in Slow German may be the channel for you. Like with Slow German mit Annik Rubens, it goes over the news but in the form of a conversion between two people.
I like the discussion format the shows have and I also like how the news isn’t just German news, but also covers topics from all over the world.
There are two levels, beginner and intermediate, but in all honesty the beginner is pretty tough already, so you may not want to get too overambitious.
Besides the news, there are also some lessons about specific grammar issues which can come in useful for learners.
Overall, News in Slow German is a great site to bookmark for anybody that wants to improve their German listening skills.
If you’re improving your German, but would prefer to go at a more relaxed pace, then Coffee Break German may be a good pick for you.
The title is the core idea: short lessons of about 10 minutes or so that go into one specific subject or question.
Most lessons are centered around a core idea, like how old you were when you got a mobile phone or how popular chocolate is.
Each subject can then help with something from German; it’s a pretty good system overall, though I wouldn’t approach it like a full course.
Instead, it’s a good way to go a little deeper into a particular issue you’re having.
Though it may not be the best approach for everybody, I definitely recommend any German learner at least go over a lesson or two of Coffee Break German.
Best podcasts for intermediate to advanced learners of German who want advanced material
Our last two podcasts I’ll discuss are for people who are very comfortable with German and who can at least understand it on a native level.
In all honesty, I can’t always follow every word of these, either: these two podcasts are by and for Germans and even I get lost at times, even if Dutch and German are closely related.
However, they are a good start if you’re interested in improving your listening skills and vocabulary on your own initiative.
The first is Elementarfragen (“elementary questions”) which goes in depth on a large number of subjects, ranging from the science of climate change to the political ramifications of the corona epidemic.
It’s all heady stuff, and a good way to familiarize yourself with what the German-speaking world thinks of certain subjects.
Our next advanced podcast is Der Geschichte, which talks about all manner of history.
Though it started out mostly discussing German history, it’s become a lot more international in recent episodes.
Episodes can be about anything that has happened in the past, from German city states to Indian emperors.
It’s a really cool podcast and a must-listen for history fans who are trying to brush up on their German.
Hopefully this list of German podcasts will have what you need at your level.
Let me know in the comments if I left out any podcasts you feel should have been included.