Podcasts are great for language learning because you can use them to get used to the rhythm and sounds of a language and are often educational at the same time. I’ve recommended a couple of podcasts on the blog before but I thought that it would be best to put together a post that explains why I love using them for language learning.
There are two main ways that I use podcasts for learning Japanese:
1) Podcasts for immersion. These are the podcasts I like to play as background noise while I am doing something else.
I try to pick up as much as possible and may listen to the podcast more than once, but I do not worry too much if I come across something that I do not quite understand. I download the NHK daily news bulletins for this purpose, but I normally catch up with current affairs in English first before listening to give me an idea of what might come up in each bulletin.
Example podcasts: NHK daily news (there are morning, noon and evening podcasts every day), ひいきびいき (two presenters talk about a given topic each week – the podcasts can be lengthy but I find the episodes on topics that interest me very entertaining!).
2) Podcasts for study. These are the ones that I will study to make sense everything that I hear.
Depending on what your language level is, this may include some that mix English and Japanese. I might use a bilingual podcast to go over a grammar point or review some vocabulary.
I also listen to podcasts entirely in Japanese, but unlike the podcasts in the first category, I am using them to study more actively. For example, I will review the podcast together with the transcript (if available) and look up the words and phrases I didn’t understand.
I also use podcasts to:
Learn about Japanese culture. Culture is so closely intertwined with Japanese that knowledge of culture greatly informs your knowledge of the language and vice versa. For example, I am trying to improve my knowledge of Japanese history and so I have started listening to the Samurai Archives Japanese History Podcast.
Boost my language learning motivation. Sometimes finding the motivation to study is difficult. For times like these, I listen to a couple of podcasts that relate to motivation and language learning in more general terms.
One of my favourites is the SpongeMind podcast (I recommend this in particular for Korean learners, as each episode is available in English and Korean), where the hosts Jeremy and Jonson discuss different aspects of language learning in each episode and always impart useful advice.
What do you use to listen to podcasts?
I like to use Podcast Republic (available on the Google Play store) to listen to my podcasts as it is free and very user-friendly. By clicking ‘Add Podcast’ and then searching for the podcast name, you can easily subscribe and download podcast episodes for all of the podcasts I have mentioned in this post.
Alternatively, you can get the podcasts by going through the websites linked above and downloading them manually onto any device – you can then listen to these through specialised podcast apps such as Podcast Republic or any other music playing app you already have.
As I have entirely Android devices I do not often use iTunes, but iTunes is a great source for podcasts – reading the reviews can give you a good idea of whether you’d enjoy the podcast before you listen to it.
What I find particularly useful about podcast apps like the one I use is that you can skip forward or backwards by 15 secs in order to listen to a key piece of info again or for shadowing.
Which podcasts do you listen to? Please let me know in the comments (especially if they relate to Japan, Japanese or language learning!).