How to Use Podcasts To Learn Language Effectively?

My love for languages started when I first joined a foreign language and culture club at my local polytechnic, back when I was in my late teens. Gradually, I ventured into various other languages on my own such as Russian, Korean, Japanese and many others. It is hard for me to explain what got me into such fascination with languages. I guess it is the way they sound, and how the words are written. Apart from that, I am guessing that I am probably weird just like everyone else.

I started learning languages using podcasts. They are very useful for beginners who are trying to pick up a language and learn the basics from scratch. Podcasts also provide mainly audio training, and they can be extremely helpful for people who absorb information better through auditory means. In addition, you get to hear and repeat the sounds in order to say the words correctly. Learning from a podcast can be challenging for some who do not absorb information as quickly as auditory learners, but there are ways on how these individuals can benefit from using podcast effectively.

Here are five powerful ways on how you can use podcasts to learn languages effectively.


#1 Pace Yourself
There is no need to rush through the lessons. Just because you know a few words or phrases, doesn't mean you can skip the current level, and advance to the next. Be patient and pace yourself. Walk through the level and understand what you are suppose to know. Build a solid foundation on the basics such as grammatical cases, clauses, sentence structures and nuances, before accumulating new words in your vocabulary bag.


#2 Always take notes
Although listening is a great way to learn a new language, taking notes can help you remember the language as it is written. For alphabetic languages like English, Korean, Russian, and Greek, taking notes will help you practise how you write the alphabets, arrange their grammatical cases, and form new sentences. For logographic languages like Mandarin, Burmese, Thai, Japanese, Ethiopian, and even Sanskrit, taking notes will help you remember the way you write the characters and how they look like in writing form. Making your own charts or notes is a powerful way to learn with podcast as your guide. Always take notes.


#3 Turn on the subtitles or use transcripts
The better podcasts are the ones with subtitles in their video presentations or transcripts in their lesson notes. These should be turned on at all times, especially when you are just starting out on this learning journey. Visual learning is another powerful way that you can use to take in new information as you progress through the lessons.


#4 Contextualize all conversations
Nuances rule. They form the big picture of what words and sentences are made up of. There is no point learning words and phrases without putting the effort to comprehend the context that the sentences are used. Take your time for a moment to understand the speaker while you pause during the podcast to look for contextual clues. This strategy is even more important when you are studying Asian languages because culturally, Asians make a lot of understatements whereby what we say tend to contain hidden meanings. In short, we are usually not direct with our speech because we don't want to appear rude or discourteous to our acquaintances.


#5 Be an Active Listener
I know many others would recommend listening to podcast while doing many other chores. Passive listening may help you acquaint yourself with the language subconsciously, but it may not be efficient in the long run. Actively listening to podcasts once or twice a day would help you improve your language ability. You only need to spend just one to two hours studying a day.

In summary, while listening to your favourite podcast, trying reading aloud to pronounce the words, take notes, draw tables and charts, and pause occasionally to practice having dialogues. An all-rounded learner combines the use of Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic, and Tactile strategies in order to learn well. With these simple strategies, you are all set for the journey. To keep up with the momentum, you just need to be consistent.


I shall now leave you with a quote:

If you are serious about anything, do it everyday.

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