‘Ciao’ down on these 9 language learning podcasts if you’ve been recently inspired by the Duolingo owl’s social media presence
Take a deep dive into words with our language learning podcast round-up. 4 of the podcasts on our list are English-based, sharing etymologies, grammar rules, and more. One of these show’s recent episodes covered the emoji language and how they’re used and translated in cultures around the world.
If you feel like learning a new language, there are shows sharing resources and advice for getting started. Also on our list are shows for learning French, Spanish, Japanese, and Chinese. Peruse our list of language learning podcasts, and happy learning!
Studio Ochenta Originals’ “Atlas Linguae” focuses on languages and translation in its weekly episodes with guests. In case you were wondering, emojis are their own language, and a recent episode went into detail on how they’re translated and used in various cultures. The global storytelling episode wondered if one universal tale exists, that surpasses any cultural or language barriers.
Helen Zaltzman hosts “The Allusionist” with episodes on English words’ histories, vocab, word choices, and more. Recent episodes covered the semantics of salad, pregnancy vocabulary for trans people who are pregnant, and the history of words like asexual and aromantic. There was an episode exploring the etymologies of hedge witches, wizards, warlocks, conjurers, and cloves. Learn about the history of numbers, the concept of zero, and if the exclamation of “Dude!” is an all-encompassing term. Episodes run 30 minutes on average.
Merriam Webster’s editors host “Word Matters,” unpacking grammar rules, lexicography, listeners’ questions, etymologies, and more in episodes. Recently, hosts Emily Brewster, Ammon Shea, and Peter Sokolowski unveiled some of the newest 455 additions to the dictionary including fluffernutter, whataboutism, the emphatic use of amirite, and the new prepositional use of because, just to name a few. They investigated 2021’s words of the year in two episodes. Check out episodes in any order, under 30 minutes long.
A Way With Words
“A Way With Words” is a weekly podcast on sayings, slang, word histories, regional dialects, and more. Author/journalist Martha Barnette and linguist/lexicographer Grant Barrett host the series and invite listeners to share stories on the show. A recent episode discussed the new translation of the Old English epic poem Beowulf, that uses internet slang and addresses the reader as “bro.” Another recent release explored Orwell’s 1984, how it helped readers conceptualize Big Brother, and learn words like “Orwellian” and “doublespeak.” Stream the topic-specific episodes in any order, running under an hour long.
You Can Learn Chinese
Mandarin speakers Jared Turner and John Pasden share tips on learning Chinese. Hear episodes about typing characters vs. handwriting them, tools for advanced learners, the differences in Chinese dialects, swearing, and more in episodes. There was a two-part episode on how to improve your listening skills, and most episodes feature multilingual special guests. Since 2019, this show has released over 75 episodes, running an hour each.
The Fluent Show
Kerstin Cable presents “The Fluent Show,” sharing passions for learning about culture and linguistics in episodes. Hear about trends like learning Korean on TikTok or what it’s like learning and teaching with a visual impairment. There are bilingual episodes where listeners can hear Welsh, German, French, and more. Huge questions are tackled like how your personality changes when speaking another language and maintaining language proficiency while learning new ones. To jumpstart the new year, Kerstin shared advice for learning new languages. Since 2013, the series has released over 220 episodes ranging from 20 minutes to over an hour long, that can be streamed in any order.
Duolingo Spanish Podcast
“Duolingo Spanish Podcast” is for English speakers learning Spanish, sharing true, bi-lingual stories for language learners with some prior Spanish knowledge. This series is hosted by NPR’s “Radio Ambulante” co-founder Martina Castro, and has released over 110 episodes under 30 minutes in length.
Duolingo French Podcast
“Duolingo French Podcast” shares multi-episode stories in French and English, hosted by Ngofeen Mputubwele. Episodes also share cultural, historical, and geographical tidbits. This podcast is great for students with previous French experience. Episodes are around 30 minutes each.
Learn Japanese | JapanesePod101.com
“Learn Japanese | JapanesePod101.com” shares Japanese language and cultural lessons in episodes under 15 minutes long. Listen to episodes with phrases for everyday life, vocab builders, and grammar lessons. Their website offers PDF downloads for activity sheets. Episodes also share tools for learning Japanese quicker.