What Is a Podcast and How Do They Work? – They Can Dramatically Improve Your Language Skills!

By | June 22, 2017

Podcasts are closely related to language learning. However, 5 years ago I didn’t know what is a podcast and how do they work. I noticed that lots of people are searching for answers to that question on the Internet so I decided to write you this article.

I have used podcasts for learning French, Spanish, Chinese and more. In my opinion, they are a great resource for learning any new language. But first, you need to know what they are.

What Is a Podcast and How Do They Work

You can listen to podcasts also with your headphones.

What Is a Podcast?

According to Wikipedia podcast is simply an episodic series of digital audio files. The podcast has usually one subject and all episodes are closely related to that theme. A subject of a podcast can be for example:

  • Learning French or other languages
  • Spanish culture
  • Traveling
  • Making money online
  • Reading books
  • Or literally anything between the Earth and sky

The podcast is a relatively new invention because the first official podcasts started in the beginning of 2000s. Podcasts are similar to radio programs but a podcast is an audio file and you can listen to them with your own device. In the other words, it’s a bit more flexible for a listener than a radio program.

How Do Podcasts Work?

Simply, a podcaster creates an audio file and then his audience listens to it. Don’t worry, I will give you also a more “sophisticated” explanation.

A person has an idea, “I want to teach how to learn French. I want that they will have while learning and my audience will be able to speak French fluently afterward.” That’s how the podcast Francais Authentique started and became successful.

In that podcast, the founder called Johan Tekfak teaches you French by speaking it. He believes that the best way to learn another language is to listen to a native speaker. Then in his podcasts, he talks about several subjects like personal development, French culture and phrases, traveling, everyday life and so on. The key is that even though he speaks about traveling or personal development, he speaks always in French.

Then you can download his podcasts into your smartphone, laptop, PC or to another device. You search, for example, in an Android Store “Francais Authantique” and you will find it.

If you have any questions about using podcasts, don’t hesitate to ask in the comments below.

Podcasts and Language Learning

Podcasts have several benefits for learning new languages. I will mention a few of them and maybe you come up with other ideas as well.

Benefit 1: Your Listening Comprehension Improves

When you are listening to podcasts in your target language, you will catch new words, phrases and revise the words that you have already learned before. When you are listening to native speakers you will learn the authentic way of using that language.

The more you listen to a new language, the easier it will be to understand it. How do babies and children learn a new language? They listen to native speakers and then they repeat the words that they have heard. The same way also adults can learn a foreign language.

Benefit 2: Your Vocabulary Expands

Many language podcasts explain you new words and phrases in their lessons. Let’s say that a Spanish language podcast has a lesson about love. Then they will explain how you can use a different kind of Spanish words to express your love. “Te amo/quiero”, “El amor”, “Mi novia es guapa.” etc.

Even though the lesson wouldn’t go through new vocabulary, you will catch new words “automatically”. You can understand new words because of the context. In my opinion, that is one of the most effective ways to learn a new language.

Benefit 3: Your Speaking and Pronunciation Skills Improve

The old principle of learning languages is, “If you want to learn to speak a new language, listen. If you want to learn to write a new language, read.” It’s definitely true to some extent. Probably the fastest way to learn a new language is to speak from day 1 but listening still helps a lot.

Another great way to improve your pronunciation skills and speak like a native is a system called Mimic Method.

Benefit 4: Podcasts Are Flexible

You can listen to podcasts while jogging, cooking, commuting or even in the airplane. I used to listen to a French podcast when I was going to work or coming from work when I was working in the refugee center in Finland. That’s why I always say that you can learn a new language even without using a minute of your time.

Benefit 5: Most Podcasts Are Free

I noticed that many people were searching on Google, “Are Podcasts Free?”

Most podcasts what I have listened have been free. I know that there are also some paid ones available so it depends on the podcast. There are also some podcasts that are free to some extent and by paying something, you will have an opportunity to listen to premium material.

These were 5 benefits of using podcasts? Do you think there are also other benefits?

What Is a Podcast and How Do They Work

Listening to podcasts can be fun and easy, yet effective.

What Is the best Podcast to Learn Spanish/German/French/Chinese/Or Other Language?

I know that people are searching for podcasts to learn new languages because they are so effective and easy-to-use.

That’s why I am going to write posts where I will collect the best language podcasts for you. I have already collected the best podcasts for learning French and I will also do the same with other languages. Stay tuned!


If you have any questions regarding podcasts I will be more than happy to help you out.

Have you ever listed to podcasts? What kind of podcasts did you listen to?

I would love to hear from you! 🙂


33 thoughts on “What Is a Podcast and How Do They Work? – They Can Dramatically Improve Your Language Skills!

  1. Chuck

    Hi Roope,

    I have heard about Podcast but never really know what it is. Is it the original app from the iPhone?

    Lucky me to come across your site to find out what actually Podcast do. I think it will work well for me to improve my English language or perhaps of learning new language in the future.

    Thank you for your introduction as it finally answer the feature of Podcast.

    1. Roope Kiuttu Post author

      Hi Chuck,

      you can download many podcasts to your iPhone as well.

      Just write “English Podcast” in AppStore and you will find many helpful podcasts for you.

      I am glad that you found the article helpful.



  2. Joojo

    hi Roope, nice to read your blog on using podcasts. I have listened to many podcasts myself and believe it is a great way to gain knowledge and motivation. 

    I have never tried to learn a new language, but do believe podcasting would be ideal. I love the fact that you can do it at any time that is convenient to yourself. Also it is an inexpensive way to learn and can be done on any subject, I think you’re on a winner. 

    Good luck and all the best

    1. Roope Kiuttu Post author

      Hi Joojo,

      I am happy to hear that you have got benefit from listening to other kind of podcasts.

      If you start learning languages, you will for sure enjoy listening to some podcasts to boost your learning.


  3. Crystal Doc

    Podcasts will be my best friend in the next 3 months.

    I always wanted to learn french but never had the time to take the classes. Now I do not have a choice! My boyfriend is french. He speaks English fluently but I hate not being able to understand his first language. We will be taking a trip to see his parents after final exams so i neeeeed to prep. 

    Thanks for the podcast suggestion!

    1. Roope Kiuttu Post author

      Hi Crystal,

      that sounds like a very good reason to learn French. And it’s great that you have a “private teacher” all the time because you can practice with him.

      I am sure you will learn French very fast. You will speak French fluently in 3-6 months if you practice diligently every day.

      It would be nice to hear about your progress in the future.



  4. SpoofEdd

    Podcasts are truly a great tool for when your skill in a level is sufficiently high. They really get you used to how a language sounds and really nail down pronunciation for many things. I really polished my French mostly through podcasts and Youtube videos.

    1. Roope Kiuttu Post author

      Hi SpoofEdd,

      great to hear that you have got a great benefit of podcasts.

      I just would like to underline that there are podcasts for any level. For beginners, intermediate and advanced. So even though you wouldn’t speak a word of your target language, you can still use podcasts.


  5. johannyhoj18

    Podcasts are very useful tool it helps me to learn a new language, it also improves my comprehension skills and pronunciation skills. and I enjoy listening to podcasts because it motivates me and also build my self confidence.

    Thank you for the tips its helpful and very useful, Please posts more article about Podcasts.

    1. Roope Kiuttu Post author

      I’m happy to hear that you like listening to podcasts. I will for sure write more articles about podcasts in the future as you requested 🙂

  6. swastica

    Hi Roope ! Thank you for the tips. They’re helpful and very useful. Please, post more articles about Podcasts.

    1. Roope Kiuttu Post author

      Hi Swastica,

      I’m glad you enjoyed. I’m gonna post more articles about podcasts in the future as you requested. Stay tuned! 🙂

  7. petesede

    They are definitely one of the better ways to learn a language if you find one with a slow, articulate speaker. The other really good benefit to using podcasts to learn a language is you can find one that is in a niche that you are interested in.

    For instance, a podcast about nutrition or gardening will not only teach you a lot of general words but will start to fill in non-common words that maybe are specific to your area of interest.

    I know in my experience, learning a foreign language about cooking is difficult because many very specific words used in the kitchen are almost never used in general conversations.

    1. Roope Kiuttu Post author

      That’s exactly true. I listened to lots of teachings about the Bible and success while I was studying Spanish. Both of subjects are very interesting to my heart so it was interesting to learn a language.

      When I study a new language I always like listening to subjects that are interesting to me in my native language like you said. That’s why some language classes or courses aren’t very good because they try to teach with “one-size-fits-all” model. Every student may have different interests so it’s not the most relevant for all. It’s much better if a student chooses the subject himself to be motivated and learn faster.

  8. gjgcint

    Great source of information. I will try this because I need to improve my English speaking skill. Can you suggest how can I get rid of my bad habits in speaking English. I notice that I always say “uhm” as filler instead of pausing. Thank you.

    1. Roope Kiuttu Post author

      Johan Tekfak discussed about this problem many times in his podcast Francais Authentique. He recommended just to speak slower or keep longer pauses if you don’t remember the word exactly.

      Often time little pauses in your talk make feel it even more powerful in the ears of the other person.


    Sir i want to learn French!

    Case close! podcast is a great help to improve you speaking, pronunciation, increase vocabulary and how to speak with dynamics.

    I’m gonna start download french pod cast, well there’s no harm in trying. 🙂

  10. jayveeborres

    Can podcast makes me learn French? When I listen to a radio with a person speaking French I try to speak it too but I don’t know I’m saying. Soon I will try to download French podcast to have a progress learning French.

    1. Roope Kiuttu Post author

      As I explained in the text, podcasts can certainly help you to learn French as well.

      Have a look at Francais Authentique. I listened to their podcasts a lot and I found them very helpful. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it as well and it will help you to learn French.

  11. Mr. Nice

    There are great podcasts out there in the internet. I remember hearing one with Simon Sinek as a guest. That absolutely changed my mindset. Also, I learned a lot about business words that I have never heard before.

    1. Roope Kiuttu Post author

      Hi Mr.Nice,

      yeah, there are podcasts for many kind of subjects. One of them is business and personal development. I haven’t listened to them so much as language podcasts even though I’m interested in that subject as well.

  12. AmieBotella

    I Listen to Mike Rowe’s podcasts and I always find it very informative> I never really thought I could learn a foreign language from listening to podcasts. Do you have anything in particular you can share to where I can start learning German? Thanks

    1. Roope Kiuttu Post author

      On YouTube there is an interesting YouTube channel called “Learn German with Ania”. I think you would enjoy it if you want to learn German. I have checked some German podcasts but I don’t remember their names.

      I recommend writing “German podcasts” on Google Play or Iphone store and you’ll find many good options.

      1. AmieBotella

        I just checked the Youtube channel of Ania. Quite interesting. Hope this will help me. Thanks a bunch Roope. Is it difficult to learn a new language? what do you think?

        1. Roope Kiuttu Post author

          You’re welcome.

          What would you guess? 😉

          My website’s title is Languages Are Easy so I think it’s quite self-explanatory. It’s easy to learn languages if you have right methods and a positive attitude.

          You may ask, why more people don’t learn languages. The answer is: It’s also easy not to do. It’s easy to pass it, be lazy and give excuses for not learning. 😉

  13. vinaya

    When I was in school, podcasts were a part of our language class. We were told to listen to podcasts and answer the questions. However, we did not call it podcast. Instead, we called audio lesson. I have attended courses on online writing, online marketing and SEO, lessons were delivered through podcasts. Podcasts are a good way to learn something new, even so for a new language.

    1. Roope Kiuttu Post author

      Yeah, I think schools usually use audio lessons but most of the time they are a bit different than modern language learning podcasts. For example, in French podcast Francais Authentique Johan explains things about his own life, self development and phrases that people don’t usually learn at school.

      1. vinaya

        School learning is a formal learning. You will gain knowledge and skills through formal learning, however, formal learning involves a step by step process and it takes a lot of time. I have learned languages by enrolling in a traditional language school. The primary aim of the language courses on such schools to make the learner knowledgeable on every aspect of the language, these classes try to make you skilled in speaking and writing. However, sometimes you want to learn a communicative language and you need the right tools.

  14. tiffiecute

    Listening skills is a major factor in learning any language. I currently don’t listen to podcasts but I do have Language learning apps on my mobile phone wherein I can listen to Spanish Audios. Listening daily for a few minutes does help especially before you sleep or when you wake up in the morning.

    Sometimes I watch Youtube videos (and of course it has an audio too) of Children’s bedtime stories and Peppa Pig episodes in Spanish.

  15. Marques Pizarro

    I can tell you put a lot of effort into this article because you explained what a podcast is perfectly! I listen to a lot of self-improvement and business podcast channels, and they have helped me so much! I did not think about how it can make money or how it can help improve communication. I would love to learn Chinese because in the future I Might be doing business in Asia. Thank you so much, and I will come back for more awesome information like this one.

    1. Roope Kiuttu Post author

      I’m glad you enjoyed my post Marques. Which business and self-improvement podcasts have you listened to? I listen sometimes the Internet marketing podcast Smart Passive Income by Pat Flynn. Have you listened to it?


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