Plus, other really great ideas to kickstart your language learning

top language learning podcasts and apps

Podcasts and apps are all the rage these days. No matter what you’re into, odds are there’s at least one good podcast about it. For language learners, there are a number of different podcasts, apps, and more tools that tackle mastering a new language from just about every angle possible.

Whether you’re a college student doing a semester abroad, a professional looking to take their career overseas, or are learning a new language just because you want to gain a better understanding of a new culture.

Here at Live Lingua, we live and breathe language learning — it’s our whole reason for being here on the web, after all.

These language learning podcasts and apps are the ones our staff turn to when they need a new tip for a language they’re working on or a dose of laughter from a good travel story.

We hope you’ll enjoy them as much as we do!

Language Learning Podcasts

The Fluent Show

the fluent show

The Fluent Show podcast is hosted by Kerstin Cable, founder of the Fluent Language blog and toolkit, and Lindsay from Lindsay Does Languages, who also hosts her own podcast (mentioned below).

Kerstin gets specific in each episode about one topic, doing a deep dive on things like mastering basic vocabulary or how to dissect film and TV dialogues in other languages.

It’s the type of show that you’ll want to download and listen to more than once, perhaps with a pen and pad to take some notes, as each episode is a knowledge bomb.

As you listen to the way she breaks down the topics, it’ll begin to click in your head, but unless you’re somewhere where you can run through language learning material right away you’ll want to keep the info around for later.

Plus, a few episodes talk about Live Lingua and our immersive language lessons, so maybe we’re a little biased — but all of Kerstin’s episodes are worth a listen as this is one of the most actionable language learning podcasts out there.

The Actual Fluency Podcast

actual fluency podcast

On The Actual Fluency Podcast, Kris Broholm talks with polyglots and leaders from across the language learning space about the tips and tricks that have worked for them.

Kris does a great job of bringing relatable stories and humor into his show, in a way that helps to break through common barriers that many people face when trying to learn a new language.

Throughout the 100+ episodes Kris has touched on just about every language learning technique out there and had professionals share their thoughts on them, which is super helpful if you’re just starting out with learning a new language and aren’t sure which techniques will best work for you.

Language Stories Podcast

language stories podcast

Lindsay from Lindsay Does Languages, one of the most prolific language learning blogs on the web, recently began sharing her tips and strategies she’s used in route to becoming a globally known polyglot via Language Stories, one of the most engaging language learning podcasts.

If you love to travel and are into learning languages as personal development, not just for work, school, or another mandated purpose, Language Stories is a great listen. It’s inspiring and whimsical, full of personal tales and lighthearted takes on successes and the setbacks that occurred along the way.

The Allusionist Podcast

the allusionist podcast

The Allusionist podcast is a bit different than the others on this list, as it can’t be specifically categorized among language learning podcasts. That said, it’s equally informative and actionable if you’re trying to master the English language, in particular. Its tagline is “Small adventures in language with Helen Zaltzman,” and an adventure is exactly what you’ll find in each episode.

Lessons are formatted to dive into language and words, usually around a specific theme such as superhero names, tattoos, or just about anything where the word or language used holds a backstory to the significance of the thing/object/person/event/etc. in question.

For language learners, actionable takeaways stem from a better understanding of root words and the origins of phrases. It’s not specifically about language learning, but language nerds are sure to get a kick out of it.

I Will Teach You A Language

i will teach you a languge

Olly Richards knows a thing or two about language learning. After all, he speaks eight languages. His podcast, I Will Teach You A Language, dives into topics like learning a language when you’re too busy, tips for reading in a new language, and how to use factors like culture, grammatical similarities, and more to your advantage during the learning process.

The guests Olly features are all polyglot wizzes themselves, and he typically brings them on to highlight one specific factor of the learning process which he feels outside expertise is necessary. The show airs roughly every week.

News In Slow (Spanish, French, etc.)

News in Slow Spanish is exactly what it sounds like. The narrator reads news flashes in a slow, understandable Spanish that is designed to help you get accustomed to the words, tense, and conjugations used in everyday speech.

This style of language learning podcast is available in multiple languages, so no matter what you’re trying to learn, you can use current events to help you get there.

They offer three levels of difficulty (and speed) — G.U.T.S., which stands for Getting Up To Speed, the regular News In Slow Spanish, and Change of Pace, which is for advanced learners.

This podcast is by paid subscription, but think of it as a motivator — if you’re paying for the podcast you’re much more likely to actually listen to it.

By learning a language AND keeping up on current events you’re also doing two things at once — something certain to make you feel extra productive.

Language Learning Apps

In addition to podcasts, language learning apps are a great way to boost your skills. You’ve got to grab these 5 free apps for language learners so you can take your practice on-the-go without breaking the bank!

Now, you might be thinking:

Free apps. Right.  There’s no way the quality is the same as actual language lessons with a real instructor.

While it’s true one-to-one lessons with a native speaker are effective, the creators behind these apps share a common goal:

To make learning a language more accessible to more people!

They want you to succeed as much as you do, so check out these 5 free language learning apps to start learning a language wherever you go!

Live Lingua Project

Call us biased, but we’re leading this list off with the Live Lingua Project and with good reason:

This is the internet’s largest collection of free public domain language learning materials!

While it’s not exactly an app, this pack of audios, videos, and ebooks can still go with you wherever you roam! And with over 130 languages to choose from, you’re sure to find materials for the one (or three!) you’re trying to pick up.   

Duolingo

Duolingo makes it easy and fun to learn a language and track your progress, too.  

You’ll earn points to level up as you practice speaking, listening, reading, and translation questions. Plus, you get instant feedback so you can make adjustments right away.  Can you keep your practice streak going and beat your friends?

Hellotalk

language learning apps

Hellotalk is among the best free language learning apps, providing access to hundreds of native speakers looking to exchange audio and text messages and offer corrections. This is a great app for exposure to different dialects and natural accents, as well as for learning slang.  With this app, you can carry the power of practicing with native speakers in your pocket!

Memrise

language learning app

Memrise uses flashcards and spaced repetition, which studies show is an effective way to retain information when learning a language.  This app spaces out your exposure to flashcards and mnemonics at the optimal time for retention, so you’re more likely to remember what you’re practicing.  As the company says, ‘Your memory is a garden, not a storehouse’. When you first learn a word, you’ve planted a seed. Memrise helps you water them at the right time so they grow faster!

HiNative

language learning app

HiNative is similar to Hellotalk in that it allows you to get feedback directly from native speakers in exchange for helping them out. You can ask any question  you have about any language in the give-and-take community.This app is perfect for language learners looking for feedback on their writing, pronunciation, and basic language use. You can ask questions in writing or audio messages. If you’re a beginner, don’t worry! HiNative provides question templates so you can still get help from anywhere.

Another option: start a language learning mastermind

One of the best ways to complement your language learning apps and podcasts is with a mastermind of fellow language learners.

Learning a new language is a process that benefits not only from dedicated time, but from a good network of support as well.

Language learning mastermind: What is it?

Masterminds are used often by entrepreneurs and salespeople. The gist is this: a small group of people, usually between 4 and 6, who meet on a regular basis to discuss challenges, offer advice, and brainstorm.

Typically masterminds meet weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly, with calls or meetings ranging from an hour to an hour and a half. For more information, check out this great podcast.

A language learning mastermind is kind of like a study group. Not everyone has to be located in the same place — many masterminds take place via Skype

It could be a group of people all learning the same language, or just a group of language learners in general who are looking for the tips, tricks, and that extra dose of motivation.

Accountability drives results

One of the biggest benefits of a language learning mastermind is that it gives each person the chance to form goals, state those goals to the group, and hold each other accountable.

Let’s say you want to progress your Spanish speaking to near fluency in six months. Develop a few goals that will help you get there, say monthly or bi-weekly mark points, and bring those goals to the group.

Make sure each person has a written copy.

Each mastermind call or meeting gives the group a chance to discuss each person’s goals and any challenges they faced in meeting them. It’s incredible what a bit of accountability can do – no one wants to be the person that shows up unprepared!

How to run a language learning mastermind

In general, meetings should be productive and focused, but also light-hearted. No one should dread coming to meeting – it should be something that is fun and that each person looks forward to.

The group can initiate a rotating ‘hot seat’ where each meeting, the focus is on one person and their challenges.

The ‘mastermind brain’ as its collectively called puts their minds together to brainstorm solutions, ideas, and out-of-the-box tactics for the person on the hot seat to try.

After initial greetings and updating from each member, the bulk of the meeting (20-30 minutes) is spent on what the hot seat person needs help or guidance with. Here is a tentative language learning mastermind schedule:

  • Initial updates. Go around the group and providing updates on our goals and action points from the previous meeting. This usually takes about ten to fifteen minutes.
  • Hot seat. 20-30 minutes devoted to the person’s biggest challenge in language learning at the moment.
  • Closing and accountability for next time. Each person shares their goal(s) they hope to accomplish by the next meeting.

Ready to start a language learning mastermind?

A great places to find a language learning mastermind is the 100 Masterminds podcast website. Additionally, try websites like Nextdoor and Craigslist, where you can create a post in search of mastermind partners in your area.

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