podcasting

How to Use Podcasts to Improve Your Language

When I talk about “using” podcasts to improve your language, what I’m talking about here is how subscribing and listening to podcasts can really elevate your vocabulary game to whole new heights.

(You could also improve your language by starting your own podcast, but I’m not going to talk about that here.)

So we’ve talked in the past about why improving your source language or target language is so important and some of the things that you can do to improve them.

However, we’ve yet to discuss podcasts specifically and how you can start using them to improve your language.

So, without further ado…

Why Use Podcasts to Improve Language?

OK, so before we get into how to go about using podcasts to improve language, we should first talk about why podcasts are a great idea when it comes to language improvement.

There are a whole host of reasons why podcasts can be a great way for anyone to improve their language(s).

It doesn’t matter if you want to get better at your source language or your target language.

It doesn’t matter if you are nearly fluent in all your languages or are trying to learn a new one.

Podcast Numbers

The first great thing about podcasts is that there is such a wide offering of material that you will never run out of things to listen to.

Let’s look at some numbers:

Number of Podcasts

So, as of at least April 2018, there were over 500,000 different active podcasts that spanned at least 100 languages and 155 countries!

That is a lot of language material. And remember, that was in April 2018.

The numbers will only increase rapidly as we move forward.

In simple terms, what this means is that you can pick and choose what you want to listen to, not only language wise, but by subject as well, which brings me to my second point.

Podcast Variety

The second best thing about podcasts is that they cover a huge range of topics.

Let’s say you are a financial translator and want to learn more vocabulary about taxes. Well, there’s a podcast for that.

Podcast about taxes
Just one of the hundreds of podcasts about taxes and finances.

Maybe you’re a technology translator and want to learn more vocabulary about smart cities. Well, there are podcasts that covers that.

Podcasts about smart cities.
Podcasts about smart cities.

Maybe you want to work as a translator that focuses on the environment and similar issues. There are a number of podcasts that use vocabulary specific to that topic.

Podcasts about the environment.

Podcast Mobility

Another reason why podcasts are so great is that by their very nature, they allow you to listen practically whenever you want.

We’ll go into this more below, but essentially all you have to do is subscribe and/or download the podcast episodes that you’re interested in straight to your phone and then you can listen to them whenever you have time.

In the car.

Waiting in line.

In the bathroom.

Laying in bed.

Shopping.

All you need is a phone (and a pair of headphones if you don’t want to annoy your neighbors while you’re out and about).

It’s never been easier to have this kind of access to learning material directly at your fingertips. It truly is amazing if you think about it.

How to Use Podcasts to Improve Your Language

OK, we we first talked about the why.

It’s super important to establish the “why” first before the “how” so that you can have the right mindset into the reasoning behind why you want to do something.

So, we have the why.

Now let’s get into the how.

The first thing to understand about how to use podcasts is that you can find them in a lot of places.

In fact, it’s likely that you already have an app on your phone that is capable of streaming and downloading podcasts.

Here are the names of some podcast apps you can download for either iPhone or Android systems:

Podcast Players
Some podcast players that you can download to listen to your podcasts.

If you have an iPhone, you can use Apple’s podcast app to do this.

When you open up the app, this is what it looks like:

Podcast Listen Now

This screen contains the latest podcast episodes you haven’t listened to yet (for the podcasts that you’ve subscribed to.

Some podcasts publish once per day; others publish less frequently.

So depending on how many podcasts you’ve subscribed to and how often you listen to the episodes, you might have different numbers of episodes per podcast that you can listen to.

The next screen on the Apple podcast app is the Library screen:

IMG_1868

Here you have a grid of the podcasts that you have subscribed to. You can look at the different episodes that are available, the podcast episodes that you have downloaded (for offline listening), and then the podcasts that have been recently updated.

You’re next two screens are the Browse and Search screens:

IMG_1869IMG_1870

 

These are the screens where you’ll probably spend the most time, initially.

That’s because here you will search through all those half a million podcasts for the ones that you’re most interested in listening to.

You can use all sorts of ways to browse:

  • featured podcasts
  • top podcast
  • by category

If you’d rather not browse, you can always go to the next screen to search for anything you are interested in looking for.

And there you have it. You are ready to start listening to podcasts which will help you improve your translation vocabulary (as well as give you some more knowledge about the world in general).

Conclusion

As I said previously, listening to podcasts is a great way to improve your vocabulary, not only if you’re a translator but if you work in any type of language profession or bilingual job where you want to get better at your language skills.

A lot of people overlook podcasts as a viable option for learning languages, but if you do it right and know how to approach the podcast environment, you can easily find what you need to help you.

How about you? Do you listen to any podcasts? Are there any that you particular like to help you improve your language abilities? If so, please let us know in the comments below!


P.S. If you are interested in more tips on how to become a better translator and language professional, be sure to read my book.

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