Podcasts is one of my favourite resources for learning languages. You can use them any time, any place, and you can do something else while you listen. For language learning they are especially useful when they come with a transcript. This is because there are two main areas to focus on when you want to get to an advanced level: vocabulary and listening comprehension.
Why these two specifically? First of all, if you are past the beginner stage, you already know enough grammar to understand most texts as long as you know the words. That means you mostly have to learn new words to understand any text. And not just a few, but thousands!
For understanding spoken language, you also need one more skill – understanding the style of spoken language, and doing it in real time!
Spoken language differs from written language in both style, structure and vocabulary, and usually it also goes quite fast. Getting good at this requires lots and lots of listening to natural language to train your ear, until you don’t have to pay attention to individual words anymore, but you understand sentences as a whole.
But just listening to random spoken language doesn’t help much. You need comprehensible input! What does that mean? It means that you need to be able to follow along in what’s being said, even if you don’t understand all the words. Otherwise you won’t learn anything new. This is exactly the idea of the Simple Swedish Podcast! Here is how you can use it to efficiently improve your Swedish comprehension!
There are two main ways you can use it, and it depends on your level in Swedish and the difficulty level of the individual episode:
If you have a hard time following what’s being said:
- First, just listen, once or twice. Try to focus and understand as much as possible.
- Then, read the transcript. Translate words you don’t know, until you can read and understand it. It’s much easier to pick up new words when reading.
- Now, listen again. You will understand much more this time. Try to hear the words that you didn’t pick up the first time. Maybe pause and rewind on difficult parts. Maybe read and listen at the same time. Do this until you can follow what’s being said (Note that there’s a difference between following along, and understanding all the words. You don’t have to understand every single word, that’s not the point!).
- Put the episode in a playlist to listen to later. Now when you have studied it, you can listen to it more casually some other time, and continue to get good practice from it!
One tip is to select 5-10 of the most useful words and either write them down (make sure to write by hand), or put them in a flashcard app for practicing later. Always include the whole phrase or part of it since our brains need context to remember. And never spend more time on writing down and reviewing vocab, than you spend on comprehensible input! Comprehensible input is the main way our brains learn new words.
If you can already follow what’s being said
If you can follow what’s being said even without knowing all the words, you can consider it comprehensible input. You don’t need to read through the transcripts anymore to understand the content. The PDFs are still very useful though. To get the most out of the podcast, either just quickly read through the transcripts to pick up new vocab, or check the list of extra tricky words and expressions.
This is a great way to pick up new vocabulary from each episode!
Comprehensible input is the most valuable type of resource when learning a language. To get good in a language you need as much comprehensible input as possible. Start a routine where you listen every day. Even a few minutes makes a difference! Complete the routine by reading to acquire vocab and practice the structure. This way it will soon be much easier for you to understand natural spoken Swedish!
To get all the full PDF transcripts, you can support me on Patreon for only €5 per month. The PDF:s also include explanations and translations of tricky words and expressions, as well as practice questions.
Just know that most texts are transcripts of natural spoken language. This means that they contain filler words, informal language, even some mistakes. Just as in any natural spoken language!
I hope you found some useful information in this article. Feel free to let me know in the comments how you use podcasts for language learning!