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 from an intermediate to an advanced level: vocabulary and listening comprehension.
Why these two specifically? It’s obvious when you think about it. 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 to understand all those words, as well as 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 any spoken language doesn’t help you that much. You need comprehensible input! You need to understand and follow what’s being said, 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:
1. If you have a hard time following what’s being said
If you understand less than 95% of the words, or you’re not used to spoken style Swedish, it will be hard for you to follow what’s being said. It’s not comprehensible to you. But there is a way to make it comprehensible:
- 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. I personally like to use Anki. Here’s a video on how I use it. When saving words for revising later it’s very important to include the full phrase. Our brains need context to learn! Also don’t get stuck on writing down and revising vocab. The most efficient way to acquire vocabulary at this stage is with lots and lots of comprehensible input!
2. If you can 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 bottom of the PDF where you find a list of extra tricky words and expressions.
Now you’ll still learn some new things with every episode while also getting great practice for your listening comprehension!
Comprehensible input is a valuable resource. Maybe the most valuable resource. 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!