Listen to podcasts – how podcasts can help you learn

If there’s one thing I wish I’d done earlier, it’s listen to podcasts. Thanks to these absolute gems, you can listen extensively to native Polish speakers discussing specific topics at length. Providing that you pick something that you’re interested in, you’ll not only stay immersed in the language, but you’ll also pick up the vital vocabulary that you’ll need to talk about the topics that pique your interest.

Here I explain exactly what podcasts are, why you should listen to them, who you should listen to, where you can find them and how you can listen.

[alert-note]TOP TIP – Podcasts not your thing? Just read a book instead.
You can still build topic specific vocabulary by reading in specific areas. There are plenty of Polish books to choose from and you can always read online too. Click here to see a list of Polish books that you might be interested in:[/alert-note]

What are podcasts?

If you’re not aware of what a podcast is, the easiest way that I could describe it is as a pre-recorded radio programme. They vary in length and are anything from a minute to several hours long. Some feature music and some don’t. Some have multiple presenters and guest contributors, others are solo shows with just one voice. There’s a lot of variety when in comes to podcasts which also means that there’s almost certainly going to be something out there for you to listen to.

Why should I listen to podcasts?

If you want to learn how to speak Polish, podcasts will help you do that. Not only are they great listening practice, but because they are focused on specific subjects, they expose you to subject-specific vocabulary which you can learn to help build or maintain your islands of fluency.

Because podcasts are portable, you can download them and listen to them on the move, you could passively listen to them whilst doing menial tasks like cleaning or vacuuming, plus if the podcast subject is on a topic that you would have liked to listen to anyway, it’ll make great material for maintaining an immersion environment in your daily life.

Like books, podcasts will be full of brand new vocabulary that you’re yet to learn, however unlike books, words will come at you a lot faster. Although you may see this as a disadvantage, if you listen to podcasts, you’ll develop an important skill that you’ll need in order to truly progress with your Polish: Coping with uncertainty. If you’re lucky enough to find a podcast with an accompanying transcript, you can use it to learn how some of the words are spelt and look up anything which you don’t know, but otherwise, you’ll have to work out what words mean from context by listening carefully.

Who should I listen to?

That is entirely your choice. It all depends on what you’re interested in. My advice is to browse the iTunes Categories for your interests and look for a Polish podcast which is focused on that subject. They’re free, so subscribe to as many as you want. If you find that you don’t like it later on, you can simply unsubscribe. I would also advise you to listen to someone that you can tolerate listening to. It sounds petty, but since you’ll probably listen to these people over and over again, if you find the way that they speak irritating or think they talk way too fast, just choose something else.

As with all Polish media, when choosing what to watch, read or listen to, you should always choose the option closest to that which you would usually watch, read or listen to in English. Not only does that mean that you’re more likely to be interested in the topic of the media, but by minimising the amount of disruption to your life, you’ll find yourself acquiring Polish naturally as a result of small changes in your environment.

I want to listen to podcasts. Where can I find them?

The best place to look is the iTunes Podcast directory. Everything changes so fast that my instructions will probably be out of date before I even finish writing my sentence. Here’s my rough guide:

First, open iTunes on your PC or Mac. Open up the iTunes Store and if you haven’t done so already, scroll to the bottom. Click on the flag in the bottom right-hand corner and then click on the Polish flag. If you can’t see it, look for the word “Polska”. In the iTunes Store, click on “Podcasty” “Podcasts”, then “Top Episodes” and select one of the Polish language podcasts. To be more specific and find podcasts that fit your interests, you can filter podcasts by their subject. Click on “Kategorie” “Category” and choosing a category before making your selection.

Alternatively, you can browse the iTunes Podcast Directory online here:

How can I listen to podcasts?

As they’re pre-recorded, podcasts are usually either streamed or downloaded.

The great thing about podcasts is that they’re portable. If you’ve got an iPhone and want to listen to podcasts, they’re super easy to download. Go to your Podcasts app, search for the name of the podcast and then hit Subscribe. It’s that simple.

If you don’t want to listen to the podcast on your phone, you can always listen to it on your PC or Mac instead by downloading it there. Once it’s downloaded onto your computer, you can just move the mp3 file onto anything else that you’d like to play it.

A better question is “How should I listen to podcasts to learn most effectively?” The best answer I can give to this is to treat each podcast like a book. Depending on what you prefer, you can either just try and get through it and see what you understand, look up words that you hear repeated a lot or look up every word that you don’t understand. Personally, I just listen and try and see what I can understand. It’s an easy non-stressful way to boost my listening comprehension skills and if I happen to learn the odd word or two in the process, it’s an added bonus.

I want to listen to podcasts more often. When will there be a new episode to listen to?

That depends entirely on the podcast. One of the podcasts that I subscribed to (RMF FM: Fakty) gives me hourly news bulletins. Others are more sporadic. Instead of waiting around for the next episode, either search for older episodes which you haven’t heard yet or search for another new podcast to add to your collection.

Does have a podcast that I can subscribe to?

I know that you didn’t ask that question, but I thought that I’d answer it anyway. If you’d like to find out more about the How To Speak Polish Podcast, head here:

It might not be in Polish, but it’ll certainly help you learn Polish. In each podcast, I’ll be answering a question from a Polish learner just like you. Your question might even be answered! Over time, I hope to answer every question that Polish learners might have whilst learning the language.

If you’d like to ask a question for the podcast, you can do so easily by heading to:

Once you’ve heard the show and want to tell everyone how amazing it is, leave a short, honest review on iTunes. It only take a few seconds. Your feedback means that I’ll be able to make the show even more useful for you.

Here’s how to leave a review of the podcast:

[alert-warning]TL;DR: If you listen to podcasts that interest you, you will improve your listening comprehension, stay immersed for longer and be exposed the subject-specific vocabulary you need to learn in order to talk about your interests.[/alert-warning]
What Polish podcasts do you like to listen to?
[alert-announce]I think that favourite podcasts, like favourite bands and movies, are a personal choice. I’m subscribed to a few about news, a couple about business, and one about food. That’s because those are the things which interest me. What Polish podcasts do you like to listen to? Leave me a message in the comments below saying what you like to listen to. I’d love to check them out.[/alert-announce]

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