Podcasts for Culture and Language

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It seems like there's a podcast for everything these days. News, TV shows, politics, books, storytelling, true crime--if you can think of a topic, no matter how broad or specific, chances are you can find a podcast about it. But did you know that you can also find shows that focus on news and culture in specific countries and regions around the world? If you have plans to head to another country, and you're interested in learning a little more about the perspectives and culture of the people there, see if you can find a podcast about it.

Check out some of these to start:

  • Loa: Broadcasting Vietnam - "Loa is a podcast that explores the ideas and stories that shape Việt Nam today. We amplify the voices you need to hear and broadcast the perspectives you haven’t heard. The show’s lineup features interviews with newsmakers, innovators and artists from around the world. We aim to create a collaborative platform that engages with our audience."
  • Doha Heat - "The podcast promotes local initiatives and highlights individuals who are contributing positively to Qatari social and economic well-being. With 200+ episodes already recorded and published on iTunes, the entity has grown rapidly. Although originally envisioned as a single podcast, Doha Heat evolved into a series of daily, thematic podcasts illuminating the best parts of Doha and the stories of those who call it home. Interviews take place in a relaxed environment and seek to be honest conversations, like the type you might have with a friend over coffee/tea/karak."
  • Israel Story - "Israelis, we all know, are a nation of storytellers. So in many ways our task was an easy one – to shine a spotlight on the little (and big!) dramas that comprise Israeli life. Our primary goal is to tell the story of a different, diverse Israel: To amplify voices that are rarely heard on the mainstream media, to showcase and celebrate the plurality of local communities and traditions. By bringing you multi-faceted narratives on thought-provoking themes, Israel Story aims to become a refreshing alternative. We don’t want to talk about Bibi, Lapid or Bennett. We’re kind of tired about hearing about the threat of the Iranian bomb or the Security Council resolutions. Instead, we hope to present a cross-section of ‘Israeliness,’ entering communities that are typically sidelined and silenced, and to tell stories that are not aired anywhere else: These are the stories you’d tell a friend over a plate of hummus on a Friday afternoon, the stories you’d share with your partner at the end of the day – Everyday stories, told by, and about, regular Israelis."
  • Museum of Lost Objects - A BBC Radio 4 podcast focused on "tracing the histories of antiquities and landmarks that have been destroyed or looted in Iraq and Syria, India and Pakistan."

You can also find podcasts geared at language learning. One informative way to help develop your language skills is to read and listen to the news. When you're just starting out, though, listening to the news in another language can seen daunting and hard to keep up with. A number of podcasts exist that offer "slow news," or the news read slowly in another language. Similarly, there are podcasts with stories and cultural information about that are spoken slowly, so you can both learn about the culture and work on your listening skills.

  • News in Slow - This podcast is offered in four languages: French, Spanish, Italian, and German.
  • Slow Chinese - This podcasts offers "personal narratives by native Chinese people" in Mandarin.
  • Slow German - "In this podcast, German podcaster Annik Rubens talks slowly about topics of everyday German life, from beergardens to recycling."
  • Rabid Arabic - This podcast takes a different approach by providing listeners with "earworms" of words and phrases: "Simply listen to the music filled with rhythmic repetitions a few times and listeners will subconsciously acquire a collection of verbs, nouns and connecting words, all the while picking up the correct accent."

Have you used these or similar podcasts to help with language learning or cultural awareness? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook.