Why you should listen to podcasts to improve your Danish

Once upon a time, Danes decided not to pronounce words the same way they write them, which has frustrated every Danish-learner, and amused even more Swedish speakers ever since.

All kidding aside; Learning Danish is hard. And Danish pronunciation, especially, is a difficult skill to master.

That’s why we think listening to a lot of Danish, is a crucial part of mastering Danish pronunciation.

It is going to help you become more familiar with the sounds in the danish language, and it is going to help you in the real world, when you inevitably encounter Danish in non-textbook situations.

It is also the first step on the way to mastering your own pronunciation of Danish words. After all, pronouncing words correctly is easier if you have listened to them a million times before.


Why are podcasts better than other audio sources?

We think the audio source doesn’t really matter when it comes to learning danish. It could be watching movies with subtitles, or listening to radio, podcasts, music or anything else really. However, we think there are a few things that make podcasts uniquely great (and under certain circumstances WAY better than any other audio source) as material for learning Danish.


1) Podcasts are bite-sized.

Unlike movies, podcasts are much more palatable and suited for a busy life. We still recommend watching movies in Danish, if you find something that piques your interest. However, for your everyday, more focused practice session or daily commute, podcasts are much easier to consume (and the easier it is for you to use, the more likely you are to actually listen to them). Listening to the radio can achieve some of the same things, however radio falls short of podcasts on a lot of the other parameters.



2) Podcasts reflect natural conversations.

If you listen to radio, you will often hear a very unnatural, organized language compared to how people talk in real life. In real life, nobody says “Today at 17, an accident occured on highway E45 and traffic is blocked in both directions”. On top of that, radio shows or news on the radio are often followed by English music and high-pitched advertisements. What a great learning environment…

Podcasts come much closer to mimicking real life language and situations. What you hear on radio is often a spoken-written language, whereas podcasts (interview based in particular) are often natural spoken language. In addition, podcasts are much more “clean” and with fewer interruptions and distractions compared to radio.

Podcasts often have a single host and maybe varying guests. Having a single host is great, because it allows you to become familiar with the voice and tonality of a single person, which means you will understand more and more of what they say over time. If you listen to a show with varying guests, being familiar with the voice of the host can also help keep you “on-track” for the whole conversation. So even if you miss some words that the guests use, you still might understand where the conversation is going by understanding the host’s replies.


3) Podcasts are topic focused.

This means that you can browse podcasts by interest. Interested in economy and real estate? There’s a podcast for that. Interested in Brazilian jazz? There’s a podcast for that. The same goes for everything from fashion, psychology, military leadership, knitting, and almost everything else. The quality might not always be 100%, but still there are a lot of gems out there. Try picking a topic that already interests you and search around and see if you can find a Danish podcast on that topic.


4) Podcasts can have transcripts.

This is the secret weapon to getting the most bang for your buck out of podcasts. Of course, most podcasts don’t actually publish a transcript, but if they do – you have found your golden ticket. Having a transcript lets you combine the way a word is pronounced with how it is spelled. The same thing goes for watching Danish movies with Danish subtitles. If you don’t understand a word that is used on the podcast, you can find it and look it up from the transcript.

This of course requires a more deliberate way of learning, and it is not as passive as just listening, but it can really help speed up your learning progress by helping you expand your vocabulary, and improve your pronunciation at the same time.


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