20 Audio Lessons That Will Teach You Spanish, French, Italian and German

As we’ll men­tion in an upcom­ing piece, Euro­pean lan­guages dom­i­nate the list of most pop­u­lar edu­ca­tion­al pod­casts. So we thought that we’d high­light the key pod­casts that will teach you the major Euro­pean lan­guages — Span­ish, French, Ital­ian and Ger­man. Mean­while, if you want to learn Eng­lish online, please see our piece below. Bonne chance.

For our com­plete col­lec­tion, see How to Learn Lan­guages for Free: Span­ish, Eng­lish, Chi­nese & Beyond.


  • French for Begin­ners iTunes Feed Web Site
    • Fun, effec­tive lessons for begin­ners. Pro­vid­ed by the French Ecole.
  • Le Jour­nal en français facile iTunes Feed Web Site
    • Night­ly news from RFI pre­sent­ed in slow­ly spo­ken French to assist you with your com­pre­hen­sion.
  • Learn French by Pod­cast iTunes Feed Web Site
    • A well-reviewed series of lessons for begin­ners and those who want to brush up on their French.
  • Learn French with Dai­ly Pod­casts iTunes Feed Web Site
    • These lessons are brought to you by French teach­ers from Paris. They are best suit­ed for those who already have some begin­ning French under their belts.
  • The French Pod Class iTunes Feed Web Site
    • A very pop­u­lar col­lec­tion that teach­es stu­dents the French lan­guage and dif­fer­ent facets of French cul­ture.
  • The Ver­b­cast — French Verbs by Relax­ation iTunes Feed Web Site
    • A four-week series of lessons that will allow you to refine your knowl­edge of French verbs.


  • Deutsch — warum nicht?
  • Slow­ly Spo­ken News iTunes Feed
    • Deutsche Welle pro­vides a night­ly news broad­cast in Ger­man that’s spo­ken slow­ly so that you can work on your com­pre­hen­sion.
  • GerG­er­man­Gram­mar iTunes Feed Web Site
    • Ger­man gram­mar lessons aimed at Amer­i­can stu­dents.
  • Ler­nen Wir Deutsch iTunes Feed Web Site
    • Pre­sent­ed in video, these “vod­casts” get high marks for being not only edu­ca­tion­al but also very enter­tain­ing.
  • MyDailyPhrase.com iTunes Feed Web Site
    • Learn Ger­man phrase by phrase over a course of 20 weeks. The pod­casts will cov­er all the lan­guage you need to know to get by on a vis­it to a Ger­man-speak­ing coun­try. This series is put togeth­er by the same peo­ple cre­at­ed the pop­u­lar series “Cof­fee Break Span­ish.”


  • LearnItalianPod.com iTunes Feed Web Site
    • A series of Ital­ian lan­guage lessons that will get you up and run­ning. I have per­son­al­ly used them and found them effec­tive.
  • Let’s Speak Ital­ian iTunes Feed Web Site
    • This col­lec­tion will help you learn Ital­ian in small, man­age­able 5‑minute bites.
  • MyDailyPhrase.com iTunes Web Site
    • Learn Ital­ian step by step over a course of 20 weeks. The pod­casts will cov­er all the lan­guage you need to know to get by on a vis­it to a Ital­ian-speak­ing coun­try. Cre­at­ed by the same peo­ple who put togeth­er the pop­u­lar series “Cof­fee Break Span­ish.”
  • World Lan­guages Pod­cast­ing — Ital­ian Pod­cast iTunes Feed Web Site
    • It’s admit­ted­ly a bit of an untra­di­tion­al way to learn Ital­ian. This pod­cast lets you lis­ten to con­ver­sa­tions about Aus­tralian cul­ture in Ital­ian.


  • Cof­fee Break Span­ish iTunes Feed Web Site
    • Learn Span­ish in a low-key, effec­tive way. Cur­rent­ly the #2 over­all favorite in iTunes’ pod­cast col­lec­tion. They must be loaded on iPods every­where.
  • Final­ly Learn Span­ish — Beyond the Basics iTunes Feed Web Site
    • If you’ve had some Span­ish class­es and you need expe­ri­ence lis­ten­ing to and speak­ing the lan­guage, then Final­ly Learn Span­ish has a col­lec­tion of pod­casts for you.
  • Insta Span­ish Lessons iTunes Feed Web Site
    • Week­ly com­pre­hen­sion and gram­mar exer­cis­es for stu­dents of all lev­els. One of the more pop­u­lar pod­casts on iTunes.
  • Learn Span­ish Sur­vival Guide iTunes Feed
    • If you’re plan­ning a trip to a Span­ish speak­ing coun­try, and if you don’t know the lan­gu­gage, this will help get you up to speed.

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Where the American Press Went Wrong on the Iraq War: Bill Moyers Returns to TV Next Week

Next Wednes­day, at 9 pm, respect­ed jour­nal­ist Bill Moy­ers will return to PBS and air a 90-minute pre­sen­ta­tion called Buy­ing the War. Along the way, he’ll look at how the main­stream Amer­i­can press wound up cheer­lead­ing for the Bush admin­is­tra­tion’s dri­ve toward war in Iraq rather than doing their real job — ask­ing tough ques­tions and pro­vid­ing par­ti­san-free report­ing.

Below, you can find a video excerpt from next week’s show. To briefly set the stage, Bob Simon of of 60
Min­utes talks here about “the report­ing he
was see­ing and read­ing out of the belt­way, and John Wal­cott and War­ren
Stro­bel of Knight Rid­der news­pa­pers (now The McClatchy Com­pa­ny),
dis­cuss their work bur­row­ing deep into the intel­li­gence agen­cies to
deter­mine whether there was any evi­dence for the Bush Admin­is­tra­tion’s
case for war.” (Note:
You can get more infor­ma­tion on the expose from this PBS page, and you can sub­scribe to feeds for Bill Moy­er’s pod­casts here.)

How Web 2.0 Will Transform the Humanities

Digital_campus_2Con­trary to pop­u­lar belief, there are a few pro­fes­sors out there who actu­al­ly have their own accounts on Face­Book, much to the hor­ror of their stu­dents. Now you can hear their take on new media and the uni­ver­si­ty in a biweek­ly pod­cast, Dig­i­tal Cam­pus.
The series fea­tures a pan­el of new media schol­ars at George Mason Uni­ver­si­ty dis­cussing how Web 2.0 techonolo­gies will change human­i­ties teach­ing and research. Top­ics so far have includ­ed Wikipedia, YouTube and this week’s episode on social net­work­ing (mp3feedweb­site). As the most recent show points out, Web 2.0 is rapid­ly mak­ing it to the aca­d­e­m­ic primetime–the Uni­ver­si­ty of Michi­gan now offers a mas­ter’s degree in social com­put­ing.

The flip side of new media tech­nolo­gies is how they will trans­form research into more tra­di­tion­al human­i­ties sub­jects. The Dig­i­tal Cam­pus crew are all involved in the emerg­ing field of dig­i­tal human­i­ties. On the pod­cast they dis­cuss many of the chal­lenges of trans­fer­ring old media knowl­edge to dig­i­tal archives and struc­tur­ing those archives to make search­ing easy. In addi­tion to air­ing these ques­tions in the pod­cast, Dig­i­tal Cam­pus is pro­mot­ing a new wiki designed for new­com­ers and vet­er­ans alike.

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Play Ready to Download and Sync

When you think Broad­way, you don’t nec­es­sar­i­ly think first about plays that make sci­ence its point of focus. Or at least

you did­n’t before Copen­hagen hit the stage in 1998 and dra­mat­i­cal­ly told the sto­ry of Niels Bohr’s shad­owy meet­ing with Wern­er Heisen­berg back in 1941. Since then, sci­ence plays have been going strong. Just take this for exam­ple: L.A. The­atre Works recent­ly launched its Rel­a­tiv­i­ty Series, a “month­ly broad­cast fea­tur­ing plays that explore the impact of sci­ence on indi­vid­u­als and soci­ety.” You can down­load the series as a pod­cast (iTunesFeedWeb Site), and it so hap­pens that the series kicks off with a Tony and Pulitzer Prize-win­ning play called Proof, star­ring Anne Heche.

Writ­ten by David Auburn in 2001, Proof is not as aca­d­e­m­ic as it sounds. The New York Times called it “An exhil­a­rat­ing and assured new play … acces­si­ble and com­pelling as a detec­tive sto­ry.” And Hol­ly­wood turned the play into a film in 2005, with Gwyneth Pal­trow play­ing the lead. So you should­n’t have any reser­va­tions about immers­ing your­self in this dra­mat­ic work. Down­load it, sync it, and get ready to lis­ten to a tale of love and death, intel­lec­tu­al adven­ture and para­noia, and a sprin­kling of sex, drugs and rock and roll.

Tell a Friend About Open Cul­ture

Dig into Open Cul­ture’s pod­cast col­lec­tions.

2007 Pulitzer Prizes Announced

Here’s the list in Let­ters, Dra­ma and Music (see full list here):

Podcasts That Book Fans Can Groove On

Some­what unex­pect­ed­ly, the pro­lif­er­a­tion of audio pod­casts has been a boon for book lovers and writ­ers. Look­ing around the dig­i­tal land­scape, you’ll dis­cov­er a num­ber of pod­casts that enhance the expe­ri­ence of read­ing good old fash­ioned books. Let’s quick­ly have a look at the lay of the land.

The New York Times now notably puts out a pod­cast (iTunesFeedWeb Site) that com­ple­ments its beloved Sun­day Book Review sec­tion. Host­ed by Sam Tanen­haus, the Book Review edi­tor, this pod­cast runs about 20 min­utes, and it gives Sam a chance to have sub­stan­tive chats with authors, edi­tors and crit­ics who fig­ure into
the week­ly print edi­tion. Along some­what sim­i­lar lines, NPR Books (iTunesFeedWeb Site) brings togeth­er the net­work’s many book reviews and author inter­views in a nice audio col­lec­tion. C‑Span’s After Words (iTunesFeedWeb Site) serves up inter­views with impor­tant authors of recent­ly pub­lished hard­back non-fic­tion, and Slate spon­sors an Audio Book Club (iTunes —  FeedWeb Site), although it unfor­tu­nate­ly updates the pod­cast rather irreg­u­lar­ly. Mean­while, over in the UK, The Guardian (iTunesFeedWeb Site) pro­duces a quite robust pod­cast that fea­tures reg­u­lar talks with well-known authors, many of them British. The Times, anoth­er Eng­lish paper, does the same (iTunesFeedWeb Site), but its col­lec­tion is not­i­ca­bly slim­mer, though good.

Quite smart­ly, pub­lish­ers and book­stores have also start­ed churn­ing out pod­casts for the literati, using the dig­i­tal medi­um as a mar­ket­ing tool for their paper goods. Simon & Schus­ter pro­duces Simon Says (iTunesFeedWeb Site), a week­ly pod­cast that fea­tures new books and audio books com­ing out of the New York pub­lish­ing house. Ran­dom House (iTunesWeb Site) sim­i­lar­ly lets lis­ten­ers check out excerpts from new releas­es. And then on the book­store front, Barnes & Noble presents Meet the Writ­ers  (iTunesFeedWeb Site), a pod­cast that fea­tures authors dis­cussing their favorite books, influ­ences, and the rea­sons they write. And sim­i­lar­ly Ama­zon Book Clips (iTunesFeedWeb Site) lets you keep tabs on both best­selling and up-and-com­ing authors. You can find oth­er Ama­zon pod­casts here.

Last­ly, the book lover always has access these days to a grow­ing list of free audio books. We’ve sift­ed through many of them and includ­ed the clas­sics in our Audio Book Pod­cast Col­lec­tion. You can also find a broad­er, more exten­sive col­lec­tion over at Lib­rivox.

iTunes Freebies From Around the World

Here’s a quick heads up: TUAW.com (The Unof­fi­cial Apple Weblog) post­ed a nice fea­ture that offers a new slant on what we often do here at Open Cul­ture. They scanned the dif­fer­ent inter­na­tion­al iTunes stores and iden­ti­fied free music, video, and audio books avail­able to users in the US, Aus­tralia, Cana­da, France, Britain and New Zealand. If inter­na­tion­al cul­ture is your thing, then def­i­nite­ly mosey on over.

Joni Mitchell on “When Free is Not Enough”

A faith­ful read­er sent in lyrics that seemed quite apro­pos to Ed’s piece yes­ter­day on free music in the sub­way. Let’s post them. (Thanks John.)

Real Good for Free
©1974 by Joni Mitchell

I slept last night in the Fair­mont Hotel
I went shop­ping today for jew­els
Wind rushed around in the dirty town
And the chil­dren let out from the schools

I was stand­ing on the noisy cor­ner
I was wait­ing for the walk­ing green
Across the street he stood and he played real good
On his clar­inet for free

Now me, I play for for­tune
And those vel­vet cur­tain calls
I got a black lim­ou­sine and six­teen gen­tle­men
Escort­ing me to these halls

And I play if you have the mon­ey
Or if you’re some kind of friend to me
But the one man band by the quick lunch stand
He was play­ing real good for free

Nobody stopped to hear him
Though he played so sweet and high
They knew he’d nev­er been on their TV
So they passed his good music by

I meant to go over to him and ask for a song
Maybe put on some kind of har­mo­ny
I heard his refrain as that sig­nal changed
He was play­ing real good, for free.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.