This is WHY I use the Google Home and Google Assistant apps during my language learning adventures.

  1. to maintain my languages (even when time is scarce)
  2. to introduce some authentic listening from day 1
  3. to check my progress in my target languages

The Google Home app provides the possibility to program the latest news. As a result, with a single voice command you can ask your Google Assistant to play the latest news on your smart phone or on your (Google) smart speaker.

If you don’t know how to program it, I explain it in a short video on Youtube.

When I started with Danish and Catalan in 2020 I immediately added both languages to my list. I selected news programmes that update each hour (some trial and error here) to have the most up-to-date information and then I put them at the end.

At the end, because the same subjects often return: elections, (natural) disasters, big events, wars, sports, … So when I reach my newer languages I already know what might be mentioned and that really helps.

Not all languages and countries are available, but the list is growing. If you aren’t really into current affairs, politics and economics, no worries as they also provide other categories.

  • general news
  • technology
  • business
  • sports
  • world
  • entertainment
  • politics
  • science
  • health
  • art and lifestyle
  • local

Back to the WHY.

1. Maintain your languages

Even if you didn’t have the time to study a language a certain day/week or certain days/weeks, you will have had a minimum exposure to your target language(s) for usually anywhere between 5 and 10 minutes. I usually listen during the washing-up in the morning, so even if time is really scarce this is an activity you can perfectly do while cleaning 🧹/commuting 🚇/gardening 👨‍🌾/working out 💪/running 🏃‍♀️… You choose!

2. Authentic input right from the start

Newsreaders speak slower and clearer than the general population, keep it formal, hardly use slang, pay attention to using the right words and grammar (but are still humans and errors and mistakes do join the party) and as such are easier the understand. You can opt for 🇫🇷 RFI‘s Journal en français facile or 🇩🇪 DW‘s Langsam gesprochene Nachrichten, but here you get immediately real people, speaking as they speak to native listeners.

3. Check your progress

Here is my experience with 🇩🇰:

“I don’t now what they are talking about. No, that’s not right, I don’t even now where words start or end.”

“I recognised a word! And another one!”

“I think I know the subject they are talking about.”

“It’s going to snow in Denmark.”

“The prime minister made an announcement.”

“I know what the prime minister said. I think.”

You won’t see or hear your progress every day. That’s right. But I can tell you this from my experience: slowly but surely you will start to recognise words, phrases; and one day you’ll realise you get the gist of it and finally the day will come when you’ll be able to understand most of it. And that is a great feeling.

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