In the loop
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Want to learn a new language while working out, catch up on current events while commuting, or listen to something soothing before you sleep that isn’t music? Why not podcasts?

Podcasts are one of the most underrated forms of entertainment. They can be hilarious, informative, or just comforting. And… they’re usually free and easily accessible.

If you’re still not convinced, read ahead to find out what Spectrum has been listening to this month.

1. News in Slow French

This podcast, created by an international team of linguists and journalists, is an immersive way to learn French while on the go. In this podcast, Francophones talk about diverse topics ranging from French politics to cultural topics, such as the Nov. 11 Armistice ceremonies in Europe. Since they talk slowly and repeat certain phrases, the podcast is easy to follow and absorb. Within a week, you’ll be able to pick up on quotidian phrases and common greetings. No matter your speaking level, this podcast is great to listen to while walking to class, or in the 15 minutes you have in between classes, to get yourself in the zone. The site also has quizzes, grammar, expressions, and pronunciation guides for you to go through later.

Podcasts you may also like: Coffee Break French, News in Slow Spanish

2. This American Life

This weekly hour-long radio program, hosted by Ira Glass, covers a range of themes—babysitting, traveling, camp stories, war… the list is endless. This podcast is great because you end up learning a lot about current affairs or social phenomena without really feeling like you’re putting in work. The wide variety of themes guarantees that you can bring up a podcast you listened to in a dinner table conversation or use one of the findings to back up a claim in your research paper! Plus, if you go to its official website, it has animated videos that bring to life the themes it covers.

Podcasts you may also like: Radiolab, Invisibilia, Still Processing

3. Freakonomics

If you’re majoring in economics or sociology, drop everything and start listening to this podcast. If you aren’t, don’t drop everything, but still listen to this podcast. Freakonomics is an American public radio program covering a wide range of socioeconomic topics to appeal to a more general audience. Hosted by Stephen Dubner, the podcast includes topics such as how to hack the World Bank, how to be happy, and how to accurately guess how many jelly beans are in a jar. Freakonomics will not only help you inside the classroom, but also outside of it. You will find yourself referring to its many topics at a party or even during a heated debate. If you’re intrigued by the concept but can’t stand podcasts, then you’re in luck, because Freakonomics has a print version of some of the best podcasts they’ve aired! Check them out here.

Podcasts you may also like: Hidden Brain, The Daily

4. Serial

If you are obsessed with thriller/suspense shows like BBC’s Sherlock or find yourself binge-watching the Ted Bundy Tapes, you will love Serial. The podcast is hosted by Sarah Koenig. The first season centers around the murder of high schooler Hae Min Lee. The suspect? Her boyfriend, Adnan Syed. Season 2 follows ex-Taliban captive Bowe Bergdahl’s capture and ultimate release. Hooked already? Us too. Be warned though, this podcast is binge-worthy, so don’t start it on a day you have a lot of work.

Podcasts you may also like: S-Town, Up and Vanished

5. Modern Love

A personal favorite, this podcast, hosted by Meghna Chakrabarti, features pieces from the popular New York Times column, written by those who have come face-to-face with love, loss, or redemption. You’ll hear about Tinder dates gone wrong, unrequited love, and coping with loss after death. These essays are read aloud by acclaimed actors, adding a dimension of zest to the readings. The stories will always leave you feeling warm and satisfied. A must-listen for romantics and cynics alike. Or, get hooked to the NYT column if you prefer reading over listening.

Podcasts you may also like: The Shadows, This is Love

Staff writer Naina Lavakare can be contacted at @naina.lavakare@columbiaspectator.com. Follow Spectator on Twitter @ColumbiaSpec.

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