Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Techniques for learning German - podcasts.

Podcast - "A multimedia digital file made available on the Internet for downloading to a portable media player, computer, etc."

If you have a modern phone, ipod, or mp3 player you can play podcasts on the move.  Or you can listen to them on your computer when you're not mobile.  It may seem a bit weird explaining what a podcast is... but there are many people who do not know what they are, or haven't tried them.  Skip to the bottom for lists of German podcasts.

Situations where you may be able to learn with a podcast:
  • sitting at the computer doing an office job (if you don't need to talk lots!)
  • on a bus/train, or walking/running (be careful!)
Other methods of learning may not be possible in these situations.  For example, you probably can't have a teacher follow you around the park as you go jogging.  Also, they probably can't sit next to you at your office whilst you work.

It's always better if you can talk out loud along with the podcasts.  Even if the people on the train start to consider you a little strange, or annoying.  But not everyone is happy with sounding like a freak... so if that's you, speak the words to yourself in your head.  Listening to yourself on a recording later can be a great way of comparing what you said to how it sounds when said on the recording.  Often people notice their mistakes much more easily this way.

Not only lesson podcasts are useful for learning German!  Any podcast in the language you are learning can be a useful one to listen to.  Just so you can get used to hearing how people speak.  Choosing a topic you are interested in can help your motivation as well.  For example, if you like photography and are learning German, find a photography podcast where the speakers speak German.  This gives you a little bit more motivation to try and listen to how people speak.

Going over what you have already learned is a great way to retain that knowledge.  Podcasts are a low effort way of refreshing knowledge you learnt through another technique.  For example, if you are going to language lessons, then listening to the words you have learnt that day can keep them fresh in your mind.

The Audio Trainer - is a podcast for learning German.  It contains 100 German lessons of vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation training.  It goes over (CEFR) A1 and A2 level content.  By going over the standardised A1 and A2 level topics, this podcast useful for directing your learning towards the tests.  Whilst learning lots of other esoteric words may be useful for your general knowledge, directed learning towards the syllabus allows you to use other learning materials within your level.

"Deutsche, Warum Nicht" is available in iTunes and as a podcast at http://www.dw.de/learn-german/deutsch-warum-nicht/s-2548
"The course Deutsch – warum nicht?, divided into four parts, tells the story of the journalism student Andreas and his invisible ex. Join the two of them on an adventure and learn German along the way! Each of the four series contains 26 lessons with dialogues, exercises and audios to download. The course covers levels A1 to B1 of the European Framework of Reference for Languages and is geared toward beginners and advanced learners. Deutsch – warum nicht? was produced by Deutsche Welle and the Goethe Institute."
The Goethe institut has made some pod casts available here:http://www.goethe.de/frm/pod/enindex.htm.  From the seven podcasts they provide,  Radio D is sort of fun.  Since it contains fifty two short stories, each 15 minutes long, suitable for A1 and A2 level students.  Listen to short stories, and learn at the same time!  It can be a nice change from more boring learning methods.

One other good example of a non-lesson podcast that many learners will be interested in, is a podcast of the Deutsche Welle News read using simplified language, and spoken slowly.  This way you can get some of your daily news, but at the same time be learning something!  Brilliant.  See: German news spoken slowly podcast

http://german-podcast.blogspot.com/ is a podcast by Stephen Wiesner with many lessons (111 items listed in the podcast at time of writing).  Stephen has also made PDF files available to print out so you can read along whilst you listen(Unfortunately a lot of the links to the PDFs are broken).  The lessons include a lot of call and response with Stephen asking you to respond to his questions, or repeat phrases.  Stephen has also made an Android app available.

Germanpod101.com beware! this one is sort of free (for 7 days), but there are some lessons made available for free if you search on itunes for their podcasts.  Otherwise you have to sign up via email, and they try and get you to pay a monthly fee.  I found the accent improvement lessons particularly useful.  You can see many of their video lessons for free on youtube here: http://www.youtube.com/user/germanpod101/videos?flow=grid&view=1 They're not podcasts, but video podcasts or vodcasts.  Learn German Vocab with pictures is a youtube playlist from them where you can listen to some nice piano playing whilst a man reads out words for different topics, and you are shown pictures of the word.

"Slow German" is a podcast where Annik Rubens from Munich reads various stories slowly in German.  The text is available in the mp3 id3 tag or on the website ( http://www.slowgerman.com/ ).  This lets you follow along with the story if you want.  This is at approximately simple B1 level, and is sort of good for improving your listening comprehension skills.  There is a related iphone/ipad app too.

"German GrammarPod" podcast and the blog that goes along with it covers German grammar lessons.  There's about 30 lessons, with some being 11 minutes long, and others being as long as 51 minutes!  Some people hate learning grammar, but I don't think it can really be avoided.

"Pukka German!" is a podcast of German slang, idioms, funny sayings, common German words and phrases.  This one has real authentic soul - and teaches you funny things to say.  Want to know what to say at parties, or to talk about your hangover the next day?  Then Pukka German! has you covered.

Forming learning habits can greatly help your progress in learning German.  By including a podcast into your daily routine, you make sure you are learning regularly.  A little bit of learning every day slowly adds up, and many people can fit some podcasts into their routine easily without having to sacrifice other things.

Podcasts are one of many techniques, and tools available to learn languages.  They should not be used alone for learning, but can be a great when used with other methods of learning.  I'm blogging various techniques I have used to learn German under the German and Deutsch labels.