Friends, Romans, countrymen, German students, lend me your ears.
With technology, there’s almost no need for you to interact with German speakers face-to-face.
Sounds counter-intuitive to study in isolation, but all the resources you could ever need are at your fingertips right now.
One of the most frequently neglected areas of learning German (or any language) is that of listening practice. Yet to totally master a language, it’s also by far one of the most important areas to focus on.
However, to practice your listening skills you definitely need someone talking in German, don’t you? And you want to listen to native speakers a lot to see real improvements, right?
Right! But what if your language partner isn’t available 24/7 to whisper into your ear?
Where you can find those magical German tutor elves? On the radio.
Liven Up Your Listening Practice with Live German Radio Online
Luckily, there’s a group of people out there who would like nothing more than for you to eavesdrop on them. They speak excellent everyday German and have very pleasant voices to boot. So, where you can find these magical German tutor elves?
One of the most frequently neglected areas of learning German or any other language is that of listening practice. Yet for the learning process it is also by far one of the most important ingredients.
However, to practice your listening skills, you definitely need someone talking in German, don’t you? And you want to do it frequently to see real improvements, right?
Right! But what if your language partner is not available 24/7 to whisper into your ear? Are you screwed?
But what if I told you that there is a group of people who would like nothing better than for you to eavesdrop on them? Who speak excellent everyday German and have very pleasant voices to boot?
How to Practice German Listening on Your Own
You can spend a lot of time alone in your room while still improving your German.
Take reading for example. Whether you’d like to dive into German children’s books, browse German blogs or peruse the news in German, there’s not much you can’t do online. The best part is that you can do it as fast or as slow as you want. The material is patient.
The same goes for studying grammar. German learning apps, articles on German adjective endings, guides on mastering nominative and accusative cases and how-to’s for managing with difficult-to-pronounce German sounds let you practice on your own without the need for being social.
On the other hand, there are steps in the German learning process where you’re completely dependent on having a language practice buddy. Speaking, no doubt, is one of those (unless you like talking to yourself). To actually achieve fluency, it’s imperative that you get yourself a German language partner.
When it comes to listening, we’re dealing with a whole other situation. Do you need a native speaker with you, or can you do this on your own?
One terrific resource for getting listening practice with authentic content is FluentU.
This isn’t textbook recordings about artificial topics. This is real German content that German people actually listen to. It’s an engaging and effective way to improve your listening skills.
Of course, using German radio programs to improve your listening comprehension is also an excellent idea. And not only because there’s a chance they might play Rammstein.
5 Reasons You Should Tune into Live German Radio Online
1. You will learn natural, everyday German
Unlike movies or television programming, the shows on radio broadcasting aren’t scripted. You’re listening to real people talking, live and unedited. They’ll speak as they do in real life, complete with slang, mistakes and colloquialisms. Radio is probably as close as you can get to being in a conversation with a German — I mean, without actually talking to someone, that is.
2. You get lots and lots of relevant content
Radio programming is about things that are happening in the world right now. By listening to German language stations, you’re able to keep up with what’s going on in Germany, Switzerland or Austria and how people living there feel about current events. This combination is a recipe for multitudes of useful phrases and vocabulary plus valuable cultural information.
3. German radio broadcasting is freely available
In contrast to watching German TV online, listening to radio broadcasting from Germany is a piece of cake (as you’ll see below). No matter where you are in the world, live or recorded programs are just a few clicks away.
4. You gain access to many different dialects
Germany alone has almost 400 radio stations which are located in different places all over the country. As a result, not only will their programming focus on topics which are relevant to their local audience, but you’ll also often hear people speak in slightly different dialects. For example, if you listen to radio stations from the north around Hamburg and Kiel, you’ll quickly pick up on the customary greeting Moin, moin.
5. Material on a variety of topics
No matter your area of interest, there’s probably a radio station for you. Whether you like movies, literature, celebrity gossip or sports, radio shows covering each topic can be found easily. This is an excellent opportunity to improve your vocabulary concerning things that you like!
How to Listen to German Radio Via Live Stream
As mentioned before, listening to German radio stations is a cinch. The easiest way to do it is via live stream. Most of the time, all you need is a browser and the Adobe Flash Player plugin. Pick your favorite station and listen to it until your ears bleed (I’m kidding, please don’t do that).
There are also other software solutions available which can be used to play radio stations from your desktop. These can be found further below.
Recommended Online German Radio Stations
Overall, Germany currently has almost 400 radio stations, many of which have their own live streams. Here I will share a carefully-chosen handful with a focus on radio stations which deliver a lot of spoken content. This content makes them particularly suited to German students. After all, you can listen to music in your own country.
Focus: Information, news, human interest, radio plays
Deutschlandradio has two advantages. Number one is that its programming is entirely free of advertising. Number two is that it has a strong focus on information as opposed to music. The reports, news, cultural information, and political debates broadcasted here will offer plenty of opportunities for German students to broaden their vocabularies. They also have an app for iOS and Android.
Focus: Music (’90s, 2000s, latest hits), comedy, news
The Südwestrundfunk is one of the most popular public radio stations in Germany. As their name suggests, these broadcasters are located in the southwestern region of the country. Their programming aims at a slightly younger audience.
Focus: Culture, cultural events, news
A subsidiary of Deutschlandfunk, this station’s focus is on cultural events and news. Those interested in books, concerts, operas and other cultural mainstays will be delighted. At night you can also listen to teleplays and other big-scale radio productions.
Focus: Music (latest hits), comedy, entertainment
This station is very popular amongst the younger generations. Its focus is on more recent music and popular culture interspersed with comedy bits. A personal favorite is the late night talk show “Domian” where callers open up about just about anything.
Focus: Information, news
This subsidiary of Westdeutscher Rundfunk revolves its programming around current events from areas of culture, politics, society and economy. Long-form reports provide a lot of background information and offer German language learners many listening practice opportunities. The fact that much of their music programming focuses on jazz makes it a great choice for concentrated study sessions.
Live Stream Collections
The above radio stations should be enough for hours of listening practice. However, that list is far from complete. If you’re looking for more or want to shop around a bit to find your favorite stations, there are collections of live streams available with plenty of choices.
TuneIn offers a number of live streams from different German radio stations. The platform not only lets you browse channels by city and shows the programming of every station but also continues to play the last started live stream while you go hunting around for more. Plus, select radio stations have previously aired shows available as recordings for you to listen to over and over again.
This platform has a minimalist design consisting only of one page. This is plastered with the logos of the most popular radio stations. It only needs one click to start any of their live streams. No frills and very easy handling. Great to sample around a bit.
Explore new radio stations by type of music, tags, user favorites or recommendations. If that’s too much effort, Radio.de also has a top 10 for you to browse. Streams can be started directly from their site.
This is exactly the same website as the one before, just for the Austrian market. If you want to listen to radio programming from Arnold Schwarzengger’s home country, this is your way to go.
When learning German, one of the hardest achievements is getting to a point of understanding everyday language. Listening to German talk radio is a great way to practice one’s listening comprehension. Live streams from German radio stations are abundant online for anyone in the world, making it one of the easiest ways for German students to tune into the language.
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