Think radio is just for the latest chart-topping hits?
Well, that’s not exactly the case!
There’s a whole world of talk radio which does exactly what it says: It broadcasts shows in which people just talk! That’s it… no music to disrupt, just pure chat.
And it’s not just boring, stuffy old chat. Whether you’re into your sports, cutting edge comedies, or would rather listen to a show about cultural affairs, I can guarantee you’ll find something that’s right up your alley.
So what’s this got to do with your Deutsch?
One word: listening. Just think of all that German listening practice that is waiting for you over on German talk radio.
Why Learn German with Talk Radio?
There are many benefits to learning German with talk radio, including:
- Talk radio covers a varied bunch of programs. It includes news and current affairs shows, comedies, dramas, chat shows and sport programs. With all these different opportunities to get listening, there’ll almost certainly be something out there to suit your interests.
- There’s a show for every level of German learners. The variation of German used on these kind of stations is also diverse, making it something all of German learners can listen to. If you’re fairly advanced with your studies and want to challenge yourself, tune into one of the news programs for some fast-paced formal German. Alternatively, beginners can take things easy with a light-hearted comedy show or listen to sport commentators report from their favorite game.
- You can learn regional accents. Germany is a vast country and with its expansive geography come many different regional accents and dialects. If you’re feeling adventurous, it can be worth tuning into one of the many regional talk radio stations. Exposing yourself to different accents will fine tune your ear and boost your listening skills. You might even pick up a few words or phrases of a certain dialect—something you will definitely be able to impress any German friends with!
How to Use Talk Radio to Your Advantage
It’s one thing to just put on the radio in the background, and another to actively listen and learn. Here are some tips on how to get the most out of German talk radio:
- Listen to shows from different regions. As I mentioned above, using talk radio will expose you to a load of different regional accents and dialects. If you just stick to one area’s radio, you run the risk of getting too bogged down in that one accent. So it’s a good idea to shake things up and ensure you are listening to shows from the whole of Germany.
- Follow up your listening with a newspaper. To fully cement your listening practice while listening to news broadcasts, have a German newspaper or online newspaper website handy. Then, once you’ve finished listening to a report on a current affair you can read about it in the news. This will help you to ensure that you really did understand everything, and you’ll be able to fill in any blanks you might have.
- Add to your vocab list every time you listen. Vocabulary lists are an invaluable tool to use when learning any language. Not sure what the broadcaster just meant? Quickly look up the unknown word in a dictionary and add it to your vocab list. Review your list every day, and use it to test yourself on these new words. Even just five minutes a day will do wonders for your memory—consistency is key. Eventually, you’ll remember them and will be able to effortlessly fit them into your speaking and writing.
Now that you’re ready to listen, where can you find talk radio? Here are ten of our favorite German talk radio stations.
10 German Talk Radio Stations for Your Learning and Listening Pleasure
1. ZDF Kultur
For all you culture vultures out there, ZDF Kultur broadcasts a wide range of programs on cultural topics. Their website also features live performances from up-and-coming musicians from around the world. Keep an eye out for the German bands so you can listen and learn at the same time! No matter which show you listen to though, this station will be an awesome boost for your arts-based vocab.
This station is a great starter for newcomers to the German language, as there are many shows specifically aimed at those who have just started out learning the language. Most of the shows are themed around cultural affairs. If you want to listen to talk radio on the go, Deutsche Welle’s podcasts are the perfect choice for downloading.
Part of learning a language involves you getting to know the country’s politics, culture and history. WDR can help you get to know Germany better! It has a lot of news and media shows for you to choose from, helping you to keep up to date with all the latest goings on in the German-speaking world.
For up-to-the-minute information on all of Germany’s economic and political affairs, tune into MDR. The station broadcasts national news bulletins, but this Leipzig-based station goes more in depth into the news of eastern Germany. If you’re planning on traveling to that part of the country anytime soon, this informative radio station can help prep you for the culture you’ll experience.
Sport1 is one of the best German radio stations for keeping on top of all the latest results and scores. Most of the major sporting events are broadcast from this station with some of the best commentators and sport experts giving their views on match results.
Another one for sport fans, Radio Mi Amigo is dedicated to everything soccer. All of Germany’s Bundesliga soccer league matches are broadcast live. If you’re more into your cars than balls, this station also dedicates a lot of its sound waves to Formula 1 racing.
Another station which is dedicated to keeping the public up to date on all things cultural, DRadio Wissen broadcasts programs about the arts, politics and pop culture. On their website you’ll often find video interviews of leading names in Germany’s cultural scene—well worth checking out!
This is a high-brow option for those who want to get their teeth into reviews of classical music, operas and literature. Even if you aren’t a fan of these sophisticated past times, this station gives you a lot of Hochdeutsch (“High German” – the standard language you’ll be taught in class) to listen to. And after all, it’s this form of the language which you will be tested on in class, so even if you are a master with a regional dialect, it’s still important to be on top of your proper German.
If none of the above tickles your fancy, hr3 will have you laughing in minutes. Going against the age-old stereotype that Germans don’t have a sense of humor, this quirky radio station dedicates its broadcasting to comedy shows. Their varied schedule often includes music review shows. You can check out the station’s playlist on their website to see if their tunes are to your taste!
10. Any of the state Rundfunk stations
I know I previously wrote that you should focus on Hochdeutsch, but it never hurts to dabble into local accents and dialects. It’ll mix up your German practice a bit and could keep you slightly entertained! All of Germany’s Bundesländer (federal states) have their own stations; two of my faves are Hessischer Rundfunk and Bayerischer Rundfunk.
If you’re getting bored of the same-old American radio stations, you’ve now got a good reason to ditch them in favor of these top German choices. And there are a lot more German radio talk shows out there too, so enjoy discovering and listening!
After studying German and Philosophy at the University of Nottingham, Laura Harker relocated to Berlin in 2012. She now works as a freelance writer and is also assistant editor at Slow Travel Berlin.
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