Immerse me!
May 16, 2011 7:13 AM   Subscribe

I work from 9 to 5, but I want to immerse myself in German for the rest of the time. I have an iPod touch and a short attention span. What can I use to ram this language into my brain?

Since I got the iPod (64GB, so no storage worries) about two weeks ago, I've learned a great deal about programming using the lectures on iTunes U, and now I want to take this hammer to the problem of my German. I'm doing a proper in-person course for 2.5 hours every Thursday evening, but I think I need a more sustained assault to really get the breakthrough I've been waiting for.

If this is going to work I will need lots and lots of material that is not boring. If too much of it is an effort to engage with, this will not work. I've tried daily news bulletins, but if I'm perfectly honest I'm just not that interested in German domestic news, so it's difficult to feel enthusiastic enough to keep on listening and trying to understand what's going on. Closer to the mark, I suppose, would be videos or audio tracks that are about something (cooking, for example) that I'm interested in. I'm interested in linguistics, so anything that discussed the German language in a really rigourous way might be interesting. I have some German novels I've been reading, but that doesn't really work when I'm tired after a long day. Ideally I'd like material at a fairly broad range of difficulty levels, and bonus points for simple stuff that isn't hand-chewingly boring.

I've previously made extensive use of the podcasts at Deutsche Welle and Annik Reubens' Slow German podcast. They were good for what they do, but I don't think I could listen to them all day.

I'm also very much open to non-iPod-centric ideas, since there still exist small windows of the day during which I am not plugged into it.
posted by Acheman to Writing & Language (9 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
Listen to German music! There was a post not too long ago with loads of German music suggestions in it. Let me look for it... ah, here it is.

Also, there are loads of German movies available for streaming on Netflix, and if you can somehow obtain a German IP address (there are VPN services that do that), there are TONS of German TV programs of all sorts available in the ARD Mediathek.
posted by naturalog at 7:40 AM on May 16, 2011

ARD, ZDF and RTL have a lot of their programming online. All are accessible to me in the US without VPN. (Some stuff if geoblocked, but a lot of it isn't. RTL has some programs only available by subscription.) Certainly you can watch Tatort and some of the soap operas (though they're kind of ridiculous).

I read the newspaper intermittenly. It's more interesting than listening to the German news in podcast form (you can skip all the business news!).
posted by hoyland at 8:31 AM on May 16, 2011

Listen to some German music you like. Find translations of lyrics online. Compare translations with an online dictionary (one which contains idioms) to make sure they're more or less accurate. Sing along (or mouth the words silently) while keeping in mind what the words/phrases mean. This is efficient.

There was also once a free version of which provided a very quick, flash-based spaced-repetition training, one which actually kept track of your errors and made you study those words more. It costs money now, but maybe give the trial a go and see if it's worth it. One problem, though, is that the wordlists are/were user-generated, so you'd have to proof them in order to avoid internalizing the occasional erroneous spelling. But it was still worth it, as this was even more efficient.

The only thing better than that would be to talk to real Germans in person, especially ones who don't know English. You'd usually have to go to Germany (or Austria, etc.) for that, though.
posted by matlock expressway at 8:44 AM on May 16, 2011

Disregard my link to It seems that, though they absorbed the wonderful website, they are now limited to east asian languages. Pity.
posted by matlock expressway at 8:49 AM on May 16, 2011

Do you like soap operas? How about gay storylines? You can watch the saga of Deniz and Roman from the German soap Alles Was Zählt on YouTube, complete with English subtitles.

Ice skating! Eskimo kisses! Crazy soap plots!

If you enjoy it, there's a bunch of other fan-translated German soaps on YouTube as well.
posted by Georgina at 9:42 AM on May 16, 2011

Anki for flashcards is awesome, and the app is really good. Great for when you have a few minutes to kill.
posted by djgh at 1:39 PM on May 16, 2011

Definitely listen to lots and lots and lots of German music. If you take the time to really understand the lyrics of songs you like, you'll find yourself running into the same idiomatic turns of phrase throughout written texts, in television shows, in conversations...

I like ripping the audio tracks from German-dubbed television shows on YouTube and playing them like radio plays on my iPod. I turned my German Star Wars DVD into a funny playlist!

One TV show that can be streamed from the US is ich! on KI.KA, a children's programming channel. Have you ever seen True Life on MTV? It's basically like that. Each episode is themed around a hobby, subculture, or whatever. The one I linked to is about German emo kids!

Try seeking out podcasts on things you like. I like listening to Braincast, for example, which is about psychology. You can use the Power Search function in the Podcasts section of iTunes to specify the language as German. Not everything is available in the US, but there are tons of video game podcasts, for example. There are also some interesting cooking and food-themed podcasts.

Naja, natürlich verstehe ich viel zu wenig, aber es freut mich schon, und das ist alles, was wichtig ist. ;)

Hope that helps!
posted by ElectricBlue at 7:03 PM on May 18, 2011

Same 'problem' here.

For the past weeks though I've been listening to BR2's RadioWissen. The program itself is very informative (and has a wide variety of topics), so you might be interested as well.

You could also check out other of Bayerische Rundfunk's Podcasts.

I haven't tried or browsed hard enough, so if you also have recommendations (and other alternatives on other stations or from individuals), please feel free to share. :)
posted by vastopenspaces at 10:08 PM on October 11, 2011

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