Ich würde gerne besser Deutsch sprechen.
August 29, 2011 3:00 AM   Subscribe

Best free/low-cost podcasts and audiobooks for becoming fluent in German?

I would like to become fluent in German. At the moment, I understand about 85% of what I read and 70% what I hear (I live in a German-speaking country), but I find it difficult to compose sentences and to speak myself. I've got a lot of vocab and have the core grammatical principles down, but I struggle with things like tenses and prepositions/cases.

I work 40hrs/wk, so I don't have much free time to devote to this. I think podcasts and audiobooks for my (40mins each way) commute would be a good start. But I don't have a lot of money to spend on these.

So does anyone have any recommendations of audio resources which are good for intermediate level and above, and which won't break the bank? Many thanks in advance.
posted by guessthis to Writing & Language (9 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
85% of what you read and 70% of what you hear? That's interesting. I'd have expected it to be the other way round.

I would recommend stopping passively absorbing German and start actively speaking it. Engage in a conversation: you get the practice your pronunciation, learn new vocabulary, your speaking skills, you get the hear the way people speak, etc. etc.
posted by devnull at 3:22 AM on August 29, 2011

But to answer your question, Goethe or OE3 might interest you. Deutsche Welle have tons of podcasts.
posted by devnull at 3:39 AM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I have trouble distinguishing words in speech/filtering out background noise enough to keep pace in a conversation, hence being better with reading. I hope that better all-round knowledge will help me to 'fill in the blanks' with words I can't hear during conversation, in the same way I do with English. Thanks for the recommendations!
posted by guessthis at 3:46 AM on August 29, 2011

Fluent German speaker here- my girlfriend was trying to learn German through the Deutsche Welle podcasts and was sorely disappointed - they seem to spend a couple minutes in English setting up situations involving little elves, followed by a fifteen-second exchange in German. So there's that.

As devnull said, OE3 is good. When I lived over there, FM4 was really nice- better music, and you get current affairs in German and (sometimes) English.
posted by dunkadunc at 4:33 AM on August 29, 2011

If you want to learn conversation then the best way would be to converse rather than merely listen or read. You might be able to find a local group where you meet up with native speakers and spend half the evening talking in English and the other in German; everybody benefits and the costs are low. There are also sites like LiveMocha which attempt to do the same think online.
posted by rongorongo at 4:44 AM on August 29, 2011

Langsam Gesprochene Nachricten podcast!
posted by princelyfox at 6:36 AM on August 29, 2011

More DW! Link for princelyfox's suggestion.
posted by devnull at 6:39 AM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Langsam Gesprochene Nachricten podcast!

I suggest giving it a miss. It was too slow partway through my first semester of learning German--I might not have known what all the words meant, but it was so slow that I'd get distracted between words. ARD and ZDF both have the news available as podcasts in audio and video format. You don't really want something so structured and ritualised as the news, though. However it's good in terms of exposure.

Radio Tatort has a monthly episode. It's about an hour long, though, and I find it a bit difficult to start and stop. (And tell the characters apart, actually.)

The ZDF podcast offering. You probably want the chat shows. Wetten, dass and Das Aktuelle Sportstudio are availabe as podcasts.

I can't find a central podcasts page for the ARD, except for the Tagesschau, but the Bayerischer Rundfunk has radio plays and WDR has a podcast list.
posted by hoyland at 7:49 AM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Deutsche Welle also reads the news at a normal speed, if the slow version is too slow, and they give you the text that they are reading which I find really helpful.

Pukka German is a good podcast - its focus is colloquial German, so it gives you a different set of vocab than, say, the Deutsche Welle will. Slow German is also another good one.

Like you, I can understand more of what I read than what I hear, and I find that the German audiobook versions of kids' books I already know and love are really good for ear training. There are a lot of good German audiobooks in the American version of iTunes, and a lot of them are pretty cheap. If you're in a German country, I imagine the selection is even better.

I've been listening to Pu der Bär, der Hobbit, der Silberne Sessel (Narnia), der Wind in den Weiden, and a collection of stories from die Brüder Grimm. Max und Moritz is also interesting, but it's poetry, so it can be a bit harder. If you're looking for a good adult audiobook to read, I think authors who are easy to read are also relatively easy to listen to--and if you have the text already, you can listen to it first and then check back to see if you understood it properly. I guess I keep mentioning checking the text after listening to it, because it helps me connect what words look like to how they sound. I'm currently using Bernard Schlink's book Selbs Justiz for this.

Also, as a final suggestion, you might think about finding some relatively modern German music (i.e. not Bach) that you like, and listen to it regularly. Listening to something repetitively can help your ears too, and it's more interesting to listen to a song over and over again than to a news podcast. Tocotronic and Funny van Dannen are two good bands with lead singers who articulate pretty well and who have lyric-heavy music, if you want to go that route.
posted by colfax at 10:19 AM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

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