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.
- There’s a show for every level of German learners.
- You can learn regional accents.
How to Use Talk Radio to Your AdvantageIt’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.
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. Most of the shows are themed around cultural affairs. For listening on the go, Deutsche Welle’s podcasts are the perfect choice for downloading.
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 in the German-speaking world.
For current info on economic and political affairs, tune into MDR, a Leipzig-based station, which has a strong focus on news of eastern Germany.
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.
The focus here is on 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 option reviews classical music, operas and literature, and gives you a lot of Hochdeutsch (“High German” – the standard language one learns in class).
This quirky radio station will get you laughing. It's dedicates to comedy shows. They also often include music review shows. (Check the station’s playlist for tunes to your taste!)
10. Any of the state Rundfunk stations --It never hurts to dabble into local accents and dialects. It’s entertaining for sure! All of Germany’s Bundesländer (federal states) have their own stations; two of my faves are Hessischer Rundfunk and Bayerischer Rundfunk.
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.