Watching German television online

The subject came up during one of my lessons: Is it possible to watch German television online?

I definitely recommend to immerse yourself fully with anything German (listening to online radio shows, checking out German language YouTube clips, reading German language newspapers and magazines) so watching German TV would be a huge benefit for any student regardless of their skill level.

In actual fact, even if you are a complete beginner it would be helpful regardless of whether or not you understand the entire program: There will always be certain words and phrases that are being repeated and that will stick in your memory.

The good news is that it is indeed possible to view German TV programs online and from what I can tell (living in Ireland) there do not appear to be any restrictions in viewing those from a foreign internet connection.

Both of the main public TV channels have their online players if you missed a show:

The ZDF is the most easily accessible one. Just click on this link and all the programs are showing up for the previous week. Some (all?) of their programs also have German subtitles (“Untertitel”) available. Just click on the link underneath the screen that show an ear with hearing aid. This really beneficial if your German is not yet up to scratch to catch it all without this aid.

The ARD as well as all the regional channels associated with it also have their own player. Once you access this website you will see a heading that says “Sendung verpasst?”. Click on this and it gives you the option to sort the shows by “Sendedatum” (date) and by name (“Sendungen A-Z”). Once you choose which show you want to watch you then also have to click the camera icon. It takes a bit getting used to but once done, you should be flying.

The private stations I checked only appear to show clips of their shows and are often introduced by commercials but if you really can’t wait for the next season of I’M A CELEBRITY feel free to view clips of the German equivalent and marvel at how stiffly the presenters are trying to be funny. Ant and Dec they sure ain’t.

Easy German on YouTube

The fun videos on YouTube are teaching (or better: demonstrating) the use of practical German. They were created by Solarnet.tv and are meant to complement any regular German language course. They were filmed in Muenster and are bringing back memories from my own time in the university there. In case you’re wondering: Lesson 5 appears to have been deleted by YouTube.

Flow chart for the four German cases

One of the most difficult aspect of learning German grammar – especially for native English speakers who are not really exposed to that concept – is the idea of having four cases for nouns (Nominativ, Genitiv, Dativ, Akkusativ).

There is a good overview available about those at About.com and their list of Dative verbs can also be found here. Do yourself a favour and copy the text of those lessons into a Word document and save it on your computer. My understanding is that the previous About.com writer is no longer involved in it and as soon as they find a replacement the old documents that are really quite helpful will be taken offline and no longer be available, so download anything you need from there to your computer to save you disappointment at a possible later stage.

Despite having a good overview of the four different German cases knowing when to use them can still be a bit intimidating. The truth is that there are really only a handful of major reasons for picking one case over the other. I therefore decided to put a little basic flow chart together to help you identify when what case is used. That chart should cover probably about 80-90% of all scenarios you are going to encounter. Scenarios not included in this one are e.g. the use of the Akkusativ in certain time and distance expressions (Jeden Montag fahre ich zur Arbeit. Das Krankenhaus ist einen Kilometer entfernt.)

Click on the image to get the full sized version. Any comments and suggestions would be greatly appreciated. A PDF file of this document has also been made available on the Training Material section of this site.

German Language Club and Deutsche Welle online help

I recently joined the German Language Club on Yahoo, a large friendly group of students who help each other in their quest for learning Deutsch. Have a question about the grammar or vocabulary that’s been bugging you for the longest time? Ask those guys a question, and you’re bound to get it answered in no time. Hell, I am a native speaker and even I learn something new occasionally!

Incidentally, some of the posters there use the training materials provided by Deutsche Welle for some group learnings.

Both of those sites come highly recommended if you’re interested in online learning.

Popling

I recently came across Popling, a nifty new online application that assists with learning languages as well as other subjects.

The idea is that while some people may find it difficult to devote longer periods of time every day to learning a language, everyone can afford a few seconds here or there. When you download the application you will every once in a while receive a flash card with a term that you will then need to translate and will then learn whether you got this right or wrong. Once you gave the answer you will then continue with your normal work at your computer until sometime later in the day when another flash card with a new term will show up.

For the German version of Popling there are already a large number of possible subjects available on flash cards ranging from learning basic nouns and phrases to food and restaurant vocabulary and even phrases for dealing with problems.

If there is one thing that could be criticised it is that the list of nouns by and large do not include any indication as to what grammatical gender we are dealing with and as I had previously indicated learning the gender of a noun right from the beginning is of the utmost importance. Still, everyone is allowed to upload their own sets of flash cards, so hopefully over time some of those will also be added.

If anyone is using Popling, I would appreciate some comments about it as I have not actually started using it myself.