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Listening Practice Ideas and Resources

Ohne Computer

Am Computer

Ohne Computer

Activities in Ann Arbor--for details, ask Hartmut to put you on the "allstudents" list, through which you receive a weekly email about dates and times.  Attendance at the following events can generally be used to make up absences in German 101-232, if you get the instructor there to notify your intructor that you participated.

  • Kaffeestunde und Deutschtische im Max Kade Haus in North Quad
  • Deutschtische in der Residential College in East Quad.  These generally take place MTThF 12-1 in a room on the ground floor; ask at the front desk.  Bring lunch, or get it in the EQ cafeteria.
  • Click on the link to see a list of other Conversation Opportunities in/near Ann Arbor

Watching (Subtitled) Movies

  • Watching subtitled movies is great listening practice. Don't feel bad about reading the subtitles! The key is for you to consciously correlate what you're hearing in the subtitles with what you're hearing. Focus on what you can understand, and on moments when you're understanding more than the subtitles are telling you. If you're just reading the subtitles and not paying attention to what you're hearing, then your listening skills won't benefit much.
  • If you have time, you should watch each movie twice: once with the subtitles on, and once with the subtitles covered up. Your listening skills will benefit greatly from the second viewing, when you'll have a good idea of what's being said and can really focus on what you're hearing.
  • You can find an excellent selection of movies at the Askwith Media Library in the UGLi. You can check films out from Askwith and take them home.
  • Click here for a list of videos on reserve at the Language Resource Center. You need to watch these movies in the LRC, i.e. they can't be checked out.
  • Netflix also has a great selection of German films.
  • The Ann Arbor Public Library has an excellent collection of German films. Click here to see their holdings.

Mehr Ideen

  • Watch Deutsche Welle TV in the Language Resource Center or on UMTV.
  • You could try buying Tell Me More: German or some other commercial language learning software or CDs, and try out their listening activities. For any such materials, you will find online reviews from people who loved them and others who found them useless, but they do all emphasize listening.
  • Find some American friends or relatives with whom you can speak German. Or some old German Americans.  Or look out for German tourists, and generally keep your ears open to see if you hear any German spoken by the people around you.

Am Computer

Apple Text to Speech [if you're a PC user, please let me know if a comparably simple tool is available for PCs!]

This is a tool you can use to get your Mac to pronounce German words/texts for you. The German version is built into OS 10.7 (Lion), and can be downloaded for earlier versions. Here is the information about it sent to me by a user of this site (vielen Dank, Tyler!):

Most versions of Apple's OSX operating system come with a built-in feature called Text to Speech. It's a tool with quite a few options for helping those who want/need a different form of accessibility to their computer. In particular, there's an option to set a key phrase (I use 'command+0') to speak a selection of highlighted words. Click here for some instructions (also from Tyler) on how to do this. It seems that it wasn't until the release of OSX v. 10.7 that the American version came with a Deutsch voice. However, there's a semi-free 3rd party tool for adding Deutsch voices to older versions of OSX. That tool can be found here [you can download a 30-day demo for free, or pay $99 (I think) to purchase the software]:

I use voiceover to listen to the pronunciation of the questions and answers from the various practice exercises on the UM site. I simply highlight a particular sentence and hit command+0.

Also, voiceover can be accessed on the command-line with the CLI command `say`. So I can open a terminal and run, "say Jeden Tag esse ich SPAM," and voiceover will speak that phrase in Deutsch. I've written a couple of computer programs to help me compose sentences and answer questions using this command. I can have my programs write and
speak a phrase at the same time, which I think is helpful in retaining vocabulary.

Specific Sites

  • The Lernen to Talk Show: A student who went to Germany for a year in 2011/12 created a series of 6-7 minute videos once a week to document his progress in the language, each of them carefully subtitled (and often also annotated) in ways that actually also show you some of the mistakes he makes as he speaks. Watching these carefully could be both instructive and inspiring, and is also great listening practice.
  • extr@ auf Deutsch: Entertaining soap-opera spoof about Sam, an American eager to learn German, who generates a lot of excitement when he bursts into the problematic love triangle of Sascha, Nic (who loves Sascha), and Sascha's roommate Anna (who loves Nic). The series, made for language learners, consists of 13 episodes, each divided into 3 6-10-minute parts. The German is simple, clear, and useful, and the videos are captioned to help you follow along. The exaggerated laugh-track lets you know when a joke has been made, and some of the jokes are funny. The link takes you to the first episode; find the others via the related links.
  • Yabla German Great site, but not free - but see below re: how to sign up for free through the LRC.
    • Yabla allows you to watch their library of authentic German videos (TV clips, music videos, etc.) with various features to promote listening practice:
      • You can slow down the audio. The pitch will be corrected so it still sounds fairly normal.
      • All videos are accompanied by German and English captions. For easier texts, hide the English ones. Click on words in the German captions to look them up in an online dictionary.
      • The "loop" button allows you to play a certain segment over and over (click "Loop" at the point where you want the loop to end, then click on the progress bar where you want it to start)
      • Click "play game" to see some fill-in-the-blank activities based on segments from the video clip.
      • New clips are added each week. You can browse their library without signing in to see what's available.
    • The LRC has purchased 30 subscriptions to German Yabla, available on a first come, first serve basis. To request a subscription, go to the LRC home page, click on YABLA, then click on "Register for German Yabla" and fill out the request. You need to use your umich email address in order for your request to be accepted. You'll be signed up for 30 days at a time (or put on the waitlist if all 30 spaces are taken), and can renew your subscription if no one is on the waitlist to sign up.
  • Podcasts on a variety of topics, read slowly and clearly, with accompanying complete transcripts, including some vocabulary annotations. The German is generally quite complex, but there is also an "Absolute Beginner" section consisting of a few podcasts in English introducing some practical German vocabulary. You may also want to check out the "Deutsche Musik" section. There's currently (1/15) an iPod app, but not yet an Android version.
  • Verbotene Liebe This is a long-running German soap opera. The link takes you to episode 1; the related links should generally take you to the next episode, and if you make a YouTube account, you can find where you left off in your viewing history. Subtitled versions of many of the episodes are available, but the visuals and the soap opera plots should make it easy to follow even without subtitles. A new story cycle usually starts every two years or so, usually built around some sort of forbidden love at first sight.
  • Tagesschau in 100 Sekunden Watch the main news of the day, condensed into 100 seconds; updated multiple times daily. The visuals and text should help you follow what's going on. Very clear German, and interesting to compare with the headlines in the U.S. If you have more time, watch the 20 Uhr Tagesschau, which is 15 minutes long.
  • Die Sendung mit der Maus Video Podcast Die Sendung mit der Maus is a popular kids' show with ingenious simple explanations of how things work that are just as educational for adults. Great listening practice! All the more recent episodes are available here; however, the oldest of these files (from 2008 through October 2009) don't seem to work.
  • SACODEYL Video Corpus: European Youth Language Great site, BUT it's designed for the Real Player, which you'll need to download in order to be able to play the videos [Search for "Real Player" or "Real Player for Mac" in order to find the version you need]. If you're ready to try that, here's how the site works: Select "German" from the language pulldown menu, and you will see about 20 video interviews with students aged 13-18. Most are 10-12 minutes; some are significantly longer. The interviews focus on everyday topics (food, hobbies, clothing, school, music, computers, cell phones etc.) and are clearly spoken. You can simply watch the clips, or get more focused practice by using the "Section Search" option. This will return all clips that match your criteria, plus a complete transcript of each clip (!). You can search by
    • level of difficulty ("CEF Level": A1 roughly corresponds to 101/102; A2 roughly corresponds to 231/232; B1 roughly corresponds to 232/325/326)
    • grammatical topic
    • communicative function (beschreiben = describing; erzählen = narrating; vergleichen = comparing; Meinungen äußern = expressing opinions; begründen = giving reasons; argumentieren = making arguments; Wünsche äußern = expressing wishes; Inhaltsangabe = plot summary/description of contents)
    • topic/theme (sich vorstellen = introducing oneself; Alltagsroutinen = daily routines; Auslandsaufenthalt = stays abroad; Schulwechsel = changing schools; Fächerneigungen = opinions about school subjects; Zukunftspläne = plans for the future; Berufspraktikum = internship; Feiertage = holidays; Haustiere = pets; Vorlieben und Abneigungen = likes and dislikes)
    • etc.
  • Deutsche Welle: Langsam gesprochene Nachrichten [Click on the link, then scroll down to "Langsam gesprochene Nachrichten and click on today's date. Then you'll see the text, and at the bottom of the page, the link to the audio file.] Here you can listen to German news spoken slowly and clearly, and simultaneously follow along in the text. Also check out the many other audio offerings on the Deutsche Welle site!
  • Piggeldy & Frederick YouTube Channel Each episode centers around the little pig Piggeldy asking his big brother Frederick a question like "Was ist das Meer [=the sea]?" or "Was ist ein Schmetterling [=butterfly]?" or "Was ist Fernweh [=wanderlust, the longing for distant places]?" Frederick is always initially eager to show Piggeldy the answer, but sometimes gets exasperated by Piggeldy's questions, which often revolve around why things don't have more logical names (e.g. if the Schmetterling eats nectar all day, why isn't he called "Nektarling"?). Useful vocab:
    • Piggeldy wollte wissen, was _____ ist = P wanted to know what _____ is.
    • Nichts leichter als das! Komm mit! = Nothing's easier than that! Come with me!
    • Piggeldy folgte Frederick = P followed F
    • Wenn __________, warum heißt er/sie/es / heißen sie dann nicht _________? = If _____________, then why isn't it/aren't they called _________?
    • Sie liefen....auf dem Weg...= They walked/ran...on the way...
    • Quatsch nicht dazwischen/Plapper nicht dazwischen = Don't interrupt me with your nonsense [lit: Don't talk nonsense in between (what I'm saying)]
    • Unterbrich mich nicht = Don't interrupt me
  • BBC: DeutschPlus 10 episodes focused on aspects of everyday language (shopping, phoning, traveling, telling time etc.) to watch or listen to; transcripts are available.
  • Die drei ??? These radio plays about 3 boy detectives were originally intended for children, but as the audience and the speakers themselves have grown up over the years since the first episode was released in 1979, more and more adults enjoy the show, collect episodes, etc. The audio is clear, and the plots follow "mystery" conventions, so it should be possible for you to be able to follow the plot after a semester or two of German. Don't worry if there are parts you can't understand! The series originalted in the US, but was more successful in Germany. The original episodes are based on English originals; the newer episodes were written entirely in Germany. More info about the series is here (Deutsch) or here (English).
    • Schatten unter Hollywood This is a "fan version," not an original recording. The link takes you to part 1 of 6; follow the links to see the remaining parts. Episode summary (copied from the spisode guide linked below): Eine weiße Gestalt [=figure] stürzt [=falls] vom berühmten Hollywood-Schriftzug in Hollywood Hills und verschwindet spurlos [=disappears without a trace]. Fragmente eines seltsamen Briefs tauchen auf [=appear], Menschen geraten in [here: fall into] hinterhältige Fallen [=devious traps] und die drei ??? bekommen es mit dem Geist einer Hollywood-Schauspielerin zu tun [bekommen es mit...zu tun = have to contend with]. Sehr schnell wird den drei Detektiven klar, dass dieses Abenteuer sehr viele Gefahren birgt [=conceals many dangers]!
    • Fan-Hörspiele Here you can download for free radio plays created by fans that follow the original books more closely.
    • Episode guide Click on "Hörspiele" and then on the center link ("??? - Hörspiele") to get access to summaries and commentaries on all the episodes.
    • Here you can pay to download mp3s of more episodes. Look for "Die drei ???" (not "Die drei !!!" or "Die drei ??? Kids")
  • Slow German Annik Rubens in Germany has created this blog in which she speaks very clearly on a variety of subjects, while you can follow the transcript in the blog.
  • Lebendiges Museum Online Archive Here you can choose from a wide range of historical audio and video files (to see the video tab, scroll all the way to the right) as well as all kinds of other statistics, maps etc.
  •'s German Language Lab Lots of listening practice ranging from the alphabet to tongue twisters.
  • Marvellous site where you can download free mp3 files of various (mostly literary) texts being read aloud in very clear German. Clicking on the audio icon gives you just an excerpt of the text ==> click on the disk icon to download the entire text. You can also click on the document icon to see the written version of the text in a separate browser window. To find a specific text, click on "Autoren." A good starting point might be the Grimm fairy tales, which you can get to via the site's home page.
  • Deutsche Welle Audio on Demand and Deutsche Welle Video on Demand Lots to choose from, including music, news, science (Projekt Zukunft), a 5-minute sports show etc.
  • Lyrikline A poetry site.  Click on "Autoren" for a selection of authors, for many of whom you can then hear a recording of the poet herself/himself reading the poem!
  • Deutsch 328 an der Creighton University: Studies in Contemporary German Culture--The Last 25 Years. Professor Böhlke has compiled a great collection of online audio and video files as part of this course, which you can access by clicking on the links in this online syllabus. Those labeled "PW" are password-protected, but all others are freely accessible.


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