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Online Listening Tips for German

Hören Sie zu! Listen!

A Practical Guide to Listening to German Online

Radio | Television | Podcasts | Streaming Audio / Video

In an earlier article, "Are You Listening?," I pointed out the importance of listening to German. Language-learners obviously need to hear the language they're learning, and hear it often. You should read that article if you haven't already, but this page is more of a how-to for Web listening.

A past survey by your Guide revealed that many of our visitors listen to German on the Web. Just over 60% of the respondents said they have listened to German online. While most do so at least once a month, some 15% of those surveyed listen to German radio or other online audio more than once a week. But a disappointing 39% of survey respondents said they had never listened to German online!

The Web offers a great opportunity for listening to real, everyday German, an opportunity that only a few years ago was limited mostly to shortwave radio and just a handfull of broadcasters. Today even the average computer-owner can watch German television (das Fernsehen) online, listen to podcasts, and German radio stations offering streaming audio on the Web.

Since the software for online audio or video is free, there is really no excuse for not listening to German online. Virtually any computer made in the last few years, Mac or PC, is capable of using this free software. Even an older computer with a slower processor, a sound card and a modem can play streaming audio from the Web (but a faster system is much better).

Below we offer three basic items of interest for online listening: (1) system requirements and software for listening on the Web, (2) sources of free listening software, (3) sources of online audio. A fourth, Sources of Offline Audio, is thrown in for those times when you're not at your computer. You will also find a list of more related links at the end of this feature, including our special Streaming Audio FAQ.

Good listening!

1. System Requirements for online listening

MINIMUM configuration / Ideal configuration

  • 400 MHz processor / 800 MHz or better
  • 56K modem or ISDN / DSL or cable modem
  • Soundcard (included in all newer computers)
  • Windows 98, Mac OS 9 / Windows XP / Vista, Mac OS X
  • 128MB of memory / 1 GB or higher
  • Min. 30 MB of free hard disk space / You can never have too much!
  • Free streaming software (RealPlayer, Media Player, QuickTime) / "Plus" or "Pro" versions with extra features
  • A current web browser (Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, etc.) configured with the proper plug-ins for various audio formats (.wav, .mp3, Real, etc.)
  • For podcasts: The free iTunes software (Mac and Windows) or other applications for finding and subscribing to audio / video podcasts.

Streaming Audio FAQ - If you need more info about streaming audio, see our special FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) on German online audio.

2. Sources of Listening Software

Each streaming media player comes in (1) a free version (sometimes well hidden at the Web site) and (2) a pay version with extra features. In all cases you will find the free version quite adequate for listening to German online (or watching video). But you may want the extra features that an upgraded pay version offers. Once you have downloaded the software, you'll need to install it and configure it for your browser (usually automatic or easy to do).

NOTE: Most of the above have both free and paid versions. Some providers make the free version hard to find, but it's there somewhere! New versions of each player come out from time to time. It is a good idea to update to the latest version, since some online audio sources will not work with older versions.

3. Sources of Online Audio/Video

4. Sources of Offline Audio/Video

Related Pages

Streaming Audio FAQ
If you want to know more about steaming audio, see our special FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) on German online audio.

Are You Listening?
Why you should be! Plus links to various sources of German audio online.

Using iTunes for German
All about how to find and download German music from iTunes (Mac or Windows).

Podcasts for German
Learn how to find and listen to German podcasts -- audio or video.

German for Beginners
Our free online course with sound for some lessons and exercises.

German Language Lab
Audio files (wav, mp3, ra) with the sounds of German in our own Language Lab.

How to Record Online Streaming Audio
Advice, software, and links from About Guide for Radio, Corey Deitz.

Radio - About
Online listening advice from Corey Deitz, About's Guide to Radio. Includes help with streaming audio.

Listening to Germany
A review of the German audio magazine Schau ins Land, available on tape or CD.

Online TV/Video
German TV and streaming video on the Web.

The Sound of Music... and Lyrics
German music and lyrics make learning fun.

Using Authentic Language Sources on the Web
Techniques and tips (some from readers). How even beginners can use "real" German on the Web to learn the language.

German Newsletters
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