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One brilliant and underrated way of improving your German comprehension skills is by listening to podcasts. Even if you can’t understand absolutely everything, it can be a nice way escaping the stale world of Grammar books and understanding how Germans actually speak. Our student Bea Beressi has selected her five favourite podcasts for us!
1. Durch die Gegend
Host and producer Christian Möller interviews activists, artists and public figures and intellectuals. The interviews take place in the interviewee’s home city, and so you get to know a new person and and new city at the same time!
2. Der Lila Podcast
Three feminist role models - Susanne Klingner, Katrin Rönicke, Barbara Streidl- are the voices of the Lila Podcast, a weekly proramme which explore issues related to contemporary woman-hood. The hosts strike nice balance between the factual and the personal.
Berlin can feel like a vast and anonymous place, especially when you have just arrived. In Kiezrekoder, Nicolas Semak and Christoph Michael combat the depersonalisation of the mega city . They introduce us to a fireman, a blind pianist, to people ordinary and extraordinary. Through the intimate interviews, the flavour and character of people’s lives comes to light.
4. Einschlafen Podcast
The German answer to Drew Ackerman’s “Sleep with Me Podcast”. Toby Baier has a lovely soothing voice, and his monologues are calming and sweet-sleep enducing.
Another “on the go” podcast - David Kraus and Max Ulrich take a taxi trip through different parts of Berlin with fascinating and entertaining people. It is really entertaining, and also a brilliant way of getting to know the city better!
Apps can be an extremely helpful and motivation addition to your German classes. They are great for memorizing vocabulary and can even help you with grammatical issues like cases or the conjugation of verbs.
Additionally to apps, many publishers of German language books offer online trainings for the grammar and vocabulary taught in the books.
We have gathered a list of useful apps and websites for you in order to make your German learning more effective and fun. Here's our best of!
YouTube offers a wide range of channels with services targeted at German students of different levels. We'd like to suggest the following platforms:
Berlin is known for its huge variety of art and culture, but for a lot of foreigners who aren’t fluent in German, the fields of theater and opera are hard to access. But don’t worry, there are ways to experience these art forms even without extensive German knowledge: Here’s a little list of places which offer plays in English or with surtitles.
Theaters: Aside from the English Theater which focuses on English productions only, Schaubühne on Ku’damm includes two or three productions surtitled in English and even some in French every month. You can find the current dates of the surtitled shows here.
Deutsches Theater (DT) and Maxim Gorki have followed Schaubühne’s lead, with an average of two to three English-surtitled performances per month..
HAU, Ballhaus Naunynstraße and occasionally also Volksbühne have adopted this format. Another chance to see plays with surtitles is the annual Theatertreffen, an event that presents awarded productions from all over the world.
Operas: As their audience from abroad has grown over the years the big opera houses in Berlin offer translations of the opera texts displayed on LED systems embedded into the seats. While Staatsoper and Berliner Oper only provide English surtitles, Komische Oper offers translations in even English, French, German and Turkish.
There are many platforms which offer language exchange in Berlin, but a lot of them are more interested in selling their commercial services than actually connecting people. We'd like to help you find your way through the jungle of organizations and companies - so here's our list for anyone who's looking for a tandem partner or for language exchange events to improve their speaking skills.
Let’s start with Facebook, where you find the biggest private market for language exchange. The social media giant provides a whole bunch of groups in which you can search for Berlin based tandem partners. All you need to do is join the group and post a request with the language you'd like to learn and the language(s) you can offer. The biggest group here is Language Tandem Berlin with over 15.000 members, followed by Tandem - Language Exchange Berlin with around 6.000 members.
The latter belongs to an organization with the same name which also offers a regular "Language Exchange Party", where people from different parts of the worlds meet up and find language partners.
A place to meet new people live and direct is also offered by the Berlin edition of Blabla Language Exchange project. The organizers offer regular meetings in a cozy atmosphere where all attendees start talking in English, while starting to build new groups as soon as two people match language-wise. This way you can either speak in your mother tongue or sit with people who speak the language you are learning.
Another social media platform, where you can find language partners is Meetup. Here you have several groups, where people either search one-to-one partners or organize group meetings in order to learn and speak a new language.
If you are looking for a more personal approach, we'd recommend the tandem pool of the website “erstenachhilfe.de”. The layout of the platform is quite old-fashioned, but here, you can start your own profile with additional information like availabilities and hobbies. You can also scroll through the profiles of other people in your area who are looking for a tandem partner.
A more “matchmaking” kind of concept is being offered by “Orbis Humboldtianus”, an international student group that belongs to Humboldt University. To take part in their Language Exchange Market, you can fill out a registration form for language exchange. The group's matchmaker “Sarah” then tries to find a suitable tandem partner for you on a weekly basis. The group also offers a bi-annual language evening for students.
Get started and find your language partner!
Good luck! And have fun!
Your Transmitter team
This might sound all too familiar: You were trying to read some real German literature, but then quickly find out that the book you bought is too difficult for you. Well, we might have a solution for you: Several German publishing houses offer original literature in a shortened and/or simplified version to make the reading experience for beginners less frustrating.
In our Newsletter from October, we presented a little selection of publishing houses and book series which will help you improve your German. Here’s our list:
The Easy Readers series published by Klett offers both classic and modern German novels and short stories in simplified language. The series contains a variety of books by well-known German writers from different periods of the 20th century - from childhood classics such as Emil und die Detektive to historical books like Die Weiße Rose.
Tatort DaF is another series by Klett and offers “Krimis” (crime stories) for the language level A2 - B2. Just like the popular German crime show Tatort, the novels are located in different German cities and regions such as Hamburg or the Bodensee region.
Die DaF-Bibliothek published by Cornelsen boasts a great selection of novels from different genres, ranging from soap operas to crime stories. All of the books include illustrations, details about the respective regions and a glossary. They are also available as MP3s.
Liebaug-Dartmann, a small publishing house based in Meckenheim, not only has its own series of German grammar books in different languages, but also publishes small and nicely designed novels for both younger people and adults. The novels are suitable for beginners in the A2 level and contain additional information about vocabulary, grammar and different German regions.