Have you ever studied a language diligently only to discover that when you actually speak it, you only get enough out to get a response back that you do not understand. This is because you can not learn dialog in a classroom or text book. Dialog can only be learned by speaking, or watching somebody have conversation.
When I studied German for three years I felt pretty confident in knowing how to translate what I was saying, but on the flip side, once I spoke I was not prepared for the conversation to follow. How could I compete with a native speaker who quickly dissected my broken dialog and spoke back with a vengeance. It was almost like a set up. I would ask how are you doing? And they would respond in paragraph form.
Then I would have the ” I have no idea what you just said” face. School, or books, or language programs did not prepare me for answers like “mude wie sonstwas” which in English would mean “tired as hell”. So where could I get a more realistic version of German lessons? That would be more effective in everyday life? From watching them have everyday life. But how could I do this if I was not in Germany? I could not follow Germans around the city so I did the next best thing. I watched German Television. And the coolest thing is that I mostly watched it for free.
ARD Public German Broadcast
I had two options for doing this because there are really only two options to choose from. The two national German Television stations are ZDF and ARD. Under this umbrella there are a bunch of regional channels that are local. The Germane viewers pay for these national broadcast channels so they have almost no advertising which means you will not have to sit through a bunch of commercials. The programs that air are not made just to sell, they actually have meaningful content that you can learn from. And this is what these programs aim to share instead of whatever gets the most viewers. With the Public Broadcast channels you will find things that are family friendly like nature documentaries and real quality journalism.
ZDF Commercial German Broadcast
On the commercial broadcasting side you are going to find all your blockbuster movies, cartoons, and some special internet station hosts like Spartensender. You will also find popular private channels like Pro 7, Sat 1 and Vox.
How can you watch German television on your Laptop or mobile device?
There is an amazing media library on the ARD, or the public broadcasting service, that you can access by using ardmediathek.de and it is also conveniently available for your Andriod or your iOS in app form. All you have to do is click the LIVE link and you can watch the public broadcasting service stream channels right to your mobile device.
Another option you have using the commercial broadcasting service, or the ZDF, has a program called Mediathek which has a direct link to the ZDF main live stream. This also comes in an app for your Android and iOS mobile device. Or you can go with the second Mediathek option which is called Arte and this is a live stream as well. This option is Franco-German TV network so you may get more of a variety especially if you are interested in politics, news and documentaries.
The flip side to using these awesome media libraries is that some people may not have access because some of the live streams are not available internationally. The media libraries that are geo-restricted can leaves a lot of people left out. If this does happen to you there is a solution. You could try to use a Virtual Private Network, or VTN. This connection allows you watch them using a program called “unblockus” which allows you to gain access to the ZDF live streams while you are far away. Another program that will allow you to gain access is called “hola”. You can pretty much use any free VPN solution and you will be able to have access to watch streamed shows.
Last but not least you can skip the media libraries all together and go directly to your browser on your Android or iOS mobile device. There is Zattoo for Android or your iOS and there is Wilmaa, and Teleboy. They will all be free but the bad news is that many of them are only accessible to the Swiss Public. So your chances of watching free German Television on this drops drastically if your not in the Swiss Republic.
Regular online television websites
The final option available to you is to watch the websites online at schooner-fernsehen.com and also filmon.com. On schooner-fersehen.com you can watch both public and private TV stations. But you will have commercials or ads and the picture quality of the live stream may be poor. But on filmon.com you can watch up to five different German television channels for free. These channels include Euronews, Eurosport, kika, ZDF, and more.
Websites, where you can watch German TV
In conclusion, you can learn how be fluent in German by watching TV. It is a win win situation because it is free and it is a real view of how they really speak in real life. So many people use apps and self study textbooks to learn a language but the best way to learn a language is to submerge yourself in the culture. So stop stuffing your brain with flashcards and memory tapes and start learning the fun way. Translating isolated sentences can become very repetitive and unless you like learning this way, it can actually hinder you. Weather you are a native speaker and want some fun home shows to watch or you are a person learning the language it is wonderful to know we have access to this. So what are you waiting for? Go stream some German shows and start learning today! You will be so glad you did.