One way to learn and improve your skills in a new language is to imitate children when they learn their mother languages. Children do not go to schools or institutes to learn their mother languages; they simply listen to the language spoken around them. With time, they acquire it.
I knew the above technique of “simply listening to the language spoken” when I was approximately in the ninth grade. Before that, it did not turn to me to start watching TV programs that are aired in English without translation. Yes, I used to watch a lot of Hollywood movie and series on satellites. But, I benefited so little from that because I entirely depended on the Arabic subtitles. “I watch movies without subtitles” I heard this sentence from four of the most proficient and American-accent speaking Jordanians I know. They all advised me to watch movies without subtitles. A friend of mine also believed in the above technique. He told me about an uncle of his who stuck a plaster on the lower aspect of his LCD TV screen in order to hide the Arabic translation; very interesting!
After beginning to hide the subtitles and watching English-only channels, I could easily notice that I started to significantly improve my English . I started paying more attention to what is said in movies. I think that helped me a lot in improving my English, mainly in listening and speaking. Yes, speaking. Although I am just listening, but I am listening to the correct pronunciation again and again. I believe that with time, you will start noticing the flaws in your pronunciation. Hence, you will feel the need to modify how you say things.
Since early July, I started learning the German language. From the first days of my starting to learn the German language, I began downloading German videos, mainly videos and movies. Now, I have more than 75 GB of such material.
I watched a lot of these German videos and movies. I did that on my laptop and mobile phone. It was a great experience! Especially the German movies! Have you ever watched the German movie Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others)?
To listen also to German, I searched the internet for German radios. I discovered many websites and a program that offers this service for free:
• TuneIn: A radio stations website: A few days ago, in its facebook page, I read that the number of stations in this website is now more than 100,000. Their service is great. The sound is very clear, and it is easy to explore the stations based on language, country, genre, and bitrate. Moreover, you can download a mobile application of this website and start listening to the radio on your phone. How much data can this consume? Please continue reading below before deciding to listen to a radio on your mobile phone:
• RarmaRadio: This program is like the TuneIn radio website. You can explore stations based on country. I could roughly calculate that this program has 700+ German Radio stations. Below is the interface of the program. This program is totally free. You can record what you listen to for later hearing offline. Notice the selected station “Bayern 5 Aktuell”. I like it the best and listened to it almost 95% of the time.
All in all, listening to German radio stations over the internet is certainly a great help. The sound is crystal-clear and you have many options for listening. Nonetheless, the only thing that I did not like was that radio listening consumes a lot of bandwidth. For example, if you listened for 10 hours for a radio station airing at a bitrate of 56 kbps, this mean at least 246+ MB of bandwidth consumed (you can see how the calculations are made in the screenshot next). This is a great disadvantage because I do not have an ADSL connection and the 3G internet prices in Jordan are extremely high. For example, Zain gives me 2 GB of monthly download in return for 6 JD ($8.46). These are not enough for 7 days! How come I listen to a radio!
Secondly, and most importantly, with time, I discovered that it would be much more interesting and beneficial to both watch and listen to German at the same time. I searched the internet for German TV channels. The outcome was not encouraging. Firstly, of course, the data usage that will be required. If 10 hours of radio hearing can consume 250+ MB, how about TV watching? Secondly, and as well importantly, if you are using your computer, then naturally, you cannot both watch the channel and do anything else on your TV.
The solution? I bought a satellite receiver and its appliances. It coasted my “father”, with installation fees, 58 JDs. I had to buy a 90-cm diameter satellite dish.
Isn’t a smaller one good enough? Well, the Arab satellites (Nilesat and Arabsat), do not have German-speaking channels at ALL. To receive transmission from European satellites, you need larger dishes as large as 3 meter and more. I searched the internet for the satellites that air German channels. It turned out that German channels, both free and scrambled, are aired most commonly on a satellite called “Astra 1H @ 19.2°E”. This satellite contains at least 100 German channels. You can see this very useful page that summarizes the German channels on different satellites including Astra 1 H @ 19.2 E: http://www.satage.com/en/list/GermanChannels.php
Unfortunately, the coverage of this satellite does not reach Jordan and virtually any other Arab country. The following is a coverage map of the Astra 1H satellite.
As a result, this left me only with the Hotbird satellite. It turned out that there are multiple Hotbird satellites. The one that we have in Jordan is called “Hotbird 13°East”. Or at least, this is the one which the satellite men installed for us here in Amman and in Karak and which I saw in Jordanian homes. The above 90-cm satellite dish I bought was enough to secure for me a signal quality of up to 60%. The satellite man promised that this is enough to avoid signal problems even during the winter months.
I downloaded all the free channels (FTA) in this satellite. They turned out to be a little bit more than 500. How many German channels (not German-speaking) are out of these 500+? The German channels transmitting 24/7 in German are, after much search, only 2. Yes, two:
1) Das Erste.
2) Das Zweite Deutsche Fernsehen (ZDF)
Now, I will come to details. The third and last Hotbird channel that airs German 24/7 is Euronews. However, it is only the sound that is in German. The writing in this channel is in English. By default, you listen to this channel in English. However, if you change the audio settings of this channel, then you can listen to it in 2 languages other than English: German and French. I do not like this channel at all because the writing is in English. Reading the writing in German on Das Erste and ZDF is a great help. This is one main reason that makes watching TV better than listening to the radio: You can read the language!
There are three other German channels airing in German. However, they do not do that 24/7:
1) The Deutsche Welle: It airs most of the day in English. From the morning time, since about 7:00 AM GMT, until slightly after midday, I noticed that its airs in German.
2) S.Neu Jerusalem: It is a Christian channel. S.Neu Jerusalem airs in German, English, and Italian. I did not establish the times in which it airs in German. This channel puts huge emphasis on Animal protection. This is the first Christian channel in my life to see with such an obsession about animal rights and animal protection.
3) Erde und Mensch: Again, it does not transmit only in German. I am now watching it airing in French.
Finally, there are two other German-speaking non-German channels that I know of. They are from Switzerland. They are the RTL 2 Channel and SRF info. However, many told me that because I am a beginner (even if I am an advanced German language learner), then the dialect of German spoken in Switzerland is very hard to understand. Therefore, it is better to stick only with German channels.
Am I sure of the above number of channels? I think so. I searched all the channels on Hotbird for German channels. Also, I googled a lot for “German Channels on Hotbird”. I hope a website proved my list wrong. On the contrary, all the top search results support my conclusion. This is a great website that lists all the German channels on the Hotbird satellite (click here please). The frequencies in it were last updated not less 27-10-2013. I tried downloading all of the frequencies it mentions. My list above did not change.
JN1 – Jewish news one: This channel always airs in English.
Bundeswehr TV: It did not download with me!
My final list of the German channels on Hotbird 13 E:
58 JD ($81.78) = Two German German-Speaking TV Channels on Hotbird 13 degrees E
All in all, I ended up now most of the time only watching Das Erste and ZDF. At the beginning, I was sad because in return of my 58 JD ($81.78) investment, I got only two German channels airing in German 24/7. Nonetheless, I am now very happy with them. I never felt bored by both of them ending up not watching any thing at all. These channels are really diverse. They air news, movies, talk shows, and a hell lot number of series. You do not expect how many series are aired on these two channels! I could count at least 6.
The frequencies of these channels as of today 1/11/2013: