Before arriving in Germany, I mentioned that I was using Mango Languages to learn an assortment of useful phrases and vocabulary. Mango tends to focus on topics that a tourist may want to know: asking for directions, going out to eat, meeting people, shopping, etc. It is great for quickly learning the essentials. However, it is missing one huge language-learning component: listening comprehension. I now know how to ask all sorts of questions, but I can’t necessarily understand the answer!
A friend who recently worked for a year in Germany sent me a link to the podcast “Warum nicht?” (“Why not?”) produced by Deutsche Welle and the Goethe Institute. It is a free podcast accompanied by PDF downloads with grammar explanations, vocabulary lists, and exercises. It is perfect for working on listening comprehension! Each lesson breaks down a conversation to teach vocabulary, grammar, comprehension, and cultural points. The best part? The story in the podcasts takes place in Aachen!
Another resource from Deutsche Welle is a complete online course called Deutsch Interactiv. It includes exercises for listening, reading, writing, and speaking as well as quizzes and tests to check your knowledge. It takes a while to get used to, but I am thoroughly impressed by the course. Did I mention that it’s free? (It reminds me a lot of the online Catalan program Parla.cat, which I used to study Catalan.) The only real problem for me is that it takes all the energy of a classroom course, but without the encouragement of a teacher. Sometimes I’m too tired to work on it!
I recommend any and all of these resources for learning German. Each course has a different approach that addresses particular needs. Of course, none of them are the same as face-to-face interaction with other speakers, which is why I appreciate all the locals who take the time to talk with me!