Staying Current: Watching the News in your Target Language

In terms of language learning, the skill I always have the most trouble with is listening. It’s always been a problem – and most of that problem comes from the fact that I just don’t practice it enough.

One of the best solutions I’ve found, especially if you’re at about an intermediate level in whichever language you’re learning, is to watch the news in your TL.

What I try and do right now is to watch one approximately 20 minute-long episode of Tagesschau news every night. There are several reasons I find using the news to be particularly helpful:

  1. the headlines are often international; therefore, if you don’t understand something, you can usually find information about it in your native language and that can help you next time (especially if you try to watch it daily).
  2. I like the radio, but the advantage that TV has is that you can see the people speaking. It’s perhaps not as helpful as a TV show because the people are just reporting, but there will be clips (or maps or diagrams) to help to explain their points.
  3. usually there’s a written headline to accompany the story. When I’m watching Tagesschau, I pause the video at the headlines and write them down. It’s not particularly time consuming (the episode I watched on Monday had seven separate stories, not including the weather forecast), but it can help if you look up unknown words before you listen to the report – at least you will have an idea of what they might be talking about.
  4. it helps you to get an idea of the people who live in the/a country of the language you’re learning. If you see which stories are most important to them, you can see where their main concerns are. For example, this week there’s been mention of Karneval and Rosenmontag in the German news because they’re national holidays. News contains culture just as much as anything else does.

As I’ve mentioned above, my favourite way is to pause the video when the headlines come up and look up any unknown words so that I can think a little about the topic and be more prepared for the report when it begins. Different methods work better for different people of course, and it does help that Tagesschau have a 20 minute news segment, so I’m not just putting on live news all the time.

I have a few links to some live news/TV sites for the languages I’m learning to share with you all too:

Tagesschau (videos are linked along the top – they also have the news in 100 seconds which can be a quick way to get some input! In German.)
CCTV (scroll down for your pick of over 15 channels; they have a dedicated news channel, though some don’t always work. In Chinese.)
rtve.es (go here for a 24-hour channel; I don’t really enough to know what I’m doing yet! Still, it seems to have a lot of different videos. In Spanish.)
L!feNews (there’s a handy little button at the top that says live on it in big letters – click on that. There’s also lots of articles for you to browse. In Russian.)

Hopefully this will be helpful for some of you – and I’m hoping to be back on some kind of timely schedule again by next week! Let me know if you use any of these websites — or if you have some more, for any of these languages! 😀

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3 thoughts on “Staying Current: Watching the News in your Target Language

  1. An awesome idea! I try to be imaginetive and constantly find new ways of learning – yet sometimes it feels like I’ve already done it all.. But this I honestly didn’t even think about. Another thing might be finding politically neutral news (keeping my target language in mind) but politics aside, news are certainly a great way of learning vocabulary, grammatically correct speech (versus real life communication or fiction literature) and indeed the culture! I will certainly give this a go.

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    • Yeah, trying to find politically neutral news can be difficult, but with German at least it’s not something that I’m overly concerned with (being as I’m studying German politics at the moment I actually find it quite useful!), though that’s something to look for in the future. And yay, I’m excited to see you’ll try it! I can sometimes find it a bit boring but varying it with other things does make up for a lot of that. 🙂

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  2. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

    I like your recommendations. I’ve found that BBC and Voice of America have shows (video and radio) in tons of languages. They’re my go-to.

    Your recommendation to pause the headlines and get the basic vocab is great. I’ve never tried that, but I think it will be helpful. Thanks!

    I kind of like politically-charged news when I’m studying my languages. It’s fascinating to see new ways of looking at things.

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