Radio D part 2 beginning to be available in other languages besides English

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Radio D is a course for those beginning to learn German, and I'm actually not a big fan of the course itself. Here's what makes the course less than stellar:

  • The characters aren't very convincing and are often annoying (there's a character called Compu that is the worst of them all)
  • There's way too much background noise compared to the amount of dialogue. In the beginning lessons you often have to listen to the sounds of a character walking around a house, making some coffee, turning on the radio etc. before you finally get to hear the dialogue: "Der Kaffee ist gut!" Well, that was certainly worth the minute's wait.
  • Radio D begins introducing regional variations of the language right in the beginning before you have any idea what's going on. There's nothing wrong with showing that to students, but right in the beginning it's more confusing than anything. At least in Deutsch - Warum Nicht? they waited until section 4 (the last section) before talking about Herr von Ribbeck auf Ribbeck (Und kam in Pantinen ein Junge daher, So rief er: „Junge, wist’ ne Beer?“ Und kam ein Mädel, so rief er: „Lütt Dirn, Kumm man röwer, ick hebb’ ne Birn.“
So what's good about Radio D then? The big difference between Deutsch - Warum Nicht and Radio D is that Radio D has a complete pdf with all the dialogue in both German and the other language. Deutsch - Warum Nicht has a 15-minute mp3, the dialogue in German on the pdf and a certain amount of explanation in the other language, but there's no help for you in knowing what the announcer is saying unless you already know the language pretty well. Since Radio D has absolutely everything written out, it's perfect if you're learning a relatively obscure language like Bulgarian or Romanian and want to both hear the language, and read along at the same time.

Here's an example of some of the dialogue from Radio D in Persian:

That makes Radio D a good place to learn a language for those that either can't find any material in the language they're learning at all, want to learn German at the same time, or are German/already know quite a bit of the language.

Radio D has recently come out with part 2, which has the same inane characters but at least the dialogue has become much lengthier than before so it's somewhat more tolerable. For a while it was only available in English but I noticed that on the Persian-language page the mp3s are now available (not pdfs yet), so it looks like they're currently in the process of recording and writing the second part out in other languages. Last time it took about a month for each language to have its own version. That's probably also why a lot of the site has been down for the past few days. Persian was down yesterday, and today it's back up with the new course material.

Now, if you're not just beginning a language but are studying a language that you're pretty good at, then definitely go with Deutsch - Warum Nicht (here it is in Portuguese for example). It's an older course so some of the dialogue is a bit dated ("I'm going to go sell some records!" and "Wow, you have a computer?!" spring to mind) but overall it's superior to Radio D in every way - the characters are much better, the music is better, there's not as much inane empty space in the dialogues, and it just comes out with a much better atmosphere than Radio D, which always seems like it's trying to impress you in some way. The character Ex (an invisible sprite-like creature that hangs out with the main character Andreas) is one of my favourites too.


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