Saturday, 27 March 2010

Podcasts from FAZ

Yet another source of audio podcasts, this time from Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. They can be found at or you could subscribe to the RSS feed As well as downloading there is also the option to listen to the podcasts online.

They are not produced very often but the range of subjects covered is quite wide and interesting. Length varies between 7 and 17 minutes. I've just listened to one about climate change and I think this would be suitable as a listening exercise for intermediate level students.

Learning takes effort

Learning German does take some effort. I'm not certain that organise my efforts adequately, particularly since blogging draws me to a range of different sources and ideas and away from prolonged practice. Reading is where I notice the difference most. Browsing presents me with lots of material that I skim read. If something interests me I will read the piece more thoroughly and perhaps look for some other sources on the same topic. Reading German novels does provide some balance because I'm working with the same material for a sustained period.

The effort required for study may not be so obvious to those making the transition from school to university as is implied by what is reported of Baden-Württenburgs Wissenschaftsminister Peter Frankenberg - Frankfurter Algemeine Zeitung 23.3.2010 - Es müsse Studienwillige klar sein, dass Studieren mit Anstrengung verbunden sei.

This was in an article discussing possible changes to the length of degree courses, making some four years rather than three. Some are arguing for a "College-Jahr" and I quote

Konkret ist daran gedacht, ein naturwissenschaftliches und geisteswissenschaftliches College-Jahre anzubieten, das Abiturienten auch die Möglichkeit gibt, sich der Vielfalt naturwissenschaftlicher oder geisteswissenschaflicher Fächer zu orientieren und mögliche Mängel der verkürzten Schulbildung aufzuholen.

The Fachhochschulen have particular problems with students coming to them without an adequate grounding in maths and that has led to a higher dropout rate.

Einige von ihnen böten schon lange Sommerschulen an, um Defizite - etwas bei den mathematischen Grundlagen zu überbrücken. Das gilt vor allem für Mathematik und Naturwissehschaften. Nicht alle Schulabsolventen seien über Schulmathematik hinausgelangt und wenig vorbereitet auf mathematisches Denken.

The full article is available from FAZ for a small fee.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Denisova man

I suppose it's not unreasonable to have to wait until now to hear about a discovery made in 2008 when we're talking about a tiny piece of bone from the finger of a previously unknown type of early human that had been lying in a cave in Denisova in Siberia. The report I read was in Focus under the heading Wissenschaftler entdecken bislang unbekannte Menschenform  Because it is so cold in Siberia the DNA had been preserved and scientists were able to compare it with DNA from homo sapiens sapiens and homo sapiens neandertalis

Test your understanding
Warum müssen die Wissenschaftler das Textbuch korrigieren?
Was ist wie ein Kühlschrank?
Wer waren überrascht von der Entdeckung?

Further reports on this theme:
Neue Menschenform entdeckt
Forscher entdecken neue Menschenform

Tuesday, 23 March 2010


I cannot remember the last time I visited a cinema so I find it a little strange to be recommending sources of information about cinema and film trends in Germany. My starting point is the incredibly rich which has details of 73,500 German feature films from 1895 to the present. Thy claim 7,000 titles are covered in-depth with synopses, reviews, photos or posters. On top of that 3000 biographies and introductory texts on important aspects and periods of German film history. Their multimedia section has trailers, film clips and more. This site also lets you search the literature of just about every film library in Germany.

So how do you find out about trends in German film? Just look at the Themen page and you'll find Aktuelle Tendenzen.

Deutsche Welle has a monthly film report about the latest German filems - KINO Das DeutscheFilmmagazin. is a communication platform for film fans covering many genres. and are worth a look. For a multi-lingual film dictionary go to

Monday, 22 March 2010

Putting our own house in order

We often speak of the need to put our own house in order and there is a very similar expression in German as you can see from this quote from

Die Kirche solle jetzt "nicht mit dem Finger auf andere zeigen, sondern wir sollen unser eigenes Haus in Ordnung bringen, und dann können es andere auch tun"

This extract comes from a report  about what the Bishop of Regensburg is supposed to have said in a sermon at the weekend in connection with the child abuse scandal that has been deeply disturbing news for the German public and for the Roman Catholic Church. Over the years churches, regardless of denomination, have had to face unwelcome truths about their failures to safeguard children in the past. The procedures now in place will hopefully reduce abuse but the responses to revelations or allegations about what has happened in the past are still too often hedged about with defensiveness that suggests not all church leaders are committed to the openness that is needed to really change their internal culture. When they really don't 'get it' then it must be all too easy to see public and press opinion as eine Kampagne gegen die Kirche