Nearly everyone at some point has forgotten to unsubscribe from a service and ended up paying far longer than they ever meant to.
That will never happen with News in Slow German.
They’re one of the only companies that don’t automatically renew subscriptions. The only reason they don’t do this is that they consider it to be bad practice.
It’s nice to see a company choose to side with their values when doing so definitely costs them money.
This doesn’t necessarily mean much with regards to whether or not you should consider subscribing to their service, but it’s a great signal nonetheless.
News in Slow German has been releasing a weekly 30-minute episode since 2016. Each episode contains four news stories, grammar, and expressions.
This may not sound like much material, but there’s actually a lot more to it than you may initially expect.
Their episodes are ideal for those with an intermediate level of German, who aren’t quite ready for native German materials. Beginners would be better off finding a German course and advanced learners may prefer to find some podcasts to help them get more listening practice.
This review will take a very detailed look at everything that’s included with a subscription to News in Slow German. Since there are three separate plans including different features, I’ll also try to make it easier to figure out which plan (if any) you should consider.
Let’s get into it.
The audio episodes are the heart of News in Slow German. As the name implies, a major part of these are the current events narrated and discussed at a slower speed, making them much more accessible for those studying German.
But, there’s a lot more to News in Slow German than that.
As I previously mentioned. Each episode has four news stories, a grammar part, and an expressions part. The hosts narrate each news story, discuss it, and add in extra information and their own opinions on the topic.
Each of these news stories lasts around 4 or 5 minutes. They’re interesting, educational, and suitable for those with an intermediate level of German.
Following the news stories is a section on grammar.
The grammar part of the episode is much different than most people are likely expecting. When you find out grammar is included in the lessons, you probably assume that they’ll explain the grammar rules and give examples, just like most German learning resources would do.
But, they’re nothing like that.
Instead of explaining the grammar point in the episode, the hosts simply discuss interesting topics, which often dig into German culture, society, history, and their experiences. Throughout the discussion, they use the grammar point repeatedly but in a natural context.
Then, if you were to look at the transcript, you would see each time the grammar point is used, that word or phrase is bolded. If you do end up deciding to go with the Silver or Gold plans, you’ll then get more detailed explanations on grammar.
It’s quite similar to Grammar Hero, another resource I really enjoyed using.
I really like how News in Slow German approaches grammar. The grammar lessons fit perfectly within the rest of the episodes but also teaches in a very natural manner.
I really enjoyed the expressions section as well.
Similar to the grammar section, this part teaches expressions in a sort of indirect manner.
Instead of giving you a translation and then a bunch of sentences that use that expression, News in Slow German takes a much more holistic approach.
The hosts simply have a discussion about some interesting topic which often ends up teaching you about some facet of German culture. Then, several times during this discussion, a situation will come up where it makes perfect sense to use the expression, and that’s when you’ll hear it.
They don’t actually explain the expression here but rather have a conversation about an unrelated topic and let the expression come up naturally.
I absolutely love this way of approaching expressions. I think it’s much more effective, enjoyable, and natural than pretty much any other resource I’ve come across.
Plus, if you subscribe to the Silver or Gold plans, you’ll get more information there.
The interactive news transcripts are included in all except the audio only plan.
For each of the four news stories, there’s a transcript of the dialog. You’ll notice that many of the words and phrases are written in red. If you hover over these phrases, you’ll be given an English translation.
Because the current events can cover all sorts of challenging topics, this is a super useful resource.
I also like that it’s not only individual words that you can get a translation for. Sometimes you may understand every word in a phrase, but still be unclear of that phrase’s meaning. Having translations for full phrases can make things much easier.
This is just like the interactive news transcripts, but for the grammar part of the episode.
Since grammar isn’t explicitly taught here, and instead, the hosts have a natural discussion, the vocabulary can still be somewhat challenging. Being able to check and see translations of the more difficult words and phrases here can be very useful.
Plus, each time the grammar point was used, you’ll see it written in bold. This makes it easy to see how it’s used and begin to understand the situations it would be used in.
While most of News in Slow German is very unique, the grammar lessons are much more traditional. These lessons look like something you’d find in a textbook.
There’s no audio here, but rather a written explanation of how the grammar point is used, along with examples.
It may not be the most exciting, but it’s definitely necessary. This will be a huge help to really understand the grammar.
There’s also a huge grammar catalog.
The grammar catalog is something that may be very easy to initially overlook but is actually incredibly valuable.
Because News in Slow German has been releasing a new episode every week for a few years, the grammar catalog has become quite large.
I wouldn’t necessarily recommend using this as your sole resource for studying grammar, a textbook would almost certainly have a better structure. However, this is an absurdly good supplemental resource.
Given the nature of the grammar dialogs, where the grammar isn’t actually taught but rather used naturally, the grammar catalog is useful for much more than just studying grammar.
These dialogs discuss a ton of interesting topics and are just as good for improving your listening comprehension, vocabulary, and pretty much everything else as the news stories in the latest episode.
So, even if you have no interest in studying a certain grammar point, you’ll almost certainly find value in listening to the dialog.
The interactive expressions transcripts are just like the other interactive transcripts, but for the expressions section. Again, it’s quite useful.
One interesting note is that sometimes in the expressions lessons, a second expression is used. When that’s the case, you can click on it, taking you to the dialog and lesson for that expression.
Similar to how the grammar lessons don’t include audio, the expressions lessons don’t either. However, this part really doesn’t resemble a textbook in the same way the grammar part does.
It’s actually very interesting and another part of News in Slow German that I really enjoyed using.
During the expressions part of the audio dialog, you don’t actually learn about the expression. Instead, it’s used several times in a natural context.
So here, they take the time to explain the expression. It’s written nearly entirely in German with the exception of the translations for some examples.
I really enjoyed how they tell you more about how the expression originated and became commonly used. This can be really interesting.
There’s also a huge catalog of expressions.
This part of News in Slow German definitely shouldn’t be ignored.
Since the expressions (and grammar) dialogs are just as relevant years after when they were initially recorded, this is a huge library of useful study material.
You can listen to the dialogs and read the lessons of all the expressions that have been created since News in Slow German began.
So, although they only release one 30 minute episode per week, the amount of material available for you to study is really astounding.
The pronunciation practice is one of the weaker areas of News in Slow German though it’s not entirely their fault.
In this section, you’ll be given a recording of a phrase or sentence and the record yourself mimicking the native German speaker. This is one of the best ways to improve your spoken German, so their heart was really in the right place.
The reason I’m not so excited about it here is that there’s another resource, Speechling, that does this much better. On Speechling, for free, you can record yourself mimicking thousands of sentences recorded by native German speakers. Then, if you’re willing to pay, you can also get feedback on your pronunciation.
The interactive grammar quizzes are fill in the blank questions related to that episode’s grammar point.
Like the grammar lessons, it may not be the most exciting part of News in Slow German, but it’s still quite useful. In order to master a grammar point, you have to be able to use it yourself. This section helps you learn to do that.
You can also hover your mouse over the words written in red to see translations or click a button to see the answers.
There are a few different plans with subscription lengths between one month and one year.
|One Month||Six Months||One Year|
Here’s a quick summary of what’s included in each plan.
Audio Only – Only the audio.
Bronze – Audio, Interactive News Transcripts
Silver – Audio, All Interactive Transcripts, Grammar and Expressions Lessons
Gold – Audio, All Interactive Transcripts, Grammar and Expressions Lessons, Pronunciation Practice and Grammar Quizzes
So, what would I recommend?
I think for most people it would make the most sense to sign up for either a six month or one year plan because of the cost savings that come with that. This is also largely because of how extensive the grammar and expressions catalogs are. There’s just so much material that it would be hard to ever work your way through all of it.
Although the Bronze plan is quite a bit cheaper, I’m a pretty big fan of the extras that come with the Silver plan. To really learn the grammar and expressions, you’d probably need the Silver plan. Though, if you just want to listen to the dialogs, the Bronze plan is solid value.
At the Gold level, the only real benefit is the grammar quizzes, but since it’s only $10 more per year than the Silver plan, it’s hard to not go for it.
The audio-only plan is pretty reasonable as well for those that just want some extra listening practice.
Basically, I don’t really think there’s any bad option. All of them are reasonable choices and offer good value to students.
I really enjoyed using News in Slow German. They manage to do everything really well.
It’s rare for a resource to be as much fun to use, without sacrificing on quality and effectiveness. I love the way they teach grammar and expressions as it feels very natural, making it easier to internalize how both are used.
Some resources, like GermanPod101, try to emphasize just how many features they have when many of them aren’t at all useful. With News in Slow German, everything serves a purpose. It’s an impressively well thought out resource that is actually fun to use.