One of the best ways to improve your listening comprehension is watching German TV online. In spoken language, people use different words and phrases than they do in writing. They use slang, they skip words and their pronunciation often shows regional influences. That's why the more you listen to authentic material, the easier you will find it to understand what people say.
However, just watching the programs is not enough. A very useful exercise is writing down what you understand. You will be using three different skills at the same time: hearing, writing, and reading. The more senses you use in language learning, the more of your brain will be involved in retaining the memory.
Another beneficial activity is repeating words and sentences that you hear. This exercise is great because the brain gets used to new structures. You don't only hear the words but also pronounce them and you start paying attention to details and fragments. Like that, it will be much easier to remember new vocabulary and use the words in real-life situations.
Below you will find a list of five broadcasters that allow you to watch German TV online. For copyright reasons, some programs can only be watched from within Germany. However, if you use a VPN service and choose a German server, you will be considered “local” and should be able to watch all the available content.
ARD is a joint organization of Germany's regional public-service broadcasters. The ARD is the world's second largest public broadcaster after the British Broadcasting Corporation and offers a live television stream as well as recorded programs.
ZDF is the second German public-service television broadcaster. It is run as an independent non-profit institution, and was founded by all federal states of Germany. It also offers TV live streaming, a selection of recorded programs and an iPad/iPhone app.
n-tv is a German television news channel and screens news bulletins on the hour and half-hour; in between, it broadcasts informational programs and advertising. If you'd like to tune in to the latest news, this is the place to be.
ProSieben is a commercial television station in Germany distributed to a large extent via cable and satellite. Although some of ProSieben's programming is self-produced, it also airs many North American imports. The best part is that you can watch those TV shows, magazines and event shows on their online VOD platform.
Arte is a Franco-German TV network that promotes programming in the areas of culture and the arts. As an international joint venture, its programs cater to audiences from both France and Germany. In addition to their live stream I also recommend checking out their other high quality programs in the section called +7.
Do you know any additional broadcasters that allow you to watch German TV online? Please feel free to share in the comments.