The site offers audio files of select works of a wide (and growing) range of authors. Users can listen to and/or download readings in mp3 format. Each author is introduced briefly. There are also a French and a Dutch language version (as well as a general access interface in English).
Type of Material:
Professionally recorded literary works of selected--mostly well-known--authors (including a few non-German authors such as Charles Baudelaire, Edgar Allan Poe, and Ambrose Bierce).
Users can listen for pure pleasure, or on the more utlitiarian side, they can peruse the texts to refine their listening skills. For many texts, links to written versions are provided. This could be helpful by allowing users to read along with the recitations.
An .mp3 player (widely available for all operating systems) as well as speakers and/or headphones.
Identify Major Learning Goals:
While this has not been conceived as a learning object, language learners can benefit tremendously from this site. They can improve their listening skills and become familiar with authors and their work.
Target Student Population:
Students with a good grasp of German will derive the greatest use from this site. Other than the short author bios, there is no supporting material (e.g. vocabulary lists, comprehension questions, etc.)
The most important aspect is that this material has been made available in this format in the first place (however, only works for which copyright protection has expired are represented).
A small drawback of the site is that a large part of the represented works are poems, which, of course, readily lend themselves to this mode of presentation, more so than longer prose works. Most of the prose texts are available in selections only. At this point, there are no dramatic works available, and it appears none are planned for inclusion.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
Being able to listen to professionally presented audio materials provides an invaluable listening comprehension experience. This experience can be enhanced by utilizing the written versions of the works recited (whenever available). Users have the opportunity to listen to texts read by professional German orators for a general audience, which means they are listening to authentic speech, not to language which has been slowed down for learners.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
All necessary information is presented in a clean, straightforward, and easily understandable manner. Each page features a horizontal menu with the most important links (home, authors, faq, etc.). The author pages list the works available by the respective author, along with icons that represent the available functions (listen, download, link to the written version of the appropriate work, etc.). The icons themselves are briefly explained on every page just above the listing of texts. Every author page features a dropdown list of all available authors, making navigation as convenient as possible. One can jump from author to author without ever backtracking through visited pages.
Other Issues and Comments:
Not only Germanic authors are presented but some renditions of foreign works (and selected files in the language of origin) are included as well. At this point,
the list of available authors and works is somewhat limited, largely due to the fact that the site is in the beginning stages, but also due to the fact that for copyright reasons certain authors have to remain excluded until their work moves to the public domain. The result is that generally only material 70 years or older is included. While listeners may be surprised by a given reading and interpretation this is typically not a precluding problem for a language learner who will profit from the availability of the files per se. The site is ad-supported, however, at the moment the ads are presented rather unobtrusively on the sideline (either on the right margin or at the bottom).
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