Language learning can be so great because you will learn by doing things that would otherwise be considered un- or even counterproductive. Say going to a bar during a study abroad stay, playing a good computer game in a foreign language, mindlessly surfing the web, or of course watching TV.
This has been a difficult thing to do when one is not in the country of the target language. Services, such as SCOLA or foreign language TV offered by the Dish Network, have never really made me happy as a foreign language instructor. Too limited, too restricted, too artificial. There are alternatives, such as YouTube or various podcasts, but actual, high-quality TV is hard to come by.
Well, I am happy that TV shows streamed through the internet are becoming more and more common. The first time I could watch a missed Lost episode on ABC’s web site for free and legally I thought that this would beat the traditional TV offerings for language learners. And slowly but surely more and more shows are offered in surprisingly good quality. Those who understand German should definitely check out the new ZDF Mediathek, which was started only a few days ago. Free, worldwide access, great quality even through my home wi-fi connection, browser-based (no plug-in install necessary) PC and Mac compatible (I wish Netflix was using the same technology…). Some shows can even be downloaded, and there is a handy RSS feed that will remind you when a new episode of your favorite series is available.
The ZDF is not the first German channel to offer such a service. The private channel RTL, for example, has been offering such a service for a while, but the ZDF Mediathek is much nicer.
This is such a wonderful resource, and it sure beats paying for fake Dish foreign language channels. The German offerings, for example, differ considerably from those actually shown in Germany.
So I would like to ask anyone reading this post to please post similar offerings in other languages as comments.