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Shortwave Radio for Language Listening

  Tags: Radio | Listening
 Language Learning Forum : Music, Movies, TV & Radio Post Reply
13 messages over 2 pages: 1 2  Next >>
Will
Senior Member
United States
Joined 4833 days ago

165 posts - 165 votes 

 
 Message 1 of 13
21 May 2006 at 3:38am | IP Logged 
I don't get any Spanish language radio stations in my local area so I bought a portable shortwave radio that I keep on my bedside table.

Being in the Southeast U.S. I can mostly only pick up radio from Cuba. And at night an occasional classical music station that I think is being broadcast from Spain.

Anyone else using shortwave radio to great benefit? Or has Internet streaming audio curtailed shortwave radios usefulness?

Edited by Will on 23 May 2006 at 7:31pm

1 person has voted this message useful



fanatic
Octoglot
Senior Member
Australia
speedmathematics.com
Joined 5041 days ago

1152 posts - 1813 votes 
Speaks: English*, German, French, Afrikaans, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Dutch
Studies: Swedish, Norwegian, Polish, Modern Hebrew, Malay, Mandarin, Esperanto

 
 Message 2 of 13
21 May 2006 at 7:16am | IP Logged 
I listened regularly to Radio Nederland, both from Melbourne, Australia and from Germany. Reception was excellent and they broadcast language lessons and offered free books and records to go with their lessons. I found this extremely helpful. At the time I was only playing (flirting) with the language and that was all I wanted.

I found I could understand a lot of the spoken programs, depending on the content material.

I also listened to Radio Moscow from Australia and Germany and they had language lessons as well. Reception was good and they were also very helpful. I used to record the lessons on cassettes to replay later. I already had Russian language courses and this offered good supplementary material.

I also listened to Radio Sweden and bought their long-play record course. That was also excellent.

I also listened to language lessons from Radio Japan and Radio Peking but didn't work at them.

Shortwave radio was an excellent tool to help learn the language and the only way to listen to the language spoken normally.

Enter Internet radio.

Now you can listen to any language from countries that were impossible to pick up on shortwave. Reception is clearer. The Internet is the greatest gift to language learners, offering so much in the way of printed material, spoken broadcasts and language lessons.

Even if the lessons are of a poor quality, they give you somewhere to begin.

In Australia we are fortunate to have radio and television stations that broadcast programs in around 50 languages. There is a lot of scope to improve your listening skills. Technology has been very kind to language-learners.
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victor
Tetraglot
Moderator
United States
Joined 5213 days ago

1098 posts - 1055 votes 
6 sounds
Speaks: Cantonese*, English, FrenchC1, Mandarin
Studies: Spanish
Personal Language Map

 
 Message 3 of 13
21 May 2006 at 1:40pm | IP Logged 
I have a radio on my beside table and I listen to it every night. The machine is from about a decade ago, so it receives shortwave signals very poorly. Generally, I get Spanish and a lot of religious stations from the US. However, I can occassionally pick up Radio China International and Deutsche Welle signals.

Does anybody know if the antenna has to be outside for it to receive well? Mine is very small and designed to be placed inside. I have been wanting to get a better shortwave radio for ages, but they're only sold in small quantities in one or two stores, and they don't ever have the models I want.

Edited by victor on 21 May 2006 at 1:42pm

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Kynes
Triglot
Newbie
Canada
Joined 4671 days ago

6 posts - 6 votes
Speaks: Czech*, English, French

 
 Message 4 of 13
21 May 2006 at 2:35pm | IP Logged 
It isn't shortwave radio but here is one of my favorite sites on the net. For all your language needs:

www.multilingualbooks.com
1 person has voted this message useful



pentatonic
Senior Member
United States
Joined 5142 days ago

221 posts - 245 votes 

 
 Message 5 of 13
21 May 2006 at 3:36pm | IP Logged 
victor wrote:
Does anybody know if the antenna has to be outside for it to receive well? Mine is very small and designed to be placed inside. I have been wanting to get a better shortwave radio for ages, but they're only sold in small quantities in one or two stores, and they don't ever have the models I want.


Have a look at these antennas. Seems like I saw in their catalog that you only need a long wire really, and that seems to be what the cheaper antenna is. Whether it should lead outside or not, I don't know, but I'm sure if you email them they will give you an answer.

They also have really good shortwave radios but they are expensive.
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Will
Senior Member
United States
Joined 4833 days ago

165 posts - 165 votes 

 
 Message 6 of 13
21 May 2006 at 6:39pm | IP Logged 
victor wrote:
I get Spanish and a lot of religious stations from the US. However, I can occassionally pick up Radio China International and Deutsche Welle signals.


victor wrote:
Does anybody know if the antenna has to be outside for it to receive well? Mine is very small and designed to be placed inside.



In general an outside antenna should get better reception but a lot of other factors come into play, some of the factors are out of our control. I only have a portable radio and some time ago I put up a long wire antenna in the backyard and really the reception didn't improve at all. I think that is because of my radio only being a little portable. It is possible to get too much signal. So now I'm back to just a short wire antenna inside the house, with one end connected to the curtain rod and the other end connected to the radio. Really the inside antenna wire is only about six feet long.

From the types of programs you listed that you can receive, if you can receive the programs clearly at times then you are getting what I can pick up here in the lower Southeast United States. I think the more northward one moves on the globe, especially toward the artic circle, the less well reception is received, but there are the other factors involved.

I suspect that if you went out and got a brand new portable shortwave radio you would find that you don't pick up anything new that you can't already hear. Though what you now hear might come in a little clearer, or a lot clearer. I could be wrong but that is what I suspect would happen. The same goes for me.

Now if I purchased an expensive tabletop receiver and put up a really good outside antenna I would hope to be able to pull in things that I can't even hear now. But where one is at on the globe has a lot to do with it. I doubt I would ever be able to hear the types of programs that Fanatic listed as being able to hear, even if they were still being broadcast.


For general knowledge here is a decent shortwave radio web site with links to other web sites:

DXing.com


I'll add this link because it has users giving their opinions of various shortwave radio receivers, etc. I actually read the reviews from this page (and other pages) when I was deciding which portable to get.

Reviews


I do think though that a portable shortwave radio, along with an adequate battery supply, is a good thing to have for emergency purposes.

Edited by Will on 21 May 2006 at 9:26pm

1 person has voted this message useful



strings
Newbie
United States
Joined 4648 days ago

13 posts - 13 votes
Speaks: English*
Studies: German, Spanish

 
 Message 7 of 13
30 May 2006 at 11:45am | IP Logged 
This is my first forum post.

"Now if I purchased an expensive tabletop receiver and put up a really good outside antenna I would hope to be able to pull in things that I can't even hear now. But where one is at on the globe has a lot to do with it. "

Will has summarized it well. It is possible to have a good "station" on very little money. I contacted (transmission plus reception) 150 countries with a simple antenna at 30 feet.

If your receiver is overloading, use an attenuator, reduce the gain, or turn off the preamplifier. The best antennas are tower-mounted log periodics or tree-mounted dipoles or ground-mounted verticals. The second best antenna is a long wire or an active (powered) indoor antenna.

The cheapest shortwave receivers may not have good reception. I am a fan of the Panasonic / GE / RCA models that have a black upright case and cost very little.

Propagation (a term for signal path characteristics) is complex. If you are located near the target country, the signal will be good. For example, the east coast of the USA has good propagation to Europe. The west coast of the USA has good propagation to Asia.

Another trick is sticking to bands which have good propagation. This generally means using 20 meters (14 megahertz) to 40 meters (7 megahertz).

Yet another trick is using a relay in a country close to you. Most major shortwave broadcasters (e.g. Voice of America) have relay stations. Also, they use directional antennas which are beamed toward a target country.

I have heard Swahili, Dutch, Romance languages, "Chinese", Japanese, and many more on shortwave.
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Will
Senior Member
United States
Joined 4833 days ago

165 posts - 165 votes 

 
 Message 8 of 13
30 May 2006 at 12:48pm | IP Logged 
Hello Strings,

Thanks for the knowledgeable post. It sounds like you have experience and a nice radio (station) set up. I am by no means an expert, or experienced amateur on shortwave radio use. The limited knowledge that I do have came from reading on the subject on the Internet and looking over a copy of the "Passport to World Band Radio" when I was looking to get a radio. My first and only shortwave radio has been the Sony ICF-SW 7600GR (My mentioning the model is not a recommendation that it be purchased by anyone).

I think maybe the reason my long wire antenna didn't do well for me is that there is a power line running through the middle of the backyard. Anyway, I bought the radio for receiving Spanish audio, and I can do that so I'm content.




strings wrote:
I have heard Swahili, Dutch, Romance languages, "Chinese", Japanese, and many more on shortwave.


Which part of the U.S. are you located? Northeast, Northwest, Southeast, Southwest or Middle Central?




I'd like to toss this question out there to anyone.

I know there is probably no reason for someone in the Southwest U.S. to use a shortwave radio to pick up Spanish radio since you more than likely can get it on the local radio, but I'd like to know if anyone using shortwave can pick up stations in Mexico on the shortwave.

I know frequencies change, but if you can pick up Mexico on the shortwave can you mention the frequency(ies)?

Thanks




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