- 01. German: A Language with an Exciting History
- 02. Learn the Most Widely Spoken Language in Europe
- 03. Learning German to Study in Germany
- 04. Learn to Speak German for a Career in Germany
- 05. Make Your Career International by Learning German
- 06. Facts and Figures for the German Language
- 07. German Culture at Your Fingertips
- 08. Why English Speakers have a Head Start when Learning German
- 09. Why Learning German isn’t as Difficult as You Think
- 10. Be Inspired to Learn German
Maybe you’ve been wondering about learning a new language for a while and are struggling to make a decision.
If German is one of the languages you’re considering, there are plenty of reasons why you should learn to speak it.
To learn German is to open up a world of possibilities in your career (whether in the UK or abroad), uncover the rich cultural heritage and be able to share in the many influences the German language has had in business, culture and the media.
German: A Language with an Exciting History
The German language as we know it today is descended from a group of distinct dialects spoken in and around Northern Europe, which have also evolved into other modern European languages such as Danish and even English, which consequently belong to a family called the Germanic languages.
These ancient dialects have their own history too. For example, they have been used in the original transcriptions of ancient Buddhist texts, and were also brought together and standardised in the Protestant translation of the Bible, which paved the way for modern German.
Another striking fact about these dialects is that the German language spoken by the Amish community in Pennsylvania comes from the Low German dialect.
Learning German is not just about learning new words, but discovering the history of the language in detail and understanding how several dialects came together to produce modern German.
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Learn the Most Widely Spoken Language in Europe
In France, just 15.4% of school pupils choose to learn German, often preferring to learn English or Spanish for the travel advantages.
However, those learning German can also benefit from more than the language itself.
Students of German can easily use and improve their language skills through enjoying the work of Goethe, as German teacher Thérèse Ouchet explains:
“Spanish is reputed for being easy, and German for being difficult. However, the grades of German learners are actually better than those who of people who choose to learn English and a lot better than the grades of Spanish learners. The wide range of films on the Second World War obviously has an impact, even if people prefer the Iberian sunshine to the grey weather in Germany!”
German is also a particularly useful language for those who want to work in international organisations, with German being the most commonly used language in the European Union.
In June of 2012, the European Commission published a report on the languages most widely spoken as a mother tongue across Europe:
- German (16%),
- Italian (13%),
- English (13%),
- French (12%),
- Spanish (8%),
- Polish (8%).
This may come as a surprise, but don’t forget that German is an official language in Austria, Luxembourg, Lichtenstein and Switzerland, as well as the Italian province of Bolzano.
Achieving fluency in German will open up a world of opportunity when it comes to travelling and working within the EU.
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Learning German to Study in Germany
Apart from the UK as an exception, German educational institutions aren’t too different to those found in the rest of Europe.
To help with your decision on which school to choose, here are the types of educational establishments available in Germany:
- German public universities: For international students, these can be free and offer general and theoretical education in subjects such as business studies, medicine and engineering. Scholarships are also available for some students.
- Fachhochschulen: These are higher education institutions which teach students with a view that they will enter a skilled field. To be accepted in Fachhochschule, international students must pass entrance exams to ensure their level.
- Colleges of Arts, Film and Music: These organisations offer training for future artists of painting, fashion, music or cinematography and can give qualifications up to doctorate level.
- Private universities: These can be compared to the university equivalent of private schools in the UK. They offer an extra boost when it comes to recruitment and starting a career after graduation. However, at around €20,000 per year, this doesn’t come cheap.
One of the best reasons to study in Germany is the increased ability to enter into the world of work after finishing your degree.
Studying in Germany demonstrates an open mind, which UK employers will admire.
But to have access to a truly German education, you must have first mastered the basics of the language.
When the time comes to submit your application, certain universities may ask you for an official language certificate such as the DSH or TestDaf.
To get an idea of their German language level, foreign students can take the online OnSet test.
It is best to gain a good understanding of German before you, the learner leave to study there – but don’t worry, you don’t have the be fluent.
It is only necessary that you have good enough listening and comprehension skills to be able to take German lessons, and your language will improve just by living there and interacting with native speakers.
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Learn to Speak German for a Career in Germany
Germany is the second largest export destination of the UK.
This means that business between the two countries couldn’t be much better.
Another interesting point is that recruitment in the tourism industry for the German-speaking population is thriving like never before!
If you speak good enough German, you’ll have no problem working in a health club or as a tour guide anywhere in the world.
Germans are becoming increasingly fond of South-East Asia, so if you’re looking for adventure, take a trip to the Phi Phi Islands!
But if you’re not sure about leaving Europe, take comfort in the fact that German tourists also enjoy Greece, Italy and Portugal.
With their 6 weeks of holidays per year, Germans have plenty of time to travel – so why not be a part of this?
It’s not uncommon for Brits and other Europeans to learn German to work in Germany.
This is because it is a lot simpler to find work and better career prospects in Germany – especially if you already have experience of working or studying abroad.
In April 2015, the unemployment rate in Germany was just 4.7%, compared to 5.6% in the UK.
But what is the reason for this difference?
Germany is known for taking risks and quickly developing new sectors to their economic advantage.
German bosses also use different communication methods to ours. For example, the use of new technologies plays a big role in business communication and development, therefore, becomes more efficient.
In order to be able to work in Germany, it is necessary to have a knowledge of basic German at the very least.
Without knowing the language, you’ll rely on speaking English which may harm your chances of social and professional integration.
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Make Your Career International by Learning German
French, German and Spanish are all languages which will make your CV attractive to potential employers.
Mastery of the German language is not just an asset in the UK, but in the international market too!
Contrary to what some people believe, German is a beautiful language which is used and loved all over the world as an official and minority language.
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For instance, in the USA, Germano-Americans form the largest ethnic group in the country, representing more than 17% of the population, and it is estimated that 2 million US citizens can speak fluent German.
Across the globe, German is a minority language in:
- The USA
Knowing how to speak German is therefore incredibly useful for those who enjoy travelling, as well as those in the world of business, who can use their skills to communicate with customers on practically every continent.
Language skills and becoming more and more sought after in the world of work, as mastery of more than one language demonstrates the work ethic of candidates who may need to found and maintain professional international relations.
Facts and Figures for the German Language
Because it’s human nature to look for concrete information, here are a few facts and figures which demonstrate the need for German speakers:
- German is the second most used language for scientific publications
- Germany has the third largest number of applications for scientific patents in the world
- More than 100 million people around the world speak German as their first language
- German is the most widely spoken language in Europe, with a significant number of German-speaking populations in Austria, Switzerland, and Lichtenstein as well as Germany itself
- Germany boasts the largest economy in Europe – so why wouldn’t you want to be a part of it?
- German is one of the three languages spoken in the region of Alsace (alongside French and the Alsatian dialect)
- 10% of the world’s books are printed in German
- German grammar has 4 cases (also called declensions): nominative, accusative, dative and genitive
German Culture at Your Fingertips
Germany is far more than the land of sausage and beer.
As a country, Germany has an immense cultural wealth, boasting nearly 40 UNESCO world heritage sites such as Cologne cathedral and the Dessau-Wörlitz Garden Realm.
Its heritage extends to its literature and art. Here are a few recommendations for learners of German to enjoy:
- The complete works of Geothe: Start with Die Leiden des jungen Werthers (The Sorrows of Young Werther) for a bit of romanticism in a world of sadness
- Kafka’s Der Process (The Trial): a man who is accused of murder in a strange world
- Thomas Mann’s Der Zauberberg (The Magic Mountain): A major work of German literature and a beautiful glance into the early 20th century
- Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau’s Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht (Nosferatu the Vampyre): an adaptation of the story of Dracula
- Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others) by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck: how a spy is caught in his own trap
- Wolfgang Becker’s Good Bye, Lenin!: how a family recreates East Germany after the Berlin wall falls whilst their mother is in a coma
- Soul Kitchen by Fatih Akin: to show you that German comedy does exist!
Contrary to the stereotypes about the German language (that it sounds aggressive or ugly), there is a certain musical beauty about it.
Some of the most famous musical pieces are in German, including several Operas stun spectators at every performance. They include:
- Tristan und Isolde (Tristan and Isolde) by Richard Wagner: An adaptation of the 12th-century work based on the myth. Performances can last up to 4 hours 30 minutes.
- Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute): An internationally famous opera
And let’s not forget Beethoven’s 9 symphonies!
Everyone knows the famous opening to his 5th, and you’re certain to have heard Ode to Joy, which is part of the 9th symphony.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to German language cultural exports, so what are you waiting for? Delve deeper with your knowledge of German!
Why English Speakers have a Head Start when Learning German
At the beginning of secondary school, pupils have the choice of learning a second language – but this often comes with dilemma: French or German?
French seems to be a good option, with lots of cognates and only a hop across the channel if you want to practice.
But German has something different: easy pronunciation. That is, for speakers of English as a first language.
This is because English and German both belong to the family of Germanic languages, meaning they have their roots in Northern Europe. During the middle ages, these two languages would have had a similar rhythm and intonation to one another, as well as similar grammatical structures.
This means that the way English and German use nouns, adjectives and pronouns would have been, and still are quite similar.
Even if there are distinct differences between these languages, it’s not difficult to spot words and phrases that look alike.
- Bruder = brother,
- Mutter = mother,
- Machen = to make,
- Lerner = to learn,
- Hundert = one hundred,
- Kann = can,
- Nun = now,
- Haus = house,
- Universität = university,
- Kamera = camera.
So now you know why Germans speak such good English – and you can do the same with German!
Not only do Germans learn English, they also borrow words!
This is usually the case when naming new technologies. One such example is the word ‘computer’, which linguists decided to borrow after failing to invent a German-sounding equivalent.
One the other hand, English has welcomed a few German words into its vocabulary, including ‘kindergarten’.
All of this helps us understand why German is easy to learn but not why German is important to learn...
Why Learning German isn’t as Difficult as You Think
People are often reluctant to learn German for two reasons. Firstly the conjugation – this is all about the way verb forms change according to their relationships with the other words in a sentence.
English conjugation is often regarded as simple in comparison to that of other languages, but this shouldn’t worry you.
The second reason people are apprehensive about German is the grammatical cases – something which is practically absent from English.
Cases show the status of a word within a sentence, and pronouns and adjectives can change depending on the case.
Both conjugation and cases sound like tricky subjects, but if you spend enough time learning German, they will come naturally.
German construction is quite logical, which many learners like.
For example, the German word for ‘water bottle’ is Wasserflasche. Thanks to the similarities between English and German, it is not difficult to see that this word is a construction of ‘water’ and ‘bottle’.
Another perhaps more obvious positive about German is that it uses the same alphabet as English, and is therefore easier to learn than Greek or Russian.
This makes German pronunciation a lot easier, especially since it is a phonetic language – meaning that it sounds like it is written.
Overall, German isn’t very difficult to learn – the difficult part is being motivated enough to keep practising and confronting your weaknesses.
Learning a new language can keep your brain young and open doors to new personal and professional opportunities as well as allowing you to explore a different culture with your own language skills.
Be Inspired to Learn German
The Germans Love to Invent
From the Gutenberg printing press to the discovery of electromagnetic waves by Hertz, the development of chemotherapy by Ehrlich and Einstein's theory of relativity, Germans have often proved themselves to be great innovators.
This trend is still continued today, with 4 of the 10 most innovative businesses and 12.7% of the world’s patent applications coming from Germany.
As a nation which works for research and development, the Germans are always on the ball with new technology.
Germany exports the second highest number of gadgets (behind the USA) and boasts over 600 businesses to do with biotechnology.
Aside from this, Germany is also well-known for its prowess in the automobile industry, which is the most developed in Europe.
Germans: Keen Tourists with a Lot of buying Power
With an average of 6 weeks of holiday to take every year, the Germans have the time and the means to travel – and they do!
In 2007, they spent a record 91 billion euros on international travel.
Wherever you go, you will notice the number of German holiday makers.
So be a part of their passion for travel and learn their language!
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