5 Fresh Reasons to Learn German This Fall
Fall is the perfect season to start learning the powerhouse language of Europe.
First and foremost, you’ve got to get yourself ready for Oktoberfest in Munich.
But the value of learning German isn’t just seasonal.
If you’re headed back to school now, or are simply planning to turn over a new leaf this autumn, you should seriously consider the long-term benefits of learning German. As the days get shorter, darker and colder, take refuge indoors and curl up with German language learning materials.
Now, the big question: why the heck should you finally commit to learning German? We’ve created this list of advantages for learning German that you might not have thought of before. Take a look to discover all the fun times and real-world value that German skills can open up to you.
5 Big Benefits of Learning German
1. German Pays Off.
Why are so many Spaniards, Greeks, Italians, and others all across Europe moving to Germany? It’s because they want to live and work in a country with one of the strongest economies in Europe. For some, knowing German in their home country can be a job in and of itself. To unlock job opportunities located in Germany, most companies require at least some basic knowledge or proficiency in German.
For example, take a look at this job description below for a user experience designer. One look and it might be easy to say, “It’s all Greek – I mean, German – to me!” But don’t let the majority of jobs in Germany’s young, vibrant capital slip away just because the job description looks like gibberish.
- Mind. 1,5 Jahre einschlägige Berufserfahrung im Bereich Interaction Design / User Experience
- Erfolgreich abgeschlossenes Studium
- Erfahrung im Umgang mit Design & Prototyping-Programmen (z.B. Balsamiq, Axure, Photoshop)
- Erfahrung mit der Methodik im User-Centered-Design-Prozess
- Erfolgreich abgeschlossene Projekte im Bereich Web & Mobile
- Hoher Qualitätsanspruch & Zuverlässigkeit
- Teamgeist, schnelle Auffassungsgabe
To begin, make sure you have the right Berufserfahurung, or work experience, to qualify for the job. Check to ensure your Lebenslauf, your C.V. or resume, reflects the experience asked for in the job description – whatever that is!
So, how to go about deciphering the rest of this posting? Luckily, there are many words in German that are similar to English, or words taken directly from English as seen in Design & Prototyping-Programmen or User-Centered-Design-Prozess. But what is an abgeschlossenes Studium or Zuverlässigkeit? Regardless, a solid Kenntnisse – or understanding – of German will secure that coveted spot.
2. The Locals Aren’t Half Bad.
Tall, blonde, and well-dressed? Girls, welcome to the men of Germany. Okay, so they may have a few too many Weissbiere sometimes, but on the whole of it, German guys are an attractive bunch. Culturally, they’re raised to work hard, be respectful and have a “do it yourself” mentality. But to strike up a conversation with a German in his native tongue, you’ve got to learn a little bit of the language before any tongue action is happening.
And the women? Did I mention that they are also tall, blonde, and well-dressed?
Now that I’ve piqued your curiosity about the German dating scene, here are some phrases to get you started:
Wie heisst du? What is your name?
Freut mich dich kennen zu lernen. Pleased to meet you.
But Germans aren’t always very direct. Before you say the following:
Du hast wunderschöne Augen. You have beautiful eyes.
You might want to simply ask:
Möchtest du was trinken? Would you like something to drink?
Asking someone what they would like to drink is a great conversation starter in Germany, which leads me into the next great reason why learning German is an enjoyable and rewarding experience.
3. You’ve Already Got Liquid Courage.
What could be more enjoyable than practicing conversation over a delicious beverage? In Germany, beer is an important part of the culture – one of many true German stereotypes. In some places beer, which is traditionally considered a Ernaehrung (source of nourishment), is even cheaper than water.
But drinking is not limited to just alcoholic drinks. Germans also delight in the wide range of beverages that can be consumed from Saft (juice) to a variety of Kaffee (coffee drinks) and the occasional fruity alkoholfrei Cocktail (alcohol-free cocktail). The amount of bubbliness also varies. From stilles Wasser to Wasser mit Kohlensäure (carbonated water) and fizzy Schorle (usually a combination of apple juice and sparkling water), Germans never seem to quench their thirst for a good drink.
If you really want to fit in with the locals, try a refreshing Club Mate, a carbonated yerba tea drink, popular in the Internet start-up world for its mild Cola taste and high caffeine content.
And don’t forget to say Prost! Cheers!
4. We’re All a Little German.
Germans compose 15% of the ancestry in the United States, making it the largest heritage group in the nation. German immigration in the 19th century brought many cultural mainstays, like kindergartens (das Kind = the child), the hot dog (naturally, from the wurst), and many Christmas traditions such as the Christmas tree. Have you ever sang O Tannenbaum at Christmastime and wondered who the heck was Tannenbaum? You were actually singing to the German fir tree, or der Tannenbaum, the whole time.
Heard of Goethe? Einstein? Bach? German has huge influence on westernized culture, including many great works of art, literature and music. Its language pervades so much of modern society and we use German so often in our every day lives that we often don’t even notice it – or that we’ve been pronouncing things incorrectly.
Did it ever occur you, for example, that some of Beethoven’s most famous compositions were Für Elise – for a woman named Elise? If you’re like me, you’ve been saying the title of this song incorrectly for most of your life. Für in German means “for,” and it is NOT pronounced like the dog’s “fur.” The umlaut, the two little dots above the u, changes the er sound in “fur” to the oo sound in für.
Here’s another example: Do you like to identify different colored Volkswagen Beetles, or own one yourself? As one of the largest car manufactures in the world, Germany has spread its language through some of its famous automobiles. However, the V in the Volks is not pronounced like the “V” in “vulture” either. Volks, meaning “belonging to the people” in German, is actually pronounced with an F, making it sound more like “folks.” The W in wagen is pronounced like an English V. So next time you hit your friend and called “Slug-Bug!” for spotting that pea-green Folks-vagen, remember that you are actually identifying “the people’s car.”
5. The Best Things in Life are Free (or Nearly So).
There are plenty of free and low-cost resources both online and offline.
There are many Sprachschulen (language learning schools) with very reasonable rates if you’re interested in formal classroom instruction to complement your informal learning at home. Volkshochschulen, or community colleges, offer cheap, public alternatives for private German courses as well.
There are also many free online resources and podcasts provided by German news and media organizations, such as Deutsche Welle and Spiegel.
And finally, get out there! The only way to improve your ability to speak a language is to actually speak it. Try to locate a local language learning roundtable, more formally known as a Stammtisch, through Meetups and other organizations.
You could even organize one yourself and support others in learning German. After all, one of the best ways to learn anything is to teach it to others.
Until next time, happy language learning! Tschüss! See ya later!
Vocabulary from Today’s Blog:
Want to review some important concepts you’ve learned from reading this blog? Here’s a summary of vocabulary from each section – with three most useful key takeaway words. If you remember anything from this blog, try to remember at least how to say “Nice to meet you.” It will take you far.
die Kenntnisse (knowledge, experience, or background)
die Berufserfahrung (work experience)
der Lebenslauf (resume or CV)
Getting to Know You
Wie heisst du? (What is your name?)
Freut mich dich kennen zu lernen. (Pleased to meet you.)
Möchtest du was trinken? (Would you like something to drink?)
Drinking in Germany
der Saft (juice)
die Kohlensäure (carbonation)
German in Westernized Culture
Für Elise (Literally, “for Elise.” Song by German composer.)
Volkswagen (Literally, “the People’s car.” German car company.)
Der Tannenbaum (Literally, fir tree. A Christmas tree.)
Free or Low-Cost German Learning Resources
die Sprachschule (Literally, “speech school.” Language learning school.)
die Volkshochschulen (community college / vocational school)
der Stammtisch (language learning roundtable or meeting)