So why learn German?
Why do I want to learn this language? It really is a an important question! If you are going to spend years learning a foreign language, you want to be able to do something with it ! Or at least you should enjoy the time you spent learning it!
Is it to gain a competitive advantage when seeking jobs or educational opportunities? Is it because you hope to travel? Is it heritage or a cultural interest that drives the decision? Do you like simply like the sound of it or want to translate books and music that you like? These are all worthy goals. So to help you with the decision process, I present a few key reasons why you might want to learn German.
1. German is the most widely spoken language in Europe.
More people speak German as their native language than any other language in Europe. It's no wonder, since Germany's 83 million inhabitants make it the most populous European nation. While learning German can connect you to 120 million native speakers around the globe, remember that many people also learn German as a second language. It is the 3rd most popular foreign language taught worldwide and the second most popular in Europe and Japan, after English.
2. Germany has the 3rd strongest economy and is the #1 export nation in the world.
Germany has the third largest economy in the world and is the economic powerhouse of the European Union. The Germans are world champions in exports and leads the U.S. in exports.
- U.S. exports to Germany: $49 bill (2011)
- U.S. imports from Germany: $98 bill (2011)
3. Knowing German creates business opportunities.
Germany's economic strength equals business opportunities. Multinational business opportunities exist throughout the European Union and in the Eastern European countries, where German is the second most spoken language after Russian. Companies like BMW, Daimler, Siemens, Lufthansa, SAP, Bosch, Infineon, BASF, and many others need international partners. The Japanese, who have the 2nd most powerful economy in the world, understand the business advantages that a knowledge of German will bring them: 68% of Japanese students study German.
If you're looking for employment in the United States, knowing German can give you great advantages. German companies account for 700,000 jobs in the United States, and US companies have created approximately the same number of jobs in Germany. All other things being equal, the job candidate with German skills will trump the one without such skills every time. Most surveyed companies in the United States would choose someone with German literacy over an equally qualified candidate.
4. Germans are innovators.
From Gutenberg's printing press to Hertz' discovery of electromagnetic waves, from Ehrlich's development of chemotherapy to Einstein's theory of relativity, to Brandenburg's creation of the MP3 digital music format, throughout history Germans have proven themselves time and again to be great innovators. That trend continues today. 4 of the world's 10 most innovative companies are located in Germany. As a nation committed to research and development, Germans are on the frontline of new technologies. Germany exports more high-tech products than any other country except the U.S. and more than 600 firms are active in the cutting-edge field of biotechnology. 115 of these are located in Munich alone. The east German city of Dresden has become Europe's microchip center with its more than 765 semiconductor firms.Given the Germans' commitment to innovation, it is perhaps not surprising that two-thirds of the world's leading international trade fairs take place in Germany.
5. Germans are the biggest spenders of tourist dollars in the world.
Germans have an average of 6 weeks of vacation a year and ample means of disposable income.Nearly 3 out of every 4 vacations by Germans are spent in other countries. In 2007, they spent a record 91 billion euros on international travel. Year after year, the residents of Germany spend more on foreign travel than those of any other nation. Travel agencies, tour companies, hotels, airlines, and car rental agencies that can communicate with Germans in their own language will win their business.
6. The German presence on the Internet supercedes most others. Considering what great innovators the Germans are, it's not at all surprising that they maintain a dominant Internet presence. With 8 million Internet domains, Germany's top-level country domain .de is second only to the extension .com. That makes German domain names even more popular than those with .net, .org, .info, and .biz extensions. Even the second-place country extension .uk trails far behind at 3.7 million domain names.
7. Germans form the largest single heritage group in the U.S.
If you're interested in American culture, learning German can expand your appreciation and knowledge of U.S. history and culture. In the year 2000 census, 42.8 million or 15.2% of Americans reported having German ancestry, making German Americans the largest single heritage group in the U.S.
In waves of immigration that span nearly 4 centuries, Germans brought with them many customs, traditions and products that have become so ingrained in American ways that their origin is often forgotten. Such cultural mainstays as kindergarten, the Christmas tree, and hot dogs and hamburgers were introduced by German immigrants to America. They founded multiple breweries, created Levi's jeans, invented ketchup, and created Hershey's chocolate. Family names and names of thousands of towns and cities indicate the German heritage of their ancestors or founders. Germans had such a fundamental presence at the time of the founding of the United States that a German language version of the Declaration of Independence was printed only a few days after it was adopted.
8. 1 in 10 books in the world is published in German.
German is not only a language of the past. As prolific researchers and scholars, German speakers produce nearly 80,000 new book titles each year. The only language markets that produce more books annually are the Chinese and English publishing industries. In number of books published, Munich is second in the world only to New York. Since only a small percentage of German books are translated into other languages (for instance, approximately 10% into Korean and Chinese, just over 5% into English), only a knowledge of German will give you access to a vast majority of these titles.
9. German-speaking countries have a rich cultural heritage.
Apart from their many contributions to American culture, the German speakers have a rich cultural heritage in their own right. Germany is often referred to as the land of "Dichter und Denker" -- of poets and thinkers. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Thomas Mann, Franz Kafka, and Hermann Hesse are just a few authors whose names and works are well-known internationally. 10 Nobel prizes for literature have been awarded to German, Austrian, and Swiss German authors. The world of classical music is inseparable from the names of Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Strauss, and Wagner to name only a few reknowned German-speaking composers. Philosophy and the sciences would also be unthinkable without the contributions of German speakers. The philosophies of Kant, Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, and numerous others have had lasting influences on modern society. The psychologists Freud and Jung forever changed the way we think about human behavior. Scientists from the three major German-speaking countries have won dozens of Nobel prizes in physics, chemistry, and medicine.
Knowing German allows you to access the works of these people in their original language and to fully understand the culture whence they derived. Anyone interested in these fields automatically expands her knowledge and skill by knowing German.
10. German is not as hard as you think.
If English is your native language, or if you already know English, then you already have an advantage when it comes to learning German. Because modern German and modern English both evolved from the common ancestor language Germanic, the two languages share many similarities in both vocabulary and grammar. If you understand any of this ...
Meine Schwester hat braunes Haar. Sie ist intelligent. Sie studiert Medizin in Berlin. Sie kann gut singen. ... then you already know some German!
In addition, German is spelled phonetically. Once you learn the system of sounds, it is easy to predict how the spoken word is written and how the written word is pronounced.
11. German is required or recommended by many undergraduate and graduate programs.
At the University of California, for instance, more majors recommend a knowledge of German as an important supplement than any other language (German: 56 majors, French: 43 majors, Spanish: 21 majors, Japanese: 7 majors). These majors include a wide range of subjects -- from biology, physics, and chemistry to linguistics, religious studies, and art history.
Considering the importance of the German language in the fields of publishing and research, it's not surprising that many graduate schools want their graduates to have at least a reading knowledge of German. Knowing German gives graduates access to important research published in German books and professional journals.
12. Germany financially sponsors over 60,000 international exchanges each year.
While promoting innovation and supporting research within Germany, the Germans also recognize that international cooperation and experience is essential to its continued success as a world leader. In the year 2001 alone, the German Academic Exchange Service supported 67,000 scholars, scientists, educators, and students in periods of international research and study. 43% of these were foreigners who were awarded financial assistance to participate in an exchange in Germany. In addition, like German students, foreign students directly enrolled in German universities pay no tuition fees.
Take a look at 100 powerful, internationally recognized German businesses and see if you know them!