Why you should know German when you are in Germany

If you are one of those, who have selected Germany as your next stop, either for your career, studies, exchange programmes or just for a short vacation, this article is just for you. Besides carefully selecting the places to stay or visit, your clothing to suit the season and preparing your shopping list, another crucial step would be to learn to speak German. With over 15 million learners worldwide, German is among the top 4 foreign languages only behind English, French and Mandarin these days. This article will help you understand how easy and hassle-free your life in Germany would be if you can speak the language.

German language and its importance in Germany

Deutschland, the land of rich heritage and culture holds the German language very dear to it, while also embracing the internationality of big cities gracefully. Although you often hear that German is a very difficult language, we can assure you – if you are an international fluent in English, learning German will not be very hard for you, as both languages stem from the same roots.

There are multiple reasons for learning the language. One of them is to feel at home in Germany. Germans whole-heartedly appreciate when they see an expat attempting to speak German and welcome you into their world, which helps you break barriers and make new friends and professional contacts easily. Also, the further one gets away from the bigger cities, the less is signposted in English and the less English is spoken in public.

On top of that, learning German, the language of one of the most powerful economies in the world, does add a considerable weightage to your resume not only in Germany but also worldwide. So, knowing German not only increases your job chances within the country but also beyond its borders. Research shows that higher German language skills go along with better integration into the German labour market as well as higher salaries.

Four reasons to know German when in Germany

Here are some of the most pressing factors that emphasize the importance of knowing the German language while you are travelling or living in Germany as an expat.

1. Studying and finding a job in Germany

As one of the most powerful economies in Europe, Germany is a dream destination for many to study or to find employment. Although the country is becoming more and more international, Germany has a strong emotional bond towards the German language. Therefore, if you are planning to pursue your education in Germany, it would be advisable to learn German, as some of the courses are taught only in German and require a specific level of German proficiency (B1 in most cases).

Also, even if you choose a study program in English, you will notice the importance of the language once you enter the job market. It is undeniable that knowing German gives you an upper hand in the application pool, even in international companies. Recruitment managers often see the benefits of having a member in the team who can interact with fellow team members in a common language not just on professional grounds but also on personal interests and coffee chats. The same applies to expats who want to apply for a job in Germany. After all, in addition to their specialist knowledge, the willingness to learn German impresses the employer enormously.

2. Ease of access

Germany is a perfect example of “glocal” culture, a hybrid of global and local traditions. It boasts of the start-up abode Berlin, the financial capital Frankfurt am Main, the industrial hub Stuttgart and the harbours at Hamburg while also promoting and nurturing small towns and villages across the country. While you can easily get away with English in the major cities, it is a little bit harder to communicate with the locals in the smaller towns and villages if you do not speak German. This could be particularly difficult when you are travelling for instance and talking to a person in a café, a train station, at a bus stop or in one of the many castles in Germany.

3. Educate yourself on Germany’s culture

Any language represents the age-old history of people and their beliefs and culture. By being able to speak German, you as an expat will be able to clearly understand the significance behind simple things. For instance, if you are on a castle tour in Germany, the guide would find it very effective to explain you something in German rather than English, as it is not just the language that he or she is detailing, but also the values and culture behind it.

4. Establish new friendships

Forget the common stereotypes about Germans keeping to themselves. The NextGen Germans are way cooler and more welcoming. Although it takes ample time for a German to allow you in their friend’s circle, the moment they accept you as a friend, you are one for life. Sometimes, all it takes is a simple “Hallo” and a few sentences in German to break the ice and lay the foundation for the potential start of a new friendship. The fact that you are trying to speak German – which is still considered to be one of the toughest languages in the world – is good enough to impress the locals. Most Germans appreciate this effort and are willing to help you as an expat with local laws and regulations, showing you the best places in the neighbourhoods, while also becoming your trusted friends.

Tools to learn German efficiently

Decide what level of German you need and consider the time and money required. Fortunately, in today’s modern technological age, you have the opportunity to learn German either in the traditional way in the classroom with fellow students or virtually from the comfort of your sofa via the various digital platforms.

Motivation should be one of the most important decision factors. Learning a new language can be rewarding and, in some cases, overwhelming. So, choose a platform or a method that keeps you motivated and maintains your spirit.

If you decide to go with the traditional methods, you could check out the nearest language centres such as Goethe Institute which has a global presence, and indeed a reputation unmatched. You can also check providers in your home country who offer language courses by native speakers. Sometimes these classes can be customized as per your schedules and requirements.

Besides a classic language course, which you can take at a language school, there are multiple other online tools to learn German as an expat. There are a lot of free resources available on the market, and some paid tools which help you focus on your goals and learn more efficiently. Here are some ways to learn German in a digital way.

1. Language learning magazines

Deutsch perfekt is a monthly German magazine for beginners which offers training materials, articles, and news on the most relevant topics in Germany. Vocabulary for advanced learners is explained in a box next to the articles in simpler words so that you can expand your vocabulary, learn grammar, and discover special aspects of life in Germany. Fintiba offers a free three-month trial period within its solutions.

2. Language learning apps

Language learning apps such as Babbel or Duolingo are offering a digital platform to learn foreign languages. Depending on your level of German, you can complete learning courses created by experts based on short thematic blocks, exercises in grammar and vocabulary. The application will teach you language skills in reading, writing, listening comprehension and speaking.

3. YouTube channels to learn German

Easy German is another interactive learning method, which uses weekly vlogs published on YouTube and their official website. The teaching methodology is very handy for tourists and short-term visitors to learn German off the streets and enjoy the different dialects spoken across the country. In case you like the format and are interested in intensifying your language training with them, Easy German also offers paid programs for language learning.

4. Language learning websites

A website which offers great learning opportunities is, for example, Deutsche Welle – a very popular German language course provider which is completely free of charge and gives you as a learner the opportunity to study and practice German at your own pace.

Also, the website FluentU uses real-world videos to teach the language, for instance, videos of popular tv shows, news channels and movies. This will help you understand the usage of the language in different scenarios. This tool would be highly beneficial if you already know some German. There is a free version for beginners while you can also opt-in for the paid version to get advances classes.

5. Online language courses

You can subscribe for online language courses with providers like for example Lingoda which is an online language school offering private lessons, and group lessons in virtual classrooms at different language levels. They use their own complementary learning material, which is provided via download.

6. Find a tandem partner

Just as you want to learn German, many enthusiastic Germans are interested in learning the language you speak. Since this is also a popular activity in Germany, you can easily find a tandem partner who shares some of your interests, so that you have enough topics to talk about. There are many great tandem platforms where you can share your knowledge and make great friends. Websites where you can find a tandem partner are for example VHS-tandem or tandempartners.org.

Common mistakes while studying German

While learning a new language could be overwhelming for any person, the process could get easier if you know the pitfalls and try to avoid them. Here are some common mistakes you should be aware of.

Find a motivating reason

Unless you have a compelling reason, it would be hard to keep up the enthusiasm towards the learning process. It could be anything from visiting that dream location in Germany, working at a big brand in Germany or even to make a new German friend. Set your goal and work towards it.

Do not simply memorise

While it is essential to swallow German words as they are, try to connect them with sentences. Just like any other language, German words make different sense in different sentences.

For example, the German opposite of “umfahren” (running something over) is “umfahren” (drive around something). 

Learn synonyms

You may have memorised a particular word when suddenly a synonym of that word is thrown in during a conversation. This can easily catch you off guard and reduce your ability to follow the conversation. So, try and learn the synonyms for words.

Learn words with their articles

In German, there are many different articles (the famous der, die das,) used for nouns and it is much appreciated when you use the correct one. But don’t worry about making mistakes! Germans know how hard “der, die, das” can be for non-native speakers.

Pay attention to dialects

Germany has a huge number of dialects from Swiss German, Bavarian German, Berlin German, Upper Saxon and so on. Sometimes, it is really hard to understand one dialect even when you know German. But do not give up because of that! Even if you learn High German in your language course, it is even more fun to learn the dialect of the region you are going to visit or stay when you are in contact with the locals.

Get free language learning offers within the Fintiba Plus package

Our Fintiba Plus package not only includes the required blocked account and health insurances for your visa and residence permit but also provides you with a free German learning offer. Check out our offer and secure yourself a free three-month subscription to the famous magazine “Deutsch perfekt”.

When in Rome, do as the Romans do

Along with the age-old saying it is advisable to follow the conventions of the area where you live or that you visit. Therefore, once you have decided to visit or stay in Germany, it is highly recommended to also learn the language. And with this current digital age and day, it is not very hard to find resources at your disposal that facilitate the learning process. Meaning, the best suggestion we can offer you is, choose an option that suits your needs best and have fun while making progress. Viel Spaß beim Deutschlernen!

Your Fintiba Study Guide.
Germany at one glance.

From preparing your stay to mastering your visa application and navigating through daily life in Germany. Our Study Guide within the Fintiba app provides you with relevant information throughout all important stages of your German adventure – tailored to your individual situation.

Last update: 08-12-2020

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