Today, an estimated 130 million people consider German their native or second language, making it the European Union’s first language. It is the third most widely learned language in the EU, and there are around 15 million people worldwide currently learning the language.
There are a thousand and one reasons to learn German: securing a job, meeting German speakers all over the world, pronouncing Freundschaftsbeziehungen… and nine hundred and ninety-eight more.
Looking for a reason to learn German? Here are 10 good reasons to learn German.
It is the most spoken language in the European Union
German is the most widely spoken language in Europe, with over 100 million speakers. The language is also considered to be the most widely understood language in Europe.
Learning German will be useful when traveling to Düsseldorf or Berlin, but German is also the official language in Austria, and one of the official languages of Switzerland and Belgium, where it is spoken by the vast majority of the population. The language is also spoken in Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Romania, Poland and Denmark, and in some parts of Namibia and Tanzania (major European hotspots).
Did you know? German is the third most learned language in the European Union after English and French.
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It’s the language of philosophy, science and medicine
Do memories of your high school or college philosophy class flood your mind at the mention of Kant or Nietzsche? This is probably because you’ve got repressed trauma, but also because German and Austrian philosophers are at the root of many philosophical movements, and whose influences remain strong today.
The German language also enjoys an excellent reputation in the field of science. In terms of R&D, Germany ranks among the most innovative countries in the world and often offers scholarships to foreign scientists. Germany is also a sought-after country to study medicine.
It’s no wonder that more than 100 Nobel Prizes have been awarded to notable Germans for their achievements in physics, medicine or chemistry, making Germany the third most Nobel Prize-winning country.
Travel the world and speak German
Who hasn’t met German speakers by the sea or on a trek in the mountains? Germans (and Austrians) love to travel and value exciting experiences abroad. With an average of six weeks of paid vacation per year and a comfortable salary, Germans have the time and means to travel. In fact, Germans are the world’s biggest spenders abroad.
As you may know, full immersion is the best way to learn the subtleties of a language. What could be better than being able to book a hotel night, order food in a restaurant or ask for directions in German on your next trip to Cologne, Vienna or Vaduz? German-speaking countries are full of diversity, landscapes and natural sites like cities, seas, lakes, forests… there’s something for everyone.
Get an international job or a place at a recognized university
Germany is the largest economy in the European Union and the fourth largest in the world (just after the United States, China and Japan). German is also the most widely used language in the business world in Europe, after English. In fact, in the advertising industry, German is the second most sought-after foreign language to learn.
If you are headed for a career in science or medicine (see point #2), you should know that German is almost indispensable in Europe. In other dynamic sectors such as the automotive, metallurgy or industrial equipment industries, speaking German is also a highly recommended language to master. Speaking German fluently will offer you many professional perspectives in Europe as well as within European institutions.
In the field of education, German, Austrian and Swiss universities have an excellent international reputation. As a matter of fact, 9 German universities are ranked among the top 100 universities in the world (Times Higher Education, 2020). When applying, some universities may require language certification to prove your level of German, such as the TestDaf or the DSH.
Speaking the language of a rich culture
By learning German, you will not only improve your vocabulary but also discover a rich cultural heritage. The German language is accompanied by a prolific artistic and scientific culture that spans several centuries: Goethe, Freud, Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann, Kafka, Arendt, Einstein, Hertz among many others, have distinguished themselves in the fields of literature, music, chemistry, physics and philosophy. A tradition that continues with a wealth of published research (Germany is sixth in the ranking of countries that publish the most books!) and artistic works that have become popular throughout the Western world.
The German language’s literary legacy is expansive – from poetry to philosophy, fiction to thrillers. Reading (and understanding!) great classics of German literature is an accomplishment you’ll be able to brag about.
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Germanic architecture is not to be outdone, as Germany boasts more than 50 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Austria also has many UNESCO world heritage sites to offer, starting from the Schönbrunn Palace, the historical centers of Vienna and the charming landscapes of the Wachau and Lake Neusiedl.
Watching films and series, reading novels and listening to music in German
Over the past few years, a number of popular German television shows have been distributed internationally, or made available online. From Berlin Calling to Babylon Berlin to Tatort, there are many films to choose from, especially since subtitles can be switched on almost all VOD platforms.
Check out our selection of five movies and five TV series to improve your German language skills.
Just like cinema, music is universal, as well as a social, political, and sometimes daring way to convey ideas. So why not use it to learn a foreign language like German? If you seek inspiration for creating your playlist, check out our article on 5 catchy tunes to learn German
Though often overlooked, the standard paper book is extremely useful to brush up on your German skills. Patrick Süskind, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Franz Kafka… discover our selection of five novels to learn German.
Open yourself up to other languages
Learning German will also come in handy if you’re planning on learning another language such as English (if you haven’t already), but also Dutch (“German without the declensions”).
Speaking German will also help you understand Scandinavian languages, such as Norwegian, Swedish and Danish.
German is a booster on your resume
Sprechen Sie Deutsch? Adding German to your resume will make it stand out: a growing number of companies are looking for candidates who can express themselves in the language. In the US alone, more than 5,000 German companies have established themselves in the country: Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, Daimler Group Atlanta, and T-Mobile, to name but a few.
In short, mastering the ins and outs of German will help you develop relationships with your German-speaking colleagues and will increase your chances of climbing the ladder.
Overcoming language barriers
Contrary to popular belief, German is not as difficult as people may think. It’s worth remembering that English is a Germanic language, just like German and almost all Northern European languages. This is one of the reasons why the English language has borrowed a number of words from German, some of which are used very regularly.
Here are some examples of similarities between English and German:
Garden is called Garten
Brother is Bruder
Computeur (computer) is surprisingly… computer!
Understanding the many dialects of the language
One of the great things about learning German is understanding its many dialects. Some linguists say there are as many as 250 dialects in German-speaking countries!
But first, a bit of vocab. Standard German is called Hochdeutsch (what British English speakers would call Received Pronunciation) and it is often said that people from the Hanover region speak the version of German closest to Hochdeutsch. It is mostly used in business settings and official writing, but in some Länders, it is very little used in everyday life.
One of the most famous yet dreaded dialects is the Bavarian dialect, which showcases a more complex accent and lexicon, so much so that it is often called “the German that even Germans don’t understand.”
Note that there are significant differences between Swiss German and Austrian German, especially in terms of pronunciation and idioms used. Fortunately, in the big cities, you will almost never have problems understanding Hochdeutsch.
Want to know more? Read on with our article “A practical guide to learning German“.
If you need a helping hand to learn German, try our online German lessons Wunderbla today: short, personalized, daily lessons to ensure you laugh while you learn.
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