If you are planning to move to Germany or you already did, you must know that being able to communicate in German will enrich your experience in this country. Of course, in many of the large cities, you may live very well only communicating in English but most expats say you’re missing out a lot if you don’t speak the language. Not only it will help you better understand and integrate into the society or community but it is also fun and fulfilling to get the German jokes, understand the menu in
the restaurant and order in German, once you have a good command of it. German language and all languages actually help you understand the way a population thinks and behave.
But before getting started on studying German, whether you intend to attend a course or learn it by yourself, you should first read the following interesting and helpful facts and tips.
You might have heard this many times already, but it needs to be mentioned from the beginning: learning German is no easy job. But of course, it always depends on the complexity of your native language and its similarities to German. The good thing though is that most of the expats you will encounter here speak the language; so you might let this be the fuel motivating you to keep on studying it even when it seems tougher.
Now some quick facts you should know about German
- German is spoken by more than 100 million people worldwide;
- Official language in Germany, Austria and Liechtenstein and is one of the official languages of Switzerland and Luxembourg
- There are other German-speaking communities scattered around Europe, (Bolzano-Bozen in Northern Italy, the Eastern part of Belgium, as well as communities in Eastern Europe, North and South America)
- The first printed book in the world was in German by Johannes Gutenberg who invented book printing
- German is an important cultural languages since many famous musicians and scientists (e.g. Freud, Beethoven, Goethe, Mozart, Einstein, etc) wrote and spoke in German
Few tips before getting started on studying German
Pronunciation of the German language is quite simple; don’t let yourself overwhelmed by the long and winding words. Once you get how they are compounded (which is quite logical) you’ll understand where the fun part is in learning this language. Just to have an idea, here’s a 63-letter long word (which means Beef labeling regulation & delegation of supervision law): Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz
German has three grammatical genders: feminine, masculine and neuter and four noun case endings (which will become natural to handle in time, so don’t waste time trying to desperately learn them by heart). Moreover, German differentiates between formal and informal “you”, especially in a business context or when you first meet someone. And keep in mind, titles are still very important here. If you find many people in Germany calling themselves “Doktor“ it’s not because of their medical skills but rather the academic credentials.
Now if you speak English (be it your native or second language) you must be very careful with some tricky German words that at first sight might seem identical to the English ones. If der Arm, die Rose, der Service, die Olive, der Name, der Tiger, die Motivation, der Wind mean what you think they do, there some other that look like in English but they have a completely different meaning: such as das Gift (it means poison; so be careful what gifts you accept), der Mist (in case you are planning to describe a misty morning just be aware that the word means “bird droppings” in German), der Rat (don’t be shocked if people will gladly offer it to you.. it means advice in German) or der Chef (which means the boss not someone who’s in charge of the cooking). Other examples are the word bekommen, which means to get not to become, and der Brief, which means “letter” not short.
This being said, there is only one final fact about the German language you might find interesting: German almost became the official language of the United States of America during the Revolution when it has been considered the adoption of a new language for the future of the US. English won just by one vote…
Getting a grasp of basic German can easily be done by just learning how to pronounce the names of places and metro stations, reading menus and street signs and just engaging in small talks with random people you meet. But if you are interested in taking your skills to the next level, taking German classes is highly recommended.