When making the decision to learn how to speak German, you might be faced with looks of skepticism and admiration. At least, when I announced that I was going to learn German in college, I was faced with more better you than me looks. Many people referenced just how hard German is to learn. But after studying German for three years, I can say that it was one of my easier languages to learn. In this article, I want to explain why everyone should learn how to speak German.
Why you should learn how to speak German
1. German is a business language
If you were to travel to any of the European countries and you were stuck in a room filled with 100 people, chances are about 13 of those people would be German speakers [source]. In the grand scheme of things, that number might not seem very large. But consider this: German is the official language of Germany, Austria and Switzerland. In addition, there are many pockets of German speaking minorities in the other European countries. And lastly, Germany is a major exporter of goods. Knowing this, it is easy to see Germany’s influence in the globalized world. German is one of main transactional languages in the business and economic sphere. When conducting any type of business, there is a good chance that you will interact with a German speaker. Knowing the language helps to break the cultural barriers, which can help you with your business undertakings.
2. It’s close relation to English
Like its cousin English, German is a Germanic language. Both languages have its origins in the West Germanic region about 2000 years ago. This means that both languages are similar to one another. One way that they are similar is that they use the same 26 letters of the alphabet that we use in English. In addition, there are many loaner English words in German, and vice versa. For example, words like ‘Computer,’ ‘Baby,’ and ‘Bus’ are all common German words adopted from the English. Furthermore, some words in German and English sound very similar, like ‘Milch’ for milk, ‘Hallo’ for hello, ‘Mann’ for man. Because of their shared roots, it can be easy for an English speaker to ascertain the meaning of some German words and sentences.
3. German conjugation is simple
Another reason why you should learn German is because German conjugation is very simple. German uses similar verb forms to English when constructing sentences in the past, present or future tenses. For example, as an English speaker, we might say the following sentence: I have eaten bread and bratwurst already. In German, we might say this: Ich habe schon Brot und Bratwurst gegessen. By comparing both sentences, you can tell that both look very similar. Both use the present perfect tense in a similar form to express what the speaker has done in the past. Furthermore, the words themselves do resemble their counterparts, making it so that even one who has zero knowledge of German might be able to guess the meaning of the sentence.
4. Classics have their roots in German
If you have ever been assigned to read a text from classical literature, then odds are significantly in your favor that that piece of text has its roots in the German language. Simply put, Germany has produced myriads of German composers, artists and writers. In fact, even fairy tales such as Cinderella and The Beauty and the Beast were originally told by The Brothers Grimm. The Brothers Grimm were two brothers from Germany who traveled around telling stories. The fairy tales were much darker, but it is interesting to see what the tales were like in the original versions.
In addition to the infamous fairy tales, writers such as Franz Kafka, Hermann Hesse, Thomas Mann, Heinrich Heine, and Rainer Maria Rilke all have enriched and made a huge impact on German and English literature, as well as on an international scale. And because the original versions are in the German language it is best to read them in the original because only then can you really begin to understand the culture and the specific nuances that otherwise are evaded in the translated versions.
5. It is fun to speak it
And lastly, you should learn how to speak German simply because it is fun to speak it. Never mind that sometimes it can be frustrating to get the der, die, and das mixed up. Or, how it feels as if it takes an entire train ride to pronounce just one word. Or, how when you are speaking German, you have to make sure you don’t forget to string that second verb to the end of the sentence, almost like an afterthought otherwise they might not understand what you are talking about.
But still despite these struggles in learning German, it is one of the easiest languages to learn for an English speaker. The main reasons for that is its proximity to the English language, its shared roots, and just how literal German can be. In many cases when you are trying to decipher an unknown word, you can simply break the word down and figure out the meaning without ever having to resort to a dictionary. Pretty cool, huh?