The majority of experts agree that there are around 6000 languages spoken around the world today.
This means that those who wish to learn a foreign language are spoilt for choice!
Interestingly, however, according to the United Nations, just 1% of all these languages are spoken by 99% of the global population.
In some ways, this means that learners have less choice when it comes to deciding which language to study.
So if you’re looking to start learning German, whether it’s to help your career or just for fun, bear in mind that your choice of language plays a big part in where your language takes you.
German is a major language, not only in Europe but around the world, and to learn how to speak it is to open your eyes to new cultures and traditions!
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The Advantages of Taking German Lessons
The German language has its own rich history.
One of the selling points of learning German is being able to discover this history, which has shaped the language as we know it today.
German as we know it today belongs to a family of Germanic languages, which are all derived from ancient Germanic dialects.
Bit by bit, these dialects have evolved to form modern languages including German, Dutch and even English, which each have their own vocabulary and grammar rules.
Interestingly, it is the German translation of the bible by Protestant, Martin Luther, that is responsible for the standardisation of the German language.
German was also the language of choice for transcribing sacred Buddhist texts!
The language of Goethe is full of wondrous secrets which are revealed to learners throughout their learning journey.
People are often surprised to discover how much of a culture you can learn by simply learning its language – and German is no exception!
In addition to having the means to get the more out of life, learning to speak German fluently will enhance your CV and open up more opportunities in the future.
English is often considered to be the only ‘business language’, however, the second largest export destination of the UK is, in fact, Germany.
By improving your German communication skills, you are increasing your career prospects.
Better German communication skills means better career prospects, and with UK and German business booming, your language skills can only be advantageous.
If you work in the tourism industry, you’ll know how much Germans love travelling.
German is also the second most used language in the world for scientific publications, coming in just behind English.
Germany is leading the way in scientific innovation, filing over 56,000 patents in 2014.
So, if you’re a budding inventor or scientist, learning German now could come in handy for you later!
Stereotypes die hard, and Germany is still widely regarded as the land of beer, sausage and the controversial combination of socks and sandals.
But you’d be wrong to believe this!
It would be a shame to miss out on such a vibrant culture because of stereotypical nonsense – so don’t miss out!
Improving your German will give you access to infinite amounts of literature, music and films in their original language.
For instance, book lovers can appreciate the work of Goethe – a true icon of German literature.
Kafka’s Der Process (or The Trial in its English title) is also a must-read for German speakers.
Film lovers will be able to experience the famous Good Bye, Lenin! as it recounts history in its original language.
Music is also a flourishing part of German culture, with world-renowned compositions such as Mozart’s The Magic Flute or Beethoven’s 9 symphonies to boast but a few.
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Is Learning German Difficult?
You often hear that German is difficult to learn.
However, this idea is more to do with the mentality of the learner – and it should therefore not stand in the way of any budding German speaker.
So don’t be discouraged by those who tell you that German vocabulary is too complex, that the grammar is too difficult or learning the gender of each noun is beyond your understanding.
If you have enough motivation and self-discipline, you’ll be able to master the German language no matter what anyone says.
In the UK, students are usually introduced to basic German at the start of Key Stage 3, or secondary school, when they start to appreciate the similarities in the vocabulary and grammatical structures that German and English share.
According to a study by an American linguist, these two languages share similarities in 60% of their lexicon, which is why English-speaking learners may find German easier to learn than students of other backgrounds.
For example, the German word for ‘school’ is ‘schule’.
And ‘Summer’ is called ‘Sommer’.
The resemblance between German and English can be striking.
However, it’s not so surprising when you know that both languages belong to the Germanic language family, and therefore present similar characteristics.
But for learners of German, there is one topic which is feared far more than the rest: declensions and cases.
As this idea is almost completely absent from English, it’s normal to worry when you first encounter it.
Although German is very much alive and kicking, it is declining in a similar way to Latin in that Latin has 7 cases, whereas German only has 4.
This means that those who have studied Latin have a certain advantage when it comes to learning German.
But don’t worry if this is not the case for you.
All you need to do is work your way through enough grammar exercises to get to grips with how cases work.
Learning a new language is also about learning how to learn.
Whether you learn with a German teacher or on your own, you will find useful learning tips such as repetition and revising vocabulary on the go to help you feel more comfortable with your German speaking.
Learning German as a second language will not only help you with your communication proficiency but also with your ability to take responsibility for your own learning.
Unlike English, German is very much a phonetic language.
This means that you pronounce the words as they’re written!
So this is another selling point of German and a brilliant reason to sign up to an intensive course or german lessons online.
In your language lessons - German classes in Chennai or Cardiff or Exeter - the teacher will show you how simple German verb conjugation can be.
Even if, compared to English conjugation, German seems more difficult, it does not take long to get used to how verbs work.
German: An Anglophone’s Best Friend
Economic relations between Germany and the UK are already strong, but experts argue that with Brexit on the horizon, they should be made even stronger.
But business isn’t the only thing that links these two languages. In linguistics too, German and English go hand in hand.
This is firstly to do with the origins of each of these languages, which are each thought to stem from a primitive language termed ‘Indo-European’.
This term was introduced by linguists who, from the 17th century, had studied the similarities between a number of European languages.
Their research led them to an outline of a common tongue, which is believed to have been spoken long before the emergence of written language.
As centuries have gone by, the German and English languages have developed independently to one another and now have their own dialects.
Both of these languages will always be open to evolution – this means that their words and usage can change according to the needs of their speakers.
Whether you, as a speaker of English as your first language, learn German at school or with an online tutor, you will quickly notice the similarities and differences between German and English.
You will also notice the lively intonation which comes from stressing a syllable in every word – a characteristic that German shares with many other European languages, including English.
Throughout your German tuition, you will see just how many English words have entered the German vocabulary.
For example, ‘fast-food’, ‘baby’ and ‘zoom’ are all commonly used by German speakers.
Language and culture go hand in hand, and history tells us of the links between the British Isles and the continent – so why not be a part of it?
How Long Does It Take to Learn German?
Shortly after you start taking German lessons, you may decide that you want to learn to speak the language fluently.
To take the first step in the process of achieving fluency in German, all you need to do is search one of these terms in a search engine:
- Deutsch lernen/learn German
- learn German online
- German lessons
- German language course
- learn German fast
- learn to speak German
Some websites may have you believe that it is possible to master the German language with just 5 lessons, or that you can be speaking German fluently with a free 1-month course. But lies don’t help anyone, and it’s better to be honest with yourself.
Being able to speak German confidently and fluently with a good accent means having skills above and beyond the level of German you learn at school.
It means being able to speak like a native speaker, with near-perfect German pronunciation and appropriate use of common idiomatic expressions and phrases.
Someone who has this level of skill is able to think and even dream in German, and sometimes German words will come to mind before English ones.
Even if you cannot or do not want to become perfectly fluent in German, these are important factors to consider.
The best way to get to know German is without a doubt to fully immerse yourself in German culture by living in Germany.
So, whether you stay with a German family as an au pair, study at a German university or simply travel to Germany for an extended holiday, any opportunity to use your language and soak up the words being spoken around you can only be an advantage.
Take the time to chat with the locals, listen to their discussions and get as much practice as you possibly can. This is the best way to make quick and effective progress.
If you don’t have the opportunity to visit Germany, you’ll need to make sure that you are getting enough practice and putting the time and effort into taking in as much information as you can.
The answer is that there is no real answer.
It depends on several factors such as your academic profile, determination and even geographical location.
Whatever your plans for learning German, you’ll have to learn some things by heart and stay motivated enough to put in the effort to listen to the language as well as speak and write it.
And don’t forget that taking pleasure in your learning is the key to success!