The German language is the most spoken language in the European Union with over 100 million speakers! While some children learn German in school in the UK, the typical learner in the probably only remembers a few German words from their German lessons at school and probably hated German grammar.
However, those who found language learning enriching and continued learning to speak German and study it at university can now easily live and study in Germany or other German speaking countries like Austria and Switzerland. However, given how well Germany is doing, a lot of people are attracted to the idea of living and working there.
However, before you go, you should know some German! Why? Because learning a foreign language comes with plenty of benefits.
Firstly, learning foreign languages comes with cognitive benefits. By learning a language, you'll develop improved concentration and memory.
Bilingualism can also open your eyes to other cultures and help you to make new and interesting friends from other countries and cultures. In addition to the mental benefits, learning languages has also been shown to prevent dementia and Alzheimer's in later life.
When it comes to business, tonnes of major international companies are also looking for employees who speak multiple languages. Learning foreign languages can increase the likelihood of being hired and potentially increase how much you'll earn.
Aside from the obvious professional benefits, speaking German can also give you the chance to travel. Wouldn't it be great to be sent to a German speaking country by your company because you're the best German speaker in the office? How amazing would it be to be able to give a presentation or hold a meeting in German?
Perhaps you think that everyone speaks English so you shouldn't bother. While plenty of Germans speak English to a very high level, German is still the everyday language in Germany. Whether you want to work, study, or do an internship in Germany, you need to learn at least how to say a few German words and phrases.
Whether its to introduce yourself to a business contact or somebody on holiday, you need to know how to introduce yourself in German. For reservations and bookings, you should probably teach yourself the German alphabet, too.
Germany is a popular destination amongst young people and learning German is the quickest way to communicate with people all around the world who've spent time in a German-speaking country.
Why not join them and learn German in Germany?
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German has a few more rules than English when it comes to showing respect. For one, greeting someone depends on who they are:
- To greet someone older than yourself or a stranger you can use Guten Morgen, Guten Tag, or Auf Wiedersehen
- To greet someone younger than yourself or someone you know well, you can use Tschüss, Tag or Tschau.
German works just like English in that you change your greeting depending on the day:
- In the morning = Guten Morgen
- The rest of the day = Guten Tag
- In the evening = Guten Abend
- To say goodbye = Auf Wiedersehen or Tschüss to a friend.
Now that you've got the greetings mastered, it’s time to introduce yourself.
To have a basic German conversation, you should know the following expressions:
- My name is… = Ich heiße/Mein Name ist
- I live in… = Ich wohne in...
- Where are you from? = Woher kommen Sie?
- I’m from… = Ich komme aus…
- I’m British = Ich bin Brite
- How old are you? = Wie alt bist du?
- I’m ... years old = Ich bin … Jahre alt
- What’s your job? = Was bist du von Beruf?
- I’m a… (job) = Ich bin …
- I study … at university = Ich studiere … an der Universität
By learning the basics of German, you’ll be better prepared to head off on your journey to Germany or any other German-speaking country. You should have a look at some of the advantages of working in Germany.
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When it comes to manners, German takes a similar approach to English. In order to avoid offending your German-speaking friends and colleagues, you should use the following expressions:
- Please / You’re welcome = Bitte
- Thank you = Danke
- Thank you very much = Dankeschön
- Excuse me = Entschuldigung
- Thank you for your help = Danke für Ihre Hilfe
It’s very important to be respectful to your colleagues in Germany. In fact, colleagues need to work together in a friendly manner in order to achieve the company’s objectives. Here are a few expressions for work:
- Practise a trade = einen Beruf aus/üben
- Succeed in a job = Erfolg im Beruf haben
- Division of labour = Die Arbeitsteilung
- Be unemployed = Arbeitslos sein
- Be employed = Berufstätig sein
- Earn money = Geld verdienen
- The world of work = Die Arbeitsteilung
Well-known German Expressions
Idiomatic expressions change from country to country and they don’t often seem to make much sense. Expressions like “It’s raining cats and dogs”, for example.
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In German, there are plenty of idiomatic that you can learn to quickly get yourself integrated into German culture.
Here’s a quick sample:
- Sunbathe = Die bittere Pille versüße (make the bitter pill sweet)
- Good things come in threes = Aller guten Dinge sind drei
- Fingers crossed = Die Daumen drücken (lock thumbs)
- Take to one’s heels = Die Beine unter die Arme nehmen (take one’s legs under one’s arms)
- To be penniless = Auf den Hund kommen (arrive on the dog)
- Things are inevitable = Die Karawane zieht weiter (the caravan follows its route)
- Take French leave = Französischen Abschied nehmen
- A freezing cold = Eine Hundekälte / Eine Saukälte (cold of a dog)
- Give up = Die Flinte ins Korn werfen (throw the gun to the grain)
- Be flabbergasted = aus allen Wolken fallen (fall from all the clouds)
- Get somebody to believe anything = die Kröte schlucken (swallow the toad)
These are great phrases to use if you’re going to one of the 5 best student cities in Germany!
Learning idiomatic expressions can help you quickly boost your linguistic level. A good knowledge of idiomatic expressions can make the difference between looking like a beginner and looking like an expert in German. It will also help your comprehension as Germans like to use these expressions, too.
Just like expressions in English, German expressions tell a story. Learning these expressions can help you learn more about German culture as well as the language.
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German Vocabulary for Finding Accommodation
If you want to immerse yourself into German culture, you’re going to have to go straight to a German city like Munich or Berlin (which have some of Germany’s best universities) and start living there. Hold your horses!
When you’re looking for a flat in Germany, you’ve got to know all the different abbreviations, acronyms, and vocabulary used.
Here are a few to start with:
- Metres squared = qm (Quadratmeter)
- 3-bedroom flat = 3 Zi.-Whg
- Loft = DG (Dachgeschoss)
- Non-smoking = NR (Nichtraucher)
- Rooms = Zi (Zimmer)
- Deposit = K (Kaution)
- Monthly rent = NMM (Nettomonatsmiete)
- Rent without bills = KM (Kaltmiete)
- Flat sharing = WG (Wohngemeinschaft)
- Extra fees = zzgl. NK
- Commission = Prov. (Provision)
Once you’ve found the right advert, you’ll probably go to the estate agent’s.
Here are a few essential expressions for that:
Property tax = Grundsteuer,
Central heating = Zentralheizung,
Move = Umzug,
Living area = Wohnfläche,
Purchase price = Kaufpreis,
Estate agent = Immobilienmakler,
Real estate loan = Immobiliendarlehen,
Pet = Haustier,
Available from… = Bezugsfrei ab,
Number of floors = Etageanzahl,
Neighbours = Nachbarschaft.
By mastering all these daily expressions, you’ll easily find somewhere to live in a German city. Furthermore, German prices are often negotiable. If you become fluent in German, you’ll be able to get better prices.
It’s recommended to first share a flat. German landlords often ask for a deposit equivalent to two or three months worth of rent.
Moving to Germany can be expensive. Living with others is a great way to reduce the cost while also getting a daily opportunity to practise speaking German. Don't forget there are also plenty of free German resources and websites where you can learn German online.
Now you’ve got all these expressions, you’re ready to start speaking to Germans! Find out the advantages of working in Germany and the German work mentality.
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