German As a Foreign Language By Carolin Schlack
Visitors to Germany will find a knowledge of English entirely sufficient to get by. If you choose to learn German, however, you will be acquiring a linguistic competence of worldwide relevance.
© onlinebewerbung.de - Fotolia.comGerman is an important language in business, science and culture. If you are involved in these areas, German language skills will allow you to communicate at an international level. That's why the number of people learning German has been increasing steadily over the last 20 years. 101 million people worldwide are able to communicate in German; German native speakers are found not only in Germany, but also in Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein. German is spoken in many European countries and taught in schools as a second foreign language after English.
German as a business and science languageGermany is an important commercial and trading partner; in 2007, the country was "the world's export champion" for the fourth time running. It traditionally maintains trading contacts on a global level, and many German products are firmly established on today's world markets. This applies not only to leading German automobile brands, such as BMW or Volkswagen, but also to companies operating on an international level, such as BASF, Bayer or Siemens. Large international trade fairs such as IFA, CeBIT or IAA also take place in Germany. Many companies in Germany and elsewhere use German as a business language. However, German is also important as a scientific and technical language in research and education. Many specialised texts have been and are today written in German; therefore a knowledge of German is helpful in understanding the history of scientific discourse. The ability to read and understand German opens up a whole wide world of research in classical and modern science. More than 40 percent of US scientists recommend that their students learn German; in Poland and Hungary, this is even recommended by over 70 percent.
The German language is also a great asset on a cultural level. German literature includes classics, such as Goethe and Schiller, and contemporary authors such as Günther Grass or Elfriede Jelinek, both of whom have won the Nobel Prize for Literature (in 1999 and 2004, respectively). German-language contributions are also highly regarded in art, music, architecture, philosophy, theatre and film.
Learning German in your home countryIf you would like to learn German, the Goethe-Institut with its many locations is the best point of contact. In addition to the German language, the Goethe-Institut also aims to convey cultural life and information about Germany. It has centres in 83 countries; in addition, you can practise your German online with exercises and special reading texts.
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academics.com :: May 2008