Why is it beneficial to learn German?

Gisma - Business School

Those who know nothing of foreign languages, know nothing of their own

– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Maxims and Reflections (1794)

‘Deutsch’, also known as German, is the official language of Germany, Austria and Liechtenstein. Modern German belongs to the Germanic cluster of the Indo-European language group along with English, Flemish and Dutch. Presently, the German language is the twelfth most spoken language in the world with over 130 million people speaking it. It is also broadly studied as a foreign language and is one of the most significant cultural languages of the Western world.

Reasons to learn German

In recent times, German has become the go-to foreign language to learn. It is learnt for networking opportunities, cultural immersion, economic benefits or as a hobby. Some more reasons why are explained below:

  • German is relatively easy to pick up: A number of jokes have been made regarding the difficulty of learning German. A quote by Mark Twain easily sums it up: “Never knew before what eternity was made for. It is to give some of us a chance to learn German.” However, in reality, it is easy for an English-speaking person to learn German since both languages share the same Germanic root. Further proof of this is that there are numerous words in English and German which are cognates. For example, ‘water’ becomes wasser, ‘father’ becomes vater and ‘apple’ becomes apfel. It does not seem so hard now, does it?
  • Widely spoken across Europe: English, German and French are the official languages of the European Union (EU). The German language is the second most spoken language in Europe. However, when considering just native speakers, it is number one.
  • Provides access to excellent education: If you wish to study in Germany, learning the language will be beneficial for you. German universities have an excellent reputation across the world for offering top-quality education and hands-on learning in a professional environment; GISMA Business School is one such higher education institution. GISMA offers graduate and postgraduate programmes in numerous fields, holding AMBA accreditation since 2011.
  • Germany is an economic powerhouse: Germany is the largest economy within the EU and the fourth largest in the world. It is the home of multiple international organisations and a popular location for innovation in technologies. If you have any German business partners, learning the language will greatly improve your communication with them and will lead to successful professional relationships. Additionally, GISMA Business School has ties with top German organisations like Volkswagen Nutzfahrzeuge, Uniqlo, Continental and Bornemann, thus giving students opportunities to obtain jobs with these companies on completion of their programmes.
  • German organisations are leaders in their respective fields: Germany houses major international corporations such as Adidas, Lufthansa, Volkswagen, Bosch, BMW and Mercedes. Additionally, Berlin is becoming a centre for innovation and start-ups, and is being dubbed as the ‘Silicon Valley of Europe’.
  • Immerse yourself in the rich German culture: Do the names Mozart, Kafka, Beethoven, Nietzsche and Kant ring a bell? They should do since they are among the greatest novelists, composers and philosophers in the world. Learning the German language will allow you to understand and value these artists’ magna opera in its original form.
  • Great online presence: German features as one of the most crucial languages on the web, roughly accounting for 6% of all content online. Additionally, with almost eight million domains, Germany’s ‘.de’ domain is the second largest domain after ‘.com’.

How to speak the German language?

There could be numerous reasons as to why a person wants to learn German, and you can speak basic German using some clever hacks and strategies:

  • Include the language in your daily life: There are several ways to do this such as:
  • Practice the German language every day: Studies have shown that practicing anything for 15 minutes daily is more effective than practicing it for several hours one night. Hence you should at least try practicing the German language basics for 15 minutes every day.
  • Read topics that you are interested in: This is one of the best methods to learn and speak German. You should read about the topics that you are interested in. For example, if you like history, you can study Deutsche Geschichte (German history) or if you like art, then study Deutsche Kunst (German art). According to a study, you can learn a foreign language faster if you read topics that you are interested in. This also helps you keep focused on the task at hand.
  • Study German in groups: Studying in groups is beneficial as it helps improve your speaking, listening skills, as well as your pronunciation. You can also make these study sessions creative, by studying the German food vocabulary and preparing some German dishes such as Schnitzel, Bratwurst, Spatzle and Apfelstrudel.
  • Study before sleeping: According to a study conducted, sleep assists our brains in processing and storing information. So it would be beneficial for you to study some German before sleeping. This could be done in the form of watching German videos, speaking exercises or reading German fairy tales like Aschenputtel (Cinderalla) or Rotkäppchen (Little Red Riding Hood).
  • Try thinking in German: Instead of attempting to translate English words and phrases into German, try thinking in German. This would help in improving your German. You can start with simple sentences and phrases like, ‘Ich trinke gerne Kaffee’ (I like to drink coffee) and move on to more difficult sentences.

Samuel Alejandro Lopez, from Venezuela, is participating in the German Language Programme in Berlin at GISMA Business School

What is the best way to learn German?

German may seem like a difficult language to learn, but it doesn’t have to be. Some of the methods that you can use to master German include:

  • Understand and learn the alphabets: This is the best way to understand German for beginners. Examine the English and German alphabets and understand the differences between them. You can hear the pronunciation of each letter online. You should pay close attention to the letters that have an umlaut (dots above a letter). Umlaut changes the pronunciation of the word and thus, can change how a word sounds.
  • Study and learn easy words: Another way to go about this is to learn basic German These words could be Bitte (please), Danke (thank you), Ja (yes), Nein (no), Es tut mir leid (I am sorry), guten Morgen (good morning) and Tschüss (bye).
  • Understand sentence construction in German: This is the next step in learning basic German. The order and the construction might seem difficult at first, but fortunately, even if you mix up the order of the sentence, people will still be able to understand it. This would help in motivating you to get the correct order.
  • Read German newspaper: This would help you in improving your sentence construction. Also, mark any words you do not understand so that you can look them later in the dictionary and improve your German vocabulary.
  • Join a language programme at GISMA. Apart from offering a variety of undergraduate and master’s programmes, GISMA Business School also provides language programmes to students and professionals. The high calibre of GISMA’s language programmes make it highly sought after.

Tips for learning German

Apart from the generic studying methods, there are some unique and out of the box methods you can employ to study German. Some of these are mentioned below:

  • Make use of the Internet: In today’s technological generation, you can learn new things off the Internet. Hence, it is possible for you to learn German online through German language courses. These online German courses are popular and reasonably priced.
  • Language apps: German learning apps like ‘Duolingo’ and ‘Fluentu’ help German language learners to speak the language through videos and short passages.
  • Make use of German podcasts: German podcasts are a fun way to learn German and to improve your pronunciation. One of the popular podcasts is the ‘GermanPod101’. It has over 1000 audio and video lessons. In fact, nowadays people are preferring it over hiring German tutors.
  • Use flashcards: English to German flashcards are becoming popular with people who are learning German. These flashcards can be carried everywhere and can help you in learning German phrases and sentences.

If you are interested in learning German in Berlin or Hannover, take a look at GISMA’s University Pathway Programmes and German Language Programmes. You can hear from previous and current students studying at GISMA here.

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