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Joshua C
German Speakers and Learners! Considering that a significant amount of Germans speaks English, do you think it is still worth it to learn German? If you are currently learning German, what are your motivations? How useful will learning German be if you will just travel around western Europe in the future, but not actually live there? Please share your thoughts!
Jul 12, 2016 1:48 AM
Comments · 10

For just travelling around Europe, I think it's overkill. I've visited quite a few places here just using English, and the only times I've used German instead of English were when I visited areas near the German and Austrian borders. Even then, English was still generally understood.

As for my motivations for learning German, well, I live and work here in Germany. You can do a lot with just English here, but I always had trouble getting paperwork done and with dealing with the various government offices. I swear that they must have hidden all of their English speaking staff from me back then because I never seemed to meet any of them. Now that I can speak German, though, I've met quite a few who are happy to chat away in English with me. (@_@)

July 16, 2016
Speaking english is definitely enough to get along in all german speaking countries. I would say that most people under age 60 are able to speak at least some english. Of course people appreciate if you can speak basic german, as a traveller that is pretty special. I know from me and my friends, if there is just one person in the group who can't speak german, everyone will try to keep the conversation in english but occasionally it will drift to german. In the bar it is usually the same, the later it gets, the harder it is to speak english for most people ;) However, it is not necessary to leran german if you travel to german speaking countries, but it can enrich your travel experience.
July 16, 2016
The more a country learns English, the less people study that country's official language. It's a fact. And Germany has been consistently over the past years in the top 10 of the English Proficiency Index. [link]

That being said, German is, and will continue to be, pretty damn relevant. From the perspective of someone who is learning German and yet has no plans of traveling to Germany, I can tell you this: People of my generation—and those younger even more—live on the internet. In the same way you speak your Mother Tongue because it is the official language of your country, I learn German because it's one of the most important languages of our digital world: the Internet. Look for lists of languages based on different criteria: Science, Economy, Philosophy, Literature, History, Medicine, Engineering, Technology, Communication, etc. and you will find German in the top 10 every single time, over and over again. And no, not everything is in English, not everything is translated, not everything has subtitles. Make no mistake, knowledge is power! [link]
July 18, 2016

You need German if you are going to live in a German speaking country and it is also useful if you work for a German company elsewhere. To me it seams that learning a language just for traveling would be a bit of an overkill anyway, and if that's your main motivation for language learning you are right, you can get by really well in Germany with only English.

July 14, 2016

Not a German speaker or learner (yet) but :

I think "practicality" may not be the best justification FOR or AGAINST studying a language. Take it from someone who's studying Italian AND teaching Filipino. I love Italian because of the sounds and beauty of the language, and my students are devoted to learn Filipino to have deeper connections to their heritage. None of the above are to just be "practical" . Question is : would YOU enjoy learning German? (speaking, listening to, reading German).

While it's true you can get away with English in many German-speaking countries, you'll get a richer experience at least understanding the basics and responding back. I wish I did. I was in in Swiss German speaking Switzerland this summer on a retreat and could have had more connections to the the people I met.

here's a funny, sassy video on the subject :

good luck !

July 12, 2016
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Joshua C
Language Skills
English, Filipino (Tagalog), Japanese, Spanish
Learning Language
Japanese, Spanish