You would most probably be reading this article, because you are an International student and now in Germany – Heidelberg to be particular. In this discourse, Sumuka Gummaraju would address a few questions, that any new comer to Germany would have. He had the same questions too.Why should I learn German when I know English ?
If you’re planning to stay on in Germany for a while, then you should learn the language because it is spoken by a whopping 95% of the population. It is a sense of pride for any German to take pride in talking the language. German language skills promise an Advantage for the academia, people’s careers and more importantly, the economy. Speaking the language can also help a lot when networking. Furthermore, in my opinion, if one chooses to live in a foreign country, one of the most respectful things to do, is to try to learn the language.
How tough is it ?
Well to answer this question, how tough is speaking your mother tongue or your native language. That’s how easy it gets once you get comfortable with it. That being said, German is found to be relatively easy to learn in the beginning, but soon gets tricky at the intermediate and advanced levels. It can be intimidating with it’s well structured grammar. The articles der, die or das can get on your nerves once in a while. Do not get anxious but, Donaudampfschifffahrtselektrizitätenhauptbetriebswerkbauunterbeamtengesellschaft, is the longest word in German. Yes, I can’t pronounce either!
What’s in it for me ?
Studies prove that multilingual individuals have better critical thinking and problem solving skills, and also allow them to concentrate better. It enhances their creativity and flexibility. If that weren’t enough, as we age, being bilingual or multilingual also helps to stave off mental aging and cognitive decline. Learning a new language also allows us to appreciate the history, Tradition and arts of the people associated with the respective land and language. It triggers our mind to draw comparisons and throws light on aspects of our own culture – positive and negative.
Where do I learn ?
There are a lot of options to learn a language. The most popular among all of them is the Volkshochschule. There are also private institutes in the city that offer language courses, but at a higher cost. Apart from that, talking to your friends in German, learning by making mistakes is the best way to learn. No doubt that, mobile applications viz. Babbel do teach you something about the language, but do not forget to visit the Deutsche Welle, and ZDF for more resources.
The only way you can master it, is to speak it. Also the “Sprach café” close to the city center at Hauptstrasse is a fun way of meeting new people and interacting in the German Language. There happens to be an event every Friday at 17:00.
When do I Learn ?
A language cannot be learnt overnight, it requires sustained hours of dedication and the Burning desire to master the language. Starting off with simple things like learning the nouns and Verbs could boost your vocabulary and speed up the process of learning. Now I hear you say „Like the stress I have isn’t enough! Duh!“, but in fact, studies show that an hour a day of learning a new language can help decrease mainstream stress related problems. What are you waiting for? Pick up a book and get reading. There are intensive language courses, held in the mornings, afternoons and evenings at the language centers too.
What’s the fastest way to learn / How long will it take for me to learn ?
This is a very relative question, and totally depends on a person’s interest and abilities. Some people grasp quickly, some slowly, but that shouldn’t stop you from learning it. Flashcards could help. Watching German movies and TV shows accelerate the learning curve, as all of the Shows aired are with different accents. The Deutsche Welle is the national foreign broadcasting agency of the Federal Republic of Germany. ZDF ( Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen, is a German public-service television). They have both Audio and Video programs round the clock on their website. On the other hand, attending events in German, even though you might not end up understanding all of it, it helps a lot. Hearing a few words every now and then, really helps develop your Wortschatz ( Treasure of Words ) drastically.
How much of a role does German play when it comes to finding a job and growing in the firm? The “International office’s views on picking up German”
It wouldn’t be new to you if I told you 7 out of 10 jobs on a job portal requires you to have at least conversational German, let alone being fluent. How many of us have matched all of the requisites that a company demands, except for that one language requirement. „Seldom are meetings conducted in English. Almost all meetings, require you to know at least some level of German. Possessing German knowledge catapults the chances of growing within the company”, says Ms. Anja Loos from the International office, recalling her experience of learning Danish when she was at Denmark, although it was not absolutely necessary. ,“Your social circle grows bigger and wider which enables better networking and career opportunities. Further more to communicate effectively with others in society, emotions and feelings can be expressed so much better knowing the language“.
Long story short: I hope this discourse of mine will motivate particularly international students to learn the German language.