How many people around the world speak German? In which countries do they live? What are the 10 reasons of learning German for businessmen, academics and students? Is it as difficult as it seems, and which language is easier to learn – English or German?

There is no doubt that everyone who learns German has their own 10 reasons for doing so – some need it for work, some want to go to Germany in the future, and some simply enjoy the process of learning it. In this article, we will touch on the 10 most common reasons why people choose to learn German.

1. German is the most widely spoken language in Europe

German is the native language for the largest number of people in Europe. This is not surprising because in Germany alone, there are 83 million inhabitants. But German is not the only language spoken in Germany; it is also the official language of Austria and Liechtenstein, and one of the official languages of Switzerland, Belgium and Luxembourg. In addition, German is the native language for a large proportion of the population of northern Italy, eastern Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, eastern France, parts of Poland, the Czech Republic and Romania.

  • Learning German connects you with 120 million native speakers around the globe, in addition to more than 15 million people learning German as a second language.

It is the third most popular foreign language learned worldwide and the second most spoken in Europe and Japan after English.

2. The German economy is very competitive

Germany is the economic centre of the European Union. In 2019, Germany ranked third in global exports after China and the US. The country exported goods worth a total of $1.486 trillion, ahead of the Netherlands, Japan, France and South Korea. German products are competitive and in demand, the country’s trade surplus was €18.3 billion in November 2019 and continues to grow every year.

3. Knowing German gives you the opportunity to do business

The German economy offers many business opportunities. Companies like BMW, Daimler, Siemens, Lufthansa, SAP, Bosch, Infineon, BASF and many others need international partnerships. The Japanese, who have the third most developed economy in the world, have long since realised the benefits of learning German: 68 percent of Japanese students learn German. We have previously reported in more detail on world-famous German companies.

4. Germans are innovators

Gutenberg’s printing press, Hertz’s discovery of electromagnetic waves, Ehrlich’s development of chemotherapy, Einstein’s theory of relativity, Brandenburg’s creation of the MP3 music format… throughout history, Germans have stood the test of time; they still remain at the forefront. 4 out of 10 innovative companies in the world are based in Germany and 12.7% of patent applications are made in Germany. Germany exports more high-tech products than any other country except the USA; more than 600 companies operate in the field of advanced biotechnology. Only 115 of these are located in Munich. Dresden has become a centre for microchip production with more than 765 companies.

Given Germany’s contribution to innovation, it is not surprising that two-thirds of the world’s international trade fairs take place in Germany (e.g. the IFA). In 2000, the World Expo 2000 was held in Hannover.

5. Germans spend a lot of money on travel

Germans know how to not only work, but also how to relax. Germans have time and money to travel (an average of 6 weeks’ holiday). Which they do! You can come across a German holidaymaker anywhere, 3 out of 4 holidays Germans spend in other countries. Germans spent $94 billion on international travel in 2018, ranking third behind Chinese and US residents. Year after year, Germans are spending more and more on travel.

6. Significant number of sites in German

As Germans are big innovators, their presence on the Internet is also very visible. With 8 million domains, the German .de top-level domain is second only to the .com extension. This makes German domains more popular than even the .net, .org, .info and .biz extensions.

7. 1 in 10 books are printed in Germany

Around 100,000 new books are published in Germany every year. Only the Chinese and English publishing markets outnumber the German ones in terms of the number of books published per year. In terms of the number of books published, Munich is second only to New York City. Only a small percentage of German books are translated into other languages (e.g. approx. 10% into Korean and Chinese, 5% into English). Knowledge of the language gives you access to an enormous number of German-language publications.

8. The rich cultural heritage of German-speaking countries

Germany is considered to be a country of poets and thinkers: J.W. Goethe, T. Mann, F. Kafka, H. Hesse are just a few authors whose works are internationally renowned. Ten Nobel Prizes for literature have been awarded to German, Austrian and Swedish authors. The world of classical music cannot be imagined without the names of Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Strauss and Wagner. Vienna remains an international music centre today. From the sublime architecture of the Middle Ages to the avant-garde Bauhaus, from Dürer’s woodcuts to the expressionist masterpieces of Nolde, Kirchner and Kokoschka, German-speakers have made great contributions to world art and architecture.

Philosophy and science are also inconceivable without the contribution of German thinkers. The philosophy of Kant, Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche and many others has had an enormous influence on modern society. The psychologists Freud and Jung changed the concept of human behaviour forever. Scientists in the three largest German-speaking countries have won numerous Nobel prizes in physics, chemistry and medicine.

A knowledge of the German language enables you to get to know their work in its original language and to gain a deeper insight into world culture. Anyone who is interested in these fields automatically broadens his or her knowledge and skills through knowledge of the German language.

9. Germany sponsors international academic exchanges

While supporting innovation and research at home, Germans also realise that international interaction and expertise are essential for Germany’s continued leadership position in the world. In 2019, for example, the DAAD Academic Exchange Service supported more than 145,000 students, academics, and scholars in their research and studies. 41.5% of them were foreigners. It should be noted that, like German students, foreigners enrolled at a German university do not pay tuition fees.

10. German is not as difficult as it seems

German is spelt phonetically. If you know the sound system, you know how the spoken word will be written and how the written word will be pronounced. If you know English, you have an advantage in learning German. Modern German and English evolved from a common Germanic protolanguage, so they have some similarities in vocabulary and grammar. About how to learn German and succeed, check the “How to learn German?” article.

We’d like to point out two other reasons that may be an additional incentive for high school and college students to learn the language:

11. Study and work opportunities in Germany

Germany offers a large number of scholarships for students who want to study at different universities in the country. There are special tourist visas for young people from abroad, which give them permission to work, and representatives of some professions can get special permits allowing them to do certain types of work.

12. Exchange programmes for students

Germany and many countries around the world have agreements with each other on permanent school and student exchange programmes.

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