Tag Archives: German
Munich

The German language or “Deutsch” is the world’s 15th most spoken language according to Ethnologue’s latest data. The language is spoken in 28 countries, and 76 million people worldwide speak it as their mother tongue. Globally, there are 132.1 million German language speakers. As of 2016, Germany is home to 82.67 million, 95% of whom speak German as their first language.

Status of the German language

German is the official language in Germany, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein. In Switzerland, it is one of the country’s three official languages. German, which belongs to the West Germanic branch of the Indo-European language family, shares some of the characteristics with its co-branch members, English, Dutch and Frisian languages.

It is a cultural language in some parts of Brazil and a national minority language in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Italy, Kazakhstan, Poland, Romania and Ukraine. German is a national language in Namibia and a minority language in Russia. Many more countries around the world speak German, including France and South Africa and the German diaspora in several countries, such as Argentina, Australia, the United States, Canada, Paraguay and Costa Rica contribute to the spread of the German language.

Working in Germany

If you’re a qualified professional, you’ll find many work opportunities in Germany. Like other developed countries, there are standard immigration conditions that you should meet. You need to get recognition for your professional qualifications and meet the requirements for German language skills.

Let us say that you have fulfilled all the requirements and are now starting to work in Germany, so you’ll be interacting more with new officemates.

This article shows you how the German language expressions and manners create a positive impact on the work environment in the country.

Communication in the Workplace

As an employee, you will have many chances to converse with your German colleagues or even clients, and you’ll be using verbal and non-verbal communication techniques, as you get familiar with your new work environment. In Germany, the communication style is often direct. Germans are not overly emotional during conversations at work. You could consider it a plus since you do not have to indulge in small talk and you can quickly express your opinion or concern. Thus, it is to your advantage to learn to do the same.

Answering the Phone with Your Last Name

As to answering the phone, you have to observe some specific rules. You have to be respectful. It is customary for the Germans to answer the phone by giving their last name. When you are calling a person you do not know, you should use “Sie”, which is a polite form of address. Being polite is very important. Stick to the polite way of speech, using their titles and their last names. Using their first names used to be reserved for family and friends. There is is a shift in the German society and the “Du” becomes more normal at work as well.

Being on Time is Crucial

Being punctual is very important to Germans. Many companies offer flexible hours, but for those who have fixed work schedules, punctuality is necessary. If you are going to be late, it is imperative that you call the office and briefly state your reason. If you are attending a work session or a meeting, please be on time as it is part of the German culture to start and end meetings during the appointed hours.

Unlike in other countries where you can discuss other issues, Germans prefer only to discuss what’s on the agenda. Moreover, it is not standard practice for office workers to walk into another colleague’s office to meet unannounced. If there are pressing matters to be discussed, prior notice is needed either by email or by phone.

Building a Relationship

You can say that Germans are quite reserved and they are not particularly gifted in making small talk. If you are from another country, use your knowledge of the German language to your advantage. Help keep the office environment relaxed by developing a flair for small talk. It can lead to better office camaraderie and lasting friendships.  

If you succeed in engaging your German colleagues in small talk, stick to safe topics like sports, the weather, hobbies or travel. It’s not proper to ask a new friend’s income. Likewise, do observe personal space.

Socializing is part of the work culture in Germany, often in the form of excursions and small celebrations in the office. You should attend, although talks about business or work should be avoided.

Learning the German language will help you to be comfortably conversant with colleagues. You do not have to be knowledgeable or funny to engage your German acquaintances in friendly conversations. What you need to know is how to relax and develop the art of small talk. Listen to how Germans start conversations and observe their language expressions to help you imbibe the language better.

Germans are perceived as humorless, precise, punctual, disciplined, direct, and organized. But if you look at their work environment, their language expressions and their manners contribute significantly to their business success.

Germany’s economy is one of the strongest in Europe. Working in Germany can be challenging. If you want to get out of your comfort zone, you discover many things about yourself, explore another culture, become more competitive and learn different work environments and management styles.

Are you ready to take the challenge of learning the German language?

Sean Hopwood, MBA is founder and President of Day Translations, an online translation and localization services provider, dedicated to the improvement of global communications.

Find DayTranslations and Sean on LinkedIn:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/daytranslations1/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/seanhopwood/

Please check out our website https://www.daytranslations.com/blog/do-you-know-german-well/

Yvonne Herrmann-Teubel

Guest post by Yvonne Herrmann-Teubel, Chief German Instructor at German Language School

After having studied the German language for many years, Mark Twain stated the following:

“A dog is “der Hund”; a woman is “die Frau”; a horse is “das Pferd”; now you put that dog in the genitive case, and is he the same dog he was before? No, sir; he is “des Hundes”; put him in the dative case and what is he? Why he is “dem Hund.” Now you snatch him into the accusative case and how is it with him? Why he is “den Hunden.” But suppose he happens to be twins and you have to pluralize him- what then? Why they’ll swat that twin dog around through the 4 cases until he’ll think he’s an entire international dog-show all in his own person. I don’t like dogs, but I wouldn’t treat a dog like that- I wouldn’t even treat a borrowed dog that way. Well, it’s just the same with a cat. They start her in at the nominative singular in good health and fair to look upon, and they sweat her through all the 4 cases and the 16 the’s and when she limps out through the accusative plural you wouldn’t recognize her for the same being. Yes, sir, once the German language gets hold of a cat, it’s goodbye cat. That’s about the amount of it. “

In other words, the question „Why should I learn German? “  is quite legitimate. German is not an easy language to learn and after having opened the first page of a German grammar book your first reaction might be to close it again immediately and to hide it somewhere so you do not have to open it again.  Furthermore, German is just one of the official languages in Switzerland and if you already speak Italian or/and French you may ask yourself the same question again: „Why should I learn German? “.

Looking at the list of the most spoken languages you can see that there are 378.2 million speakers of English (as the first language) worldwide in 2017 in contrast to only 130.0 million German speakers (as mother or second language). Apart from that, Switzerland is full of people knowing and speaking English quite well or even perfectly.

1) Meeting the local authorities

However, once you have to go to the immigration office (Migrationsamt), want to sign a contract for a house or buy a car, it can become quite an obstacle of not knowing how to speak German. Although it is only one of the official languages in Switzerland, it is spoken by approx. 63% of the Swiss.

2) Improve your job chances

If you are looking for a job in Switzerland and you already know German your chances of getting a job are much higher.

3) Applying for the C-permit

The same goes for the application of permanent residency (C-permit). It helps if you can show that you are at least at A2-level, especially when you are applying as a third-country national. But not only there is it helpful to know some German. Coming from a foreign country you already experienced how useful it is to know the language of the country because it is the key to the new culture that you are going to live in for some time.

4) Helping yourself and your children adjust to the country

Language is also your entrance ticket for integration into the Swiss culture. In addition to this, it is your chance to build up your own Swiss professional and personal network, to challenge your brain, to learn something new and to broaden your horizons. And, last but not least, if your children are going to a local school all the communications with the school will mostly be in German.

5) Learning German can be fun

There are, apart from many hidden grammar books, a lot of other ways to learn German. A lot of Apps will help you learn German in a way that might be new to you on the one hand but very effective on the other hand. There are uncountable videos, podcasts and other programmes that can be used for free on the Internet. And if this is not something of your taste then there is also a wide offer of language schools willing to help you with your German.

So, the question that we should ask ourselves is not „Why should I learn German? “  but rather „Why should I not learn German? “.

 

Yvonne Herrmann-TeubelYvonne Herrmann-Teubel believes that everyone saying German is too hard to learn has just not found the right strategy yet. After having worked as a teacher of German as a foreign language in Leipzig, Lisbon, and São Paulo, she moved to Zurich where she is teaching Expats from all over the world in German and preparing students for their IB German and/or other language exams. She is also working as an author. Her business, the German Language School, is open to anyone who wants to learn more about a German dog and its four cases.

 


Guest Blog by Larissa Hämisegger

I thought I was bad at learning languages.

Back in high school, it was mandatory for us to study French and my grades were pretty bad. I don’t like to learn things by heart, I need to understand the reasons behind something. And that’s actually how we learn languages in school. We learn to understand the grammar of the language. However, all I remember from these 8 years or so of French classes is the struggle I had with studying grammar and words and memorizing the exceptions – and there were a lot of them. Am I able to have a conversation in French now? No!

During high school, I had the opportunity to study abroad one year and I chose Sweden. I thought: they all speak English well, which would make it easier to find friends and a sense of belonging. Of course, it wasn’t. While they do all speak fluent English, conversation amongst Swedes is obviously in Swedish. Real social integration was impossible without being able to understand and speak Swedish. So I took lessons in Swedish but after 10 or so classes I realized it was taking too long to learn something I could actually use. Also, I didn’t want to spend my time with the other exchange students: I wanted to get to know the Swedish life.

So I chose to do the following:

– I had sticky notes all over the apartment with the Swedish words for all the things we had at home.

– I watched Swedish shows with Swedish subtitles.

– I listened carefully whenever I heard people talking – to the sounds, the melody, and tried to understand at least the topic, they were talking about.

– Whenever I heard a word several times I asked what it was or looked it up in the dictionary and since I heard it many times, it stayed in my head easily.

– And since it got dark very early there, I looked through the newspapers and read about what time the sun rises and when it sets.

What happened? After 3 months I had this click moment and I was able to understand most of what people were saying. A month later I was fluent. I applied Swedish as much as I could because my main motivation was to make friends and integrate. The Swedes were impressed and started to click with me because I used all their slang words. Of course, I had those words because I learned what people were talking through reality TV shows and listening to classmates. But it was exactly that, that showed I tried to adapt and didn’t learn the language from a book.

Recently I had a chat with a linguist and then the penny dropped. It is well known that we learn a language faster by listening and imitating and not by studying grammar and vocabulary. We are not bad at learning languages, nor are they too difficult, or our brains too old – we just mostly learn the wrong way.

So here’s what do you need to do to learn a language fast:

– listen attentively and often

– imitate and repeat what you hear

– listen to and read about topics you care about

– practice, practice, practice

– incorporate the language every day

So my suggestion is, get yourself some radio podcasts or, even better, watch tv in (Swiss) German with German subtitles and do that as often as possible. Write down the words you hear often and then translate them. You will not understand much in the beginning, but you will get a feeling for the language, which is more important than anything else. Through hearing the same words and sentence structure over and over again and understanding in what context they are used, you will extend your vocabulary and your grammar. And speak as much as you can with everyone you meet and don’t worry about making a lot of mistakes because nobody cares about this but you.

 

Larissa Hämisegger is Founder of UNUMONDO, a company that supports non-German speakers living in Switzerland to learn (Swiss) German by facilitating real life exchanges and learning opportunities, rather than in the classroom. She combines her background in business management and organizational development with her studies in Yoga and Meditation to find ways for people to find a sense of belonging and connect through language.

 

Guest post* by Heike ReinhartInternationalGermanTeacher@gmail.com

When you are hesitant to speak German

The dream team

This is for all my students who are sometimes hesitant to speak German because they might confuse the prepositions or the accusative and dative endings. I share my skiing angst with all of you as an example of working through grammar anxiety.

I always liked to ski when I lived in Germany. I would schedule ski trips in the Northern part of Italy or Austria in late winter. It was a time when the sun would warm my face and the snow was at its best. No need to adjust gloves, hat, goggles. No time to think about the steep slope in front of me. No need to worry about keeping up with my friends who were better and faster skiers. But my anxiety sometimes made me afraid to go down the steep, long, mountain.

That was when a found Josef, an experienced, professional ski teacher who uses his interest in psychology to help his ski students overcome their fear. I was relieved to know that I was not the only person with skiing anxiety. In two hours, Josef taught me some simple trips including how to always be able to stop. After two hours my fear was alleviated – even at the top of a red slope.

When speaking German produces anxiety

[tweetthis]Speaking German can be equally anxiety producing for students.[/tweetthis]

Speaking German can be equally anxiety producing for students. But there are a few tricks which can help any student get past their fear of mixing up “Akkusativ” and “Dativ” prepositions. I remind my students that the reason they are learning German is so they can communicate with other German speakers and to start to go down the difficult slope of learning a new culture.

They can choose simple words to express their wishes and be understood. They won’t be judged because they use the wrong preposition. In fact, my students quickly discover how positively German speakers react to their efforts to communicate in German.

My teaching approach gets results for even the newest German student. And just like learning to ski making fun an integral element of learning in order to built confidence without fear.

The purpose of language is to communicate. As soon as you realized that, you will relax and just get the idea out.

 

 

Heike ReinhartHeike Reinhart is a German language instructor and intercultural trainer. She works with internationally mobile professionals who want to speed up their learning process and pass test (Goethe and TELC) faster.

 

*This post was first published on Heike Reinhart’s website.

 

 

 

 

GPT Tip: Check out Heike Reinhart’s German Pronouncation Class 5.2016 starting on 1 June 2016 in Basel.


seen in Germany
An example of German Humor – “Sucker – Alles bis XXL” .

I used to turn to Twitter for inspiration. I hardly ever use Google for a search. XING was my first social media affair, but Twitter is my true love. I am a short form texter and a friend of saying it in five bullets. I have returned to write posts in long form, 300 words minimum (and not only because of SEO but because it feels right). I had underestimated the challenge of being German and here is a how I got over it so I could become a better blogger.

 

Having been in the middle of my career around 2005, I think I missed the whole era of blogs coming up. I had too much to read already and I did not really understand the point of blogs. I thought of them as diaries not valuable sources of information. When I started to write in one of my XING groups it was to “inform” rather than to engage or entertain and once I was told that it was too much to read.
The way I wrote for a long time was the way I had learnt to write emails as an HR professional: Concise, factual and directive. I think, I still write concise and directive but I am moving away from the factual style. I have a hard time being funny. I wonder why that is. I realized it must have two reasons: 1) I am German and 2) I worry too much.
Apart from the obvious influence of my passport culture and mother tongue which is a limitation of English vocabulary and sometimes errors in grammar, I think the German education and university system got in my way when I wrote blog posts. We learned to base our statements on deep analysis. In blogging that is not necessary because you can write about your view of the world. I only understood this difference a few weeks ago. I don’t have to be “objective” in my writing. Readers want to hear what I have to say, not four consulting companies.
As a German (I am stereotyping now) I can’t be funny in a professional context. I take myself way too serious most of the time. I wish I could give a lighter note to my writing but I find it hard. Sylvia Day, a comedian and improv coach told me once “Don’t try to be funny.” So, I guess my only chance to make you laugh is by showing you the naked reality of our multicultural, globalized life. Maybe you read a story here and think “This is how I cheat myself as well.” For example when I write in my diary “Walk” and then I use the free time as a buffer to perfect my tweeting skills.
We assume that our published words are an expression of our analysis and experience with a subject matter. If I make a false assumption or draw a false conclusion, then that could reflect negatively on my work. I am often worried that I could be called out for superficiality. Not really hitting the nerve of the topic like in high school when you thought you failed the assignment as you did not really get what the teacher asked you to do only to hear him quoting you in front of the class as (OMG) your assignment stood out with originality and spirit.
In an attempt to make my blog more interesting I introduced movies as a theme. I love movies so why should I not refer to them in my work. You might love movies too. Make sure you enter “Darth Vader” in the search box or “James Bond” or “Iranian movies”. (Did you know that there is a Japanese movie festival in Zurich?)
I am also getting more bold at saying what I think needs to be said. That boldness might take a bit of uncomfortableness but it is very liberating. When you make helping others your profession you need to sit in their brain. When you write a cover letter I want you to hear me telling you that you break the task down in several steps and that you refrain from copying and pasting. When you network with a purpose I want you to hear that it is not about you but about helping the other person succeed or overcome a problem. And when you are asked about your salary expectations I want you to hear “Say the numbers.” This is what I would like to achieve with my work. That you reach your goals, that your work feels more rewarding and that you have a challenging growth experience on your international assignment.
That does not mean that we can’t have fun at the same time. So tell me all of your ideas how I could make you laugh.