Tag Archives: language
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/


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.


first published on www.sietar.ch.

by @angieweinberger

Values are the foundation of your global virtual team. Values are what clients feel instantly when they work with your team. They feel the connection because true values come from the heart.

If you are a leader of a global virtual team you have probably faced many intercultural challenges until your team was ready to perform. You might have underestimated the challenges of global communication under pressure or you have taken promises at face value.

When you bring your team together for an offsite you have probably already developed the team vision, mission and brand statement but have you considered your values? I am not talking about the value statement you read in the corporate magazine. I am talking about the values you and your team members all share and the ones that your clients feel.

We recently developed ten values in an intercultural team intervention. In intercultural settings values could be expected to go into various directions but when you break them down you will see that there are similarities or universal values that we all share. Research by Schwartz and Bilsky (1990) suggests that we have universal values although they research was mainly conducted in Western cultures (and Hongkong).

achievement, enjoyment, maturity, prosocial, restrictive conformity, security, self-direction

From values you can derive team principles of communication and of working together. Then in case of conflict you have principles to base your decisions on.

When working with my clients in 1:1 career or executive sessions I always build in a session on values at work. What I felt are the seven most commonly cited (this is anecdotal, not academic data) are these:

  1. Quality
  2. Client Service
  3. Collaboration
  4. Integrity
  5. Relationships
  6. Sustainability
  7. Leadership.

Let’s assume these seven values form the basis around the globe for excellence. My clients come from all continents so I am hoping there is no cultural bias here.

If you are now thinking about working on this basis with your global virtual team I’d love this approach. You just have to remember that the meaning behind these words is culturally different so in a team setting you should ask your team how they show these values at work. Ask them for examples and stories. You might get different views on Leadership and Integrity but having the discussion or collecting stories will help the team see those differences.

►Building principles

Before you can formulate team principles ensure that you are all on the same page. Suggest every team member to contribute their wording. Even if it is messy. Create a team page or social media space where you can share your wording for values.

When you develop team principles it is important that you word them in the form of „We do…“ (active and positve). Example „We support each other achieve excellent quality by giving honest feedback.“

►Take photos, videos and allow images

When you see the values at work take photos and allow your team members to create videos or graphics. Put them on your coffee cups or shared file area. Be creative.

►Aligning language of your global virtual team

When you start this exercise you might notice that the language of your team members is not always aligned. They might say similar things with different words. Aligning the language of your global virtual team means that you come up with definitions, quotes and images. I often hear people telling me they work hard but I need to understand what in means in their context. In Switzerland working hard means getting up at 5 AM and being in the office at 7 AM and leaving the office at 5 PM to work in the community fire brigade or study in the evenings or raise four kids. In the US working hard might mean working 80 hours per week no matter when. In India „working hard“ might mean coming to the office even if you are unwell or even if your family needs you at home.

►Drop the assumptions

The more I work with global virtual teams the more I would advise you to drop your assumptions or at least to critically reflect them. You might only have a glimpse of understanding of the values of your team members until you have a personal conversation at a business conference at 2 AM in the morning. Sharing values requires trust and that is only built over time by people who show their values towards their colleagues constantly.