Why German? – Five Reasons to learn Goethe and Schiller’s language despite its grammar
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.

 



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