Worldwide, approximately 120 million people speak German. In all of Europe, more people speak German than any other language. This fact makes German the most widely spoken native language in Europe. European nations in which German is spoken include: Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein. German remains the mother tongue of people in parts of Belgium, France and the north of Italy as well. German is commonly spoken as a second language all over Eastern Europe and is considered the language of business, diplomacy, and tourism in Eastern Europe; it is second only to English in Western Europe. The language is also spoken outside of Europe in various parts of South America, for example.
For employment reasons, the advantages of being bilingual in English and German are obvious. Not only do you gain access to Austria’s market, but also Germany’s economic status as one of the three biggest world economies, along with the United States and China, make learning German even more important. In fact, German is a key language of the EU and all of Europe. If you are interested in international relations or business with the European Union, a command of German proves to be essential for global and business communication.
German language skills afford study abroad students the right to access not only Austria’s rich job market, but also the country’s equally rich literary, philosophic, musical and scientific traditions. Imagine being able to listen to Mozart’s or Wagner’s operas or read the works of greats like Wittgenstein, Freud, and Kafka in their native language of German.
There are also benefits to learning German if you plan to travel. German can help you greatly all over Europe and Asia. If you needed to take just one language with you during your travels, German might just be an ideal tongue. As many Europeans who don’t speak German as a first language choose to learn it for a second language, you may find it easier to communicate in German than attempting to learn phrases in all the languages represented by Europe. Beyond Europe, many students choose to learn German. For example, 68% of all Japanese students learn German. On your next trip to Japan, you may be able to rely on German rather than Japanese!
Yet another reason to learn German proves to be its similarity to the English language. German and English are part of the same language family. Therefore, many German words look and sound like English ones. In fact, when the founders of the United States were deciding on an official language, German was a very close runner–up to English. German was a very popular language and was widely taught in the United States until World War I. During the war, German was banned in 26 states, but was reinstated in the classroom again after WWI. One in every four Americans claims German heritage; therefore, learning German could help you explore your own family tree!