Berlin to Montpellier

28 janvier 2016

Ich kann nicht sprechen Deutsch! That was my one and only phrase I needed to know in German (I can not speak German). All-but-one responded to me in English after that, from the bus driver to the sweet shop man.

Berlin, like many cosmopolitan cities, can speak English as a second language very well.  During my 4 days in Berlin I stayed with German friends and we often had dinner together but they only spoke English when I was around. Of course I felt guilty as I was the only non-native German speaker but out of politeness everyone changed to English.  There were different levels of ability but all 8 people were able to hold conversations easily. So why do the my German friends speak English so well?

Firstly, it’s the school system. From a young age they are exposed to English literature and media, not only in English classes, but in other subjects such as history too. Secondly, the younger generation seem very motivated to speak several languages, not just English. I spoke with several people in their 20’s and 30’s who could also speak a third language. Thirdly, it's a Berlin thing. As an international city of the world, virtually everyone you meet can speak English. Many people can visit Berlin and speak German Click on the following link to see other reasons people don't practice German in Berlin.

As Berlin attracts more business startups from all over the world, particuarly tech, the importance of speaking English becomes more important. 

But what about the loss of the German language? The young Germans have shown that is still possible to retain your mother tongue while using English as the international language of exchange. By being open to speaking English to outsiders Germany welcomes other nationalities to join in with conversations. With this lack of fear, the Germans enrich their language and encourage non-German speakers to learn basic German. Without the fear of losing their language, German culture has embraced English and English speakers who they encounter. It is enriching rather than thining their culture.

Read 1448 times Last modified on mercredi, 03 février 2016 16:37

3 comments

  • HBCapMtp01
    posted by HBCapMtp01 mardi, 16 février 2016 13:00

    It's certainly engrained in the culture to learn English young but the Germans weren't always like that and something shifted in their attitudes which has now become the norm. There's no reason why french culture will not develop with the next generation either.

  • Keryl E Allahdua
    posted by Keryl E Allahdua lundi, 15 février 2016 12:28

    I came across this map showing the average number of languages spoken by each European country. Check it out:

    http://one-europe.info/eurographics/average-number-of-languages-spoken-in-the-eu

    Who would have guessed that in tiny Slovenia, the average person speaks 3 languages! And in Luxembourg, it's nearly 4 languages per citizen!

  • Keryl E Allahdua
    posted by Keryl E Allahdua lundi, 15 février 2016 12:25

    It's so true man! All the German's I've met speak English really well, I just naturally assume that they speak English whenever I meet any. It's strange though how the average French student doesn't seem to have that level of ease with speaking, do you think it has to with French perfectionism? "I won't try until I'm perfect, kind of attitude?" ^^

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