8 Reasons Why You Should Learn German

Hello internet folks! Let me introduce myself. My name is Fernanda, I’m 20 years old and I’m from Mexico. I started learning German three years ago and I fell in love with the language from Day 1.

But I have something to confess. Before my first German lesson I hated the language (or at least that’s what I thought). I could not see a single reason why I would want to learn it.

Before I started learning German my mind was full of prejudice about the language. “It sounds horrible! Why on earth would anyone want to learn German? In Mexico it’s only engineering students who do that! It’s very difficult and completely pointless to learn,” among lots of other things.

“A person who has not studied German can form no idea of what a perplexing language it is. Surely there is not another language that is so slipshod and systemless, and so slippery and elusive to the grasp.”

Mark Twain, “The Awful German Language”

My Own Reasons for Learning German

So… the question here is why did I decide to learn German? There’s no specific answer to this question. At the time I was learning French on the weekends and I had recently stopped playing professional beach volleyball. I used to train three hours a day for four years and I had suddenly stopped… So I needed something new to do after school, and since I was already learning French and enjoying it, the only option I was presented with was to learn German (in my language school they only taught French & German).

Then something amazing happened… after my first two-hour lesson of repeating words I didn’t understand over and over (die W-Fragen: was, wo, wie, welche), I was left with a nasty headache and mental exhaustion. But most importantly, I was left with this brand new feeling of excitement and emotion. A feeling I haven’t felt in a long time, about a new challenge that life was presenting me with. For two whole years there wasn’t a single day when I said I didn’t want to go to my lessons. The rest is history…

So, with that out the way, I present to you my 8 reasons why you should give the German language a chance.

1. German is not as hard to learn as you think

I think when it comes to learning a new language (or anything, really) you should forget about all the prejudices and clichés you’ve heard, and instead experience it for yourself. Learning a new language depends almost entirely on how determined you are and which goals you want to achieve.

Have you ever considered that maybe the reason why people say that German is difficult is simply because it feels completely unfamiliar and strange compared to their native language?

I mean, that’s something totally normal to feel when learning a new language. The trick here is to not give up just because at first you don’t seem to get the grammar, pronunciation, etc. Trust the process, and trust yourself!

2. Germany is the country of poets and thinkers – Das Land der Dichter und Denker

caspar david friedrich german
Der Wanderer über dem Nebelmeer by Caspar David Friedrich

Germany has contributed an enormous amount to philosophy, education, music, literature and independent thought. You can find almost all of this in this relatively small country.

If you’re interested in literature and philosophy, there’s no better way than to read all these great German authors the world has given us in their native language. In my opinion, sometimes translations just don’t do justice to the author’s work.

3. The German language is very precise and logical… and I love it!

German is a very logical and structured language. There is a German word for everything. Furthermore, in my experience there are some languages that can be downright illogical.

What do I mean by this? Sometimes spelling is difficult, rules have more exceptions than instances, and everything you learn gets thrown out the window.

On the other hand, while German has some irregularities in verb and plural forms, the sentences are consistently structured, and many of the words are constructed in an extremely logical way.

Example

Let’s take a look at the word Sehenswürdigkeiten (attractions, places of interest).

This moderately intimidating 18-letter word literally translates as “things worth seeing”.

sehen = to see
würdig = worthy
-keit = suffix to convert adjectives into nouns

(similar to -ness in English)

die Sehenswürdigkeit -en
attractions, places of interest, landmarks

I find this perfectly logical word to be most pleasing! And German is full of countless examples such as this one.

4. German is easy for English speakers to learn

Unlike French, Italian and Spanish, which are Romance languages, both English and German belong to the Germanic branch of the Indo-European language family. Lots of German words and expressions will be familiar to English speakers, as they form the base vocabulary of English.

english german

Later on, English was influenced by French, Greek and Latin. However, if you strip English back to its basics, the language mostly resembles German. Not convinced? Look at words such as Bruder (brother), Wasser (water), Freund (friend), Feuer (fire), fallen (to fall), and finden (to find).

Lots of other words are merely “in disguise” in archaic words such as Hund (dog, think hound), Zeitung (newspaper, think tidings), and Herd (stove, think hearth).

I’m not a native English speaker myself, but I do speak English, and when I first started learning German I was really surprised by how many words I already knew or could infer the meaning of. If you’re an English speaker learning German, I think you have a real advantage for learning German. How great is that?

5. German is a key language in science and academia

If you’re scientifically inclined, fluency in German will give you an edge in understanding the works of some great German minds, such as Albert Einstein, Carl Jung (Swiss), Sigmund Freud (Austrian) and Nietzsche himself.

German is also ranked second as the most commonly used scientific language, the major reasons being that the German book market is the third largest in the world, and Germany is home to a lot of universities and research institutes.

As I mentioned before, translations are sometimes limited to a certain level, partially obscuring the original content from the reader. In this case, only knowledge of German will enable you to get the very best out of books and scientific content in general.

6. German is the most widely spoken language in Europe

There are three official working languages of the European Union: English, French and German. German ranks as the second most spoken language of the three on the European continent. However, in terms of the number of native speakers, German ranks first.

german in europe

For many years, German served as a lingua franca (a common language which unifies different peoples) across large parts of Europe.

Today, use of German has not decreased one bit. In fact, it continues to serve this unifying purpose and is also an important second language in Central and Eastern Europe.

In Anglophone countries, German is also unsurprsisingly the third most taught foreign language. It comes on top as one of the major world languages, which is impressive when you consider how small Germany is (and Austria and Switzerland… we haven’t forgotten you. Liechtenstein – we have.)

7. German dialects: surprisingly fascinating

You think you know German until you hear about the dialects. Although standard German (Hochdeutsch) is widespread and commonly used in typical business or tourist situations, there always comes a time when you suddenly can’t understand a word, even if your German is pretty good.

When that happens, it usually means you have encountered one of the many dialects of German. (Estimates on the number of German dialects vary, but range from about 50 to 250).

For me, dialects are a way of getting in touch with Germans and their culture. It’s so fascinating how the same language can vary from region to region. It never gets boring. Whether Bayrisch, Hessisch, Berlinerisch or Wienerisch, there are lots of different dialects of German.

I think learning the basics of every dialect will help you with your German and ensure you are not taken by surprise when you hear a German not speaking Hochdeutsch.

8. German rocks… it’s as simple as that.

In my opinion, every language is beautiful and has its own particularities, but for me, German is a particularly unique language. I find its beauty in the logic of each sentence I write, in its pronunciation, in its “complexity”, in everything. I know it sounds cheesy but it’s true – I fell in love with the language even though I thought I hated it. But… how can you hate something you don’t know?

I often think the reason lots of people don’t want to learn German is because of all these misconceptions that exist like, “oh no, it’s a difficult language. It’s too complex for me, no thank you!” among others.

My point here is, go for it! Learn the language you think is too difficult for you. Be bold and try! As they say in German, “Nur die Harten kommen in den Garten.” – Only the hard ones get into the garden.

Learning a language (in this case German) may not be easy all the time, but this is exactly what makes it so fulfilling, and in the long run, maybe you’ll look back and say, “I’m glad I did that thing I thought I couldn’t do,” which is what happened to me.

Happy learning folks!

Thanks to Fernanda Estrada for writing this article. 🙂 You can follow her on Instagram here, or join our Facebook group if you’re looking for a motivated community and support in learning German.