8 reasons why you should learn a second language

8 reasons why you should learn a second language

I came across another great infographic with the option to embed it into my blog. It’s a post from Overpass (came via elearning infographics) and covers languages in general, but I’d like to add the German angle to it (below the infographic), as that’s the one I want you to be most interested in ☺

Increase your brainpower

There have been many articles like this one Why being bilingual works wonders for your brain that mention how good learning a foreign language is for your brain, possibly even preventing Dementia. This surely must be one of the best reasons for learning German.

Enjoy international art, literature, music and film in their original language

I’ll just mention some names: Albrecht Dürer, Paul Klee, Emil Nolde, Goethe, Thomas Mann, Herman Hesse, Berthold Brecht, Michael Ende, Theodor Storm, Beethoven, Bach, Herbert Grönemeyer, Kraftwerk, Rammstein, Wise Guys, Good Bye Lenin, das Boot, Lola rennt, die Welle … and many, many more.

Make your travel more enjoyable

Ok, ok, if you go to Berlin or other big cities, you probably find more Germans who want to practise their English with you. But go to smaller towns and you will most likely meet lots of Germans who speak no or only very little English. Imagine how pleased they will be if you would speak to them in German!

Use it as a tool for privacy or secret communication

This thought has never occurred to me but I do remember that as a child my friends and I had a secret code. So this tip is probably more useful to youngsters, especially as there are fewer and fewer schools that offer German. So if you and your mates speak in German, nobody at school would be able to eavesdrop!

Global employment and better job opportunities

Unfortunately, in the UK (I don’t know about other countries) it often doesn’t mean more pay but there is a growing demand in jobs which require  German knowledge. Studying or working in Germany would also be a lot easier if you’d learned German beforehand.

Boost your confidence

Just imagine this: You’re in Germany and overhear a conversation between an English speaker and a German shop assistant. The English speaker doesn’t speak any German and gets more and more frustrated and angry … and starts shouting! Then you go over and calmly solve the problem by telling the German shop assistant what the rude foreigner wants. Guess how you would feel?!?

Increase your vocabulary improvement

This is the point I find most interesting.  When you start learning another language you begin to notice the way certain words have different meanings or are used in different ways. It is amazing how much you learn about your own language when you learn German (other languages are also available ☺)

Grasp better knowledge of cultural diversity

When I moved to the UK people used to ask me about differences between Germany and England, and I always said that there weren’t really any differences, apart from the language, of course. But over the years, especially since I started teaching, I noticed so many subtle and not so subtle differences. For example, sometimes Germans come across as rude because when they speak English they do not add the word ‘please’. The reason for that (unless they ARE rude) could be that their English isn’t very good and they literally translate from German to English. German sentences are often structured in a way that doesn’t need the word ‘bitte’. They are already polite requests. People who haven’t learned German would not know this, but you do because you are interested in the German language – and I just told you ☺

So, all in all some great reasons for learning German, don’t you think?

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10 thoughts on “8 reasons why you should learn a second language”

  1. “when they speak English they do not add the word ‘please’.”

    I recall the first few meals with my then prospective Schwiegereltern, I was quite shocked when someone ,using the imperative in German, COMMANDED me to pass them the salt (“reich mir das Salz”)…and how amused they were when I politely asked ‘please pass me the butter’ because I was brought up to believe manners maketh the man…oh you can take the boy out of the British middle class….

    Mind you, their increasingly pregnant Tochter making cow eyes across the dinner table at her British alcoholic down and out boyfriend (me!) probably didn’t make for a particularly well-mannered mealtime ….

    And a word of warning about using German as a ‘secret code’: more than once I have been somewhere with The Bestes Frau in The World, somewhere in the UK and I have said something derogatory about the shop/museum/whatever we were currently in…only to find the people behind us in the queue were from Bochum or Ffm Oder oder deepest darkest German speaking Peru.
    When we all came to live in the UK of course our teenage boys used to use German between themselves to say things they didn’t want their English mates to understand. You would be surprised however how quickly their English mates started to recognise German swear words. Indeed ‘kann nicht laufen’ became a local catchphrase (Crippled Son could not walk and that ‘excuse’ took off, in German, among his peers…as these things can do). ‘Kann nicht laufen’ when said by an English child meant ‘it isn’t possible’.

    • Serves you right for saying derogatory things about English things ☺

      As for the ‘reich mir das Salz’, I obviously don’t know how much exactly you remember, but it’s possible the sentence was ‘reich mir mal das Salz’ or maybe even ‘reichst du mir mal das Salz’ which would be the equivalent to ‘could you please pass me the salt?’. On the other hand, maybe they were rude because they wanted their daughter to marry a nice German boy ☺

      • ” ‘reich mir mal das Salz’ ”

        I have checked with The Oracle (ie The Bestes Frau In The Whole World) and she thinks it was that. Certainly not the ‘reichst du’ as we were ‘per sie’ until I actually married their daughter …and yes they would have much preferred she had taken up with the young and upcoming Frankfurt banker, who already had his ‘Eigentumswohnung’, didn’t drink and was a commited Christian (as were they). Aber wo die Liebe hinfaellt and all…they got the drunk broke Brit in torn jeans and bare feet, looking like the Prophet Elijah on a bad hair day.
        Looking back, it is amazing they, my soon-to-be parents in law, were as polite as they were!

  2. You haven’t listed perhaps the single most important reason to learn German: It is FUN!
    (and if it ain’t, if it is a chore, you won’t learn..much). Reason 2: (for the blokes) German girls are the best.FACT! Some of them even know how to cook and they will always see to it that there is bier in the Kuehlschrank for you. Reason 3 (follows on from 2): “Pillow talking” in his/her language strengthens any relationship almost more than that shared cigarette after.
    Reason 4:(already partially covered in the graphic) if you learn German well enough to follow the German TV news you will never again buy the Daily Wail! You have no idea how biased the GB news, even ‘quality’ news like the ‘Today’ programme, can be until you compare it with one from another EU country. And don’t worry, even native Germans sometimes struggle to understand the German news as the newsreaders insist on never using a german word when a ‘Fremdwort’ will do the job. Just last night The Bestes Frau In The World asked me what the newscaster meant by the word ‘disspuett’ , which of course Neu Deutsch for ‘Streit’ and is the English word ‘dispute’ but pronounced Germanized.

    • This isn’t my infographic, so I couldn’t change anything. But your suggestions might make another blog post (or even posts). Your reason 1 is my mantra anyway and I keep on telling students all the time. Reason 2 – how could I disagree? Reason 3 is not one I had considered as a post … yet. Reason 4, although I have written about German newspapers and news in general, I have not mentioned them in comparison with UK news.
      Great suggestions, thanks!

      • Well the ‘Pillow Talk’ suggestion was a little tongue-in-cheek perhaps for a family safe blog, but I have never regretted speaking with The Bestes Wife In The World in her own language right from the beginning. It always amazed me how many German women, who had married Brits & Yanks, were sooo jealous of The Bestes Frau having a husband who had learned her language and hadn’t expected her to speak his (although she can, and always could).
        As to the News and the difference between D/GB, a recent example springs to mind: In the run up to the Brussels EU Summit in 2016, when Cameron wanted to get concessions from the EU to prevent Brexit, the GB news went on and on about what concessions he would win, what offers the EU would make etc…as if the entire summit was solely about Brexit.
        The 19:00 “Heute”News also reported on the run up to the summit , and didn’t mention Cameron/GB/Brexit until the night before the summit was about to start!! As far as Germany was concerned the BIG issue of the summit was the ‘refugee crisis’!
        People here wondered why I was telling everyone that the ‘EU’ wasn’t going to make Cameron any real offers!
        Years ago, a German friend, a female teacher, in Nuremberg (she had married a Brit who was a professor at Erlangen) said something about the UK Newspapers that has always stuck with me. She said she hated reading Brit papers because all it was was opinions! Later I almost stopped reading German newspapers because of the German obsession with giving me the person’s job title in the first line. Read any German newspaper report and it will start “Hans.S , Krankenpfleger/Fruehrentner/Malermeister/Angest./Arbeitslos “etc etc etc WHY?!?!? Unless it is relevant to the story, why do i need to know what he earns?!?!


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