Why Learn German?

Learning a foreign language calls for various considerations. The foreign language of choice to be learned is of prime importance, for if the pursuit of this language does not yield any concrete productive results save for personal satisfaction, the course would then be considered superficial, if not at all futile. Some people have admitted that they took a course or two in French and Italian because they are considered the languages of romance and, more so, they are the languages of the nouveau riche and the culturally refined.

Take these not as an attack on the nature of the French and Italian languages, but rather as an exposition of how people perceive certain foreign languages. By comparison, the German language would be a less popular option for undergraduates, save for those who chose it as their major and for those who have been required to take it under their curriculum. Most people would initially agree with Mark Twain’s musing: German is an awful language. If a literary genius like him had a rather hard time learning German, what more an ordinary person?

Not to question Twain’s posturing, but the times have changed and the brain capacity of humans have actually evolved: the German language has, over the years, earned its own following and people have actually realized that it is an amazing language to pursue. So, why learn German? That would be a tough question to answer since it would be similar to asking why one would even bother learning a foreign language. In the Philippines, people already have their fill of a foreign language, what with English being so ingrained in our cultural subconscious. So, why bother learning another foreign language and why should it be German?

Save for some very personal reasons, like wanting to understand a relative in Austria or to work in Germany after college, there are other varied reasons why one should be learning the German language, some of which could actually be socially, intellectually and economically fulfilling. For starters, contrary to what Mark Twain had been saying, German is an easy yet amazing language to learn. If one already knows English, then he already has an advantage.

The two languages share many similarities in both vocabulary and grammar, owed much to the fact that they share common ancestry with the Germanic languages. Plus, German is a phonetically interesting language. As much as one finds it rather challenging to execute, due to its varied throat sounds, German phonetics makes it easy to predict how the spoken words are written and how the written words are pronounced. One might have probably heard of the terms “German precision” and “German efficiency”, pertaining to the fashion by which products made in Germany have been conceived and constructed.

Truly, language is reflective of culture, and, as such, one could safely say that the precise and efficient German language is reflective of its precise and efficient people. And it is no wonder that Germans are known worldwide to be great innovators and profound thinkers. Gutenberg’s conception of the printing press, Einstein’s theory of relativity and Brandenburg’s creation of the MP3 digital music format are all testaments to German precision and efficiency.

Marx’s Manifesto, Nietzsche’s writings and Hegel’s philosophy are all testaments to the profundity of the German imagination and intellect. Knowledge, if not at all mastery, of the German language allows one to access the works of these people in their original language, thus allowing one to fully understand the machinations of their philosophy or technology. Anyone interested in the same fields could automatically expand their knowledge and skill by knowing the language. If one wishes to be in the loop of world events, one cannot be free from the shadow of Germany and its culture.

The influence of German culture in the world arena cannot be denied, and they instigate this influence more via the power of their technology. With 4 of the world’s 10 most innovative companies located in Germany, they hold 12.7% of the world’s patent applications. Being a nation committed to research and development, Germany exports more high-technology products than any other country except the United States. Companies like BMW, Daimler, Siemens, Bosch and many others enabled Germany to become the 3rd strongest economy and the number one export nation in the world.

Surely, companies such as these need competent employees and international partners. With all other things equal, the job candidate with knowledge of the German language would already gain an employment advantage. And this would not be limited to Germany. If one is looking for employment in the United States, knowledge of the German language would be a great edge since German companies account for about 700,000 jobs in the country.

Being one of the economically strongest nations in the world, it would not be a surprise to know that Germany is also one of its greater political powers, influencing the international policies of the European Union and even the United States. Knowledge of the German language would allow one to understand how their policies are written and how it affects world events. For justly, the actions of these political powers affect each and every government and economy in the world, might as well understand where they are coming from and how they are influenced.

Truly, knowledge of the German language brings about the personal satisfaction of knowing that one speaks in the language of great thinkers and innovators. But, in this fast paced world, knowledge of the German language ultimately gives one the opportunity to understand, if not at all participate in, world events, may it be intellectually, politically or economically. Language has become the primary tool of connecting nations, thus uniting the world one language at a time. So have your own say, learn German today.