Why learn German?

Who speaks German?

German is the native language of well over 100 million people worldwide - in fact some figures have it as high as 121 million. It is the main language of 90-95 million people in Europe. German is the official language of the 82.2 million inhabitants of Germany, but also of Austria (8.36 million) and Liechtenstein.

Countries where German is the official language

Germany82.21 million speakers
Austria8.36 million speakers
Switzerland4.6 million speakers
Liechtenstein35,365 speakers

Countries where German has regional status

Belgium130,000 speakers
South Tirol, Italy200,000 speakers
Alsace-Lorraine, France1.5 million speakers
Denmark35,000 speakers
Poland1.1 million speakers
Hungary62,000 speakers
Romania200,000 speakers
Former Soviet Union1.9 million speakers

Why learn German?

So you already have some perfectly good reasons for learning German. Maybe you want to be able to communicate with relatives, travel to Germany during your summer break, or prepare yourself for study in a German-speaking country. Maybe a German exchange student sparked your interest, you have a friend who recommended it, or you just like the way the language sounds. Just in case you need some reassurance in your decision or the final push toward taking the plunge, here are twelve more solid reasons why learning German may be a good choice for you.

  1. German is the most widely spoken language in Europe
  2. Germany has the 3rd strongest economy and is the #1 export nation in the world
  3. Knowing German creates business opportunities
  4. Germans are innovators
  5. The German presence on the Internet supersedes most others
  6. Germans form the largest single heritage group in the US
  7. 1 in 10 books in the world is published in German
  8. German-speaking countries have a rich cultural heritage
  9. German is not as hard as you think
  10. German is required or recommended by many undergraduate and graduate programs
  11. Germany financially sponsors over 60,000 international exchanges each year

Why learn a language?

"I speak English, so I don't have to learn a foreign language...."

Everyone speaks English, right? Well, not everyone. According to the CIA World Fact Book, only 5.6 % of the world's total population speaks English as a primary language. That number doubles when people who speak English as a 2nd or 3rd language are counted. By conservative estimates, that means that well over four-fifths of the world's population does not speak English.

It's true that English has become a global lingua franca over the past several decades. This fact, however, really should have little effect on your decision to learn a foreign language. The attitude that English alone is enough in fact creates self-imposed limitations. To remain monolingual is to stunt your educational development, to restrict your communication and thinking abilities, and to deny yourself the ability to fully appreciate and understand the world in which you live. Learning another language opens up new opportunities and gives you perspectives you might never have encountered otherwise. Personal, professional, social, and economic considerations all point to the advantages of learning foreign languages. Still not convinced? Here are 10 very good reasons why you should be learning a foreign language:

  1. To increase global understanding
  2. To improve employment potential
  3. To increase native language ability
  4. To sharpen cognitive and life skills
  5. To improve chances of entry into college or graduate school
  6. To appreciate international literature, music, and film
  7. To make travel more feasible and enjoyable
  8. To expand study abroad options
  9. To increase understanding of oneself and one's own culture
  10. To make lifelong friends

Anyone who has told you that learning another language is impractical, unrewarding, or simply a waste of your precious time is doing you a great disservice.

Take advantage and enhance your life ... learn a language!