German is one of the world’s major languages with an estimated 95 million native speakers and 28 million second-language speakers in some 40 countries around the world.
Do you want to learn to speak German? You won’t be alone.
- German is the official language of Germany (with Danish, Frisian, and Sorbian as minority languages).
- Standard German is the only official language in Liechtenstein and Austria. It is spoken by 7.5 million people in Austria.
- In Switzerland, German has co-official status with French, Italian, and Romansh.
- In Belgium, German shares official status with Dutch and French.
- In Luxembourg, German shares official status with French and Luxembourgish.
- German is the official language along with Italian of the Vatican Swiss Guard.
- German is used as a regional language in Italy, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, Denmark, France, and Namibia.
- German is one of the 23 official languages of the European Union. German is the language with the largest number of native speakers in the European Union, and the second most spoken language in Europe after English.
- German is one of the three working languages of the European Commission, along with English and French.
- German was once the lingua franca of central, eastern and northern Europe. Today, it is the second most studied language in Europe and Asia, after English. The popularity of German is supported by the wide availability of German TV in Europe.
- German is the third most-commonly taught language in U.S. schools and universities, after Spanish and French.
Are you ready to learn to speak German? Try Pimsleur Method German. With Pimsleur Method, you’ll learn to both speak and understand the German language. Please visit PimsleurMethod.com for discounted Pimsleur Method German courses. Available on CD or Instant Download.
Many people overlook the German language when looking for a new language to learn because most people think there are only few people who use it as their spoken language or that it doesn’t have an international presence. But the fact is, the German language is not only the official language in Germany but also in several other European countries such as Austria, Switzerland, Alsace-Lorraine (France), Northern Italy, East-Belgium, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein. It is also spoken in other countries outside Europe such as Brazil, Kazakhstan, Argentina, Paraguay, Australia, South Africa, Nambia and Moldova. It has approximately 100 million speakers all over the world. And it is considered one of the most popular languages in the world.
The German language has two principal classifications. One is High German or Hochdeutsch and the other is Low German or Plattdeutsch. The main difference between the two is the consonant shift that started long before the 8th century. Hochdeutsch is considered as standard German today and is used almost always for written German. Books and newspapers are printed in Hochdeutsch. And it is spoken by educated speakers everywhere.
The German language also has a distinct accent where the stress usually falls on the word’s first or root syllable. The pronunciation of the language is kind of simple. If you speak English, all you have to do is put exaggerations on the lip and mouth configurations for you to be able to pronounce German words correctly. In pronouncing German vowels, you have to spread your lips and round your mouth or you can place your tongue higher or flatter than you do when pronouncing English vowels. As for its consonants, it requires less release of air than similar English consonant.
German has a lot of long compounds; for example ‘history of language’ is translated as ‘Sprachgeschichte’ in the German language. Another characteristic of the language is that all of its nouns are capitalized. Also, inflection, declination and grammatical gender are important features of their grammar. Written German also utilizes several additional letters as compared to the 26 letters used in the English alphabet. Examples are ä, ö, ü which are referred to as umlauts and ß, which is typically used to replace a double “s” in a word.
The German language may be easier for English speakers to learn because of its familiarity. That’s because English and German both have their roots in the Germanic languages, making them much more similar. Like all other languages, it takes years to gain a thorough understanding of the German language. But considering its shared origins with English, it becomes one of the easier languages to learn.