Category Archives: About the German Culture

Increase in German Manufacturing

German Language CoachThere have already been signs of growth in German manufacturing and this could now get a boost from a proposed EU – US trade agreement. This makes it a great time to increase trade with Germany and learning German here in London would give you a definite advantage in this respect.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is designed to make the export of goods between Europe and America easier and with less red tape. This reciprocal agreement could help to grow the economy by increasing manufacturing and creating jobs and Germany in particular can build on its existing growth.

However, not all Germans are in favour of the TTIP and there are fears that the American influence could undermine some of the strict regulations in force in the EU to protect domestic manufacturing, particularly in the food and beverage industry.

Products which are controlled by protected designation of origin (PDO) and protected geographical indication (PGI) have to be produced in a specific location or region with ingredients wholly or mostly from that area.

The USA has generally opposed PDO and indeed some protected products have become generic names. March 2015 saw 50,000 people on a protest march in Berlin against the TTIP and concerns have been voiced in Germany that under the trade agreement you could see “Thüringer Bratwurst from Kentucky” or “Bavarian beer from Milwaukee” using inferior ingredients and with labelling that would mislead the consumer.

The designers of the agreement insist that EU regulations will be upheld, not only with regard to PDO and PGI but also to food safety standards.

It is not only the food industry which will benefit as under the TTIP most tariffs on goods imported in the US from Europe are to be scrapped meaning that all German goods will more competitive in the American market place.

It was hoped to have the agreement in place in 2014 but it should now be finalised in 2015 and the advantages it will provide will far outweigh the objections.

Cologne Carnival

German Language CoachThe Germans are often considered by the English to be quite a staid people; efficient, punctual, officious, meticulous, but devoid of humour and party spirit.

However, if you were to attend one of the German festivals you would soon realise that they certainly do know how to party! One of the biggest events is the Kölner Karneval which ranks alongside Rio de Janeiro and Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

If you get the opportunity to go and you’d like to join in with the revelry it is definitely beneficial to know the language to avoid feeling as though you are on the outside looking in so, before you go, take the chance to learn German.

Officially the carnival starts at 11:11am on 11th November and goes through to the beginning of Lent, but the real celebrations, Die Tollen Tage (The Crazy Days), begin on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday. Alongside the Christian elements are ancient German pagan traditions.

The party is started in front of a full crowd of costumed revellers in the Alter Markt by the triumvirate of der Prinz (the prince), der Bauer (the peasant) and die Jungfrau (the virgin; always played by a man in a wig). This is Weiberfastnacht, when the women take control and they are traditionally permitted to cut off the tie of any man within reach and to kiss anyone who takes their fancy!

The pubs and clubs will be full of revellers all day long during this period with much singing and dancing. You will need to pace yourself to last the week! If you don’t dress up in costume, not only will you look and feel out of place but also some places will not let you in. The traditional greeting during the festivities is Kölle Alaaf (Cologne above all), or you can just abbreviate it to Alaaf! You’ll fit right in.

Over the next five days there will be processions, lavish balls and ceremonies culminating in the Rosenmontag (Rose Monday) parade, which over a million people will attend and where sweets and flowers are thrown into the crowd. The elaborate floats and costumes are often used to poke fun at the government and current unpopular politicians.

On the Tuesday the ‘wind down’ parties and parades will continue until midnight when the Nubbeln, life-size straw figures are ceremonially burned as the people prepare themselves for the austerity of Lent.

Willkommen in Deutschland

German Language CoachMore students than ever before are choosing to further their education in Germany and they are being welcomed with open arms. With low or, in some cases, no tuition fees and many of the universities located in attractive towns or vibrant cities it is no surprise that Germany has become more popular among foreign students.

This shows that the enormous effort by the German Ministry of Education to improve the standards of the universities, particularly in the fields of science and research, is paying off and attracting more foreigners. Many believe that the kudos of a degree from a German university will improve their job opportunities, especially within the European market.

The standard of life of life for a student can be better in Germany with the cheap tuition fees, a relatively low cost of living and without having a huge student loan hanging over you when you finish, as is the case in the UK.

A large number of degree courses are now available to be taught in English in the German universities but, while you can also choose to learn German there, it would be far more beneficial for you to have a grasp of the native language before you go. This may enable you find work, cope with the infamous bureaucracy, make local friends and further immerse yourself in ‘real life’ rather than staying on the periphery like an education tourist.

Not surprisingly, many students who make the effort to fully experience the lifestyle and culture which Germany has to offer, stay in the country for at least a period of time after finishing their education, if not for good.

But it’s not only students who want to be able to work in the hub of the Eurozone. You may have left your education far behind and be settled into your career but it’s not too late to have the benefit of learning another language and you can learn German in the City of London without having to leave your home or office.

Being able to communicate both verbally and in writing with your counterparts in Germany will gain you additional respect and help to overcome the reputation that the English are lazy when it comes to speaking another language.

Contact us to find out more about learning German in London.

Muttivation

German Language Coach, MuttivationIf you’re a World Cup fan, you’ll inevitably have seen, or at least heard of, Germany’s epic opening match where they walked away from Portugal with a 4-0 win. Hooray for Deutschland!

To offer her congratulations in person, German Chancellor Angela Merkel travelled across the globe to Brazil to watch the match for herself and even joined the sweaty players back in the locker room post-match to celebrate and pose for lots of pictures.

You may or may not know that Angela Merkel – Germany’s much loved Chancellor – has adopted the nickname ‘Mutti’, which translates from German to ‘Mummy’, because of her caring, modest, yet strong image. It was only a matter of time then before someone coined a clever phrase, and it was ‘#Muttivation’ that spread like wildfire throughout twitter. Cleverly, this portmanteau can be recognised in both German and English; crossing ‘Mutti’ for Mummy, and ‘motivation’, which of course she was providing plenty of to her nation’s football team.

Learn even more about the ways we coin phrases in different languages by learning with a German tutor in London, and get in touch to begin your linguistic journey!

Isn’t it interesting how we can play with words across different languages – what do you think? Comment below!

Funding your studies in Germany

German Language Coach; fund your studies in GermanyLast week we looked at some of the benefits and practicalities of studying in Germany, however one of the most important considerations for many people is how they will support themselves financially whilst they continue their education. Though most German universities do not charge tuition fees, there are still living costs to be planned for, with statistics suggesting that students require an average of 800 euros per month to cover these.
One option is to investigate the possibility of a scholarship. Many educational institutions provide these for students who meet specific criteria, and for foreign students, particularly post-graduates and doctoral candidates, there may be a possibility of funding from a private institution. The German Academic Exchange Service (Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst) has details of scholarships currently available which vary according to country of origin and field of study.
An internship is an excellent route into the German job market for foreign students; indeed these are a compulsory part of many study programmes. As some internships are paid, this can considerably ease the financial burden. Finding the right internship will require some research, and once again there is useful information on the DAAD website to help you understand your options.
Many students also work during their spare time. Students are allowed to work up to 20 hours per week during term time and unlimited hours during the holidays, and this can be particularly useful for foreign students as it will not only bring some money in, but it will also give you an added opportunity to improve your social skills and make new friends.
Our German tutors in London are on hand to help you acquire the language skills you will need should you decide that studying in Germany is the right move for you.
in Germany
Last week we looked at some of the benefits and practicalities of studying in Germany, however one of the most important considerations for many people is how they will support themselves financially whilst they continue their education. Though most German universities do not charge tuition fees, there are still living costs to be planned for, with statistics suggesting that students require an average of 800 euros per month to cover these.
One option is to investigate the possibility of a scholarship. Many educational institutions provide these for students who meet specific criteria, and for foreign students, particularly post-graduates and doctoral candidates, there may be a possibility of funding from a private institution. The German Academic Exchange Service (Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst) has details of scholarships currently available which vary according to country of origin and field of study.
An internship is an excellent route into the German job market for foreign students; indeed these are a compulsory part of many study programmes. As some internships are paid, this can considerably ease the financial burden. Finding the right internship will require some research, and once again there is useful information on the DAAD website to help you understand your options.
Many students also work during their spare time. Students are allowed to work up to 20 hours per week during term time and unlimited hours during the holidays, and this can be particularly useful for foreign students as it will not only bring some money in, but it will also give you an added opportunity to improve your social skills and make new friends.
Our German tutors in London are on hand to help you acquire the language skills you will need should you decide that studying in Germany is the right move for you.

English in the German Language

German Language Coach, English expressions in GermanIn our previous blog we have been looking at German words used in English and now we would like to introduce you to English words used in the German language.

The German language uses English words because it isn’t always easy to find a suitable German equivalent. The loaning of words eases communication and makes it easier to introduce new products and services with the same name across several countries.

Consider the following German sentence: Ein Bundle von Incentives und ein separater Team-Building-Event an geeigneter Location sollen das Motivationslevel erhöhen und gleichzeitig helfen, eine einheitliche Corporate Culture samt Identity zu entwickeln. Almost every third word is loaned from the English language: Corporate Culture versus Unternehmenskultur, Incentive versus Anreiz, Motivationslevel versus Leistungswille – it sounds better when English loan words are used and is much easier understood. But note that nouns loaned from English are being capitalised in German.

Germans like to go shopping (shoppen), both on-line (on-line) and in shopping centres (Shopping-Center). They search the Internet and use the verb ‘to google’ (googeln), if they download something they use downloaden. If the on-line order hasn’t arrived they make a call and are connected to a call centre (Call Center). Other verbs that have been taken from English are interviewen, surfen, leasen, daten, relaxen, switchen, piercen, managen, bloggen, joggen, outsourcen. All verbs loaned from English are classed as regular verbs in the German language. Want to know how to conjugate a German verb? Get with one of our German tutors!

False friends in German

German-Language-CoachGermans are loyal and trustworthy folks. However, there are some false friends in the German language that may confuse the English speaker or his mind.

If the German finance minister says that 2 Billionen Euros are sufficient to bail out Greece, then he’s got his figures right because he actually means two trillion. A billion in German is a trillion in English.

Being told in German that taking Gift is to be avoided shouldn’t be surprising, not because Germans have ulterior motives, but because Gift in German means poison in English.

The word Star in German means starling or cataract; the German equivalent for star is Stern.

Winken is to blink and not to wink, der Akt is not the deed but nude artwork. After is not after, but means rectum. Bald is not bald, but means soon.

False friends work both ways. Consider the following:

der Roman the novel the roman der Römer
der Qualm the smoke the qualm das Bedenken
die Provision the fee the provision die Vorsorge
der Mist the dung the mist der Dunst
das Kraut the herb the kraut der Deutsche
der Lack the lacquer the lack der Mangel

Confused? Refresh your German with one of our German courses!

Position of the finite verb

the finite verb, German Language CoachDuring my German lessons, I see many of my students placing the finite verb in 3rd position, as they would do in their mother tongue. In German however, the basic rule to remember about word order in simple sentences or main clauses is that the finite (conjugated) is always the ‘second idea’. The finite verb is the one, which can be either singular or plural, in the present, or past tense.

There can only be one finite verb in each German sentence; infinitives and past participles, for example, are not finite verbs and are positioned at the very end of the clause or sentence.

The verb’s second position applies even when some element other than the subject stands in first position. This can be adverbs, adverbial phrases, a noun phrase, a pronoun, an infinitive or even a participle.

A simple rule to remember: the finite verbs is the axis of a sentence and everything evolves around it.

German Business Partners

German Language Coach, German Business PartnersGermans are proud of ”made in Germany” as a synonym for quality and reliability. In business meetings, Germans are rather formal, detail-oriented and direct. They tend to say exactly what they want and mean. They are decision making and problem solving oriented, although these processes can take quite some time to complete, especially considering the generally very highly hierarchical structures in some German companies. Be aware that the negotiation process can sometimes be very lengthy, since Germans prefer to discuss many details in advance in order to prevent future misunderstandings. It is generally seen as very impolite to make or accept telephone calls during a business meeting, conference or on any occasion where the call would serve as a distraction or imply disinterest to your business partners.

As Germans prefer to act on the basis of clearly communicated guidelines and fair rules, your German business partners will most likely view signed contracts as the non-negotiable end result of such discussions. Therefore, they will be quite disappointed if you surprise them with changes to business agreements after contracts have been signed. To sum it up, German business people value high quality, yet affordable, goods and services, which are provided (as agreed) on time and are accompanied by timely and transparent correspondence.

For more details about conducting business meetings in German please get in touch to book a German course.

Business Relationships with Germans

Many Germans strictly divide their work and private lives. For example, some people may hesitate to speak about their marital status, political and religious opinions, their personal income or other matters they consider to be private at work. You may, however, be able to get a conversation going by appealing to your business partners’ loyalty to his/her home region and its foods/beverages or sports teams. On the whole, however, Germans tend to be more interested in business-related issues, tasks and problems than getting to know customers, colleagues and vendors – it may thus take time for German business partners to get to know each other on a personal level. On the other hand, as Germans tend to be rather reliable, a well-established business relationship cannot be disrupted too easily. Business partners usually reward another year of good business relations with a Christmas or New Year’s card or a small token of appreciation (a local wine, beer, sausage, or baked goods, for example).