The steroids for language learners

Google translate appears to be a handy tool when you learn German. A word or phrase entered in English often produces the desired result in a foreign target language. When teaching German, I find that students often assume that online translation softwares or online dictionaries are an acceptable instrument. An online dictionary is very practical […]

Grammar terminology (part 4)

Grammatical gender of nouns is indicated by the definite articles. Der – masculine noun, die – feminine noun, das – neutral noun. Grammatical and biological gender ought not to be mixed up. However, with people, grammatical gender coincides with biological gender. Tenses are forms of verbs indicating when something is taking place, has taken place […]

Grammar terminology (part 3)

Possessive articles indicate to whom or what something belongs. For example: Is this your pen? No, this is my pen. A conjunction joins words or groups of words. Some conjunctions in German are und (and), oder (or), aber (but), weil (because), and dass (that). An infinitive is the base form of a verb, which has […]

Grammar terminology (part 2)

A definite article (“the” in English) refers to a particular, specific noun. In German, these are die, der and das, and all their various case and gender forms (dem, den, des, das, der, die etc.).  An indefinite article (“a” or “an” in English) refers to a noun whose exact identity is not specified; not the […]

Grammar terminology (part 1)

Being able to understand grammar terminology is crucial. But many people learning German find it difficult to come to grips with it. In 4 weekly instalments we are explaining in simple terms the most important terminology that you may want know before attending German lessons or classes: A noun is a person, place, thing or […]

German words from Asian languages

Often during German lessons, I get ask if there are words in German that are of Indo-Aryan or Austronesian origin. Many words covering religion and philosophy originate in Hindi, Sanskrit, Malay and Tamil. They made their way into German via the English language. There is der Bambus, which originates in Malay. From Bangla we have der […]

What did Napoleon do for the German language?

Do you know what Gallicism means? Gallicisms are words from French that have found use in another language. When learning German you will come across a lot of Gallicisms. They found their way into German during the reign of Louis XIV who was revered across the German aristocracy. Amusement, fashion, cuisine, the military are all […]

Who learns German?

We often get asked, whether there is a market for learning German in the City of London and who learns German and why.   Yes, there is a large market for foreign language learning, especially German. Corporations approaching us are German companies operatingtheir staff to learn German or reacquaint themselves with the language at some stage. Then there are […]

German Words of Arabic Origin

Like many languages, German has evolved to include words, which originated from other languages; many of these are surprisingly derived from Arabic. Arabic words feature commonly in many Western languages and were most often introduced centuries ago. However you drink it, ‘Kaffee’ derives from the Arabic ‘qahwa’. Coffee drinking originated in 15th century Yemen and […]

German Loan Words In English

With an increasingly interconnected world, where businesses are outsourced and partnerships are key to expanding businesses on a global scale, being fluent in English alone is not enough. Even if you are not running your own business, chances are that you work in a dynamic, multi-cultural environment and with that comes issues like bonding well […]

German Expatriates in London

Almost 40,000 Germans are living in London. More than Winston Churchill would ever have envisaged… In contrast to other nationalities, Germans living in London keep a low profile; they do not dominate the high street with schnitzel restaurants or sausage shops. Instead, finances permitting, many of the young professionals opt to live in Wimbledon, Chelsea, […]

British Expats in Germany

Over the years, Germany has had a large British expatriate community, mainly through military personnel stationed there since 1945. Then, there was an influx of British builders & workers in the seventies and eighties who came to work in Germany – immortalised in the television series Auf Wiedersehen Pet! However, they did not settle permanently, but went […]

Plautdietsch – low German

What is Plautdietch (Plattdeutsch) and how comes that variants of the language are spoken the world over? Plautdietsch or Mennonite Low German is a Low Prussian dialect. ‘Low’ referring to the plains of northern Germany and Dietsch (Deutsch) meaning German. As mentioned in our previous article, Germans were invited by the Russian Empire to settle […]

Vocational training in Germany

One of the most effective ways of training for a trade in Germany is by completing a vocational training programme. Germany has developed a system which provides an excellent balance between theoretical and practical training and hands-on work experience. Known as dual vocational training, it is a course of study typically lasting between two and […]

The Hairy Wife and Reflexive Verbs

Quite early on when learning German, you will have come across reflexive verbs. Reflexive verbs do also exist in English and can sometimes be translated by ‘myself’, ‘yourself’ etc. For example: He is pouring himself a cup of tea. – Er schenkt sich eine Tasse Tee ein. What does the term ‘reflexive verb’ actually mean? […]

German in a Globalised World

In an increasingly globalised world where English is more or less the undisputed international language of business, what place is there for multilingualism? Well, there are several global companies who believe that foreign languages, and specifically German, play an important role in helping employees integrate in today’s multi-cultural workplace. The software giant SAP, which has […]

The brothers Grimm and the German dictionary

The brothers Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm are, of course, famed for fairy tales like Hansel and Gretel, Rapunzel, Rumpelstiltskin and Cinderella, which are known and loved by children the world over some 200 years after the brothers published their first collection of folk tales. However, the brothers were not just storytellers. They were also trained […]

Konrad Duden & German Orthography

Since 1880 one name has been the authoritative source for the correct spelling, pronunciation and usage of German words: Duden. Duden is to German what the OED is to English. Konrad Alexander Friedrich Duden was born on 3 January 1829 in Wesel, Germany. After completing his secondary education, he studied history and philology at Bonn […]

Das Oktoberfest

One of the most famous gems of German culture known worldwide is the Oktoberfest, a 16-day festival celebrating beer which takes place annually in Munich, Bavaria. The name suggests that it takes place in October, although nowadays this is only partly true. It now begins in September, having been brought forward in order to benefit from better weather conditions. This year will see […]

Irregular German Verbs Present

Irregular verbs, sometimes called strong verbs, have irregularities in the present tense indicative or the simple past indicative and in the past participle.  In today’s blog we would like to have a closer look at irregular verbs in the present tense indicative. Indicative simply means that we are stating facts when using that verb. If […]

Why learning German is so worthwhile

As a nation the British don’t have the best reputation for being proficient speakers of foreign languages. Changes to school curriculums are attempting to remedy this situation and prevent future generations being thought “lazy” by the rest of Europe because so many of us don’t take the trouble to learn a second language. But is […]

German Expatriates in London

Almost 40,000 Germans are living in London. More than Winston Churchill would ever have envisaged… In contrast to other nationalities, Germans living in London keep a low profile; they do not dominate the high street with schnitzel restaurants or sausage shops. Instead, finances permitting, many of the young professionals opt to live in Wimbledon, Chelsea, […]

Three good reasons to learn German

German is widely spoken in Europe: Count the 80 Million inhabitants of Germany, add Austria, the German speaking part of Switzerland plus Luxemburg, and German speaking minorities in Northern Italy, Southern Denmark and the Alsace in France and you get the picture. Of course, there is more than just the holiday aspect, since Germany is […]