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 […]

The new Duden has been published

The Duden is the authoritative source for correct spelling, grammar and pronunciation in German. It is what the Oxford English Dictionary is to English. It was first published in 1880 comprising 27,000 entries. The latest 27th edition has just been published with 145,000 entries, 5,000 more than in the previous edition. New words are mainly […]

German Idioms

All languages have their peculiarities with some expressions that are difficult to translate into other languages and, even when they are translated, don’t make a great deal of sense. When you do choose to learn German in the City of London you might not necessarily be taught these phrases but you could well come across […]

Double ‘s’ or ‘ß you may wonder?

During your German studies, you have come across the letter ‘ß’ which your German teacher calls SZ or sharp S. The letter was introduced in 1903 because the double S in Roman typography looked similar to SZ in old German typography. It came out of fashion in Switzerland but is still used in standard German […]

Cases in the German language

Teaching German at all levels, I am regularly tasked to explain cases to my students who tend to see them as an alien concept, but cases in German are easily explained. German has four cases: nominative, accusative, dative and genitive. Genitive is the easiest: it donates possession. The nominative case is reserved for the subject […]

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, Arabic, 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 […]

German Inventions

Many world changing innovations originated in Germany, some widely known but others less so. A visit to the Deutsches Museum in Munich, where many of these inventions are displayed, will be enhanced by a knowledge of the German language which we teach here at German Language Coach in London. Most of us take books for […]

German Business Etiquette

When doing business in Germany you will probably at some point need to attend meetings and spend time in the offices of your German colleagues. To avoid making a faux pas you should familiarise yourself with the business etiquette in Germany. Most important is to have a working knowledge of the language, particularly with regard […]

Germany’s most liveable cities

There are many reasons for visiting Germany. Taking German lessons here in London before you go, can only enhance your experience. And there has never been a better time to go! In an annual survey about the quality of life in cities around the world conducted by Mercer, the global consultancy, seven German cities are […]

Levis Strauss – a famous German

The German founder of Levis Strauss learned English at a young age, which certainly helped his transition to doing business in America. Similarly, we can provide German lessons here in London to help you trade in Germany without even having to leave your office. Read on about how Levis Strauss did it: Löeb Strauss, who later […]

Germany – most positively rated

An annual survey conducted by Globescan on behalf of the BBC World service has shown that Germany is the most positively rated country in the world. In 2014, in the 10th consecutive Country Ratings Poll, over 24,000 people in 25 countries were asked if they felt the sixteen countries included, plus the European Union, had […]

Famous Germans – Bruce Willis

It is a little known fact that actor Bruce Willis is German. He was born as Walter Bruce Willis in 1955 in Idar-Oberstein, West Germany and, although his father was an American soldier serving in Germany, his mother, Marlene, was German. His father, David, moved the family to New Jersey, America on his discharge from […]

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 people […]

Famous Germans – Henry Kissinger

Unbeknown to many, a German served as the 56th Secretary of State from 1973-1977 – Henry Kissinger. Although he became a well-known face in politics, he came from humble beginnings in Bavaria, Germany. His father was a teacher and his mother a home-maker. They were German Jews, and in 1938 had to flee to the safety […]

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 […]

Getting Your German Confused

German is a very useful language to learn, but you might find that you confuse some words for others, especially when they sound very similar, or if there’s only an umlaut’s worth of difference between them! Here’s a few examples where German words get a little confusing: ‘Gift’ and ‘Geschenk’ – Your German friends might […]

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 […]

Reasons to learn German

German is widely spoken in Europe: Count the 83 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 […]

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 […]

Only 1.571% of the world speaks German

Why learn German you may ask? Please read on … There are about 7,000 languages worldwide. Many languages are threatened by extinction, especially languages spoken by natives in Asia and America. Some languages are spoken by only a couple of people. More that 50% of languages have less than 10,000 speakers; more than 25% of […]

Fighting ‘Denglisch’

‘Denglisch’ is a combination of Deutsch (German) and English. Introduced to Germany by the American way of life, it has, according to the German Language Society, ‘crept’ in to German. The German Language Society is not against Anglicism per se, but against the readiness of Germans who can’t speak English to use ‘Denglisch’ to prance […]

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 […]

What is a Russia German?

Russia German is a term describing Germans who migrated to Russia from the start of the 13th century through to the end of the 19th century. They are also known as German Russians or Soviet Germans. Tsarina Catherine II, herself of German descent, introduced an open immigration policy for Russia with many Germans using the […]

Understanding Germans

What do Germans really understand when the English talk to them? The English language has many subtleties that do not exist in German. The German language is very literal and & as a result, Germans may come across as rude or off-hand to the English speaker. Of course, Germans are not rude at all. When […]

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 […]

German Anglicism of the Year

Each year, Germany votes for an Anglicism of the year. The Anglicism has to be an English word that was widely used in Germany throughout that year. The new word must also fill a gap in the German language by either further differentiating the meaning of a particular word or by providing a new word […]

German Industries

As we mentioned in our previous blog, Germany has a thriving job market. However, it also has an ageing population which has led to shortages of workers in some key sectors. It’s this ageing population which is partly responsible for shortfalls in the healthcare sector. Current figures suggest that Germany needs 5,000 additional doctors; it […]

New Year – New Job in Germany

Germany has one the lowest levels of unemployment in Europe; the forecast for February 2014 is 4.9%. This is not only because of a booming economy but also due labour market reforms conducted early in the last decade and the impact of demographic change, which means a dwindling supply of skilled workers to replace those […]

Silvester – New Year’s Eve in German

Germans, like many others around the world, celebrate the end of the old year and the beginning of a new one with festivities and fireworks. Others opt for a quiet night in watching “Dinner for One” on TV, a British sketch from the 1920s which has become an unlikely New Year’s tradition in Germany despite […]

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 Christmas Traditions

Although in some regions of Germany, the start of the Christmas season is heralded as early as 11 November on St Martin’s Day, but it officially begins on the first Sunday of advent, which this year fell on 1 December. German children, like British ones, open the first window on their Adventskalender on this day, […]

Saint Nicholas Day

Saint Nicholas Day, Nickolaus Tag, celebrated just short of three weeks before Christmas, has to be one of the most joyful events in the German calendar. This festival for the patron saint of children falls on 6 December, when he is said to have performed many miracles. Children write letters on the day before the […]

Technology – Help or hindrance?

Technology has without doubt made language learning far more accessible and may have even been responsible for some people taking up a foreign language as it’s a great way to have a little taster before committing to a formal course. However, it can also be incredibly tempting to use the technology at our disposal as […]

Friedrich Schiller

Continuing our series of blogs on influential Germans, this week we take a look at the life and work of the poet, historian, philosopher and playwright Friedrich Schiller.  Schiller was born in November 1759 and received his early grounding in language by way of the Greek and Latin tuition he received as a boy. He […]

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

In our last blog we looked at the work of the Goethe Institute in promoting the study of German around the world. This week, we  explore something of the life and work of the man after whom the institute is named, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Goethe was a hugely influential writer, philosopher and politician. Born […]

The Power of Language

The Goethe-Institute is a German cultural organisation which for over 50 years has been promoting interest in, and study of, the German language around the world. Back in 2007, it launched an ambitious project which saw a series of events take place worldwide under the banner “The Power of Language” (Die Macht der Sprache). The […]

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 […]

German Language Online

A recent study of languages used on the internet* shows that German is one of the most widely-used languages in the online world. It’s hardly surprising that English is the most-used language, being the main content language for a massive 55% of all websites. Just under 6% of websites use German as a content language. While this […]

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 Simple Past

In our last blog we have had a look at irregular verbs in the present tense. This blog we would like to dedicate to irregular verbs in the simple past. Verbs are sometimes categorised in regular, irregular and mixed verbs. Mixed verbs are in fact irregular verbs but do not change their stem in the […]

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 […]

You know more German than you think

You shouldn’t be daunted at the idea of embarking on German lessons, it’s likely you already know a lot more German thank you think. Our two languages are in fact closely related, both being West Germanic languages, so you’ll find that many words are almost identical, if not in spelling then in pronunciation. The words […]

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 […]

Practice makes perfect

One of the things learners of any language frequently bemoan is the lack of opportunities outside of their lessons to put into practice what they’ve learnt. Your German classes will help you develop your speaking and writing skills. However, you can help yourself to further develop your listening and reading skills by availing yourself of […]

Time keeping – a German virtue

Learning to tell the time in German One of the first things you will learn in your German language classes are numbers. It will help you say what floor you need in a lift, or on railway concourse, or in an office block. It will also enable you to tell the time. Timekeeping, for all […]

Addressing German business associates

How should you address business associates in Germany? As a newcomer to German one of the first topics you’re likely to cover is the personal pronouns: ich, du, er, sie, es, meaning I, you, he, she, it and so on. If you’ve already started learning the language, then you’ll know that there are two different […]

Learning German on a business trip

If you’ve taken a German language course in order to improve your business German then a trip to the country to meet clients or colleagues is a great chance to improve your language skills. Learn vocabulary Once all the business is done for the day, there’s the temptation to stay in your hotel and relax. […]

German Language Podcasts

You are learning German and wondered where you can practice listening and comprehension? Podcasts are a great way of listening to German on the bus, on the tube or whilst walking. There are a number of podcasts and it can take quite some time to work through them all before you find what suits you […]

How do you learn German?

If you are looking to learn German, then you might consider a self learning course, contact a language school or engage a private tutor. Autodidactic learning is probably the most cost effective way of picking up a new language and you don’t have to schlepp half way across London to attend classes. Some get quite […]

German sausage feasts in London

So you have been taking private German lessons for a while? Or even an intensive German course? And now you would like to go a little further and experience German outside your lessons? Because sometimes it is not just all about grammar or vocabulary, sometimes it just helps to get a taste of Germany to […]

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 […]