Why Study Languages
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Why Study Languages?


v      German is the native language of about 100 million people in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein. Another 20 million native speakers of German live in countries inside and outside Europe, even in various parts of South America. Germany, Austria, and Switzerland are poised to play a major role in the rapidly growing markets of Central and Eastern Europe.

v      Many Americans speak German: 23% of Americans claim German “ancestry or origin. Among them are: Former president Bill Clinton and his daughter Chelsea, statesman Henry Kissinger, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, General John Shalikashvili, actress Sandra Bullock, opera singer Jessye Norman, architect Philip Johnson, and TV stars Susan Lucchi and David Hasselhoff.  

v      The study of German enhances opportunities to work or study abroad. Learning German enhances the study of history, civilization, art, music, business, philosophy and the literature of German-speaking cultures.

v      Germany has the third largest economy in the world and the leading economy in the European Union (EU). Germany is Europe’s largest market with one of the strongest economies in the world. It is the United States third largest trading partner with more than 750 major American firms doing business in Germany and 1100 German companies do business in the US. In a 1994 survey conducted by the German-American Chamber of Commerce, 65% of all respondents stated they were looking specifically for German/English bilingual skills. German companies in the US pay German-speaking employees premium salaries.

v      More than 25% of all foreign tourists visiting the US come from German-speaking countries, spending more than $37 billion annually around the world. The German speaking countries are among the most popular destinations for American travelers.

v      Scientists from the three German-speaking countries have won 21 Nobel Prizes in Physics, 30 Nobel Prizes in Chemistry, and 25 Nobel Prizes in Medicine. Nine Nobel Prizes in Literature have been awarded to German and Swiss writers, and seven Germans and Austrians received the Peace Prize.

v      In the world of sport, Germany accumulated the second-highest total number of medals in the 1996 Olympics, while also winning the European Cup in soccer for the third time. In the history of World Cup soccer, Germany has reached the finals more often than any other country, and only Brazil has won the title more often.  Athletes from the German-speaking countries excel at tennis, bicycling and dominate the sport of alpine skiing to the extent that German is the sport's primary language.

v      A knowledge of German gives access not only to rich literary, philosophical, artistic and scientific traditions but also to many kinds of current economic, political, and cultural developments." (with thanks to Dartmouth College, USA)

v      Learning German helps students get better SAT and ACT scores. German is very close to English. Both languages are based on the same linguistic roots and principles and share a wide range of concepts and vocabulary. Every English speaker knows a lot of German words already: Ball; beginnen; bringen; finden; Finger; Hand; Kindergarten; Land; Mann; mild; senden; singen; still; warm; wild; Wind; Winter

v      Many academic programs require or recommend German: anatomy, art history, biochemistry, biology, biomedical physics, botany, chemistry, design, engineering, film studies, genetics, linguistics, logic and methodology of science, molecular biology, music, near eastern studies, philosophy, physical science, physics, physiology, religious studies, zoology.


1.        National Standards in Foreign Language Education Project. Standards for Foreign Language Learning in the 21st Century. 1999. Allen Press, Inc. Lawrence, KS

2.        Easton Language Education,  eleaston@mindspring.com, http://eleaston.com/why.html1998 - 2001

3.        Go Global…Select German! Brochure. Goethe-Institut. New York. 1999.

4.      D. Nutting. Reasons to learn German! McKinnon Secondary College. http://www.mckinnonsc.vic.edu.au/la/lote/german/mckinnon/whyger.htm