Ten good reasons: Why study German today
The British economy is hugely dependent on export. 55% of all goods and services exported go to the European Union’s single market, but 80% of all export managers are unable to conduct business in a foreign language (CILT 2006). Poor language competency is resulting in a loss of an estimated ₤7.3bn per annum (CfBT Education Trust survey 2011).
Germany has the largest economy in Europe and the fourth largest in the world (after the US, Japan and China). It is the world’s second largest exporter. Of the world’s 100 biggest companies 15 are German/Swiss, 9 are French, and 4 are British (Forbes Global 2000, 2012).
Germany is the UK’s biggest trading partner. In 2011, Germany exported goods and services worth €65bn to the UK, and imported UK goods and services worth about €44bn. German direct and indirect investments in Britain added up to €120bn (2009).
German companies account for over 315,000 jobs in the UK or 1% of the total workforce. They are especially strong in manufacturing in South East England and the Midlands. The leading German banking and insurance companies have their offices in the City of London.
German speakers are highly sought after by British employers. 68% of British employers need employees who can speak foreign languages. 50% of them rate German as useful for their business, placing it on top before French, Spanish and Mandarin. 21% are concerned about the loss of business caused by weak foreign language skills (CBI Education and Skills survey 2012).
German provides great job opportunities even in times of economic uncertainty. Linguistic and cultural fluency is a core competence of executives in multinational companies. There is a growing demand in the traditional careers of interpreting and translating. With the introduction of the English Baccalaureate and the reforms envisaged in the National Curriculum, schools are already actively looking for highly qualified German teachers.
German is the most commonly spoken language in Europe with 100 million speakers. It is an official language in five European countries – Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein. German plays an important role as a foreign language in many other countries, particularly in Central and Eastern Europe.
German and other foreign languages serve Britain’s national interest. It helps to better understand Germany’s policies pursued domestically and abroad. Within the EU institutions British employees are notoriously underrepresented due to the lack of foreign language skills, thereby forfeiting political and diplomatic influence. The FCO has already resumed its in-house language training to enable diplomats to secure Britain’s influence in Europe and the world.
Learning German is fun. It is no harder to speak and write than other languages. English speakers usually find German quite easy to pronounce, as both languages share common linguistic roots. Therefore, rapid progress can be made while learning the language.
German is the key to a rich cultural heritage at the heart of Europe – for everyone. You might be keen to explore the vibrant culture of cities like Berlin, Munich and Cologne, or to thoroughly understand the works of Goethe, Nietzsche, Beethoven, Bach, Freud or Einstein. German acts as your personal gateway to discover all of this and to shape your vision of the world.