How learning German will help you integrate more quickly
Integrating in Germany doesn’t happen overnight, but learning the local language sure helps speed up the process. Christopher Robinson from Alpadia Language Schools explains how speaking German helps you live like a local in your adopted country.
Do you want to move to Germany and live like a local? Like with every other country, you can’t just step out of the airport and call yourself German, you need to integrate and it doesn’t happen overnight.
Integration is the gradual process of adapting to your host society – as you spend more and more time in the country, you’ll gradually go from a “visitor” to a “local” in your mannerisms, culture and knowledge of your surroundings. This should be the end goal for any expat in Germany, but this goal takes work, and one surefire way to integrate into German life is to learn German.
Why do you need to learn German to integrate into Germany?
Germany is well-known for its multicultural society and its linguistic abilities; in fact, approximately 65 percent of Germans report that they can speak English! While this will give you a pretty strong start when it comes to communicating, it is far from being enough to rely solely on your English throughout your stay.
English can only get you so far
Firstly, the concentration of English speakers in Germany is largely dependent on where you are: in some of the larger cities like Berlin or Hamburg, you may find that English will take you quite far. However, as you go further and further from the cities, you’ll notice that German starts to become more and more necessary to get through your daily life.
However, communication is quite different from integration. You may have fewer issues with getting your point across in English, but it can be a challenge when you’re trying to make local friends and find work opportunities.
Connecting with locals
Think about it: what do you normally speak about with your friends in your own country? Maybe it’s sports, television, movies, music or politics? This may seem like quite a light conversation between you and your friends, but for a foreign visitor to your country, you and your friends may as well be speaking about rocket science.
Learning the language of your host country gives you a valuable key to unlocking the mysteries of local media – with your new language you can listen to the same songs, tune into the same radio stations, and watch the same movies and TV shows as local Germans. So, if you master your media right, when you inevitably hit the local bars, you’ll be able to join in the conversation about the latest series on ZDF!
Furthermore, with time in your new circle, you’ll be able to pick up the slang, expressions and gestures that could one day make you sound indistinguishable from a German native.
Aside from being helpful in your social life, having a more local understanding of the German language will help you in your career in the country and outside of it. German clients and companies respond well to German speakers, so having inside knowledge of the language will allow you to gain an unmatched connection with these business opportunities.
Lastly, in a practical sense, if you plan to enter German society in the long term, learning German becomes less of a recommendation and more of an absolute necessity. From visa paperwork to job applications – you’ll find that German is a requirement to become a productive, long-term member of German society
How to quickly learn German like a local
Once you speak German, you’ll find that German society fits you like a glove. While this comes naturally with time, there are a few ways you can help accelerate your German progress:
- Consume as much German media as possible, including popular TV shows, radio channels, movies, music and newspapers.
- Join a local sports team or hobby club: with your language skills you won’t be confined to the expat clubs, so you can become a direct part of your new community!
- Improve your language skills at a German school that offers full immersion and cultural exchange opportunities in addition to language lessons.
- Take a German exam: the best way to put your German skills to good use is by gaining an accreditation: a certificate like Goethe can help you gain a job or assist you in your visa process.
Overall, learning German is at the heart of integrating into German society. In order to blend in as a “local” you won’t just need to speak German, you’ll need to speak like a German, and that comes from mastering the language used by native speakers. Fortunately, there are programmes that are designed to give you a comprehensive German curriculum, while spending time in Germany and taking part in a tonne of cultural activities.
Alpadia Language Schools provide you with a range of programmes to suit your learning needs. Each organises its own trips and activities to immerse you in the culture of Germany while you pick up the language both in class, and out!
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