German is the most widely spoken language in Europe, and learning German can open up a whole world of opportunity.
Why learn German?
Learning German can open all kinds of doors for you, especially in the scientific community. The majority of scientific publications are published in German and being able to read them will give you a clear advantage. Not only is learning German a way into the scientific community but Germany is also the country which gave the world Mozart, Beethoven, Freud, Einstein and many other famous musicians, philosophers and scientists. To learn German is to open the door to that wonderful world as well.
To summarise the key reasons for you to learn German include:
- German is the most widely spoken language in Europe.
- Germany has the 3rd strongest economy and is the #1 export nation in the world.
- Germans are innovators.
- Knowing German creates business opportunities.
- Germans are the biggest spenders of tourist dollars in the world.
- 1 in 10 books in the world are published in German
Where do you learn German?
You will find a variety of options available for your child to learn German. This may be by mixing with German-speaking friends or family, or it may involve enrolling in lessons. Some ways to do this are listed below:
- Private language schools
- Universities or polytechnics for older children
- Local Community Centres, where you and your child could choose to learn together
- Home Schooling
- Language Exchange Programmes
- e-Learning courses
What age can your child start learning German?
A child’s ability to grasp new and multiple languages at an early age is well documented. Pre-school children from ages as young as 3 or 4 can start learning German simply by by exposed to the language at home, or in structured play activities (such as those run by Fun Languages).
However, age is no barrier when it comes to learning a foreign language and it would be a great opportunity for you to learn alongside your child.
How do you progress over time?
The rate of progression will be determined by the child’s age, the amount of exposure to the language, and the amount of time they spend practising. The more opportunities your child gets to practice what they learn in everyday situations, the greater will become their level of proficiency.
Generally it is recommended that older students spend at least 1 year focused on learning the fundamentals of German and then on an ongoing basis continue to maintain the language ability by attending classes or practicing with other German speakers.
What equipment do you need to learn German?
The equipment you choose will depend on the age of your child; some suggestions include:
- German-English dictionary (electronic or hard copy)
- Reference books including grammar and vocabulary books
- Audio CDs in the car
- Video tapes or DVDs to watch
- CD-ROMs with the aid of computers
You will also need to expose your child to German speakers whenever possible.
How much does it cost to learn German?
Cost ranges from free (learning from friends or learning from various free websites) to several thousand dollars (for full immersion at an overseas language school).
For regular children’s lessons you could expect to pay anywhere between $12 to $20 per session, depending on the age of the child and the size of the group.
How much time does it take to learn German?
Class times vary but generally most courses meet once or twice a week.
Classes generally run for 1 to 1.5 hours, depending on the age of the child.
Older children would be expected to spend at least another hour outside of class to revise and complete their homework. It would be ideal if a student could spend at least 5 hours per week outside of class to practice, but this is often unrealistic.
Great German Websites
Article German written by Kerri Tilby
Background on why your child should learn German and how German courses are delivered
A must-use resource site with loads of information relating to the German language and ways to learn it