1. German is the most widely spoken language in Europe.
More people speak German as their native language than any other language in Europe. It’s no wonder, since Germany’s 83 million inhabitants make it the most populous European nation. But not only the residents of Germany speak German. It is also an official language of Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and Liechtenstein. And it is the native language of a significant portion of the population in northern Italy, eastern Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, eastern France, parts of Poland, the Czech Republic, Russia, and Romania, as well as in other parts of Europe.
While learning German can connect you to 120 million native speakers around the globe, remember that many people also learn German as a second language. It is the 3rd most popular foreign language taught worldwide and the second most popular in Europe and Japan, after English.
2. Germany has the 3rd strongest economy and is the #1 export nation in the world.
Germany has the third largest economy in the world and is the economic powerhouse of the European Union. In 2007 — for the 5th year in a row and depite the strength of the euro currency — the Germans were world champions in exports. The country exported 940 billion US dollars worth of goods, just ahead of the US exports. From cars to machinery and industrial equipment, from pharmaceuticals to household goods, German businesses earn 1 in 3 euros through export, and 1 in 4 jobs depends on exports. The competetiveness and desirability of German products on the market are indicated by the country’s substantial trade surplus, which reached 162 billion euros (209 billion dollars) in 2006 and continues to grow every year.
And don’t forget that Switzerland, another German-speaking country, has one of the highest standards of living in the world.
3. Knowing German creates business opportunities.
Germany’s economic strength equals business opportunities. Multinational business opportunities exist throughout the European Union and in the Eastern European countries, where German is the second most spoken language after Russian. Companies like BMW, Daimler, Siemens, Lufthansa, SAP, Bosch, Infineon, BASF, and many others need international partners. The Japanese, who have the 2nd most powerful economy in the world, understand the business advantages that a knowledge of German will bring them: 68% of Japanese students study German.
If you’re looking for employment in the United States, knowing German can give you great advantages. German companies account for 700,000 jobs in the United States, and US companies have created approximately the same number of jobs in Germany. All other things being equal, the job candidate with German skills will trump the one without such skills every time. Most surveyed companies in the United States would choose someone with German literacy over an equally qualified candidate.
4. Germans are innovators.
From Gutenberg’s printing press to Hertz’ discovery of electromagnetic waves, from Ehrlich’s development of chemotherapy to Einstein’s theory of relativity, to Brandenburg’s creation of the MP3 digital music format, throughout history Germans have proven themselves time and again to be great innovators. That trend continues today. 4 of the world’s 10 most innovative companies are located in Germany and at 12.7% of the world’s patent applications, the country ranks 3rd in the world. Consequently, 200,000 businesses introduce new products on the market each year.
As a nation committed to research and development, Germans are on the frontline of new technologies. Germany exports more high-tech products than any other country except the U.S. and more than 600 firms are active in the cutting-edge field of biotechnology. 115 of these are located in Munich alone. The east German city of Dresden has become Europe’s microchip center with its more than 765 semiconductor firms.
Given the Germans’ commitment to innovation, it is perhaps not surprising that two-thirds of the world’s leading international trade fairs take place in Germany. These include CeBIT, the world’s largest trade fair for information and communications technology, and the IFA consumer electronics trade fair.