The state of Germany did not exist as a unified whole until 1871. Prior to that time there were several hundred German-speaking political subdivisions - kingdoms, principalities, independent cities and towns, etc. Following World War II, Germany was split into democratic West Germany and communist East Germany. Unification of the two parts occurred in 1990. Most of the more than 82 million residents of the country are ethnic Germans. In addition, there are approximately 7 million "guest workers" in the country.
The German language, the native language of Germany, Austria and Lichtenstein, is challenging for English speaking people to learn. It is not as easy to learn as French or Spanish. The vocabulary requires an unusual degree of precision in expression. However, since Germany is the third largest industrial nation in the world, American companies engaged in international business activities should value employees who can speak and understand German.
The most effective way to learn German is to undertake study abroad and/or undergo a language immersion experience in order to achieve communication competence. If these two options are not feasible, there are other ways to improve your knowledge of the German language:
* Purchase a German language book and start with learning the words and phrases you are most likely to use, e.g., "hello," "good morning," "good night," "my name is...," "where are the lavatory facilities," etc.
* Try to associate German words with objects, actions or emotions
* Enroll in a class in German if it is offered at nearby colleges or other commercial language providers
* Become familiar with German newspapers and books
* Seek the company/acquaintance of a native German speaker (universities, markets, restaurants, etc.)
* Watch German TV on the net, movies, listen to songs in the German language, etc.
* Use Internet software - there is no shortage of these type of opportunities
* Acquire an electronic device that translates English words and phrases into German
With hard work and perseverance you can become reasonably proficient in the German language. This learning experience will benefit your visit to Germany for personal or business interests.