Good news, bad news for German as a school subject in India and the United States

Monday, June 15, 2009


First the good news. The Goethe Institute has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Sattva Vikas School in Mumbai to begin teaching German there.

The bad news: German studies programs in a few American universities are being eliminated. The language is actually being studied by a bit more people than it was in 2002, but the rate of increase is not the same as that with other up-and-coming languages.

Always keep in mind though that less people studying language x does not necessarily equate to language x is not worth learning. The CIA pays up to $35,000 in signing bonuses for certain languages, because they are less studied than most. German is different from these languages in that it's spoken in industrialized European nations where English is widely spoken, but at the same time with students flocking to other languages there is a lot less competition for those that want to seriously study German. That is, there may be more positions available for fluent Spanish speakers but then again there is also a large pool of Spanish speakers to choose from already, but finding a fluent German speaker just isn't as easy.

Because these two often tend to balance themselves out (language A offers more employment but incentives are low; language B offers less employment but incentives are higher), once again it always makes sense to learn languages out of a love for the language itself.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Keep in mind that most schools across the USA have stopped offering elective classes such as French, German, Latin, Family and Consumer Sciences (Home Economics), Drafting, Welding, Small Engine Repair, Woodworking, Auto Repair, etc. Spanish is taught because of a "perceived need." Most Americans have never traveled, and never will travel South of the Rio Grande river for business or vacation......

Many Americans choose to learn Spanish, as it is important for health care workers and police to understand the illegal aliens. Once Mexican immigrants learn good English, then what is the incentive for an "Anglo" to learn Spanish? Sure, there will always be more illegals.......

Spanish is spoken in Central and South America - definitely in many more places than German. Other than working for a handful of US government agencies, where are the good paying jobs for foreigners? No one should care about learning Japanese, as there are few speakers on this planet. But the Japanese have money. It makes sense to want to learn Japanese to talk to people that have money.

Unlike Mexicans, few Germans/Austrian/Swiss choose to immigrate to the USA. If German is stagnating in the USA, then what about Eastern Europe? It would be intriguing to see the numbers of German speakers in eastern Europe. Is the trend steadily rising? Stagnating? Staying the same? Look at the number of towns in Poland that have decided to have German names (listed under Zweisprachige Gemeinden and in Zweisprachige Ortsschilder). You may have to use Google Translate in order to read this web page:

http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deutsche_Minderheit_in_Polen

Germans do not understand how to market themselves. And when they try, they do a horrible job at it. For example, consider that Germany has the best bakeries in the world, but unless you have traveled all over the world, you would not know this. Another example: The Goethe Institut needs to become more of a "cultural center," a place for kids to hang out and engage in all kinds of fun activities. Maintaining a stale library will attract very few people - young or old, in this digital age.

Anonymous said...

Keep in mind that most schools across the USA have stopped offering elective classes such as French, German, Latin, Family and Consumer Sciences (Home Economics), Drafting, Welding, Small Engine Repair, Woodworking, Auto Repair, etc. Spanish is taught because of a "perceived need." Most Americans have never traveled, and never will travel South of the Rio Grande river for business or vacation......

Many Americans choose to learn Spanish, as it is important for health care workers and police to understand the illegal aliens. Once Mexican immigrants learn good English, then what is the incentive for an "Anglo" to learn Spanish? Sure, there will always be more illegals.......

Spanish is spoken in Central and South America - definitely in many more places than German. Other than working for a handful of US government agencies, where are the good paying jobs for foreigners? No one should care about learning Japanese, as there are few speakers on this planet. But the Japanese have money. It makes sense to want to learn Japanese to talk to people that have money.

Unlike Mexicans, few Germans/Austrian/Swiss choose to immigrate to the USA. If German is stagnating in the USA, then what about Eastern Europe? It would be intriguing to see the numbers of German speakers in eastern Europe. Is the trend steadily rising? Stagnating? Staying the same? Look at the number of towns in Poland that have decided to have German names (listed under Zweisprachige Gemeinden and in Zweisprachige Ortsschilder). You may have to use Google Translate in order to read this web page:

http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deutsche_Minderheit_in_Polen

Germans do not understand how to market themselves. And when they try, they do a horrible job at it. For example, consider that Germany has the best bakeries in the world, but unless you have traveled all over the world, you would not know this. Another example: The Goethe Institut needs to become more of a "cultural center," a place for kids to hang out and engage in all kinds of fun activities. Maintaining a stale library will attract very few people - young or old, in this digital age.

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