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Queen's University

Why You Should Study German

Why Learn German?

Why should I learn a foreign language? After all, wherever I go I'll always find someone who can speak English.

Even if this were true, and it isn't, there would still be good reasons for learning languages. For example:

■ Learning languages makes you aware of the structure of all languages, including your own. As a mental discipline and training, it rivals mathematics.
■ Language learning cannot be separated from cultural awareness: as you learn a foreign language, you learn the mentality of the people who speak it. This in turn makes you more aware of the peculiarities of the mentality of your own country of origin.
■ A person who learns another language is acting to make him/herself less provincial. Knowledge of a foreign language opens up to you a new world of people to meet, books and newspapers to read, films to see, ideas to digest, countries to visit.

All right. Then, why German?

■ German is a major world language that is spoken by about 100 million people.
■ Germany is a prosperous modern society with a lively democracy, interesting and varied media, a flourishing cultural scene, and well-educated and outward-looking citizenry. Since the changes in Eastern Europe and the reunification of the country, Germany is going to become increasingly influential in European politics, trade and industry.
■ International trade between Canada and the German-speaking countries is ever-increasing. There are opportunities in international trade and commerce for Canadians with a knowledge of German. In a questionnaire sent recently to 129 North American firms with German origins, 81% answered "yes" to the question "When recruiting future employees, do you consider their languages background?" N.B. There is a saying that German firms are happy to sell to you in English but will only buy from you if you speak German.
■ German is a language of science and scholarship, since Germans have been prominent in virtually all the cultural and scientific disciplines. A knowledge of the language will make huge resources available to the student of history, music, art history, philosophy, physics, etc. German engineering and industrial management are among the most advanced in the world.
■ With two years' of university instruction in the language, you will be qualified to go to study at a German university, using one of the several exchange agreements available at Queen's. Students who take advantage of this opportunity return feeling enriched by the experience.

Isn't German supposed to be difficult?

In the early stage, German with its three genders and its strict word-order rules, may indeed be a little more difficult than the Latin-based languages. But once these early difficulties are overcome (and not everyone finds them to be all that bad!), subsequent levels of the language follow on from each other fairly naturally. German verb forms are much easier than French, for example. On the positive side, the language also has a logical clarity that many students find appealing.

For more information about the value of German, go to:

Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6. 613.533.2000