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More Italians learning German in crisis

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More Italians learning German in crisis
Photo: DPA
15:08 CET+01:00
Thousands of Italians are swotting up on their German language skills in the hope of getting a better paid job north of the Alps, new figures show.

As the financial crisis continues to take its toll on their homeland, large numbers of Italians old and young are struggling with impenetrable grammar rules and unfamiliar pronunciation in a bid for employment in Germany, reported Der Spiegel.

“It's getting worse,” Massimo, an Italian freelance handyman, told the magazine. His clients cannot afford to pay him his fees on time and he often has to buy materials on credit. Massimo has decided to learn German so he can try his luck in the north, where workers like him can earn higher wages.

Long scorned, German courses are now di moda in schools and universities across Italy, the magazine wrote. Over 400,000 Italian pupils are now choosing German as their second foreign language, with numbers up 18 percent last year. Meanwhile, the numbers of French and Spanish learners are dropping.

Even older, professional Italians are flocking to take specialized German courses for doctors, lawyers and engineers in the hope of getting ahead in Europe's strongest economy, the report said.

Similar trends are noticeable in Spain, Portugal and especially crisis-ravaged Greece, where numbers of German learners have jumped 30 percent in the past six months. And in contrast to the Gastarbeiter influx of immigrants in the 1950s and 1960s, today's Germany is able to offer challenging employment for skilled workers from southern Europe.

Yet not all German learners will make the leap and emigrate north as there are jobs to be had at home in business and tourism once applicants have mastered the language.

The Local/jlb

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