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Living in Germany: Highs and lows of language learning, migrating birds and German love affair with cars

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Living in Germany: Highs and lows of language learning, migrating birds and German love affair with cars
A German dictionary stands on a shelf. How do you feel about learning the language? Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Oliver Berg

From the struggles (and triumphs) foreigners face in mastering the German language, to if Germans truly live up to their car loving reputation, The Local has an overview of the latest on life in the Bundesrepublik.


The many ups and downs of learning German 

When foreigners arrive fresh-faced in Germany, they are often filled with dreams of speaking German fluently within a matter of months. But then the reality kicks in: there’s no denying that German is a tricky language to pick up. It takes a lot of work to learn the grammar and to feel confident when chatting in Deutsch with the locals.


It’s no surprise that one of our most-read stories this week was Sarah Magill’s article on the seven stages of learning German that foreigners go through.

Our readers related to the ups and downs involved in trying to get to grips with long words that German presents us with like Haftpflichtversicherung (liability insurance) and even Rechtsschutzversicherungsgesellschaften (insurance companies). Yet through all the frustration, there is always a breakthrough moment when something seems to click.

It may take years but don’t give up - keep immersing yourself in the language and keep speaking German even if someone replies in English. And the last stage - acceptance - is an important one. It doesn’t matter if your articles are wrong or if you get mixed up with the word order. Keep going and accept that learning a language is a life-long project. 

Tweet of the week

Many of our readers will be familiar with the hurdles and hoops you often have to jump through to get into the German labour market. And that’s not to mention the bureaucracy…

Where is this?

Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Klaus-Dietmar Gabbert

This breathtaking picture of migrating geese was snapped at a lake in the Drömling nature reserve in Saxony-Anhalt. Birds tend to spend the autumn resting in Drömling before flying south for the winter, and this year their long migration has just begun. 

Did you know?

From major manufacturers like BMW and Volkswagen to the world-famous Autobahn, it’s clear that Germany is a country that loves its cars. But it may surprise you to know that the Bundesrepublik is by no means at the top of the ranks in Europe when it comes to car ownership.

In a ranking of motor vehicles per capita in the EU, Germany actually ends up somewhere in the lower-middle, with a total of 14 member states - including France, Portugal, Italy and Finland - boasting more cars, vans and freight vehicles per person. (In case you’re interested, the Italian micro-state of San Marino topped this particular chart.) 

Of course, that’s not to say that the German love affair with driving is entirely a myth. A recent study found that the average German spends a whopping €233 per month on their Auto, which adds up to almost €2,800 per year, compared to just €33 per month on buses and trains. And when you look at the number of motor vehicles in total, rather than just per capita, there are a good 52 million of them in Germany.


The seemingly unshakeable bond between Germans and their cars has become the subject of heated debate recently as the government tries to encourage people to switch to more climate-friendly options. Some argue that people have become far too attached to convenience and need to make lifestyle changes, while others say the transport network in Germany just isn’t good enough to support this.

We look at some of the most recent controversies and debates around transport in Germany - including the battle to pedestrianise one of Berlin’s busiest streets - in our most recent episode of Germany in Focus. If you haven’t listened to the podcast yet, be sure to check it out.


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