How to improve my English as a German native speaker?
The language of instruction at most schools and universities in Germany is German(an exception being international schools). Although a few also take up English by choice.
English is the official language in 54 countries that cover Europe, the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Australasia, and which include countries as diverse as New Zealand, South Africa, Belize, India, Malta, and Singapore. This means that English is a truly universal language that makes communication across the globe easy and convenient.
Having said that, it’s interesting to know that despite more than 6,000 different languages existing all over the world, English continues to remain the Lingua Franca all over the world, with more than 350 million speaking English, as their first language and more than 430 million speaking it as their second! This makes English is the world’s most popular second language choice and the only language to have the largest number of speakers in most countries around the world.
In addition, the British Council estimates that more than 1 billion people are learning English as a second language at any given time. English is taught at school as a second language in hundreds of countries all over the world, from France to Thailand, Israel to Malaysia, Sweden, China, and many other countries. And because English is taught all over the world, you will never feel alone during your learning process, and it will be very easy to find other English learners who can share their experiences with you during your wonderful journey through the world of ESL.
Both the German and English languages are considered to be members of the Germanic branch of the Indo-European language family, meaning they are still closely related today. However, despite investing formative years in gaining quality education, with a particular focus on learning the ins and outs of the English language, German native speakers fail to impress others with their learning of English. This is precisely because once they graduate from school, they are immediately released into the world with no one to correct their work. As native speakers, they may have complete command of their native tongue but despite all those years of study, can they say the same about English? Not necessarily. Even if born and raised in English, it can be particularly challenging to master at a high level. This is due to the range of erratic spelling and pronunciation alongside the constantly emerging new terms and combinations of words from other languages.
Some of the lessons learned throughout the educational years will stick with us forever, the classic “I before E except after C” rule, for example, but if we aren’t careful our correctness can really start to slip. Here are some tips for native the native German speakers that want to keep improving their English:
Catch yourself making silly mistakes- It can be much easier than you think to fall into the trap of making amateur blunders, especially with the more widespread use of internet talk and abbreviations. For eg. writing “could of” instead of “could have” or using “e.g” or “i.e”, etcetera.
Read good quality articles/literature – Read, read, and read. Learners could use books, as they tend to have correct use of language as they have been through a strict editing process, magazines and newspapers or classics by Tolstoy, an autobiography, short story or scientific research paper..
Expand your vocabulary – Learners could use innovative interesting ways to do this rather monotonous ways such as, playing word building games on various apps, scrabble or hangman etcetera.It is the most natural way to learn is to read them over and over in different contexts.
Write a journal or a diary every day – Writing is like a muscle that needs to be worked out often in order to stay in shape. Even emails or text messages can be considered writing practise as long as you consciously try to write in concise English.
“Proofread.” Read your writing aloud or get someone else to check it. Very often we can proofread our own material and skip over mistakes that we didn’t expect to be there. Therefore the best method of proofreading is to have someone else do it for you. eAngel is an inexpensive online platform that utilizes real professionals to proofread your text and send you back a corrected version in a short period of time. Useful for checking anything from a short email to a novel or thesis. Take note of mistakes that you make often and be aware of them when writing.
“Learn another language.” Sounds slightly off but learning different structure and grammar will make you more conscious of the structure and grammar of your own language. Exploring similarities and differences will enable you to look at English in a new light and heighten your awareness of your mother tongue.
The Foreign Service Institute (FSI) mentions the approximate time needed to learn the German language as an English speaker. To reach Speaking 3: General Professional Proficiency in Speaking (S3) and Reading 3: General Professional Proficiency in Reading (R3), an English speaker would take only 750 hours or 30 weeks that’s about 7-8 months. This also helps us understand how much of an effort a German speaker must give to learn English. Learning English for German speakers is actually a cakewalk as there are a lot of similarities.
Let's see how?
German English very similar language. It’s not inappropriate to believe that a German speaker can learn English fast than everyone else with a different native tongue.
English is a Germanic language
Perhaps the most crucial point to make is that English is a language that originally derived from West Germanic more than 2,000 years ago.
It is estimated that more than a third of English non-technical lexicons are of Germanic origin, as are many English words.
German and English both languages use the same 26 letters which form the Latin alphabet. This is a major plus point as compared to learning languages such as Mandarin, Arabic or Japanese, which utilise completely different writing systems.
The English language has borrowed a number of words from German and some of them are used regularly. For example, the words ‘delicatessen’, ‘rucksack’, ‘spritzer’, ‘spritzer’, ‘pretzel’, ‘strudel’ or the word ‘angst’. And several words ‘Computer’, ‘Designer’, ‘Album’, ‘Image’, ‘Laser’, ‘Skateboarding’ and ‘Aerobics’ have all been adopted from English, in German.
German and English share a vast number of ‘homonyms’ such as ‘house’ is ‘Haus’, the German word for ‘university’ is ‘Universität’ and the German word for ‘camera’ is ‘Kamera’, water is ‘wasser” mother is mutter and many many more words.
German speakers trying to learn English words would realise that one of the key features of the two languages is that they follow similarity in grammatical rules. The best example of this is with the way verbs change based on their tense and this can be demonstrated with the verb ‘to drink’, which is ‘trinken’ in German.
Similar to English changing verbs based on tense, from ‘drink’ to ‘drank’ to ‘drunk’, German, changes the same three tenses, using words ‘trinkt’, ‘trank’ and ‘getrunken’. German speakers can therefore have a pretty good idea of English verb patterns from the very beginning.
Another advantage of learning German as an English speaker is that the two languages use the same Arabic numerals and numbering system. While numbers are named differently in German, the sequences of the digits 0-9 in both languages follow the same core principles.
This can perhaps be best observed by looking at the numbers from 10 to 20.
English: ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty.
German: zehn, elf, zwoelf, dreizehn, vierzehn, fünfzehn, sechzehn, siebzehn, achtzehn, neunzehn, zwanzig.
As you can see, the suffix ‘teen’ is replaced by ‘zehn’, but the basic pattern stays the same.
If English is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world, the German language is strong holding its is the single most widely spoken language in the European Union. It has official language status in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium and various other countries, and is a recognised minority language in countries as diverse as Brazil, Kazakhstan, Namibia and Denmark.
If German is recognised as a major business language and is widely used in political discussions as well, English is the lingua franca of the world. This would mean there never will be a shortage of demand for translators able to speak both languages.
Both languages provide immense job opportunities and open up the possibility of working overseas in specific fields.
If German is the second most widely utilised language in the field of science with one-tenth of all books published globally are written in German, English bags the title of being the Language of International Communication.
Learning a new language can seem like a daunting task, especially as people have a tendency to focus on the differences between the language(s) they currently speak and the one they are interested in acquiring.
We could all, at times, use a reminder to actively engage ourselves in our own language and enjoy delving deeper into the endless sea of knowledge that is available. By implementing these simple steps into your everyday life, you should see an obvious improvement.
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