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English speaking in Germany?

We will be in Warnemunde traveling to Berlin, Will we be able to find many people who speak English there?
Thanks,
Sharon

Posted by
144 posts

Germans learn English in school, so most are able to do a basic communication with us. I find that if I try a bit of my really bad German, most people will try a little English (they will apologize for their lack of skill, but they will do much better than I do with German). It also helps to get a phase book and use it before you leave. My favorite is German in 10 minutes a day, which is available at all the usual sources. It is a workbook that comes with a menu section. Teaches you days of the week, time, simple phrases like "where is the bathroom?".

Posted by
1158 posts

In my opinion majority of Germans speak English, many of them pretty well. When I was living in Germany, I have not met a human being who didn't speak English.
There was a disscussion earlier this year about Europeans speaking or not English. Someone posted a link to a survey made my the EU about this and I was really impressed how low the percentage of English speakers was. However you shouldn't have any problems at hotels and museums.
Berlin is more international, we should be OK there.Not sure about Warnemunde, though.

Posted by
18373 posts

English (unfortunately, IMO) IS the international language, and you will usually be able to find someone in a tourist area who speaks English. However, although most Germans "learn" English in school, many never use it in their life and have forgotten it. About half of all Germans remember enough English from school, or use it regularly. That's a lot like American students.

Just be prepared for the eventuality when no one speaks English, and don't be offended. Afterall, this isn't an English speaking country.

I have been in remote parts of Germany where I never spoke English for a week :). On the other hand, I spent a week on the middle Rhein and eventually had to tell serving people that I didn't want to speak English.

Posted by
100 posts

Hi Sharon, I've traveled all over Germany (but not to the places you are going) and although I ran into some problems a couple of times, it was not a issue. The best tip I can give you is to ask a younger person directions/questions if possible because they are more likely to have learned at least a little English through their school. This worked well for us. I don't think we ever had a problem at a restaurant or a hotel. Germany is beautiful, have a great time!

Posted by
32 posts

Thank you everyone for your help nd comments, We are looking forward to our visit.
Sharon

Posted by
5602 posts

Berlin: it will be very easy to find English speakers among the under-50 set.

Warnemünde: it will be tougher in former East-block cities, where English hasn't been around as long.

Different cultures have different attitudes toward language learning. Proficiency in English is highly valued in Nordic countries, the Netherlands, Germany, and Switzerland. It's generally more difficult to find competent speakers of English in France, Spain, and Italy among the general population.

I am also of the personal belief that English is easier to learn for those who speak Germanic languages natively. The languages are more closely related and the learning load is lighter.

Posted by
448 posts

Just to comment on China's suggestion about asking a young person for help...in Rome, when we asked youngers for directions they understood English..but didn't know where to go!!..the olders who spoke only Italian would walk us to the end of the block and aim us well, until we found the next old guy.. But yes, many do speak English in Germany...My 4 language son stayed with a family in Berlin and meals were multi-lingual..

Posted by
1568 posts

We visited 8 countries and the only place we ran into non-English speaking people were in Czech Republic...although some did. And of course Paris...I think they did speak English but would not.

Posted by
8293 posts

Why do some people persist in the belief that all Parisians CAN speak English but out of sheer cussedness refuse to do so?

Posted by
10344 posts

Good question, Norma. Do you think it has something to do with a combination of fascination with Paris and Parisians but at the same time resentment, by some English speakers, that Paris persistently continues to be one of the few major destinations in Europe where English-only doesn't get the desired results?

Posted by
448 posts

...suppose i should do a PM to Norma...but ALL Parisiens Do Not speak English!!! My mother in law can say " no problem" and "it's beautiful"..but i sure wouldn't ask her for directions to the Louvre...She might walk with you to the Metro and help buy the ticket...just because she's nice, not that she was refusing to speak English...

Posted by
448 posts

and as usual i misunderstand...what Norma said. I'm from NewEngland, the homeland of cussedness..We don't get to hear that word very often...

Posted by
18373 posts

I have another "take" on why Parisians (French in general) refuse to speak English to us, even if they can. This was explained to me by a summer intern where I worked, who was from Bordeaux.

In France, one is expected to speak perfect French, and will be ridiculed by his peers if he doesn't. So, the French project their cultural paradigm onto us, and are thus reluctant to speak their less than perfect English, least they be ridiculed.

Posted by
10344 posts

Lee's explanation is exactly what I have read and been told.

Posted by
8293 posts

Lee and Kent; That's a pretty convoluted explanation of the so-called reluctance of French people to speak English. Another explanation is that manhy are unilingual as are many of us. Let's not be like the cartoonish British tourist of old, who when he went to "Bloody Abroad", could not believe that the French did not understand or speak English, and so spoke in a VERY LOUD VOICE.

Posted by
115 posts

I was in So.Germany/Alps and found in cities english was better, younger people liked to speak it (priactice?) and in hotels especially they all had working knowledge of it...it is amazing how much you can get across with your hands and just drawing something also. Keep a pen and notebook on hand. We drove thru there and the best gift we ever had was a GPS system for the car...just get a chip for Europe....when it came to directions..it was a god send. (it gives you the most direct route...but it DID send us down a dirt path that was a bit too narrow once...so use sense also-it saved us from a lot of wasted time) Cities definitely have better language skills.

My husband had trouble in Latvia tho. ...but that is a country just recently opened to visitors, so other countries that are just started to learn new languages would be harder and is to be expected.

Posted by
41 posts

I've been to Warnemunde and a lot of the people there speak English. It's a port town and they're used to the cruise ships coming in there. It's actually a really cute little town and worth spending a few hours checking out before you move on to Berlin.

Posted by
11975 posts

Since you're from Utah, you probably won't have much problem. I was once in Hamburg and had to translate for some people with a thick Houston accent who were asking for directions.

As you go North and East there are less tourists. Even the Germans who have learned English don't get to practice as often. The former East Germans have studied English but many speak Russian better than English.

Even though English may not be as universal in Warnemunde, you will get by.

Posted by
27 posts

Hi Sharon:

If you go to Berlin you will have no problems, if you ask in German if they speak English, they might say a little bit & you will get along. Other idea you can attend a Toastmasters Club in Berlin, They have 2 clubs in English & you will be able to meet Germans who speak english, good way to meet the locals. Two years ago I attended their evening meeting & afterwards we went to a Pub & we had a nice time. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you want more information about Berlin Toastmasters.

Pilar
Toronto ON Canada