Why study German?

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  • German is the most widely spoken language in Europe.

    More people speak German as their native tongue than any other language in Europe. German has 100 million native speakers in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland and several other countries. The estimated number of non-natives brings the population of German speakers worldwide to double that number.

  • Germany has the 4th largest economy and is the number 3 export nation in the world.

    With a GDP of $4 trillion, Germany is the economic powerhouse of the European Union. The desirability of German products is indicated by the country’s substantial trade surplus. Cars and vehicle parts, aircraft and machinery, pharmaceuticals and medical instruments are some of its primary exports and the United States imports more German goods and services than any other country.

    And Switzerland, another German-speaking country, has the second highest GDP per capita in the world thanks to it's highly developed service sector, and has one of the highest living standards in the world. Both Germany and Switzerland ranked among the top 5 most competitive countries in the World Economic Forum's 2017/2018 Global Competitiveness Report.

  • Knowing German creates business opportunities.

    The strength of the German and Swiss economies translate to business opportunities. 3,700 German companies do business in the U.S. and American companies have created 800,000 jobs in Germany. Think of BMW, Daimler, SAP, Infineon, Lufthansa, Bayer, Allianz, Adidas, Bosch, Volkswagen, Deutsche Bank, and many more. All other things being equal, the job candidate with the German skills has an advantage over a monolingual peer.

  • Germans are innovators.

    Germans have given us MP3 format, x-rays, the automobile, chemotherapy, the printing press, aspirin, contact lenses, airbags, nuclear fission, the thermos, Fahrenheit, the clarinet, Settlers of Catan, & more … the list is long!

    It is perhaps not surprising that the World Economic Forum's latest Global Competitiveness Report (2018) ranked Germany as the world's most innovative economy. The business and research sectors generate a wealth of new ideas, thanks to the investment of 3% of Germany's GDP in research and development and a high degree of buyer sophistication that constantly challenges companies to innovate. Switzerland, another German-speaking country, was ranked third most competitive, just after the U.S.

    Germany has more than 1,000 public and publicly funded institutions for science, research, and development and almost 600 research and innovation clusters. In annual patent applications, Germany ranks 4th in the world. The country exports more high-tech products than every country except China. And German carmakers are now shaping the future. Given the Germans' established track record as innovators, it is fitting that two-thirds of the world's leading international trade fairs take place in Germany.

  • It pays to know German -- literally!

    German is one of the most in-demand languages as well as one of the highest paid. A study by Adzuna confirms that if you know a language used in a powerful economy or one that is involved in business innovation, you'll likely be paid more.

    In fact, a knowledge of German can give you an average annual salary boost of about 4%. That may not sound like a lot, but through the power of compounding over a lifetime, that can amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional earnings by retirement. 

    You can reap the benefits of this earnings boost whether you work in business, healthcare, education, technology, translating and interpreting, journalism and publishing, or government. In fact, German is on the CIA's list of languages that qualify employees for the Foreign Language Incentive Program(opens in new window), which comes with a hiring bonus of up to $35,000 and up ot $800 in additional pay each month.

  • Germans form the largest single heritage group in the U.S.

    Learning German can expand your appreciation and knowledge of U.S. history and culture. In waves of immigration that span 2 centuries, Germans brought customs and established traditions that have become ingrained in American life – kindergarten, the Christmas tree, beer brewing, jeans, hot dogs, ketchup, Hershey's chocolate and more. Family names and the names of thousands of towns and cities in the U.S. indicate the German heritage of their ancestors or founders.

    In the 2010 census, 29.8 million Americans reported having German ancestry, making German Americans the largest single heritage group in the United States. More than half of the 3,143 counties in the U.S. have a plurality of residents who describe themselves as German American.

  • German-speaking countries have a rich cultural heritage.

    Germany is known as the land of poets and thinkers and the contributions of German speakers to arts and human thought have been profound. Mozart, Bach, Kant, Nietzsche, Hegel, Marx, Hesse, Kafka, and Freud are among the many German-speakers that have had lasting influences on modern society. Thirteen Nobel prizes for literature have been awarded to German-speaking authors. And scientists from the three major German-speaking countries have won dozens of Nobel prizes in physics, chemistry, and medicine.

    Knowing German allows you to access the works of these people in their original language and to fully understand the culture and context they derived from.

  • 1 in 10 books in the world is published in German.

    German boasts a rich cultural and intellectual heritage, but it is not just a language of dead poets and philosophers. Germans are prolific researchers and scholars. 80,000 new German titles appear annually. Only English and Chinese supersede German in the number of books published each year. Less than 5% of German works are translated into English, meaning that only a knowledge of German will give you direct access to their contents.

  • German is required by many undergraduate and graduate programs.

    German speakers' contributions in such a broad range of fields makes the language an important asset in many disciplines. Many advanced degrees in the sciences, humanities, and social sciences require a reading knowledge of German. Knowing German gives graduates access to important research published in German books and professional journals.

  • German is not as hard as you think.

    Modern German and modern English evolved from a common ancestor language and thus share many similarities in vocabulary and grammar. In addition, German is spelled phonetically.

  • Learning German gives you access to diverse study abroad opportunities at Chico State.

    The California State University system has an agreement with the German state of Baden-Württemberg which allows CSU students from a wide range of academic backgrounds and disciplines  to take courses in their major area of study at one or more of 23 institutions of higher education in Germany. Students who participate in CSU International Programs (IP) can also simultaneously pick up a major in German and fulfill multiple General Education requirements. In order to participate in the CSU IP, you must take a minimum of one semester of German (but more is preferable), before you head abroad.

    Students with a minimum of 3 semesters of German can opt to participate in Chico State's direct exchange with the University of Mainz, which offers courses in a wide range of disciplines. CSU, Chico also also partners with AIFS and USAC to offer more structured study experiences that include courses in both German and English.

    Learn more about Chico State's study abroad programs in German.

  • Knowing German gives you access to excellent study, research, and employment options after you graduate.

    While promoting innovation and supporting research within Germany, the Germans also recognize that international cooperation is essential to its continued success as a world leader. Germany sponsors over 75,000 international exchanges each year, hosting tens of thousands of scholars, scientists, educators, and students in periods of international research and study. Over 60% of foreigners who research or study in German are awarded financial assistance. And like German students, foreign students directly enrolled in German universities pay no (or just nominal) tuition fees.

    In addition, German opens up numerous internship and employment opportunities both during and after your studies. Check out our career preparation resources to explore options.

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