When most people think about the foreign languages they were taught in high school, they typically think of Spanish, French, and German. Those used to be the staples, but the United States has recently begun moving away from these core languages in favor of new ones.
It seems like, these days, the languages offered in schools more closely mirror the languages spoken most often around the country. That’s why we see French and German in Georgian schools being cut. Instead, languages like Mandarin Chinese and Japanese are beginning to become more popular. However, the state of Georgia would like to go back to the basics, and they are encouraging more students to take German.
Language Choices Influenced by Business
Georgia has about 13k students enrolled in German languages classes in various high schools across the state, and they would like this number to increase for several reasons. Since the cold war, there has been a noticeable decrease of interaction between the United States and Germany.
It used to be that hundreds of young men would be shipped over each year with the military, and they would bring back positive stories about the culture as well as a little bit of the language. Now, interest in Germany has waned, and not as many Americans are actively studying German translation or German culture unless they plan to work in Germany or teach the language.
Nearly six hundred German companies are in Georgia, which is one of the main reasons Georgia would like to see more young people taking German language courses in high school and college. With so many business opportunities, it’s a wise move for some of the students to learn business translation skills or even become professional translators.
Right now, the fourth most widely offered language is German in Georgian schools. Many smaller schools that are not well-funded have also been forced to cut their German programs in favor of more popular languages, such as Chinese. However, the Georgia Department of Education is hopeful more students will enroll for German classes in the future.
German Means Better Business Opportunities
The Georgia Department of Education reports that the German businesses in the state are in desperate need of employees who are proficient in the German language and culture. The Education Department has asked employees to help encourage students to continue studying German because knowledge of the language could positively influence their chances of finding long-term, profitable employment.
Though many other schools around the country say that translation services are needed more for Mandarin Chinese and Spanish, Georgia is a hot spot for German, and Georgia educators are ensuring that their students are closely examining the job opportunities to be had in their area by studying the German language and culture.
The German-language program in Upper Arlington, Ohio, is one of only five centers for German excellence in the United States. The German excellence program starts in sixth grade and lasts all the way through high school. The students not only learn German translation, but also about German culture as well, and the program is specially designed for fluency.
Collaboration Between Teachers Is Key for Success
Teachers in the Upper Arlington school district say teacher collaboration is what helps make the program a success. "Our passion for German and the German culture is what unites us, and we want to pass that passion on to our students," says Tricia Fellinger, a teacher and leader of the German excellence program. Another part of the program that makes it so effective is the curriculum. "Outcomes at each instructional level are clearly articulated, and diverse learning styles are respected through varied instructional and assessment techniques,” says Keith Cothrun, executive director of the American Association of Teachers of German.
The students also have the opportunity to study German in college after going through the program, and many of the former students are either studying abroad in Germany or work in Germany. The program sets a solid foundation for students who eventually want to work in jobs that require business or even legal translation work. Fellinger reports that the students "leave our program feeling ready to truly communicate in German and use it for real purposes.”
In order to rationalize the amount of different language translators the European Union needed to translate official documents, they designed a study to find out just what Romanians could understand. The Republic of Moldova is a member of the European Union, but the Moldavian language has only been around since 1990.
This led researchers to attempt to quantify the amount of Romanians who did not understand Moldavian since it was such a new Indo-European language
Romanians Baffle Researches with Supposed Genetic Intelligence
Through the course of the study, a wide demographic from Romania was tested to get the most accurate results possible. They were given Romanian text and asked questions to check their understanding. What they found was shocking, at least to researchers. Their results showed that 95.26 percent of the Romanians they tested understood Moldavian.
The researchers could not understand why so many people understood the new language, but eventually, they gave a theory. They purported that perhaps it was possible that Romanians had genetic intelligence, which gave them a better grasp of foreign language communication. This was the only way they felt the spontaneous intelligence could be explained.
German and Hungarian Minorities Don’t Share the Talent
The researchers also found that 4.74 percent of the population did not share the talent for translation. This group was made up of Hungarians and Germans. They felt this further proved their hypothesis that Romanians held the genetic key. German translation is, therefore, needed for Moldavian documents. German translators are also needed for Romanian documents though because those groups don’t speak that language either.
Whatever reasons the studies seem to point to though, one linguist claimed the researchers did not do their homework and wondered if they needed German Translation services themselves. This is because Moldova used to be part of Romania, and therefore, many Roman people still speak the language. In the end, the expense and effort of the study was all for naught, and Romanians possess no special skill when it comes to translation. They merely share a history with their former countrymen.
Mark Twain is popular in America, mostly because he is an iconic American author, and many Americans have read his books and essays in school. In Germany though, people are still fascinated by Mark Twain solely because of his writings and ideology about America.
Even 103 years after Twain lived in Heidelberg, he is popular with young and old German readers. Like many other countries, Twain’s books have undergone professional translation into dozens of different languages, but German remains one of the most popular after English.
Mark Twain Spent Time in Germany
To escape his growing success and popularity in America, Twain decided to tour Germany for a while so that he could write his next book in peace. A Tramp Abroad detailed the months he spent living in southwestern Heidelberg in 1878. In the book, Twain described the Heidelberg castle and called it “a view which had such a serene and satisfying charm.”
The book is accredited as a compliment to Germany by the German people, even though Twain has been recorded calling German “that awful language.” Visitors to Heidelberg can enjoy a tour of the places Twain frequented to revisit his impressions of the town. The tour is offered in many languages, but the German translation is the most requested.
Twain also lived in Berlin during the 1890’s, and he described the city as being like the Chicago of Germany. His books impressed a lot of Germans because Twain was very critical of America and wasn’t afraid to point out the country’s faults. Twain was also one of the few authors available in communist East Germany. This was because of the social commentary on life in America and because Twain freely criticized the imperialism in the United States.
Recently, Twain’s unfinished book, The Mysterious Stranger, was published in Germany. The professional translator for the book also had a contemporary German artist do illustrations to go along with the novel.
New Twain Film Recently Released in Germany
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was recently made into a children’s movie in Germany, as well. At the end of the show, the director included a clip of Mark Twain talking to one of his characters.
The director says that Twain is often more recognized than his characters in Germany, and he is the first person people recall when they think of American figures. During the movie, some background history had to be given about 19th Century America because not all German children are familiar with the concept of slavery, which is widely referenced in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
Janelle Morgan, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, is one of three teachers to earn the German Embassy Teacher of Excellence Award this year.
The award is given to teachers who demonstrate the ability to impart genuine enthusiasm for the German language and culture to students, and also for implementing modern technological teaching methods in the classroom.
German Excellence Award Given Since 2008
Morgan is a part of the sixth group of recipients since the award was founded in 2008. It is awarded every year by The German Embassy, the Goethe-Institute, and the American Association of Teachers of German. Morgan herself is fluent in the language and is able to provide professional German translation.
She teaches German to sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students at the Milwaukee School of Languages, also called MSL. The school is ranked as the seventh best high school in Wisconsin and is set apart from other schools because they use language as a part of the school’s core curriculum.
“When students have a global perspective and empathy for others different than themselves, it will prepare them for the future,” says Morgan.
Young European jobseekers are trapped by a language barrier in their countries. Places like Spain and Italy are in hard economic depressions, and the ideal situation for many people would be to work in another country. However, many young professionals don’t speak German, and most German jobs don’t provide adequate translation services for out-of-country workers.
It’s getting to the point where working out of the country is the only option for young people to make a living or to start the career they studied for in university, but without the proper language skills, they are out of luck.
English Getting in the Way of Job Hunting
Many of the young job hunters studied English in school, because English is considered the Lingua Franca of the European continent. However, since most of the jobs are coming from Germany, the businesses would prefer their employees to speak German. German translation has not been on many young job hunter’s agendas while they studied in college though, but now they need it to go where the work is.
Maria Mendez is a 25-year-old veterinarian from Spain. She can’t find any work in her country, but she has been able to find many different veterinarian jobs in Germany through the internet. All of the job listings however, say that the applicant must have a good grasp of the German language. Mendez knows Spanish and English, but her German isn’t proficient enough to work in Germany.
German Businesses Not Willing to Compromise on Language
Most of the job sectors in Germany that are hiring people are either in IT, medical, or educational fields, and they require specialized vocabulary in many cases. Because such a specific knowledge of German language is needed for these job fields, many of the people who are highly qualified and would love to work in Germany are unable to. German translation and the German language are often difficult for other parts of Europe to grasp.
They often find the language difficult to understand and memorize. This is perhaps because so many other European languages are Latin-based, and Germany is a West Germanic language and not similar to the other Romantic languages spoken across the continent.
There is a new program being implemented for young professionals to learn German and acquire better jobs though. The main goal of the program is to provide young European job seekers with enough business translation skills in German that they can qualify to apply for jobs in the country. The program will offer scholarships for people to take language classes and is designed for people between the ages of 18 to 35.
In some work fields, there is a deficit of trained employees or employees with university degrees in Germany. Because of the shortage of workers, many German companies have had to look out-of-country to replace the gap in the workforce.
While this tactic seems to be working well, there have been some issues with German translation and language issues in general.
Foreign Employees Work to Improve German Language
For the most part, the employees who are hired from out of the country must have some sort of German language proficiency. However, many businesses are realizing that even though their foreign employees speak German, they don’t always speak it quite well enough to be really productive or efficient.
Some employers have offered business translation workshops, but some German companies, like Teckentrup, have found that their offers do not draw in that many people. Employers have noticed that the majority of their foreign employees don’t like to admit that their German needs a little work.
Teckentrup has found their own solution to this problem though. There are unofficial language representatives in the company, and they usually speak to the management on behalf of a fairly large group of employees who share a common language.
Management has started to petition these representatives to ask the employees to start attending German language workshops, and more people have accepted and begun to learn more in-depth German language that pertains to their specific jobs.
To further help with language barriers that make hiring foreign employees tricky, some companies have started entertainment clubs among the employees like cooking nights or book clubs. Anything to draw more employees into the job force and convince them to learn German well enough to do their job and to do them well.
Integration into the Community
A software development company in Germany called SAP has tried their best to help foreign employees settle comfortably into the community. Not only do they provide language workshops and translation services, but they also help their new employees find a place to live, get to know their neighborhoods, and even where to find the best places to eat and how to get a driver’s license.
Other companies have developed a mentoring system so that a foreign employee always has an emergency contact if they need language help or if they need any kind of assistance in the community.
The Grimm brothers are heralded as the founding fathers of the German language in addition to being the collectors of historical German folklore. What many people may not know about the Grimm brothers is that they published more than just fairy-tales.
They also published works such as The German Dictionary and German Grammar. As German language enthusiasts, the brothers wanted to document as much of the German language as possible because of the political strife that threatened to divide the country and endanger the language during their lives.
Grimm Brothers Unrecognized During Their Lifetimes
The Grimm brothers published many works during their lifetimes, but they remained largely unrecognized and unknown. Their linguistic works were eventually used by German linguists for German translation for a hundred years after their death, and of course, their fairy-tales remain popular to this day.
However, during their lives, the brothers were considered to be rude, obstinate, and purposefully antagonistic towards their peers and other scholars. They seemed only to get along with each other, and they also loved their studies. They worked as librarians, journalists, and eventually as professors.
The brothers were also professional translators for the German language, but they put all their talent into documenting the language instead of making a profit from translation work.
Houston’s German Saturday School was founded in 1986 and has taught hundreds of people to speak German as a second language. The school also offers diplomas in German language after the students have completed and passed a standardized German test.
The goal of the non-profit school isn’t just to teach people to speak German for enrichment though. It’s also to help their students find jobs in German business translation or German legal translation.
Saturday School Credit Is Transferable
The hours and credit earned at Houston’s German Saturday School is also transferable to schools and universities. The children who start learning German and German translation from a young age can use their Saturday school to help them get into language programs at universities, and it can get them on a fast track for language and translation careers as well.
Also, depending on what type of diploma the students get, they can become eligible to study in German universities. The classes offered by the school teach German in any level. People with no prior knowledge all the way up to fluent speakers are able to take classes and learn.
The school also has a wide variety of different students from different backgrounds. One family just had their 17-year-old daughter graduate from the school. Both parents grew up in Texas and attended the University of Texas. Neither speaks a foreign language, but they wanted their daughter to get the experience.
Halla Bearden, their daughter, plans to use her diploma in college and major in linguistics. She has been studying at the school since she was three. Another family has two children in the class, but their family migrated from Ecuador in 2008, and the two children are working on their third language.
Their mother and father speak Spanish, though their father is originally from India, and both children know Spanish and English fluently. In Ecuador, the two teenagers both attended a German school, and since immigrating to the United States, have continued their German education.
Adults Also Welcome to Join Classes
It’s not only children who are invited to join the classes at Houston’s German Saturday School; adults are also allowed to sign up for classes. The adults can use their newly acquired language skills to either go back to school, find new work, or just enjoy being able to speak a new language.
The classes are held for thirty Saturdays out of the year, along with Tuesday evenings for adults who can’t make the Saturday sessions.
Western Germany is facing a crisis: they have a massive deficit in preschool teachers, and until recently, they had no idea where they were going to find so many qualified people to fill the empty positions. However, the debt crisis in Greece has offered a solution to their problems.
Germany has begun recruiting Grecian preschool teachers to move to Western Germany to teach, and many teachers in Greece are grateful for the chance to earn more money in Germany. Though German translation might eventually become a slight problem, many of the preschool teachers Germany has hired know German well enough to get by.
Businesses Have Flourished Through the New Partnership
It’s not only teachers and preschools that have benefited from the new match either. The recruitment agencies have also experienced a business boom. The Axia recruitment agency run by Athanossios Tsokos and his brother have been scouting Greece for the perfect preschool teachers.
The brothers used to focus on recruiting doctors and engineers, but Tsokos says that with the need for preschool teachers so high, they have shifted focus and business is good. One of the recent teachers in Greece he has found is not only university trained – which is not a qualification for Germany’s pre-schools – but she also has a language certificate from the Goethe Institute, making her a professional translator as well as a teacher.
She and another woman are about to start their new careers in Germany, and each will receive a salary of over £3000 a month.