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German as a foreign language

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German as a foreign language

Knowledge of German as a foreign language in the EU member states (+Turkey), in per cent of the adult population (+15), 2005.
Like French and Spanish, German has become a classic second foreign language in the western world, as English (Spanish in the US) is well established as the first foreign language.[3][70] German ranks second (after English) among the best known foreign languages in the EU (on a par with French)[3] as well as in Russia.[71] In terms of student numbers across all levels of education, German ranks third in the EU (after English and French)[38] as well as in the United States (after Spanish and French).[11][72] In 2015, approximately 15.4 million people were in the process of learning German across all levels of education worldwide.[70] As this number remained relatively stable since 2005 (± 1 million), roughly 75–100 million people able to communicate in German as foreign language can be inferred assuming an average course duration of three years and other estimated parameters.[2] According to a 2012 survey, 47 million people within the EU (i.e., up to two thirds of the 75–100 million worldwide) claimed to have sufficient German skills to have a conversation. Within the EU, not counting countries where it is an official language, German as a foreign language is most popular in Eastern and Northern Europe, namely the Czech Republic, Croatia, Denmark, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Sweden and Poland.[3][38] German was once and, to some extent, is still, a lingua franca in those parts of Europe.[73]

Standard German
Main article: Standard German
Standard German originated not as a traditional dialect of a specific region but as a written language. However, there are places where the traditional regional dialects have been replaced by new vernaculars based on standard German; that is the case in large stretches of Northern Germany but also in major cities in other parts of the country. It is important to note, however, that the colloquial standard German differs greatly from the formal written language, especially in grammar and syntax, in which it has been influenced by dialectal speech.

Standard German differs regionally between German-speaking countries in vocabulary and some instances of pronunciation and even grammar and orthography. This variation must not be confused with the variation of local dialects. Even though the regional varieties of standard German are only somewhat influenced by the local dialects, they are very distinct. German is thus considered a pluricentric language.

In most regions, the speakers use a continuum from more dialectal varieties to more standard varieties according to circumstances.

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