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Speaking the Language

Germany - Speaking the Language

German is the official language of Germany and over 95% of the population speak German as their first language. German uses the Latin alphabet and is one of the official languages of the European Union and one of the working languages of the European Commission.

In addition to German, there are several minority languages recognised in Germany – Frisian (spoken by 0.01% of the population), Romani (spoken by 0.08% of the population) and Sorbian (spoken by 0.09% of the population). Danish is also a protected minority language in Germany and is spoken by 0.06% of the population, mainly around the border with Denmark. Germany has a large number of foreign nationals living within its borders, speaking their own native languages. Most notably, 1.8% of the population speaks Turkish and 0.3% of the population speaks Kurdish. As well as minority and foreign languages, there are many local dialects of German spoken throughout the country.

English is taught in most schools in Germany meaning that the English language is widely spoken amongst the German population, at least to a basic level. Germans are very highly educated and 25% of the population speak two or more foreign languages. It is common to find multiple languages being spoken in the workplace in Germany; this will normally be dependent on where the company’s customers are based as it is common in Germany to be expected to speak to customers in their native language whenever possible. Frequently offices and businesses will trade in both German and English although you will normally need a moderate level of German to find employment in Germany. A formal level of language is expected in the workplace in Germany and it is important to always address colleagues as politely as possible and never address managers or seniors by their first name. Your employer may consider funding a German language course therefore it is recommended to look into this option and ask your employer for their advice.

German language courses are easily accessible throughout the world and it is normally possible to learn German before you enter the country, including specialist courses such as business German. The Goethe Institute is an internationally renowned German language service provider and is part of the official cultural institute of the Federal Republic of Germany. The Goethe Institute offers German language courses across the globe, as well as online courses. Please see below for contact details:

German language and cultural services
Tel: +49 89 15921-0
Email: info@goethe.de

As many German nationals speak English to a good level, native English speakers are not in high demand in Germany. It is advisable instead to research fields of employment where there is high demand, such as engineering, where the focus is on your professional skills and experience, rather than your native language. If however you’re keen to find a way to earn money from your English language abilities then your best bet may be to look into teaching English at one of Germany’s language schools.

English language television programming is rare in Germany and if it does exist it will normally be dubbed into German. To access English language programmes you will require satellite, cable or internet television. Satellite television will give you the most English language options, with potential access to hundreds of English language programmes. The Astra 2 satellite in Germany provides access to the full range of BBC channels, as well as the other most popular British channels such as ITV, and SKY. Cable television can provide between 10 and 20 English language channels, or you may choose to connect your television set to a computer for internet based services. If this is the case, you may need an international proxy service in order to access geographically-specific services such as BBC iPlayer. You should also bear in mind that if you are moving to Germany from North America your television may not work at all in Germany due to different broadcasting systems. You may need to purchase a PAL/multi-system television or a PAL/NTSC converter in order to get your television working, although a converter shouldn’t be too expensive or difficult to install. It may be possible to access English language radio stations within Germany but this cannot be guaranteed.

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Expat Health Insurance Partners


Our award-winning expatriate business provides health benefits to more than 650,000 members worldwide. In addition, we have helped develop world-class health systems for governments, corporations and providers around the world. We want to be the global leader in delivering world-class health solutions, making quality health care more accessible and empowering people to live healthier lives.

AXA - Global Healthcare

As the global healthcare specialists for AXA, the world’s number one insurance brand, we can help you get fast access to expert medical care, whenever and wherever you need it. All our plans include evacuation and repatriation, a second medical opinion service and extra support from a dedicated case manager if you’re diagnosed with cancer. You’ll also have 24/7 support from our caring multilingual team - we’ll always remember you’re a person, not a case number.

Bupa Global

At Bupa we have been helping individuals and families live longer, healthier, happier lives for over 60 years. We are trusted by expats in 190 different countries and have links with healthcare organisations throughout the world. So whether you're moving abroad for a change of career or a change of scene, with our international private health insurance you will always be in safe hands.


Cigna has worked in international health insurance for more than 30 years. Today, Cigna has over 71 million customer relationships around the world. Looking after them is an international workforce of 31,000 people, plus a network of over 1 million hospitals, physicians, clinics and health and wellness specialists worldwide, meaning you have easy access to treatment.