German too difficult/Deutsche Sprache muss besser verkauft werden

In England is Deutsch ein unbeliebtes Abiturfach, im Vergleich etwa zu Spanisch, weil es als zu schwer gilt (Bericht von der Deutsch-Britischen Stiftung).

According to an article in the Guardian, German is studied less at A-level and AS-Level in Britain because it’s seen as too hard (report by Anglo-German Foundation can be downloaded free of charge here, along with other reports including one on the future of work for lawyers in Britain and Germany).

bq. Catherine Watts, one of the authors of the report, called for a review of the content of the German curriculum at both GCSE and post-16 level to make it more appealing. She said: “I think we should promote the German language in a much more positive way. At the moment, it suffers from a gloomy image.”

This reminds me of the 1978 film ‘Deutschland im Herbst’, by Alexander Kluge and ten others. There was a wonderful scene where Hannelore Hoger, playing a school history teacher, was sent to the (real) SPD conference and asked the delegates what they were planning to do to improve German history, because it was not suitable for teaching. (The figure of Gabi Teichert was developed further a year later in Die Patriotin, a scathing review of which from Cambridge MA does not deter me). Deutschland im Herbst has dated, but it’s a brilliant film showing viewpoints on the Rote Armee Fraktion terrorism. There was a little documentary in it that sticks in my mind showing the family of one of those who died in prison being unable to bury their son inside the city wall and having trouble finding a restaurant to hold a funeral reception.

(Thanks to Desbladet)

8 thoughts on “German too difficult/Deutsche Sprache muss besser verkauft werden

  1. I was once shut up in a small space for several hours with the father of an imprisoned RAF terrorist. The man had gone into exile because he got so much hassle from the security services. For some reason I couldn’t bring myself to ask whether he approved of what his son had done.

  2. German IS hard! I studied it for 3 years and was quite relieved to go to University and concentrate on English and Spanish.

    However, thinking back, I think that my attraction for English and Spanish was heavily linked to the countries in which they are spoken. We spent a lot of time in our lessons learning about English and Spanish cultures, their music, their literature, and we had regular opportunities to go to England and Spain. I don’t remember my German teacher spending any time gushing about Germany and my school never organised a trip there.

    I remember ONE instance of my teacher reading us a poem in German, and I thought it was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard, but that’s it… I wonder whether I would have enjoyed learning the language more if my teacher had linked it more to German culture and history, which are undoubtedly fascinating.

  3. All modern langwidge teaching (for schools, at least) seems to be depressing. The central theme is apparently bad sociology delivered (of necessity) in baby-talk.

    I’m hoping, unexpectantly, that the OU can do a bit better.

  4. I agree with Celine & Des.

    However, Spanish can be highly complicated at the upper echelons of the lingo, esp. in legal docs. from all over the Span.-speaking world and compounded by regional differences.

    Also, I’m rattled that my 2 1/2 year-old toddler has picked up more German than me after 3 years to German A-level and 4 of German at Uni.

  5. Just a curiosity: When you use the words “The figure of Gabi Teichert”, is this proper English or a “Deutsch-ism”? (What is the German counterpart of “Anglismus” in English, btw.?). I thought a fictitious person (in German “eine Figur”) is a “character” in English, not a “figure”.

  6. Trevor on his Splog says it has something to do with sun and sand. I’ll have you know 1) I live in the middle of the Sandachse Franken and 2) given the warm summers in recent times, it’s OK here, thank you.
    Céline: I think I would have gone for Spanish if I’d done it first too! I did no homework when I first went to grammar school and was at the bottom of the class except for French and English. In French, I was joint sixth, so as only 6 could go in the top group, I was put in the middle group, and then we had a different teacher every year; and I wasn’t allowed to do Latin but had to do German, and we had a German teacher who’d left in 1938. Why we didn’t do Spanish I don’t know – probably there was only one teacher, but we had French, German and Spanish assistants every year. I did Latin later and found it quite easy after German. I quite like puzzling over German and Latin. I don’t think it is as easy to sell Germany. But I like the Central European region – Vienna tempts me too.
    Oliver: all I can say is that it certainly wasn’t meant to be bad English! No, it’s OK. If you like that kind of thing done deliberately you could look at soon can you get the toddler translating legal documents, or is its (his? her?) English not up to it?

  7. It’s a bit early for my toddler to be interested in legal translation. I’d rather HE didn’t and have a relatively stress-free working life as an adult.

    At the moment he is into normal pursuits, such as demolition or train-spotting. His spoken – and even already reading – English isn’t far behind his German.

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