Why on earth would you want to study German at uni?

When new students come to the East Melbourne and German Language Centre, we often ask them why they are learning a new language. Not to test them but just because we are interested.  The most common answer is probably that they have a partner or family member from another country and they want to be able to speak and understand the language. Some even want to move to the other country and for that, they should have some basic knowledge in the language.

After listening to a number of different motivations, I started to think about all of the benefits that I, or any other language learner, can gain from learning a new language. Besides the fact that people can reunite with their families, move to another country or travel the world, some people also start learning German for their work or because they want to make a career out of it. But regardless of the original motivation for learning a language, so many options open up to you, options which I honestly wasn’t even aware of before.

So, I got curious and started talking to the staff here at the language centre. Our directors at the East Melbourne and German Language Centre, Katharina and Carolin, told me a lot about the possibilities that come with teaching German, which was really interesting for me!  There are far more possibilities than I could have imagined. Take Carolin, for example: not only is she now one of the directors at the East Melbourne and German Language Centre, but she has also lived and taught German in many different cities, countries and even continents.

It seems that there is a demand for learning German all over the world, which leads to great career opportunities. Teachers have the chance to travel and see more of the world than in many other jobs at the same time as doing something they love – teaching German!

But not only Germans can teach German. One of our teachers at the East Melbourne and German Language Centre studied German in Australia and is now sharing this experience with her students. I started to become curious about what kind of options Australians have if they would like to do something with their knowledge of German. So, I took the opportunity to find out, by interviewing Francesca, an Australian teacher at the East Melbourne and German Language Centre.

“Why on earth would you want to study German at Uni?” That was a question our German teacher Francesca had to answer a lot. Understandable, you might think. Well, German is a tough language: 16 different forms of “the”, every rule seems to have at least one exception and then there’s those Germans. They are rumoured to be direct, abrupt, unfriendly and worst of all our Aussie sense of sarcasm is completely lost on them. Wow, sounds great doesn’t it? Why would someone voluntarily learn German?

Francesca grew up in Warburton and went to a Steiner school. Being a school that is mostly known to be an independent, nature-connected school with its roots in Austria, it’s not surprising that German was the main foreign-language option. Francesca also did an exchange in Austria. Living in a strict family, forced to speak German in a not-so-relaxed atmosphere, the exchange didn’t actually increase her love of German too much. But despite all this, Francesca is still teaching German at the East Melbourne and German Language Centre. How did that happen?

Well, it happened through university with a detour via philosophy to German philosophy and the inspiration of a mentor’s love of Germany.

Francesca says that at school most people had the image of Germans as being more driven by their brains than their hearts but when she did a university exchange semester in Berlin, studying German and history, she discovered that the Germans are actually much more relaxed, open and fun than expected. Rumor has it they’re also working on their sense of humor. Francesca continued with German and is now doing her PhD in German literature at Monash University. She has also become a very much liked and passionate German teacher at the East Melbourne Language Centre in Victoria Parade, just at the end of multi culti Smith Street.

Why German? Like Francesca you might find opportunities in exciting places, meet interesting new people and have fun along the way. Everyone finds a way to experience the German language and culture differently and this is what makes learning a language so unique. The extremely relaxed, Aussie-style Germans at the GLC are expert teachers and great colleagues and the atmosphere at the centre is filled with other languages too: you can learn Arabic, Russian, Spanish, French, Italian, Mandarin, Indonesian, Japanese and English as a second language or just take part in our social gatherings.