Herzlich Willkommen to “Secret Benefits to Learning German!”
This is a three-part series on what I think are benefits to learning German that you might not have heard of or thought of yourself.
If you did your homework last week, you’ll have done a short brainstorm on 3-5 benefits to learning German that maybe aren’t the usual ideas. Some of those usual ideas are keeping your brain active, growing as a person when we step outside our comfort zones, or maybe you’ve learned how to see something from someone else’s perspective through learning another language.
Up until now I’ve only shared these ideas with clients, so this is a look behind the curtain…
Secret #1: You double all the possibilities in your life.
You double your opportunites for work, exploring your hobbies, discovering your interests.
Let's take a hobby as an example (because I just recently did this with a client): woodworking.
If you do woodworking, you probably have your favorite resources for learning new techniques and how-tos, where to find tools and discovering interesting projects. How many of those resources do you have? Maybe six? Ten? Twenty?
Have you ever thought about googling woodworking projects in German? Even at a basic level of German you'll be able to figure out which tools they're using to do what and by studying pictures in articles and books, you'll be able to pick up a thing or two.
Let's look at an interest: living green.
To be blunt, the US is far behind Germany when it comes to recycling, conserving energy, home insulation, and many other areas which we refer to as "green." When I lived in Germany it was normal for everybody to take reusable bags to the store. I saw houses being built with walls that had inches of thick insulation. There are very few hot water tanks because most people use on-demand heating. It blew my mind how little garbage I threw away on a weekly basis.
Aufgabe: Go google Küchenmülleimer, click on "images" and look at how small they are. German garbage bins are TINY. US garbage bins are HUGE in comparison.
What words do you already know in German that you could also search for to discover how Germans live with respect for the environment? You can find new ideas for living green on German websites, in German stores when you go visit, and in books you can learn to read. Take those ideas and make them part of your life.
You've just doubled your ways to live green.
Now what about your work life?
If you only speak one language, the chances are that you won't be able to get a job in another country (unless the company language is your native language). If you speak German however, you can become certified at a high enough level to apply for a German work permit. Now you have many, many more chances to work in several different countries: Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, parts of Belgium, parts of the Netherlands, etc. etc. etc.
If you want to work abroad or take a work sabbatical abroad, you've just increased your opportunities. And potentially your earning power. But we'll come to that in another installment of this series.
Basically you can double all the possibilities in your life if you bake, if you ride bike, if you draw, if you race cars, if you hike, if you cook, if you grill, if you garden, if you collect toys, if you collect stamps, if you do paper arts, if you craft, if you sew, if you enjoy fashion, if you like make-up tutorials, if you dance, if you do body building, if you drink coffee, if you drink tea, if you drink artisenal water, if you meditate, if you in fact do anything at all that interests you, you can do it all in German, too.