The importance of the German language in German-speaking Europe

Authors: Lucas Migray / Sandra Santos

The countries in the German-speaking Europe (Germany, Austria and Switzerland) are known for the fact that their inhabitants have good English skills. In fact, as a tourist you can get well around speaking only English. But what about the world of work? Today’s post is based on the experience of people we know or their acquaintances.

Although English is spoken by almost everyone in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, it doesn’t mean you can live in these countries without knowing German (except for Switzerland, where many companies do offer jobs only expecting you to speak English and a part of the public life can happen in English).

But even in you are planning to look for a job in Switzerland, the truth is that life gets more complicated without German, starting with the bureaucracy. In the Foreigners’ Office, for example, only German is spoken. The letters from local offices you get are all in German.

Even in the supermarkets and bakeries you need German to get along. At the train stations (again, except for Switzerland) you hear the statements only in German, also in the buses. We think you understand what we mean.

Even in the companies, when you sit with your colleagues in the lunch break, everyone talks in German. You can indeed say something in English: everyone will understand it and answer shortly before they dive back into German. In a way, it is taken for granted: someone whose native language is German can, in theory, express himself better in German than in any other language. Life in these three countries may be quite international, but nevertheless the consumption of German is deeply rooted, and unlike the Netherlands, where almost all universities teach in English, this is an exception in Germany.

The reason why Switzerland is an exception in this rule is that Swiss people grow speaking many languages: they speak Swiss German and learn High German (for them a foreign language). Most of them will speak also English, French or Italian. There is even a part of Switzerland where one speaks Romansh, a language spoken predominantly in the southeastern Swiss canton of Grisons (Graubünden). In fact, Switzerland has four national languages: German, French, Italian and Romansh.

Getting back to German, a reason why it’s really worth to learn it, even if you are in the German-speaking part of Switzerland, is the feeling of being at home: if you know a language, you tend to create a bond with the country where the language is spoken. In other words, if you know German, you are not only halfway to integration, you also feel an invisible connection to the place where you live. If you know German, you get closer to the locals. You start to understand the reasons for people’s thoughts and actions and begin to see things from a different perspective.

Learning a new language is not only a good idea when it comes to your CV, but also for your brain. There are many further advantages you should consider:

  • You will expand your brain capabilities
  • You will have better memory
  • You will become more flexible, considering further aspects in your day-to-day life
  • You will have better listening skills
  • You will increase your verbal and non-verbal skills
  • Your attention (to details) will increase
  • You will be better at multitasking
  • You will be more creative
  • You will increase the sources to learn and expand your reality

In a constantly changing world, you must never stop learning.

Beliefs

Have you ever heard about that say:

“If you believe you can do something, or if you believe you can’t, you’re always right.”

It’s always you who takes the final decision, isn’t it?

The same applies for a job search situation. Many people, especially women, only apply for a job if they are able to fulfill all the expectations listed on the job add. But just because you don’t have all of the qualifications doesn’t mean you shouldn’t apply for a job.

There are many ways how you could understand this a bit better:

  1. Many times, managers are trying to put a non-existent combination of attributes when looking for a new employee, as wish-thinking could give them the idea that they should aim for the impossible to get a good possible option.
  2. Sometimes the issue is the job add itself. There is no clarity on what is a must expectation and what is rather a “nice to be”.
  3. The second part is in you. If you have everything listed on the job add, how are you going to grow and develop. There should also be a learning curve for you in a new challenge!

This is why I can only advise: go ahead and give it a try. Talking to real people and being interviewed you might find out that the job is even much more interesting and closer to your values that you thought before. You might get so excited about a topic that you want to learn everything about it. Life is about learning, isn’t it?

Work in a city with quality of life – is that possible?

by Lucas Migray – columnist

Last week I already talked about the best cities to live and work. But good job opportunities are not everything. Quality of life in a city also plays an important role in the decision to accept a job offer or not. 

In the past, life in big cities was not particularly good. After the Industrial Revolution, many people moved to the cities because they had more opportunities to get a job in the factories. But the cities were dirty, with plenty of smoke and disease. Only with the Belle Epoque in France did this trend change. 

Not only the cities became more beautiful, but also the working conditions became better over the years. Therefore, the quality of life also increased. Especially in Europe, great importance is attached to cities that are worth living in. It is therefore not surprising that European spots dominate the quality of life rankings. 

Every year, the well-known consulting firm Mercer publishes a report naming the most livable cities in the world. In 2019, eight European cities have made it into the top 10, with six of them located in German-speaking countries. 

1st place: Vienna, Austria

2nd place: Zurich, Switzerland

3rd place: Auckland, New Zealand/Munich, Germany/Vancouver, Canada

6th place: Düsseldorf, Germany

7th place: Frankfurt, Germany

8th place: Copenhagen, Denmark

9th place: Geneva, Switzerland

10th place: Basel, Switzerland

Although we already took a look at the city of Munich last week, I would like to take Munich as an example again today. So what is so special about Munich?

Liveable cities score points not only with clean air. They offer security, freedom and infrastructure.  Although all German cities score highly on safety, Munich is the safest city in Germany with over a million inhabitants. 

 “Crime rates are low, law enforcement is efficient, and social and political conditions are stable,” explains Mercer expert Ulrike Hellenkamp.  “In addition, Munich offers an excellent range of international schools, a good urban infrastructure and a wide variety of leisure activities – an aspect that exerts a strong attraction on younger expatriates.”

He goes on to say:

“Munich has made great efforts in recent years to attract talent and companies, for example by continuously investing in high-tech infrastructure. Another focus has been the promotion of cultural institutions. These steps have led to the capital of Bavaria moving up to third place in the overall ranking”.

Munich has been moving in an upward spiral for decades: many companies are settling in the state capital and the surrounding area. As a result, almost every school leaver has a perspective for training and employment. Prosperity contributes to people’s sense of security and the income from trade tax allows for a steady expansion of the infrastructure. These in turn are factors that attract companies. 

Source: Unsplash

Sources:

https://www.mercer.de/newsroom/quality-of-living-2019.html

https://www.bpb.de/politik/innenpolitik/stadt-und-gesellschaft/216894/geschichte-der-stadtentwicklung

https://www.faz.net/aktuell/gesellschaft/kriminalitaet/muenchner-polizeipraesident-warum-die-stadt-so-sicher-ist-16121054.html

https://www.sueddeutsche.de/muenchen/muenchen-kriminalitaet-rueckgang-gruende-1.4940474

Lost in Translation

Did you know that artificial intelligence is already attending our translation needs? For some weeks ago, I was introduced by my sister to DEEPL and since then the world became even closer.

There are about 10 languages included and I could imagine that some others might be on the way!

Please go ahead and give it a try! I promise that you will not be disappointed, also not for those languages you think you don’t help for translations.

Some insights for the Post-Pandemic World

Invention of World Wide Web

“Invention of World Wide Web” by nunecoe is licensed under CC PDM 1.0

The world has already changed a lot since the last months under pandemia and will be changing even more in the next months. Prior to the coronavirus many companies and many people spent a huge amount of time on discussing topics such as remote work and if there could be a basis of trust high enough to accept people working at home, at least sometimes. The crisis has changed the world upside down and companies who were not already flexible enough with their peers, had to accept change in a rather absurdly rapid path. Here are some insights on what the current changes might mean for you, being involved in an international career search or aspiring for it:

  • Companies might be offering lower benefit packages and might be delaying hirings as they want to be cautions and make sure they can spare some active capital in the current difficult times
  • Some companies might decide to have less physical buildings and to offer more remote work / home office, reducing costs and improving flexibility
  • Lay off scenarios and the necessity of reacting to changing customer expectations and demand might make the job search even a bit (or much) more difficult
  • Re-opening offices will be involved with the “new normal” (home office rotation, health & safety measures, reduce work and meeting space due to social distancing, etc.)
  • So called feminine leadership competencies such as empathy, being able to understand people and react to their needs might be requested even more due to the difficulties caused by a long lasting stress situation during pandemia
  • The need to be able to express capabilities and talents in a post-pandemic world while looking for a job is even higher, as companies will tend to look for low-risk candidates
  • Due to all described above, many job searchers might be demotivated and might decide to stop looking for a job opportunity. But… after pandemic, there might be even more unemployed people. The right timing to look for a job opportunity is…. NOW!

Cities of Opportunities

by Lucas Migray – our brand new columnist!

In a rapidly developing world, cities need to reinvent and modernise themselves in order to remain relevant and attract qualified staff. According to the “law of globalisation”, only innovative cities have a future. At the so-called “war of talents”, cities fight for talented people. Therefore cities invest more and more in infrastructure, networking, innovation, education and leisure.

The “Cities of Opportunity” ranking is published by the firm Movinga after intensive analysis. Are you curious about the result? German (and European) cities are doing pretty well. Seven out of 10 cities are located in Europe!

Top ten – The best cities to work in the world:

1. Boston (United States)

2 Munich (Germany)

3 Calgary (Canada)

4 Hamburg (Germany)

5 Stuttgart (Germany)

6 London (Great Britain)

7 Singapore (Singapore)

8 Oslo (Norway)

9 Frankfurt (Germany)

10 Edinburgh (United Kingdom)

Let’s take a closer look at Munich.

http://<a title=”Thomas Wolf, www.foto-tw.de / CC BY-SA 3.0 DE (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en)” href=”https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Stadtbild_M%C3%BCnchen.jpg”><img width=”512″ alt=”Stadtbild München” src=”https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d3/Stadtbild_M%C3%BCnchen.jpg/512px-Stadtbild_M%C3%BCnchen.jpg”></a>

The Bavarian capital is currently experiencing strong economic and population growth. The city is strong when it comes to biotech and IT. This is where Allianz, Siemens, is located, Infineon and BMW – four DAX companies. Therefore, expenditure on innovation and networking is particularly high.

The British Guardian has therefore already christened the Bavarian capital “Europe’s Silicon Valley” – nowhere is the rate of technology patents per inhabitant higher than here.

However, this growth places high demands on the city’s land management. The Werksviertel near Munich’s Ostbahnhof station is a current example of this.

According to local media, around 1.5 billion euros will be invested in the conversion of the plant quarter and after completion, around 3,000 inhabitants will use the plant district as a House.

A number of remarkable office developments are also part of the project and could attract more than 12,500 employees to Munich. The mixed-use quarter offers shopping facilities as well as leisure, sports and Cultural facilities, including cinemas and a new concert hall.

Especially for engineers (think of BMW, Siemens and Co.), managers and consultants Munich is attractive, the lively start-up scene, large media groups, the strong But the science location and the booming tourism also offer a lot more in other areas great odds.

By the way, the Bavarian state capital has been leading all rankings for years in terms of quality of life and the Munich metropolitan area is known to be one of the strongest Germany’s economic engine.

Sources and reading recommendations:

Europas innovativste Städte: Berlin und München in Top 10

https://www.boerse-online.de/nachrichten/meinungen/nur-innovative-staedte-haben-zukunft-1028330617

https://www.immobilienmanager.de/das-sind-die-zukunftsfaehigsten-staedte-in-europa/150/61463/

https://www.jobteaser.com/en/advices/152-die-5-besten-deutschen-staedte-fuer-euren-karrierestart

https://www.finanzen100.de/finanznachrichten/wirtschaft/deutschland-dreimal-dabei-das-sind-die-19-high-tech-staedte-der-welt_H346652620_297535/

Pure Gratitude

An enormous feeling of gratitude, like that one which almost lets your heart explode inside your chest, is what I feel at the moment when I go back to the questionnaire I did a few weeks ago and check the results!

When I prepared this questionnaire, I received help from all sides, but on the other hand some people asked me how much I would invest to get answers and some said that the questionnaire had become too long (which is true) and that they were afraid that many would open the file but would not complete all the questions.

The end result is that 121 (!) people contributed to a very extensive survey, which will enable me to assess even better the desires and expectations of those seeking a job abroad, more specifically in Europe. And out of these 121 people, 72 left their e-mail address to be informed about the Connexx project and to participate in a book draw.

I just made the draw (using a random number generator)… and the winner is…

Kaka Furst!

As I don’t know if she is someone who speaks Portuguese, I just sent an e-mail in English offering one or two of my signed books or a book of her choice for 20 euros, in case the person doesn’t speak Portuguese.

If you should know who she is, please tell her to take a look at her mailbox!

I would like to once again leave a big thank you to everyone who participated. A project cannot go ahead if many people don’t give their share of contribution. And in Connexx’s case, I can see that I’ve received a lot of support! Therefore, I feel pure gratitude!!!