Category Archives: facts & news

Facts and news about the German speaking countries

1. Swiss Red Cross celebrates its 150th anniversary

Red Cross celebrates its 150th anniversary this year (2016). This organization was founded in 1866 in Bern.  Its work during all these years was impressive. Their involvement is immense, especially today, thanks to their employees and 70 000 volunteers. Their main goal is helping people in need and achieving more humanity.

2. Good news for the pollution control in Germany

REWE, the second largest grocery supplier in Germany has banned plastic bags from its 130 stores. This means that 140 million plastic begs less per year are going to end in the garbage.


3. Dalai Lama on refugees

People who live better than other should help refugees, said Dalai Lama to Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. On the other hand, there are too many of them, he explained. Europe, for example Germany, should not become an Arabic land. Too many refugees came to Europe which is making the situation very complicated. In his opinion, they should stay in Germany only for a while and then go back to their home lands and help build better societies there. Asked about the rising animosity towards the Islam, he replied that not all Muslims are bad and that there are bad people in all religions. Read the original interview in German here.


4. Future of the high education?

There are 64 million refugees in the world. Two young men from Berlin Vincent Zimmer (26) and Markus Kreissler (26) decided to help them. They have established KIRON – an online university for refugees. In order to study refugees don’t need any diplomas, asyl, home or money. All they need is a smartphone and internet. They need to know English, to pass a enrolling test and write an application letter. KIRON was established one year ago and it have managed to get 3 million euro and 1250 students are already in the program. The princip is simple: at the beginning the studies are conducted completely online. For this purpose KIRON has collected thousands of interactive online lectures (moocs) in English, some of them  from Harvard or MIT. There are economics, computer sciences, engineering and social studies as courses of study. After 2 years, the students start studying on partner universities and finish their studies there. 14 universities in Germany are already on the board including the prestige university in Aachen. It is possible that this is the future of the higher education.


5. German people and work addiction

Anonymous alcoholics, gambling junkies, sex junkies, anorexic people, but “workaholics”? Do they really exist? Is that a joke? Well it’s not a joke. There are anonymous workaholics groups in almost every larger German city. In Berlin they come together on every Tuesday, in Munich and Stuttgart on Thursdays, in Freiburg on every first and third Wednesday in a month, in Cologne on every Saturday, in Frankfurt on every second Tuesday etc. There aren’t any official data about how many people in Germany suffer from work addiction, however there are some assumptions that there are between 200 000 and 300 000 of them. This addiction is not being considered as an illness. However, it can result with depressions, suicidal thoughts and panic attacks which should be treated clinically. The work addiction has all characteristics of any other addiction: workaholics ‘get high’ from work, lose control over work, feel crisis when they don’t work, need to increase the ‘dose’.
Workaholics work a lot, almost nonstop, sometimes 48 hours in a row, they work even over the night and sleep for 2 hours.

Also might be interesting: 16 ways to say money in German


6. Shocking pictures on packets of cigarettes

‘Smoking can be fatal for you, quit immediately’ (“Rauchen ist tödlich hören Sie jetzt auf”) will appear on every packet of cigarettes in Austria starting from May 2016. Furthermore cigarettes and tobacco with different flavours and vitamins plus chewing tobacco will be prohibited. Shoking pictures should scare especially young people off from consuming cigarettes.


7. Vienna on the top of the list of the most desirable cities in the world for the 7th time in a row

Mercer, one of the world’s largest HR consultancy firms, releases annually a list of cities that provide the best quality of life. They looked at 450 cities and here is the result: one third of the most desirable cities in the world are from the German speaking countries, while Vienna took the first place on that list. The ranking: 1. Vienna, 2. Zurich, 4. Munich, 6. Dusseldorf, 7. Frankfurt, 8. Geneva, 13. Berlin, 14. Bern, 18. Hamburg, 25. Nuremberg and Stuttgart. London and New York didn’t make it to the list.  For the whole ranking list and parameters click here.


8. Free WLAN hot-spots in churches

In 220 evangelic churches in the Berlin area people will be able to use free WLAN hot-spots, the so called “Godspots”. Until 2017 it will be available in all 3000 churches and other church buildings.


9. German women and entrepreneurship

It’s hard to believe that only 13% of German companies have been founded by women. There are some efforts to raise this number like the Fempreneur Summit which will take place on June 9th in Berlin.

10. Throw-away fashion

40 % of 5,2 billion pieces of clothing in German wardrobes are never or just seldom being worn. Every eighth person is wearing shoes less than one year. Almost no one repairs their clothing. It became important to follow fashion trends which is why 64 % of 1000 people who took part in this Greenpeace survey throw away many pieces of clothing. One half have never visited a tailor. More than one half of the people aged from 18 to 29 have never had their shoes repaired. 83 % have never exchanged and more than one half have never sold some piece of clothing . This is bad for both the environment and health because hundreds of chemicals which are being used for clothing producing are toxic.

11. Studying in Germany

German universities have changed during last 10 years like never before in their history. The number of students rose dramatically: 2,8 million young people are currently studying in 18 000 courses of study. In 2005 there were only 2 million of them, and back in 1980 only 1 million. Interested in scholarship possibilities? Click here.


12. (Over)producing of renewable energy

Germany is so “green” that it literally pays people to use the renewable energy. This happened on Sunday, May 8, 2016. Thanks to a sunny and windy day, at one point around 1pm the country’s solar, wind, hydro and biomass plants were supplying about 55 GW of the 63 GW being consumed, or 87%. Power prices actually went negative for several hours, meaning commercial customers were being paid to consume electricity.

13. Traffic lights at ground level

Using cell phones in traffic can be very dangerous. This is why the authorities in Augsburg (Bavaria) and Köln (Nordrhein-Westfalen) decided to install traffic lights at ground level. This should prevent that people who are staring at their cell phones step on the tram tracks while it’s red. One survey of pedestrians in six European capitals found that 17 per cent are glued to their screens while walking in the street, rising to a quarter among those aged between 25 and 35. This solution should save lives.


14. German beer gardens

You cannot imagine Germany without the so called “beer gardens”.
The oldest one (since 1813) is in “Augustiner Keller” (in Munich) and the largest one (8000 sitting places) is in “Hirschgarten” (also in Munich). There are over 100 beer gardens in Munich which is the largest number of beer gardens in whole Germany.
Click here to navigate to a photo gallery.


15. German job market

Until 2030 Germany will lack in 5 million workers. This applies to almost all occupations – from highly educated people to skilled and non-skilled workers.

Source: Prognos AG


German inventions

The bellow list of German inventions is ideal for German classes. This topic is definitely going to intrigue the students. They will have 101 reason why you are wrong when you claim that Germans invented telephone, computer or beer. However, the students will still be able to improve their vocabulary with these words.

Here is the list of (some) German inventions:

der Teebeutel – teabag (Adolf Rambold, 1929)

die Glühbirne – light bulb (Heinrich Goebel, 1854)

“Mensch, ärgere dich nicht” (Josef Schmidt, 1907 / 08)

das Telefon (Philipp Reis, 1859)

die Zahnpasta – toothpaste (Ottomar H. von Mayenburg, 1907)

das Fernsehen – television (Manfred von Ardenne, 1930)

die Anti-Baby-Pille (Schering AG, 1961)

das Auto (Karl Benz, Gottlieb Daimler, 1886)

der Computer (Konrad Zuse, 1941)

die Chipkarte (Jürgen Dethloff, Helmut Gröttrup, 1969)

der Kühlschrank ohne FCKW – refrigerator (Firma Foron, 1993)

die Currywurst (Herta Heuwer, 1949)

das MP3-Format (Fraunhofer Institut, 1987)

das Bier – beer (Herzog Wilhelm IV, von Bayern, 1516)

der Buchdruck – letterpress (Johannes Gutenberg, 1440)

der Hubschrauber – helicopter (Heinrich Focke, 1936)

die Jeans (Lewi Strauss, 1873)

der Motorrad – motorcycle (Gottlieb Daimler, 1885)

der Plattenspieler – record player (Emil Berliner, 1887)

die Straßenbahn – tramway (Werner von Siemens, 1881)

die Thermosflasche (Reinhold Burger, 1903)

der Dieselmotor (Rudolf Diesel, 1890)

der Gummibär (Hans Riegel, 1922)

Source: Tatsachen über Deutschland (Societäts-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, in Zusammenarbeit mit dem Auswärtigen Amt, Berlin)

For TEACHERS: If you have no idea how you could go through this topic with your students, click here: CREATE YOUR OWN EXERCISES

There is a PDF file with detailed information in German provided by Partner fur Innovation and it can be downloaded here. A shorter version of this document can be found here.

When I was looking for the above document in the Internet, I stumbled upon a card game that can be useful here. The cards can be downloaded here.

There is also a quiz provided by Goethe Institute and you can access it here.

Did you know?

Native German speakers also make mistakes

They put the verb in wrong position when using it in “weil”-sentences. The solution is simple: they should use “denn” instead of “weil”.  This is a good advice for the learners too.

This is a common mistake in spoken language among German native speakers. No German would make this mistake in written. Researchers Gerard Kempen und Karin Harbusch have analysed talks of 1000 adults and filtered causal clauses out. They found out that in 34 % cases – the verb was in the wrong position, in 39 % in the correct position and 27 % used “denn” or “da” insted of “weil” which prevented them from making the mistake. The main reason for this is that speakers do not have enough time to plan the sentence ahead or they just don’t know how the sentence will end. The researchers of the Max Plank Institut say that normally speakers make the decision to add a causal sentence too late which why they do not have enough time to build it correctly. In order to avoid this mistake, researches advise that you try using “denn” instead of “weil”.

Source: Max-Planck-Institut für Psycholinguistik

18 different ways to say “Geld” in German

Kohle (coal), Mäuse (mice), Knete (dough), Kröten (frogs), Kies (grit), Moos (moss), Marie, Zaster, Flöhe (fleas), Pinkepinke (cha-ching), Pulver (powder), Lappen (rags), Piepen, Koks, Schotter (broken rocks), Rubel, Riesen (giants), Flocken (flakes). For detailed explanations click here.


German is the 3. most spoken foreign language in the EU

English is the most spoken foreign language in the EU, while French is on the 2. place and German in on the 3. place:

  1. English (38 %)
  2. French (12 %)
  3. German (11 %)
  4. Spanish (7 %)
  5. Russian (5 %)

German is the most spoken language after English in: Poland, Sweden, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark and Hungary (gray area on the bellow map -> click on the map to see it better).



“Huawahoasi!!” (= auf BayrischIch: “ich heiße Hueber”)

Sometimes we write “ue” instead of “ü” when we want to avoid using Umlaut (for example, if we are using English keyboard).  However, the last name “Hueber” which is the name of the large German publishing house whose text books for learning German we all use, should be pronounced as “Huber”. An anecdote about this can be read here.


American “super speller” need to know German words

“Gesellschaft” (“companionship” or “society”) was one of the two winning words in this year’s National Spelling Bee in America which was held on May 26, 2016. The winning words spelled by each contestant were “Gesellschaft “and “Feldenkrais”. Of course, “Gesellschaft is a word which was borrowed directly from the German. This is not the first time that one German word appeared in the final round of this competition. Previously that were: “Ursprache”, “Weltschmerz” and “Heiligenschein”.


5 German verbs (Source:

You don’t have to know the foreign language perfectly in order to use it in a conversation. You don’t even have to know every word. You actually need 5 verbs in order to communicate in German: sein, müssen, wollen, können and machen: Was machst du? Ich mache gerne Sport. Ich bin Arzt. Wie ist es in Deutschland? Ich bin gerade Suppe essen. Read more about it here.


How do we learn?

10 % through the formal material provided in classes; 70 % through interaction with other people; 20 % in informal learning contexts.


German language in numbers

132 million people are native German speakers, while 14,5 millions learn German as a foreign language across the globe.

Here are some statistical data for you to get the whole picture:

Native speakers:

  1. Chinese: 1, 39 billion people
  2. Hindi-Urdu: 588 million people
  3. English: 527 million people
  4. Arabian: 467 million people
  5. Spanish: 389 million people
  6. Bengali: 250 million people
  7. Russian: 254 million people
  8.  Portuguese: 193 million people
  9. German: 132 million people
  10. Japanese: 123 million people
  11. French: 118 million people
  12. Italian: 67 million people

Learners across the globe:

  1. English: 1,5 billion people
  2. French: 82 million people
  3. Chinese: 30 million people
  4. German: 14, 5 million people
  5. Spanish: 14, 5 million people
  6. italian: 8 million people
  7. Japanese: 3 million people

Sources: Ulrich Ammon, University of Düsseldorf; Population Reference Bureau


14 ways to say “hard work” in German

You can say “hard work” in German in 14 different ways: ackern, sich abplagen, sich abarbeiten, ein hartes Stück Arbeit, im Akkord arbeiten, Knochenarbeit, malochen, Rackerei, Schufterei, schweißtreibende Arbeit, Strapaze, Stress, Überbelastung, große Beanspruchung