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How much German should I know until...

i Want to take a trip to Germany but I’m wondering if I should know a certain level of German before I go

January 25, 2018



If you can go to Germany - go! You'll learn by being there. It's obviously easier, the more German you know, but there's no way you'll communicate easily and naturally without a great deal of learning under your belt, which could take years. Why wait?

And there's so much more to experience than just the language - immersion in the culture, the history, the architecture, the people, the cities and countryside. It's a marvelous experience.

Don't be afraid to go because of the language barrier. Younger Germans know a lot of English, and they love to practice on native English speakers. You're likely to find it more difficult to find people who want to listen to your German!

I carried a phrase book with me when in Germany, but I was always too caught up in the moment to haul it out and look up words. Somehow, communication happened, even if it was basic.

I struggled with things like how to buy a train ticket, knowing when my bus stop was coming up and when I should push the button to signal the bus driver, and understanding clerks at checkout counters. But people were almost always willing to help me out. I can't wait for the chance to go back - and I have a LONG way to go before I can communicate well in German!

EDIT: Tourist Information Centers are invaluable - a treasure trove of free maps, sightseeing info, and personal assistance. Most of them really like people who are interested in their town/area and love to answer questions and help out with how to get around, get discounts, etc.


My German teacher told me that the best way to learn is to be around the language. So I believe as long as you know like the first three sections of your tree, you'll be ok. Then again, i'm no expert.


It totally depends on where your trip will take you. If you're in big cities such as Munich / Frankfurt / Berlin, then it's good to know the pleasantries (Hallo, Ich hätte gerne ..., danke, bitte, usw.) but past that,you can get around just fine since most people speak English.

If you're planning on visiting smaller towns, then I'd say you'd want to be at least 1/2 - 2/3rds thru your tree so you can communicate better and feel more confident.

Just keep learning between now and when you travel and I'm sure you'll be fine.


The region you're in makes a difference, too. I was staying with an American who had lived in Bavaria for several years. When we traveled south to the Alps and north to the Dresden area, she had difficulty communicating in German, despite her proficiency, because the dialects and word pronunciation were so different.


Guten tag! (Good day)

I'm in Germany right now and I will be here for a year but my German is terrible and I barely know any of it (currently in the process of learning). Most Germans here know basic English so don't let your language barrier hold you back!

Even just knowing basic German is good. Write down basic phrases for manners, shopping and needs.

It's great to immerse yourself in the culture and language, I believe it really helps with the learning process. If you're more comfortable being around places that are more likely to have English speakers, I would recommend the bigger cities like Berlin, Hamburg, Munich etc...

Have fun, good luck! (Viel Spass, viel Glück!)


Learn to smile and be friendly. This is the most important thing about language.

The rest it totally up to you. Basically everyone has at least a slight understanding of English in Germany (except for police officers or the uneducated 5%).

The major mistake would be focussing too much on grammar and perfection. Germans will like even small efforts of conversing in German. Just be kind and friendly, and all will be great.


One remark to the last point: Germans will like your efforts, but most of them will correct all your mistakes. Don't be offended, they do it with the best intentions.....


learn the whole entire language on duolingo while your in germany so you can learn even more while your there


Thanks a lot for the support, this information helps a lot! Danke!

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