Why Study German?
You can major or minor in German at BU, study and do an internship in Germany, live in the Deutsches Haus in Boston, and more!
For a list of courses, click here; or see profiles of the faculty you can study with; and for placement/credit information, see here.
15 reasons for learning German
- German has the largest number of native speakers in the European Union (far more than English, Spanish, or French).
- German is among the ten most commonly spoken languages in the world. It is also a lingua franca of Central and Eastern Europe. And as for “all Germans speak English anyway”? That’s myth.
- 92 Nobel Prizes and counting! 22 Nobel Prizes in Physics, 30 in Chemistry, and 25 in Medicine have gone to scientists from the three major German-speaking countries, while many laureates from other countries received their training in German universities. 11 Nobel Prizes in Literature have been awarded to German-language writers, and 7 Germans and Austrians have received the Peace Prize.
- Germans are world leaders in engineering.
- German and English are similar. Many words in German sound or look the same as equivalent English words, because the two languages share the same “grandparent.” For example, look at these words:
Haus = house, Buch = book, Finger = finger, Hand = hand, Name = name, Mutter = mother, schwimmen = to swim, singen = to sing, kommen = to come, blau = blue, alt = old, windig = windy.
- The German-speaking world has produced some of the most revered filmmakers of the 20th century – from Fritz Lang to Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Wim Wenders and a generation of transnational directors such as Tom Tykwer and Fatih Akin. German and Austrian filmmakers such as Lang, Billy Wilder and Ernst Lubitsch also shaped the history of Hollywood.
- German is the language of (take a breath) Arendt, Bach, Beethoven, Bonhoeffer, Brahms, Brecht, Buber, Einstein, Freud, Goethe, Grass, Hegel, Heidegger, Heisenberg, Kafka, Kant, Mahler, Mann, Marx, Mozart, Nietzsche, Planck, Schoenberg, Schubert, Schumann, Wagner, Weber, and hundreds more great philosophers, writers, artists, scientists, and composers. But these days it’s also the language of choice for writers, filmmakers and thinkers from a wide array of cultural backgrounds, such as Yoko Tawada, Zsuzsanna Gahse, Terézia Mora, Michael Stavarič and Melinda Nadj Abonji. German isn’t just for “Germans” any more (but actually it never was).
- German is the second most commonly used scientific language in the world.
- Almost a fifth of the world’s books are published in German, and few of these ever appear in English translation.
- 68% of all Japanese students study German. What do they know that you don’t?
- Many of the Western world’s most important works of philosophy, literature, music, art history, theology, psychology, chemistry, physics, engineering and medicine are written in German and continue to be produced in German.
- Germany is the world’s second-largest exporter.
- The German economy ranks number one in Europe and number four worldwide. Its economy is comparable to that of all the world’s Spanish-speaking countries combined.
- Germany is home to numerous international corporations.
- Direct investment by Germany in the United States is over ten billion dollars.