Source: Berlin Partner/FTB-Werbefotografie

Though Canadians are often more aware of the similarities between English and French, both English and German belong to a separate family of Indo-European languages known as Germanic. Their common history is clear when you compare everyday words such as apple (Apfel), make (machen), heart (Herz), mother (Mutter), or father (Vater). Other languages in the Germanic branch include Dutch, Flemish, Afrikaans, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Icelandic, and Yiddish.

German is spoken by 101 million people worldwide (12th most widely spoken language) [1] and is the mother tongue of 18% of the EU population (spoken by 30%) [2]. Among the EU member states, German is a national/official language in Germany, Austria, Belgium, and Luxembourg. In Italy, German is also spoken in the Province of Alto Adige (Südtirol) and is recognised for administrative and educational purposes [3]. The Council of Europe and the European Union both use German as a working language. In Canada, 438 080 people speak German as their mother tongue, making it the third-most-spoken, non-official language in the country after Chinese and Italian [4].

Useful Expressions:

Guten Tag/Grüß Gott (formal)/Hallo (informal)
Auf Wiedersehen (formal)/Tschüss (informal)
How are you?
Wie geht es Ihnen? (formal)/Wie geht’s dir? (informal)
Excuse me
Do you speak English?
Sprechen Sie Englisch?
Thank you
My name is…
Ich heiße… (pronounced: heisse)
I’m from Canada.
Ich komme aus Kanada.
I’m lost. Where is the nearest telephone/train station/hospital?
Ich habe mich verlaufen. Wo ist die nächste Telefonzelle/der nächste Bahnhof/das nächste Krankenhaus?
How much does it cost?
Wie viel kostet es?

Language Resources:

Try out this German dialogue: Die Europäische Union: Ein Modell für Nord Amerika?

Learn German online with BBC (for beginners and intermediates)
LEO English-German/German-English Dictionary
canoonet – Free Online German Language Resources
Goethe-Institute Canada – Canada’s Official German Cultural Centres

Culture auf Deutsch:

  • Looking for your next DVD rental? Visit for a movie guide and reviews of the latest German movies, including Lola rennt (Run Lola Run), Der Untergang (The Downfall), and Goodbye Lenin! Many of these are available in Canadian movie rental outlets.
  • Want to know what music’s hot in Germany? Visit for the Top 100 Chart (in German folks) and check out free videos by popular German artists like Rammstein, Rosenstolz, Rapsoul, Revolverheld, or Tokio Hotel.
  • Curious about the German soccer craze? Visit Deutsche Welle for Bundesliga and World Cup updates in English or German.

[1] Source: Haarmann, Harald: Kleines Lexikon der Sprachen, Beck 2002, 13.
[2] Source: Eurobarometer: Europeans and Languages, Statistical Office of the European Communities in Luxembourg – September 2005.
[3] Source: Gordon, Raymond G., Jr. (ed.), 2005. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Fifteenth edition. Dallas, Tex.: SIL International. Online version:
[4] Source: Statistics Canada, 2001 Census: Population by mother tongue, by province and territory.