German is an important language internationally and within Australia. It is recognised as a ‘world’ language of culture, music, theology, philosophy, as well as a key language in the fields of science, medicine, economics and technology. Germany is also a world leader in the development of environmental protection policies.
German-speaking countries in Europe are strong international leaders in trade, commerce and politics. As the most powerful industrial nation in the European Union, Germany is part of Australia’s largest single trading partner, and German is the major commercial language in Eastern Europe. German-speaking countries are major investors in Australian companies, and German companies have established regional offices in Australia, and particularly in the Adelaide hills around Hahndorf and the Barossa region of South Australia.
Understanding the German language and culture is a key to interacting effectively with German speakers and also provides a clearer understanding of the traditions, beliefs, attitudes and values of German speakers. In Europe alone 100 million people speak German as their first language; a further 40 million speak it as a second language, particularly in Eastern Europe, Latin America, Indonesia, Japan and China.
The ability to communicate in German, in conjunction with other skills, may increase students’ vocational opportunities in areas such as tourism and hospitality, international finance and commerce, diplomacy, science and technology, translation and interpreting, and in the wine and beer industries.