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Archive for the 'German Culture' Category

New German Resources Corner

Hi there listener,

When students start learning German, a ton of questions start popping into their brains like…

“How’d the German language come to be?”
“What are the top 100 German words I should know?”
“What’s the deal with this crazy grammar?”
“Where’s a good dictionary when you need one?”

You’ve got questions; we’ve got answers.

You’ll find them and a lot more at the newly redesigned German Resources Corner. It covers everything from language origins, the writing system, grammar, and must-know vocabulary down to extras like mobile apps and the dictionary. Best of all, you get access to FREE resources like:

  • About the German Language
  • German Pronunciation
  • Introduction to Grammar
  • German Dictionary
  • 100 Most Common Words
  • …and more!
  • The German Resources Corner is a master list of everything you’ll need to know about German. Jump in, master the basics of reading, writing, and grammar, and reinforce the material you learn from Audio and Video lessons.

    Click Here To Visit The German Resources Section!

    German Soccer

    Soccer is the most important sport in Germany. More than six million members are organized in the German Football Association (DFB). In addition there are about four million people who play soccer in hobby teams on a regular basis.


    In 2006 the soccer fever in the country reached a new dimension. The FIFA World Cup put Germany into a state of emergency. Houses and cars were decorated with flags. Even in companies television sets were installed, so that the employees did not miss a match of the national soccer team. Emotional higlights during that period were the fan parties. Thousands of people watched the matches together on huge screens and partied with the visitors from all over the world. The atmosphere was wild and peaceful. Also the weather contributed to the fantastic atmosphere. During the whole tournament there was perfect summer weather.


    Hopefully this party will be continued in 2011. Then Germany will host the Women’s Soccer World Cup. Of course the German women will try to defend their actual world champion trophy in their own country.

    Compared to the USA, women’s soccer still plays a minor role in Germany. There is an average of 800 to 1,000 onlookers at league matches. But the situation is slowly changing. Because of the two championship victories in the last World Cups, the regard is constantly increasing. In 2007 more than 20,000 excited people bid their welcome to the successful team in Frankfurt. With a total of eight championship victories at international tournaments, the women soccer team is even more successful than its male counterpart.

    Now you understand the importance of Soccer in German society! Next time you play the sport, you will have these key elements in mind!


    The picture of the beer drinking Germans is well used abroad. Indeed the cliche of a nation of beer drinkers is based on real facts. With a consumption of more than 110 liters per head Germany holds the second position in Europe. Only Czech people drink more.
    But not only the consumption of beer in Germany is high, but also is the assortment of different kinds. Estimations say there are more than 5000 different beers.

    Of course you won’t find all of them on the shelves in the supermarkets. Many beers come from small breweries which sell their products regional or direct to the customers. Nevertheless there is an impressive assortment in a German drinks cash-and-carry. In addition to regional and national kinds of beer you will find many international ones. Popular brands are for example Miller and Heineken. With this huge number of beers it is not easy to keep track of all of them.

    The most important national kinds are pilsner, wheat beer, lager, dark beer and bock beer. In addition there are regional beers like “Alt” from the Niederrhein, “Kölsch” from Cologne and “Berliner Weiße” from Berlin. Some regional kinds of beer have loyal devotees. In the region between the big cities Düsseldorf and Cologne people are friendly arguing on the topic who enjoys the more tastefull beer. People from Düsseldorf swear by their “Alt”, people from Cologne defend their “Kölsch” emphatically. A special position on the beer market is held by the federal state of Bavaria. More than 50 percent of all German breweries are located here. Nearly every hamlet has its own small brewery.


     Ratingen is located in immediate proximity to Düsseldorf. With more than 90,000 inhabitants the town is middle-sized. People who like being outside in nature, can explore the woods which surround Ratingen. There are many paths for walkers, bikers and people on horseback. Furthermore the recreation parc “Green Lake” and the open air theatre at the “Blue Lake” are popular destinations.The centre of Ratingen is the townplace with its fountain and the surrounding old houses. Three times a week it is market day. 

    Then it is possible to buy meat, cheese and flowers here. Extremely favored are fresh vegetables and fruits, which are mainly grown on farms in the Ratingen’s environment. In combination with “St. Peter and Paul”, the old church, the marketplace is a nice setting for many city festivals. A special experience is a summer evenig at the market place. If the weather is fine, it is barely possible to get a seat in one of the beer gardens. Nearly every chair is occupied, normally until 11 p.m. No wonder – the atmosphere ist fantastic. 
    It is best, when the sinking sun baths the historical buildings at the market place in a golden light. Ratingen is an old town. A settlement of that name was first mentioned in the 9th century. In 1276 the settlement gained its town charter. Shortly after that the construction of the city wall begun. Until today three towers and some other parts of the fortification survive. 

    On a trip to Ratingen you should not miss it. You will get an extremly good impression of the fortification and its construction at the “Big Tower”. In addition to the city wall you can see parts of the city moat there. Ratingen is located between three freeways. There is no place in the city from where one needs more than 15 minutes to reach a freeway entrance ramp. Furthermore the train connections to Essen and Düsseldorf are good and the airport in Düsseldorf can be reached in just a few minutes. Because of its good travel connections and the proximity to Düsseldorf Ratingen’s economically growth is good. Since local business taxes are less high than in other areas many companys from sunrise industries are moving to Ratingen.

    To Live and Work in Germany, You Have to Start Here!

    Every country and culture has their own unique way of defining what is proper behavior when meeting someone new. In Germany, you may have seen that people sometimes hug of exchange kisses on the cheek, like the French do. However, it is a recent trend, as  only young people will get as close as that. As a rule of thumb, most Germans will shake hands while bowing their heads a little, kind of like a nod.

    Another thing to be taken into consideration when greeting someone, is also the rank of the person. The older or higher-ranking person should offer his hand first. If you offer your hand to somebody ranking higher than you, a few will even snub it, but fortunately they are the minority. Of course, a general cultural rule is sometime not followed even by the natives in some cases, and being a foreigner might give you a bit of leeway, but in the case of , especially, a professional work environment, we recommend that you keep in mind the general customs, as first impressions are very important.
    Germans are known to observe the rules (in particular the uneducated may not), please try to observe etiquette when in Germany, as that will definitely help your career in Germany. We are sure that people will take into account your manners and you will be much more appreciated for your courtesy.

    Also, it is quite important you don’t forget to bow your head a little when shaking hands. If If you keeping looking straight ahead,
    people will instinctively perceive you as arrogant. And we sure don’t want you to give the wrong impression!

    Is Your Coffee as Strong as Your German Apologies?

    Is Your Coffee as Strong as Your German Apologies?

    One of the most important things to learn about a language, aside from introductions, is how to apologize in case you find yourself in the unfortunate situation that you need to do so.
    In the case of German, the most general word of apology is “Entschuldigung“. This literally means “apology“, and
    it’s used in most situations:

    • when you’ve accidentally done something bad
    • when you want somebody’s attention
    • when you want people to make room

    Keep in mind though, that you should not use it when somebody tells some sad news about themselves, because that is not something you
    should apologize for – unless you had any stake in it.

    If you need something stronger than “Entschuldigung”, use “Es tut mir leid“ (literally translates to ‘ it does me
    harm’ ).
    And you can make it even stronger by adding an adverb before the “ - leid”.
    For example,

    Es tut mir wirklich leid. - I’m really sorry.
    Es tut mir sehr leid. - I’m very sorry.

    And what to do in case that a friend is the one that is apologizing to you? In this case, the words used to accept an apology informally are:
    Es ist (schon) okay. - It’s okay (now).
    Kein Problem. - No problem.

    Will Kamp-Linfort be saved?

    Kamp-Linfort is a small town between Duisburg and the Netherlands, about 40 minutes from Düsseldorf, with an interesting past dating to more than 800 years ago. Nowadays, about 60,000 people live here, and they sure love their small town, offering both nature and the benefits of the big cities.

    The name‘Kamp-Lintfort’ indicates the names of the two original settlements that formed it: ‘Kamp’ and ‘Lintfort’.

    ‘Kamp’ was a settlement that succesfully evolved around a French monastery, encouraging the founding of more monasteries, as these ended up extending up to the Baltic states. However, In 1802, Napoleon occupied Kamp and dissolved the monateries.
    Today, however a few monks are living there again, and the monastery has become a tourist attraction, with its beautiful abbey and terrace garden; which is said to have been the inspiration for Sanssouci, the former summer palace of Frederick the Great, King of Prussia.

    Quite differently, ‘Lintfort’ evolved around the mine Friedrich-Heinrich, which built most of the houses there (and to this day it can be confusing as they are all similar!) and continues to be one of the main employers in Kamp-Lintfort. The second big employer in Kamp-Lintfort was Siemens, which produced cell phones here. However, in 2005 Siemens sold their factory, which then declared bankruptcy and closed down the factory.

    As a result, many people are unemployed here. To make matters worse, German coal is too expensive and the mines will be shut down, causing more jobs to be lost. Even though people love their Kamp-Lintfort, this might be a story with a sad ending. What will happen to this beautiful town? After all these years, will new companies come here, or will people leave Kamp-Lintfort?

    German Culture - Siebenschler (Seven Sleepers Day) in Germany

    Siebenschler is refered to as “Seven Sleepers Day,” which means if it rains on a particular day, the belief is that it will rain seven weeks in succession or the remaining summer days. It reminds people of the Legend of Seven Sleepers and is a German holiday, but particular in the southern parts of Germany.

    This belief started with the Egyptians five thousand years ago and was adapted by the Romans. However, it was the Christians that used it to connect with their annual weather calendar year.

    July 7th of each year is the correct date for Seven Sleepers Day except for the Julian calendar’s version. The legend stands that during the Roman Emperor persecution, there were seven young men who were blamed for adapting the Christian faith. They were given extended period of time to relinquish their faith, but they did not do that.

    Instead, they gave away all their belongings and went into the mountains to dwell in caves and used their time to pray and that is where they fell asleep.

    The Emperor saw that they did not want to embrace the pagan religion and it angered him so he put an order in for his men to go to the mountains and seal up the cave where the seven young men were sleeping.

    Ten years passed and no one opened the mouth of the cave until a landowner decided to use it for a pen for his cattle. When the landowner opened the cave, according to the legend, he found the seven sleepers there and as they saw him, they woke up and imagined that they had only been asleep for one day and not ten years.

    One of the seven sleepers returned to the community in Ephesus and found buildings that had the cross attached to it. He was also trying to spend money that had been outdated since the reign of the previous Emperor. The people were astonished and called for the Bishop, who interrogated the seven young men as they explained to him their story of sleeping for ten years. The Seven Sleepers Day was derived from that legend.

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    Learn German Culture - Johannistag (Midsummer’s day) in Germany

    Johannistag is Midsummer’s day in Germany. It is held in June of each year and is centered on summer solstice. It is also said to represent the day of John the Baptist. During this time, people were of the impression that the midsummer plants had healing and miraculous powers.

    The celebration begins with a lit bonfire that is indicative of getting rid of evil spirits who were thought to be on the loose when the sun turned to the south, which was when the midsummer began.

    In Germany, a decree was issued by the Nuremberg town council on June 20th 1653, which allowed the people of Germany the right to celebrate this occasion around their bonfires as they carried out their superstitious activities of ridding their town of all kinds of evil spirits.

    The Midsummer’s day begins on June 24th of each year and is an indication of the beginning of the summer. It is a cultural event to use this day as a celebration depending on what each country believes. As discussed above, the Germans believe that this day is the designated day to get rid of evil from their communities.

    They plan this bonfire ceremony to cast out all spirits that want to come in and harm them. Some of these spirits were thought to be from the witches in the area that called them out during their celebration of the Midsummer Day.

    The Summer solstice link to Midsummer Day began in ancient times. During this time, “need-fires,” is one of the German practices that exemplify the Midsummer Day. It was used in a religious practice to heal the domestic animals. The animals were driven between two fires that were started by rubbing wood together.

    To prevent disease in pigs, they also passed through the fires. In the mountain areas, the folks extinguish all fires from their homes and walk to a specific location with their farm animals. They light a fire and let the animals pass through it to prevent any type of plague in their villages.

    The need-fires take place in different areas during the Midsummer Day and is thought of being a preventative action against any disease that may occur later.