Germany is a multilingual country with about 67% of the Germans having the ability to speak at least one foreign language. 27% of the German population can also speak two foreign languages.
Official Language of Germany
Standard German is the official language of Germany. It is a West Germanic language that is also the most commonly spoken first language in the European Union. Over 95% of the population of Germany speaks the language. This figure also encompasses speakers of Northern Low Saxon, a dialect of West Low German. The German language is closely related to Low German, English, Dutch, Afrikaans, and Frisian. The writing system uses the Latin script. The vocabulary is mainly based on that of the Germanic branch of languages, but minorities of words are also derived from Greek, Latin, English, and French. German is one of the official and working languages of the European Union.
Minority Languages Spoken in Germany
Low German is one of the minority languages of Germany. The West Germanic language is spoken mainly in northern Germany. The language is quite distinct from Standard German and more closely related to English, Frisian, and Dutch. There are about 5 million native speakers of Low German in Germany.
Sorbs living in Germany’s historical Upper Lusatia province speak the Upper Sorbian language. The province is today part of Saxony.
Sorbs living in Germany’s Lower Lusatia historical province, which is now part of Brandenburg, speak Lower Sorbian, which is a Slavic minority language. Most speakers of this language are elderly. The language is currently highly endangered.
About 0.09% of the population of Germany speak the Upper and Lower Sorbian languages.
The minority West Germanic Frisian language of North Frisian is spoken by about 10,000 people living in the North Frisia region of Germany. Saterland Frisian, East Frisian language’s last living dialect, is also spoken in Germany.
Other Minority Languages Spoken in Germany
Romani and Danish are the two other minority languages spoken in the country. Around 0.08% of Germany’s population speak the Romani languages. Danish is spoken by about 0.06% of the country’s population.
Immigrant Languages Spoken in Germany
Immigrants to Germany speak their native languages. Turkish, Polish, Balkan languages, Kurdish, and Russian are the most spoken immigrant languages of Germany.
Foreign Languages Spoken in Germany
English is the most important foreign language taught in schools in Germany. French and Latin are also taught as second or third languages in schools. Depending on the geographic location, schools in Germany also offer classes in other languages like Dutch, Spanish, Greek, Polish, and Russian.
Frequent discussions take place in Germany regarding the recognition of English as an official language. According to a 2013 survey, 59% of Germans are in favor of the recognition of English as an official language in the European Union.