Learn (some) German
Vorsicht, you might actually enjoy it
“I did not find it hard. Arabic is much more difficult.”
This is what Youssef told us when we asked him about his German. “I just did it, I signed up with a friend and get to A1 level in 3 months.”
So, should you be like Youssef and learn German?
German skills are not necessary to survive if you work in IT and live in a big city like Berlin, Hamburg or Munich. Many startups nowadays use English as their company language. In the city centers, you can easily get by ordering your morning coffee in English. Your friendly Italian neighborhood barista is likely also still learning the language.
Knowing some German goes a long way. It opens many hearts and minds. It helps you navigate the unavoidable bureaucracy. It makes you feel more comfortable in your new home. What if we told you it also boosts your chances of landing your dream tech job in Germany?
A lot of tech talents in our network who made it in Germany actually came in with some German. Many believe if not for their German they would not have gotten a job.
Here is why: You are sending a clear and credible signal to employers if you have studied some German. It’s a testament to your curiosity, your commitment and your joy of learning.
In short, people who are learning some German are people German employers like hiring. Be one of them.
But isn’t learning German super hard?
Well, it depends. The people we know who have learned some of it also say they enjoyed it. So in part, learning German is a mind game. If you believe it’s hard and unrewarding then it will likely also feel like that. Instead, approach it playfully and just see where the learning journey takes you.
Let’s start you up with an achievable goal: A1 level German. This typically takes you about 120 hours of study or ~20 weeks. This is what A1 looks like. Fun?
Choose one of two paths to get started
Path 1: Take a course. We recommend the Goethe Institute or the Ägyptisch-Deutsches Kulturzentrum. But there are many other good ones. A basic entry level course costs ~1.300 EGP and takes about 40 hours of study. Three of these courses take you to A1 level.
We recommend taking a course if a) you know you need a firm structure in place to learn and b) you can commit to up to 2 regular evenings of study. Pro tip: Sign up with a friend.
Path 2: Study yourself. More and more students learn German online because there are many great free resources to do so. Take this route if you are confident you have the grit to stick to it, or if you want to get your feet wet first before committing to a paid course.
- Duolingo is great to immediately get started — it’s free, and it’s great to get a first sense of the language.
- Deutsche Welle is Germany’s foreign news network with stations all over the globe. It has news in German and Arabic. It also has many free German language resources. Tiago highly recommends their audio course “Deutsch — Warum nicht?” (“German, why not?”). He learned most of his German here
- The Goethe institute also have a great online platform to learn German free
- EasyGerman is a widely popular youtube channel. It’s not a place to study German but to test your knowledge once you have learned a few basics. Check it out!
Finally, do you need to take a test to show your German level to employers?
Not necessarily. Take a shortcut here. Test your German level here online at the Goethe Institute (it’s free) and dive into the self-study materials and exercises for each German level here. These free resources help you assess your skill level yourself.
Once you are convinced your German passes as “elementary” or A1 level, proudly add it to your CV and LinkedIn profile. It will make a difference. We promise.
To sum up: Basic German goes a long way in helping you find a job. Because not everybody has it, it’s a very valuable signal of your commitment and passion for growth. We strongly recommend you start a new side project: Learning German.
Vorsicht, you might end up enjoying it.
— This post is part of a longer series. Read more.
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— Your friends at Imagine.
Thanks to our network of recruiters, headhunters, and talents who have provided valuable insights for this article.