With the Eurozone crisis deepening, Italians and other southern Europeans are doing their best to learn German. The differences between German and Romance languages like Italian are profound, with students finding grammar and pronunciation rules especially difficult. Still, “[m]ore than 400,000 Italian middle and high school students are now choosing German as a second foreign language. In 2011, the number of [Italians] studying German jumped 18 percent and this year it’s likely to be an even larger increase.” In Greece, the number of people studying German jumped by 30 percent over a period of six months.
What’s the Big Idea?
For young people in medicine and high-tech fields, moving to Germany is seen as their best shot at a decent-paying job. For Italians working in German-owned firms — “[m]ore than 2,000 firms in Italy are branches of major German companies…or are owned by German businesses” — those who know the language have a better shot at career advancement. Italian companies themselves are getting in on the action: Some of the best jobs in the tourism industry are going to people with German-language skills, so that they can better serve those German tourists with money to spare for traveling.