Did you know that staff, as well as students, can take part in the Skills Centre’s foreign language classes?

German is one of eight languages on offer, at various levels, from Beginners all the way to Advanced. Dr Uwe Baumann teaches the German programme.

Why I signed up

There will be all sorts of reasons, professional or personal, why you might want to learn or develop a foreign language. In my case, I did a German degree longer ago than I care to reveal and studied for a year in Mainz. After graduating, I worked for a German organisation in London for several years, but after that, my German went into a sad state of hibernation.

I’ve wanted to revive my German for some time and working in the Skills Centre has given me a perfect opportunity to do just that. I signed up for Uwe’s 10-week Advanced German course this Semester.

What’s great about the course is that there’s a real mix of students from different backgrounds and countries taking part. We each bring our diverse experiences of learning the language to the lessons, but a common interest in all things German unites us all.

Why I love German

One of the best things about the class is that it has rekindled my love of the German language. The lessons are all taught in German, so you’re immersed in the language from the start.

Poor old German gets a bit of a bad press compared to Romance languages like Italian and French. But I’ve always loved the language – its changing word order, the exotic letters in its alphabet (ß ä ü ö) and its versatile and practical way of gluing nouns together, which means you can end up with some comically long words.

It’s not uncommon to see words with 30+ letters - there are some fun examples here, including the 80-letter colossus ‘Donaudampfschifffahrtselektrizitätenhauptbetriebswerkbauunterbeamtengesellschaft’. Good luck getting your tongue around that! (The triple ‘fs’ are not a typo, by the way; as a result of spelling reforms in 1996, some compound nouns can now contain three consecutive consonants!)

It's also interesting to see how German, like all languages, is always evolving. Anglicisms, which have spawned the term ‘Denglish’, are infiltrating the language more than ever (‘der Lockdown’ and ‘das Homeschooling’ are two recent examples from the pandemic) and ‘das Gendern’, or ‘gendering’ – essentially how to represent women equally in the German language - is also a hot topic of linguistic debate.

Exploring German society

Uwe’s class has also refreshed my knowledge of German society and culture. Each week we dive headlong into a different topic, such as the German electoral and political system, working in Germany, the very diverse federal states (Bundesländer) and German history.

The country has changed a huge amount since I studied there. Back then, Angela Merkel had not come to political prominence, the emergence of the far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party would have been considered inconceivable, and no one could have predicted the refugee influx of 2015.

Uwe shares his broad spectrum of knowledge and highlights similarities or differences with the UK at the same time – something a language-learning app couldn’t do to the same degree.

The University of Bath prides itself on its international community and global reach, so if you’d like to learn a new language, or, like me, you fancy brushing up a dormant one, I’d highly recommend the Foreign Language team’s courses.

Short intensive courses are also available and staff receive a discount on course fees. Semester 2 classes start in week 20 (w/c 14 February 2022) and enrolment opens for members of staff on 5 January 2022.

Viel Spaß dabei!