Quote: Originally Posted by SledgeDG
I went from a different POV : since in Germany learning English (at least the basics) in school is mandatory for grade 4 and up, it might be more beneficiary to learn an easier language first. But of course it still makes a difference if you're trading and are able to speak German or not. Usually people respect that you're trying at least.
I most sincerely hope all Germans reading this understand I don't want to offend anybody or anything, but a sad fact is that the amount of people, per capita, in Germany who can speak and understand English is not nearly as high than in most other European countries (not counting France, Spain and Italy). I have no idea is it because of German educational system, or something else, but it's a fact, easily tested.
A most common answer when asking if somebody speaks English is "Nein", simply and short. For instance I have a lot of family and friends visiting from Finland and before retirement customers and other work related guests from non-German speaking countries. Trying to make it easier to my guests, I always ask in restaurants, shops etc. if the personnel can speak English, so my guests could communicate directly with them. It's surprisingly often when the answer is this one word. Nein.
It is also surprisingly often I've heard the answer "Aber warum? Ich bin doch Deutsch!" (But why? I am German!")
A trivial funny fact: In Western Europe, English is less known, spoken and understood in Italy, Spain, all French speaking regions (France, parts of Swizerland and Belgium) and all German speaking regions (Germany, Austria, parts of Swizerland). These countries or regions are also the only ones in Western Europe where all foreign TV and film is dubbed to local language, instead of showing original versions with subtitles as in the rest of the Western Europe.