What could Germany do to make integration easier?

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I guess most users on here would have an English-speaking perspective like me and so things like customer service spring to mind. But more generally speaking, I'd like to see much less "Amtsprache". Government agencies could use simpler language and more user friendly websites. Also, motorway signs that don't say "north", "south" but "Hamm", "Bamberg" or any two other German cities I've never heard of.

What would make your integration easier?

 

 

 

 

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I'm not quite able to follow what you are trying to say. What is it exactly that you don't understand?

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I think the best thing is to have someone who has lived here long enough to know the ins and outs explain things to you, especially someone who understands your cultural background (could well be a German who has lived awhile in your country). There is a lot that Germans often implictly expect you to know and if the time taken to learn that can be shortened, it might make things easier. Agree that there is no Substitute for learning the language, but Amtsprache can be intimidating, at least the first time you read it. :lol: 

 

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Aha, in that case "What would make your integration easier?" The answer is 'Acceptance, for a start'. :D

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 Agree that there is no Substitute for learning the language, but Amtsprache can be intimidating, at least the first time you read it. :lol: 

Amtssprache ist intimidating for Germans too, same goes for English. Translating is torture. 

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I asked some German friends to help me read through a contract and they came back saying they understand German just fine but they don't understand German legalese so it's not just you.

 

I am dealing with a lawyer now myself because of a roof problem and the last email I got from them gave me a headache trying to decipher what they were really saying.  I wanted to write back, please write in German so I can understand.

 

As for the motorways, just use a GPS.  Everybody else does.

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The moot question is who has to integrate - us outsiders with Germans or the germans with us. I think as rightly mentioned by Zweibelfisch, the onus is on guest and not on host. Having said that, there could be one counter / window at important offices and important stations where multi language assistants could be there.

 

VHS could have weekend classes about 'Life and living in Germany', 'Cultural nuances of germans', 'work environment - what to do and expect', etc and so whoever wants to integrate faster could avail these classes.

 

As to the contracts, who can read and understand the fine print even in native language!

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↵Yes but English has had various Plain English initiatives, in the UK and US, simplifying the language government agencies and corporations use. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plain_English

I'm not aware of any similar movement in Germany gaining traction.

 

 

 

Amtssprache ist intimidating for Germans too, same goes for English. Translating is torture.

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I'm not quite able to follow what you are trying to say. What is it exactly that you don't understand?

about the motorways? They give the endpoint cities instead of direction, so it says "Richtung Berlin" instead of "Nord". Fine for well known cities but not everybody carries a map of relative positions of  German cities in their head. It's a first world problem, I know.

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And even less people are able to tell North from South. If it says "Berlin" they at least know that it's not where they want to drive to.

BTW: when is the last time you saw someone on the Autobahn driving a car without a navigation screen on the dashboard ?

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And even less people are able to tell North from South. If it says "Berlin" they at least know that it's not where they want to drive to.

Fine if you want to go to the endpoint but if you want to go two exits north and you get to the junction and you don't know the relevant positions of the cities or if you don't know whether you are north or south of Magdeburg or Schlammwitz or wherever. I think it's common enough in the US and UK.

 

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I think that Germany should change everything to English and get rid of the metric system.

 

It would be really great if they would change their currency to US dollars as well.

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Coming from Karlsruhe going to Berlin I drive North for a while and then change to North-East for a while and then change to North for a while and then to North-East again. Later to East, then to North and then again to East and finally to North.

 

OK  that's easy to remember. All it takes is a compass on the dashboard.

 

Frankly, some geography is a must when you drive long distances without satellite support. And a piece of paper with some crucial points and the name of bigger cities along the way has helped Grandpa and still works.

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He seems to think germans should speak english to make his life easier.  How about immigrants like you and me make more effort to learn the language and integrate ourselves, rather than expecting the germans to do it for us?

 

Personally I think getting the VHS to run more evening classes for german so that people who work could more easily lear the language would, by far be the biggest help.

It's true, it's a good idea to learn the language. But compared to when I initially arrived here, the German authorities make a lot more effort now to have English language websites. It's not just for native English speakers' benefit, English is probably the most commonly used second language.

 

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I think the most sensible suggestion is that of zwiebelfisch above. The people Germany wants (or should want) most to integrate and retain in the long run are the productive ones, i.e. those who can provide for themselves and give back to the society in form of taxes.  But if most of these people are in the office or factory or shop from 8 to 18, when are they going to take the courses?

I would even extend this and say the government could partially compensate the employers for time taken for German lessons taken during business hours, subject to the employee passing periodic tests to show progress. To be honest, taking a two-hour German course after nine-ten other hours in meetings, conference calls and generally working doesn't help as much as when the course would've taken place, say, from 2 to 4 PM. In the end, it's a trade-off - employees learn the language, which helps with interaction in the workplace, they integrate better and faster, hence they tend to stay for longer, so the employers need to look for replacements less often, so they save money.

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And even less people are able to tell North from South.

 

 

 

Being able to tell North from South is irrelevant. What's important is to have distinct and consistent names for the two highway directions. That's why they have "65 North" and "65 South" in the US. Makes it really easy to figure out which highway entrance/exit to take when following directions.

 

German highways have standardised numbers but no standardised scheme of referring to the two directions. "Highway 1 Richtung Hamburg" means one direction if you are coming from Bremen and the opposite direction if you are coming from Lübeck.  It would cost nothing to give the two directions different codes, such as 1N and 1S, and list those on all signs along with the rest of the information ("Highway 1N Richtung Hamburg" when coming from Bremen, "Highway 1S Richtung Hamburg" when coming from Lübeck).

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I asked some German friends to help me read through a contract and they came back saying they understand German just fine but they don't understand German legalese so it's not just you.

 

I am dealing with a lawyer now myself because of a roof problem and the last email I got from them gave me a headache trying to decipher what they were really saying.  I wanted to write back, please write in German so I can understand.

 

As for the motorways, just use a GPS.  Everybody else does.

Oddly I find German legalese and fine-print easier than ordinary speech.  One merely applies the rules and everything means exactly what it says in the dictionary, whereas real speech requires you to understand nuance, reference, and so on.  Which are hard.  Legalese is just a style of programming.

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The German Autobahn system is about 4 times longer as that of the whole UK. And Autobahns go in a ll directions, not just North and South.

 

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