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Monday, 25 March 2019 07:47 pm

German language and culture growing on New Zealanders

Diverstity ATT

LEARNING ROOM: The class where students can learn about Germany and its culture.

THE GERMAN language and culture is gaining in popularity in New Zealand, thanks in part to places like the Goethe Institut.

There are more than 30,000 Germans living in New Zealand, and the Goethe Institut believes that the large numbes are contributing to the increase in how many speak the language.

Judith Geare, head of the language department at the Institute in Wellington, said she and her fellow teachers love teaching the language.

“I love the language, It was the third language I learnt, and although I found it hard a lot of New Zealanders find it quite easy,” says the Kiwi.

She took the job after loving the language so much and found that many other people wanted to learn German as well.

The German language has many dialects, much like Te Reo Maori does where each part of the country has a different way of saying things.

Diversity RST“There are examples of people from the south not being able to understand people from the north,” says Judith, right.

She also says many people don’t realise German is spoken in as many countries as it is.

“Some people didn’t know that in Austria they speak German as well,”

In all six countries have German as an official language, as well as a province in Italy, South Tyrol, and parts of Poland. It is also commonly spoken in Namibia.

She says people tend to learn German because it is easy to pick it up.

“As they pick it up, they want to learn more and more, it becomes quite addictive,” she said.

Although the current staff love what they do, Judith said their biggest challenge was attracting both teachers and more students.

The program is run under three pillars, culture, information and language, the institute also supports other people teaching German such as schools and universities.

“We also arrange for scholarships for people to go over to Germany to complete learning the language,”

This includes the recent Life Swap scheme where two people exchanged where they lived for a year.

Judith said people tend to want to know German before they go over there on a holiday or when they have a German partner.

“People want to learn German so they can communicate with their partners and their families when they travel to Germany.”

Goethe comes under the ILEP program (International Languages Exchanges and Pathways) and has a national German advisor sitting on the board.

The ILEP program monitors the five key languages learned in New Zealand outside English and Te Reo Maori.

The languages are German, French Chinese, Japanese and Spanish.

The courses Goethe offer start from the basic right up to the top level so people leave basically fluent, Judith said.

There are around 30,000 Germans currently living in New Zealand.

“A lot of them have come over on working visas, found a partner then never left.

“These partners are generally the one’s that want to learn the language, along with their families,” said Judith.

The main classes are adult classes, but they do have classes for children as well.

“We like the classes to have up to 12 -16 people in them, that is so we can easily split them into pairs and groups,” she said.

“The sky is the limit, we look at what we have done in the past and then see how we can progress it in the future.”

The Goethe Institut has more than 60 years of experience in teaching people about the German culture and language.

They have 158 courses located around the world including Chicago, London and Toronto.

Language is not only focus of the Goethe Institut, they also hold exhibitions that showcase various artists and other aspects of German culture.

For example the works of photographer Jens Uwe Parkitny, who has extensively travelled through Myanmar, is being hosted at Pataka Gallery in Porirua.

Victoria Universities Adam Art Gallery is showing the works of Oskar Fischinger, a pioneer of German animation and experimental filmmaking.

On April 24  there is a book launch of German poetry translated into Kiwi style, at the Zedlitz building, at Victoria University.

The book takes classic German literature and translates it into English, with a New Zealand twist.

“Literature was one thing that got me into wanting to learn German as a language,” said Judith.

She believes literature could make more people want to learn German language and culture.

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