To succeed in school. Students who take German score higher on college acceptance tests (ACT/SAT) than other students. You need at least two years of a foreign language to study at a university in the state of Florida. Other colleges highly recommend it or require it as well.
To learn your own language better. German and English are both Germanic languages. They both started out as basically the same language. They share many of the same words, word origins and grammar characteristics. That makes German a good choice for English speakers.
To learn about your American heritage. One out of every four Americans nationwide has German heritage. German-Americans are the largest ethnic group in America today. They have made a lot of contributions to our country. Some of the more famous include Levi Strauss, Albert Einstein, Werner von Braun, and Henry Kissinger.
To learn the language spoken by over 120 million people. German is spoken in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein, as well as parts of other European countries. West of Russia, twice as many people speak German in Europe than any other language. And after English, German is the most popular foreign language to learn in Europe. It is the most popular foreign language of study in eastern European schools.
To participate in an exchange program. Many schools are involved in either a travel abroad or exchange program. Such students who learn German can tour places in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
To get a good job in the United States. Many American companies are owned by German companies. You may have heard about the Mercedes purchase of Chrysler or the acquisition of Random House Books by Bertelsmann. German companies now represent the largest source of foreign employment in the United States today. Most of the firms name German as the language they would most like their employees to know.
To get a job in the global economy. Germany has the world's third largest economy (after the USA and Japan). Germany is the largest economic and political influence in Europe. Germany has the highest paid workers in the world and is also the leading export nation in the world in proportion to its population. And Switzerland, another German-speaking country, is one of the world's richest nations. The standard of living in German speaking countries is among the highest on Earth.
To be a scientist. A majority of the world's scientists have come from or studied in German-speaking countries. Many new scientific discoveries happen in German-speaking countries and much scientific information is only available in German. The newest elements on the Periodic Table were just discovered by a German scientist. Universities encourage science majors to learn German.
To be a great musician. Most of the western world's famous composers and musicians came from German-speaking countries. Vienna, the capital of Austria, has been the world center of music for hundreds of years. Think of Beethoven, Brahms, Bach, Händel, Mozart......
To work in the tourist industry. Germans are the most traveled people in the world. You will find German tourists everywhere. In the US, they are among the most numerous tourists in states like Florida, New York, and California. Many American tourists go to German speaking countries, which are some of the most beautiful countries in the world. Plus, German is widely spoken throughout Europe.
The importance of German may not seem as obvious to Americans because we are geographically separated from much of the world. We tend to notice only what's in our own backyard. Worldwide, German is among the most popular foreign languages to learn. The world sees the importance of German. We really do live in a global society and must look at more than what is immediately around us. We need to see the entire picture.
Sources: American Assoc. of Teachers of German, Dartmouth College, National Council for the Social Studies, St. Olaf College, Univ. of St. Thomas, US News & World Report, World Book Encyclopedia