These 6 celebrities speak German! (Video evidence)

If you’ve ever mentioned to a friend that you’re trying to learn ein bisschen Deutsch, you’ll immediately be confronted with platitudes about how difficult the long words are, or how tough it is to remember all the grammar. In the worst case scenario, they’ll put on a harsh accent and yell out “Schmetterling!” (“butterfly!”).

But learning German can be something for everyone. With enough practice, anyone can become at least a little conversational. As inspiration, here’s a list of celebrities that can speak German, some more fluently than others, of course.

Because the skill-level is so variable, we thought it would be fun to go from least to most fluent. No judgements here! We realize short clips might not be the best demonstration of one’s language abilities.

#5 Chris Pratt

Pratt, star of Parks and Rec and Guardians of the Galaxy, learned some German in high school. In this clip he appears to struggle with anything beyond the most basic questions. However, he is able to engage in a basic conversation in a noisy environment, something a lot of people aspire to. Take a look:

#4 Gene Simmons

Gene, lead singer of Kiss, claims to speak a bit of German, Hebrew, and Japanese. In this clip he demonstrates an impressive ability to understand what the interviewer is asking of him, even if he fails to respond in a grammatically correct way. Still, a little broken German is German nonetheless. You be the judge:

#3 Christopher Lee

Christopher, Saruman in Lord of the Rings and Count Dooku in Star Wars, sang some in German, as well as did some filming. Though he seems a bit annoyed by the German interviewer in this clip, he does seem fully capable of understanding what’s being asked, and of responding to the questions, even if only briefly. Check it out:

#2 Leonardo DiCaprio

Leo needs no introduction. As he explains in this clip, his grandmother was from Germany and taught his some important phrases. Though quite halting, there’s certainly a little skill!

#1 Sandra Bullock

Holy cow! Golden Globe Winner Sandra Bullock speaks German at an incredible level. Her singing coach was German, as well as one of her grandfathers. No need to explain too much as her abilities are made abundantly clear by listening to her speak. In this clip, watch her literally forget her award acceptance speech at a ceremony, but then recover by giving the speech without notes:

So that’s the list…But wait, there’s one more!

Honorable Mention: Tina Fey

It’s not totally clear if Fey, known for SNL and 30 Rock, actually speaks German, or if she simply learned enough in school to pronounce it properly. What we can say is that anytime a German phrase leaves her mouth, it’s absolutely hilarious. Enjoy!

30 Rock: Liz’s high school level German

Tina Fey German Study Abroad

30 Rock Liz Lemon Singing German Luftballons

30 Rock- Liz Lemon Yelling in German


By William Fox, German Embassy

These maps show the most popular German dog breeds in all 50 states

“You ain’t nothing but a hound dog” sang Elvis. For any German listening, it was slightly redundant. That’s because the word “hound” has its origin in the German word “Hund”, which means “dog”.

So…

“You ain’t nothing but a hound dog”
sounds a lot like,

“You ain’t nothing but a dog dog”

But shared German-American dog culture goes far deeper than redundancy in Elvis lyrics! There are nearly 90 million dogs in the United States, and a good number of them have German origins. The Boxer, the Pomeranian, the German Shepherd, the Dachshund, and many more breeds come across the Atlantic from Deutschland.

The American Kennel Club publishes a yearly list of the most popular dog breeds nation-wide, and Labrador and Golden Retrievers (neither a German breed) always top that list. 

In 2018, the faithful German Shepherd ranked as the second most popular dog breed in the whole country! Not bad!

However, these data points from the AKC don’t provide us with breed popularity in each state, and don’t provide rankings for us to make a lovely map.

So which German breeds are the most popular in each state in the nation?

To find out, we took Google Trends data from the last 12 months. The percentage of search traffic for German breeds was then accounted for on a state-by-state basis. Then, we made several maps!

* It’s important to note that the drawback of these maps is that they account for search traffic and not ownership.They represent interest in a breed, not the number of dogs in a state. *

Continue reading “These maps show the most popular German dog breeds in all 50 states”

A German surprise: First Graders look forward to their Schultüten

A girl carries her Schultüte in the year 1905. ©dpa / picture alliance

For many Americans and their families, it’s back-to-school season! For some parents, this means back-to-school shopping for supplies, clothes and other needs for their children. In Germany, however, First Graders get a special treat on their first day of school: a Schultüte (“school cone”)!

A Schultüte is colorful and elaborately decorated cone that is given to German students on their first day of first grade. A typical “school cone” is prepared by a students’ parents and filled to the brim with goodies such as small school supplies (like pens, pencil cases, erasers, etc.) , toys and candy. These bundles of gifts evoke excitement in students during one of the most important days of their childhood – the day that school begins. As kids make their way to their new classrooms, they proudly carry their Schultüten with them. Receiving a Schultüte is often a highlight of a First Grader’s childhood. Many Germans eagerly reflect back on their first day of first grade, picturing their “school cones” and remembering the excitement that these gifts brought them.

This German tradition originated in the early 1800s in the cities of Jena, Dresden and Leipzig. Back then, parents brought the Schultüten directly to the schools, where they were hung on a so-called Schultütenbaum (“school cone tree”) in the classroom. When the tree was “ripe” with school cones, it meant that students were ready to begin first grade. On the first day of school, students were instructed to pick the cone with their name on it. To their surprise, the cones were usually filled with edible treats such as pretzels and candy.

Naturally, the tradition spread and evolved over time. Today, students often receive their Schultüten before they leave their homes to go to school – and their cones are often filled with school supplies, rather than candy. Even Austria and the Czech Republic have adopted this fun back-to-school tradition. So while American kids are often busy back-to-school shopping with their parents, German kids will receive a lot of these items in their cones!

©dpa / picture alliance

By Nicole Glass, German Embassy

11 German avocado words and phrases you need to make guacamole

Avocado consumption is on the rise worldwide! Though Germans aren’t known for their rabid avocado appetite, avocados can be found in supermarkets from Berlin to Bavaria. Germans consumed 57 million kilos of avocados in 2017, doubling the numbers from 2013! The average German citizen ate about 5 avocados last year.

One hypothesis on why more avocados are being sold in Deutschland recently is that a university education in Germany is effectively free, and therefore millennial Germans don’t have to feel pitiful for spending extra on 4-12 avocados during their weekly shop.

That isn’t a real theory. We just mashed it up. Well, except for the part about effectively free university tuition in Germany. If that planted a seed in your head, read more about studying in Germany here.

In any event, avocados are heart-healthy, delicious and squishy- and Germans are buying them more and more!

Ok. Let’s get to the more fruitful part of this article:

If you’re in Germany and you’ve bought an avocado at the supermarket, you might need to talk about it with your roommate or significant other. Maybe you want to impress your ‘very interested’ coworker in the break room about how you made delicious guacamole last night. Or possibly you want to write an article for a blog about 11 German words and phrases relating to avocados.

In any of the above examples, this vocab and phrase list will help you. Enjoy!

  1. Der Avocadokern – The avocado pit
  2. Das Avocadofruchtfleisch – The avocado ‘meat’ or ‘fruit’
  3. Die Avocado zerdücken – To mash the avocado
  4. Der Avocado ist braun geworden! – The avocado is brown!
  5. Die Avocado ist reif – The avocado is ripe!

Guacamole Seasoning

  1. Der Koriander – Cilantro
  2. Die Limette – Lime
  3. Das Salz – Salt
  4. Der Pfeffer – Pepper
  5. Der Kreuzkümmel – Cumin

Bonus!

  1. Drei Euro für eine Avocado!? Sie haben keine Tassen im Schrank!
    “Three euros for one avocado!? Have you lost your mind!?”

By William Fox, German Embassy

6 unique summer traditions in Germany

Germans love to spend time outside in the summer. While many Germans enjoy traveling abroad, others choose to explore their own country. From beaches in the north to picturesque mountains in the south, Germany has it all! If you want to act like a local, this is how you can spend your time when the temperatures begin to soar.

Head to an Eiscafe… and order a Spaghettieis!

If you’ve ever been to Germany in the summertime, you might have noticed the many different Eisdiele (ice cream parlos) or Eiscafes. Germans love to get together over a refreshing bowl of ice cream when it’s hot outside. In fact, there are over 3,300 ice cream shops in Germany! While gelato might hit the spot, a more unique option is a cool bowl of Spaghettieis – a German style of ice cream that literally looks like a bowl of spaghetti. We promise you, it still tastes like ice cream!

©dpa / picture alliance

Beat the heat and go Wasserwandern

Wasserwandern translates to “water hiking”. This means leaving behind solid ground to go explore Germany’s many waterways by canoe or kayak. Wasserwandern is particularly popular in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, which is known as the “land of a thousand lakes”. Formed tens of thousands of years ago during the Ice Age, these lakes are home to a number of endangered species and make the perfect summertime getaway for nature enthusiasts. So pack a waterproof bag and explore Germany’s many rivers and lakes on boat!

©dpa / picture alliance

Continue reading “6 unique summer traditions in Germany”

Wagner fans flock to Germany for the “Bayreuth Festspiele”

One of Germany’s most famous composers is Richard Wagner (1813-1883), who is especially famous for his operas. In fact, Wagner even built his very own opera house, called the Bayreuth Festspielhaus, which was dedicated to his own works .

And to this day, we celebrate the life and works of Wagner with an annual music festival held in Bayreuth, Germany. Wagner fans from all over the world travel to the Festspielhaus to attend the annual event – including Chancellor Angela Merkel.

©dpa / picture alliance

This week, the Chancellor and Bavarian CSU Leader Markus Söder attended the music festival, despite sweltering hot temperatures in Germany. Merkel is a long-time Wagner fan, and has attended the annual event several times.

Since its launch in 1876, the Bayreuth Festival has been a socio-cultural phenomenon, with notable guests including Kaiser Wilhelm, Dom Pedro II of Brazil, King Ludwig, Friedrich Nietzsche and countless other fans of Wagner’s compositions. The Bayreuter Festspiele kicked off on July 25 and will continue until August 28.

By Nicole Glass, German Embassy

6 easy steps to survive elevator small talk in Germany

If you’re learning German, you probably plan ahead for important conversations. You look up vocabulary before calling your doctor, asking for help in a supermarket, or going to the mechanic.

But what about those unplanned moments you can’t prepare for? What about the moment you step into a near-empty elevator, make eye contact with the only other person inside, and awkwardly reach past them to hit your floor’s button? You’re in the box with this person for 60 seconds. Are you really going to say nothing?

Feeling anxious yet? Fear not! In this guide, we’re going to plan for the unplanned. We’re going to learn some basic phrases and questions to survive the seeming eternity of an elevator ride with a stranger in Germany. We’ve broken it down into 6 easy steps

Step 1. Why are we even talking?

First, we should ask an important question: is small talk really that important in Germany? Though the stereotype of Germans is that they NEVER make small talk, that’s not true. While small talk is not essential, and many opt not to chit-chat in public, plenty of people in Germany have mundane conversations every day in buses, hallways, office kitchens, and yes, elevators. Even if most Germans think small talk is a waste of time, it turns out that breaking the awkward silence is a universal pressure.

That said, you don’t have to do it. And if someone doesn’t seem open to it, let them be!

Another important point is that being too friendly or excited can come across as disingenuous. If you are going to take a swing at elevator small talk, we recommend trying to sound relaxed, and to avoid using superlatives like ‘amazing’ and ‘absolutely crazy’ to describe your day. A genuine, honest interaction can get you far in Germany. Be yourself!

Continue reading “6 easy steps to survive elevator small talk in Germany”

Here’s a map with all 26 Berlins we could find in the USA

“Ich bin ein Berliner!” (“I am a Berliner!”) said John F. Kennedy during his visit to Berlin in 1963. As it turns out, he’s not the only American that can make this claim.

According to the German-American Heritage Museum, German speakers began arriving in North America in the 1600’s. Today, around 15% of Americans have German ancestry, according to the Census Bureau. That’s roughly 45 million people! Their ancestors made it to every corner of the continent, bringing with them their hopes, dreams, food, culture, language, and yes, names!

Though French and Spanish names are more common, several cities and towns in America have German names. From Anaheim, California to New Braunfels, Texas and Schaumburg, Illinois, German immigrants were eager to stamp their new home with a bit of German pizazz.

However, not all founders were so creative (see: Germantown, Tennessee). Maybe that’s why there are so many Berlins in the USA! Type “Berlin” into Google Maps, and you might find Berlin, Georgia before Berlin, Germany. In fact, there are approximately 26 Berlins spread across the 50 states! Here’s a map with all of them we could find.

There are concentrations of Berlins in the Northeast and Midwest, and a few scattered to the South, like Berlin, Texas, and the West, like Berlin, Nevada. It must be because of the large number of German immigrants that went those directions over hundreds of years.

It’s important to note that some of these lovely Berlins are unincorporated or extinct towns. Berlin, Nevada is actually a ghost town! But several Berlins are thriving! For example, Berlin, Connecticut has 20,000 people. Not bad!

Do you live in one of these Berlins? Ever visited? If you do, tweet us @GermanyinUSA! We can’t wait to see what you find!

By William Fox, German Embassy

Work hard, play hard.

School’s out, the sun is shining and summer has arrived! That means many German families are preparing their long-awaited vacations.

For those of you who have worked in Germany, you may know that Germans strive to have a good work life balance – and that means taking well deserved vacations. In Germany, each worker is entitled to a minimum of 20 vacation days per year, but 25 to 30 days is common practice.

According to an OECD study, Germans worked 1,363 hours per year, which is overall less than most other countries. However, German productivity was higher than in many countries. The average GDP per head, divided by the hours worked, was valued at $105.70 in Germany, which is $4 more than in the US. Meanwhile, Americans worked 400 hours more than Germans each year, according to the same study.

So what does this mean? Maybe it’s time to pack your bags and spend a few days in the sunshine so you can come back more creative and more productive.

Work hard, play hard.

Celebrating pride in the US and Germany

A Berlin Pride participant waves a rainbow pride flag during the 40th Christopher Street Day in Berlin. © picture alliance/ZUMA Press

Here in the United States, the month of June is LGBTQ Pride Month – the month chosen to coincide with the Stonewall riots of 1969. During this month, many pride events are held throughout the country. Last week marked Washington, D.C.’s annual Pride Parade, bringing thousands of people together in support of equality and human rights. Meanwhile, Berlin is preparing for its own parade in July, known as Christopher Street Day Berlin or simply “Berlin Pride.”

Berlin’s Pride Parade is one of the largest in all of Europe and also one of the oldest. The annual event was first held in June 30, 1979 in commemoration of the Stonewall riots in New York, which was an uprising of the LGBTQ community against police assaults in June 1969. These assaults took place on Christopher Street in New York, which is why many European pride events today are referred to as “Christopher Street Day”.

The 40th Christopher Street Day in Berlin. © picture alliance/ZUMA Press

Although Germany’s first Christopher Street Day was held in Berlin, many other German cities followed in the city’s footsteps, creating their own CSD parades. Hamburg and Cologne are well known for their large pride parades, but Berlin still holds the record: in 2012, approximately 700,000 people attended Berlin’s Pride Parade, making it one of the largest pride events in the entire world.

The US legalized same-sex marriage in 2015 and Germany legalized it in 2017. Pride parades on both side of the Atlantic demonstrate the importance of inclusion for both the US and Germany.

By Nicole Glass, German Embassy