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Is English widely spoken?

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Is English widely spoken?

Hello

I will be in Dresden next week and am a little apprehensive over getting by with very limited German. I have read that compared to cities like Munich, English is not as widely spoken in Dresden. Can anyone give me some advice,... , will people be insulted if we start speaking english (which would be understandable)?

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1. Re: Is English widely spoken?

You will get along. Younger people will more likely be able to help than older ones.

I don't think that anybody will be insulted if you speak english. Saying that you don't speak german would be polite though.

Edited: 19 November 2011, 16:39
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2. Re: Is English widely spoken?

I don't think any reasonable person would be insulted if you spoke English, especially if you started with a sentence in German to be polite and show that you have made some effort, maybe something like: ´"Entschuldigen Sie bitte, sprechen Sie Englisch?" (Excuse me, do you speak English?)

But the thing is that Dresden was in the GDR, so people learned Russian first. So some of the older people simply might not understand you very well. You shouldn't have a problem with younger people, though. I expect their English to be just as good as everyone else's. People do like to read Harry Potter and travel to faraway countries. :-)

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3. Re: Is English widely spoken?

It is for sure not as widely spoken as in, say, Munich or Hamburg. But a lot of people in Dresden do speak English. Not necessarily the younger folks - watch out for people that look like they got a higher education - guys with suit and tie e.g.

Most people in tourist related businesses like waiters, hotel staff, info points and (more or less) shops speak English. It'll be a fun experience, believe me. Nobody will be insulted if you don't speak German.

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4. Re: Is English widely spoken?

I am one of those who would say that from our experience travelling in Saxony, Sachsen-Anhalt (and even Berlin) English still isn't as widely spoken as in western Germany, so taking a phrase-book with you isn't a bad idea for if you are really stuck..

One memory that sticks in our minds was at the restaurant of the hospitality school at Schloss Albrechtsberg in Dresden where the (young) wait staff were not very fluent and having to speak English with real people rather than in a classroom (for my husband's sake as he doesn't speak German) seemed to be causing quite a commotion. Considering this was Dresden, and a hospitality school at that, it surprised us; obviously the next night in Crimmitschau finding that people didn't speak English was rather less of a surprise.

This is different from travelling in Baden-Württemberg (for example) where on the whole if we are speaking English together as a family we are normally addressed in English too.

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5. Re: Is English widely spoken?

eagle2002's English is so fantastic it does of course make my comment above seem pretty stupid. Just wondering, eagle, do you think you are an exception in Dresden? (To compare: I do know I am unusual as an Englishwoman speaking fluent German)

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6. Re: Is English widely spoken?

Thanks for the (embarrasing) compliments, Lyn. But my English is for sure not as good as your German :-)

I think many locals in Dresden most likely understand you but hesitate to speak English because they think they might mix up words or get the grammar wrong. It's because they don't get many opportunities to speak the language. Lack of self-confidence, I'd say.

Lyn, your experience an the hospitality school at Schloss Albrechtsberg is odd, though. I would have expected them to speak decent English. Or were they freshmen?

To comment on a previous response above: Yes, Russian was taught first, but from 7th grade on English was taught, too - so most East Germans did learn the language in school (sort of). But due to lack of opportunities to speak it they forgot most of it.

Btw, Germans don't need to know English to read Harry Potter - it was translated, books and movies are available in German. Travelling doesn't help much in regards of improving English - most travels are to neighbouring countries and popular tourist spots in Europe - you get by with German in Czech Rep., Poland, Hungary easily, in Austria and Switzerland anyway. And Mallorca and other Spanish islands as well as the Turkish beaches or Greeks islands are flooded with German tourists, no English needed in most cases.

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7. Re: Is English widely spoken?

I have done a couple of visits to Wernigerode and Ilsenburg, also in former DDR. My experience is that most people avoid speaking English, and they understands just a little. Even the receptionist in our hotel had problems with her English. So I have to stotter away with my norwegian-german, knowing that the grammar are wrong all the time. But it is the same with my norwegian-english, so who cares ?

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8. Re: Is English widely spoken?

That's right Periscope

"who cares"

I think the half of our german administraion is not speaking english. ;-)

even our Secretary of State.

I learned boring oxford english 6 years in school, forget almost everthing, and I think that is what's happening to a lot of the people in Germany.

But I learned that english is very helpful for travelling and so I am trying to get my english back in memory.

Sure I'm doing a lot of mistakes, but I don't care and I think the people will know what I mean, when I'm speaking with them.

In Germany a lot of people haven't forgotten their school-english but they are afraid of speaking and doing mistakes because because in germany it's a bad but common habit to teach people if they speak something wrong. In german and also in english conversation.

And that's I think, why so many people in Germany don't like to use their english knowledge.

But like periscope said: "who cares"

and the germans are not that bad and one of our famous TV-Comercials

is 2 guys from India sitting in a Biergarten.

The waitress get's to them, the guys took out their german dictonary out and try to order: "Ich möchte diesen teppich nicht kaufen?"

(I don't wann buy that carpet)

The waitress smiles and brings them 2 beer.

The thankful guests from India take the beer

and answer: "Gute Reise" (bon voygae)

I think things like that happens all the time in germany

so no worries.

One time in the USA, I told the receptionist in the hotel excited that I just saw a beer yesterday at yosemite.

The receptionist looked a litte surprise, a german beeing so excited about a beer, but my wife explained to her that we saw a BEAR. :-)

But germany is an export country and a lot of people have to and will speak excelent english and Dresden is a big city, most of the germans like people from the USA and will love to talk with you about New York.

So no worries.

And most of the germans will need a dictionary too, because the people in saxony speaking a realy funny and weird german dialect. :-)

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9. Re: Is English widely spoken?

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10. Re: Is English widely spoken?

Hahaha CrazyKraut! Thats ws a good one... excited over the Beer (Bear) :))