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What German towns/areas can I visit where little English is spoken?

What German towns/areas can I visit where little English is spoken?

Old Jan 6th, 2016, 08:29 AM
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What German towns/areas can I visit where little English is spoken?

I want to spend some time in Germany in towns where English isn't commonly spoken. I want attractive destinations, perhaps places more commonly visited by Germans rather than by English speakers.

When I was in Lubbenau, the receptionist at my hotel said her English wasn't good, so we used German. Since Lubbenau was part of East Germany, I assumed she learned Russian rather than English as her foreign language in school.

I tend to get lazy and lapse into English rather than German. Even in the advanced German classes I'm now taking, I get lazy and speak English.

Any suggestions?
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Old Jan 6th, 2016, 08:38 AM
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Zittau near the Czech/Polish borders. Lovely little mountain/resort town, worth a day trip from Dresden.
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Old Jan 6th, 2016, 08:43 AM
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My experience is that younger Germans may "know" English fairly well but don't routinely go around speaking it at all, not instead of German. And some older ones aren't comfortable with English at all. For example, my best friend is German and her family is around Dresden or E Germany partially (although my friend has lived in the US a long time). When I have visited there and we went out with another common friend of ours who is about 60 years old, she wasn't comfortable even speaking with me in English because she wasn't used to it, so my friend translated. She probably understood to some degree what I was saying, I'm sure, but she sure wasn't able to fluently converse in English. She's an engineer and lives in Dresden. Some of my friends older relatives aren't comfortable speaking much English at all.

And why would they be? I studied Spanish in school for years but don't use it daily and am not remotely fluent in it. I don't think what one studied in school 50 years old is the issue.
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Old Jan 6th, 2016, 08:52 AM
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I think the issue may be that a traveler comes into contact almost exclusively with people in the service/tourism industry, all of whom speak pretty good English.

When we lived in Germany, we found what Christina describes--the day we struggled to sign up for home phone service is etched in my mind! Our German wasn't good enough for the business at hand, and no one in the phone place spoke enough English to help. Our friends' friends didn't really speak enough to converse easily, either; they were various kinds of professionals, but not in fields requiring English.

But I digress. Just brainstorming, could you find something to do that isn't even remotely touristy, but still interesting...??? So you can be around people who don;t work in hotels/museums/restaurants??
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Old Jan 6th, 2016, 09:05 AM
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You could just ask to speak German, rather than English. Politely explaining that you want to practice your German and would prefer to converse in that beautiful language would surely be met with a smile.
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Old Jan 6th, 2016, 09:12 AM
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I've noticed Zittau on the map. It's not far from Bad Schandau and Saxon Switzerland. Might be a good destination, since it's in the general area where I'll be traveling anyway.


Christina: I don't suppose I'll be in situations such as you describe. What I can do is to go with the German tourist guide rather than with the English-speaking guide. In the Stasi museum in Leipzig, I first went through with a German guide, and then later with an English brochure.

That's always a possibility--going on a tour for Germans.

My friend and I went to the Baron Munchhausen museum, where the curator spoke only German. It was really fun learning more about the Baron. I wonder if it would have been as enjoyable in English.
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Old Jan 6th, 2016, 09:38 AM
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I would focus in the set rather than the west since Russian instead of english was required in school and many older people are less likely to speak english. Also the smaller and more obscure the town - and the fewer tourists - the less likely people are to speak English.

Sorry can't be more specific. But must admit that I have never had a problem speaking just english and VERY basic tourist german everywhere - even in tiny villages. The only experiences with no english were:

Having an elderly shoemaker in a tiny village repair a broken sandal strap

Trying to buy a shower cap from an older clerk in a small pharmacy in a village in bavaria - took a few minutes to get that versus a bathing cap for pools (and this was about 10 years ago)

In every hotel, restaurant, larger shop and tourist venue almost everyone spoke at least basic english (much better than my german).
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Old Jan 6th, 2016, 09:39 AM
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Peg, it's been quite a few years since I was there, so maybe some of the Fodorites who live in Germany or are more familiar with it than I am can confirm or deny this, but I spent a few weeks in the Harz mountains once and hardly a soul spoke English. It was quite a workout for my German!
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Old Jan 6th, 2016, 09:48 AM
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There are lots of such attractive towns in Eastern Germany. Zittau is a good idea. Also Bautzen, Görlitz (more Polish than English spoken), Kamenz. Anywhere in the Upper Lausitz (Oberlausitz) region. From Zittau definitely do excursions (narrow-gauge steam train) into the Zittauer Gebirge mountains, Kurort Oybin is picturesque (castle ruins), ditto Jonsdorf - all of them in beautiful setting.

You can visit Herrnhut, the oldest Cistercian convent in Germany in St. Marienthal, only 20 years younger is the convent in St. Marienstern near Kamenz.
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Old Jan 6th, 2016, 09:48 AM
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There are a lot more English speakers in Dresden than there were just a few years ago. I saw a jump from my first visit in 2009 when I went back in 2011 and then an even bigger jump in English speakers in December 2014.

Most younger Germans will speak at least some English. We found our German was most needed in small, relatively untouristy towns like Detmold, which was an attractive town with a wonderful Freilichtmuseum: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WIdvwDcpATA
Detmold: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9b0cPMdVZvI
Detmold and the Teutoburgerwald remain one of our favorite places in Germany and it's not on the usual tourist radar. We were there during Federweisser season -- delicious!

If you're willing to go outside Germany, consider Styria in Austria. There are some very pretty small towns and in central/western Styria . We stayed at a beautiful small hotel in the chocolate box village of Seckau with its abbey:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vvR5KGBAj-o

This is where we stayed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUztGtufMo4 Lovely location, very comfortable rooms, excellent food. You will need a car to explore the region, including Piber, where you can see young Lipizzaner horses, before they turn color.
http://www.austria.info/us/austria/1...ipizzan-horses
and, farther down, the city of Graz.
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Old Jan 6th, 2016, 09:52 AM
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Cologne, Berlin, Dusseldorf and every town in Germany you will find locals speak little fluent English if you get away from the town center - especially in say Cologne's large Muslim quarter (though many may not speak good German there either) and would rather speak to you in German IME - not sure it's much different than small towns - older folk speak less and younger folk more - so I take issue with your premise that only in small towns do not a lot of folks speak English.

Germans speak less fluent English than most countries in Europe according to polls I've seen - like France even though younger folk study it for years few can speak fluently unless businessmen and in tourist trade IMO - local neighborhoods much less.
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Old Jan 6th, 2016, 10:02 AM
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"...especially in say Cologne's large Muslim quarter (though many may not speak good German there either)..."
interesting timing for that recommendation, esp to a woman.
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Old Jan 6th, 2016, 10:06 AM
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http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/06/wo...says.html?_r=0

Yes Weisser - seems some migrants sexually abused German women at New Year's celebration but I do not believe nearly all Muslims in Cologne or Germany are at all like that.
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Old Jan 6th, 2016, 10:32 AM
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I've traveled to Germany many, many times, and virtually everyone I met spoke English.

When I was in Germany in the mid-to-late-sixties, older people did not speak much English. I was on a ski lift somewhere, and there was an older man on the seat beside me. He might have been 50 or 60 years old, but that was "older" to me then.

He spoke good English, which surprised me. I asked where he had learned his English. He said, "I was an American prisoner of war."

That pretty much stopped the conversation dead. Later on, I met others who had been American POW's. One was my first German teacher at Gonzaga University and another was a Wehrmacht lieutenant colonel who lived in my BOQ in Heidelberg.

In later years I would have talked to him about it. One of my instructors at German Summerschool of the Pacific had been a fighter pilot. As I recall, he flew a Messerschmidt 109.
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Old Jan 6th, 2016, 10:46 AM
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<<Germans speak less fluent English than most countries in Europe according to polls I've seen...>>

64% of Germans speak English; 39% of French

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...ing_population
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Old Jan 6th, 2016, 10:59 AM
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https://jakubmarian.com/map-of-the-p...eu-by-country/

this poll says 56% of Germans speak English vs 39 % France but these are much lower than Holland, Belgium, all of Scandinavia, Switzerland and even Greece (81%) - the larger the country the less English is spoken

half of Germans speak English but what does that mean - can they carry on a philosophical discussion or tell you where the train station is - knowing English and speaking English very different.

I doubt if the % varies much from large cities like Cologne and small ones - I mean the real neighborhoods of say Cologne.

That many English native speakers live in Berlin and Frankfurt and American military base areas the German % could be skewed a bit.
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Old Jan 6th, 2016, 11:20 AM
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My German is pretty good for a foreigner, but there are lots of times when I'm totally lost. I've taken tours on a bus called a "Bimmelbahn" in Wernigerode and Quedlinburg and found the narration hard to understand. Also on a sort of stagecoach-like tour in Dresden.

I enjoyed an interaction I once had in Schwäbisch Hall. I ordered breakfast at an outdoor cafe. Among other things, I asked for "ein mittel-gekochtes Ei." The lady at the next table said, "Gut gemacht!"(Well done!) and gave me that little "good" hand signal with the thumb and forefinger.

Schwäbisch Hall has a large Goethe Institute, and I'm sure the lady realized that I was a student there.
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Old Jan 6th, 2016, 11:34 AM
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Interesting racist remark about Muslim/migrants...

I was in the mountains one hour from Strasbourg and nobody there could speak one word of English in the local hospital. (Freudenstad - yet a touristy place).

I've been in a lot of places in the 'former' west where most of the german workers hardly speak a word of english.

In eastern Gremany it is best to speak German even in small hotels.

mfg !
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Old Jan 6th, 2016, 11:41 AM
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Interesting racist remark about Muslim/migrants...> - you talking about the NYTimes story or weissertee or moi? Yes the suggestion that going into Cologne's Muslim area for a lady is dicey is patently racist I agree but the true things in the Times article gives one pause for concern - these new migrants are for the first time in a society where they can mix with women in the open and apparently got carried away - is the truth racist remarks in that regard?

One has to believe that these were some of the new right off the boat migrants - not the established and very hard-working and law-abiding for the most part German Muslims, many of which are from Turkey, a moderate Islamic state.
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Old Jan 6th, 2016, 11:45 AM
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<<that many English native speakers live in Berlin and Frankfurt and American military base areas the German % could be skewed a bit.>>

If you actually look at the link I provided you will see that Americans and other English speakers based in military outposts in Germany are excluded from the percentage.
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