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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?

Jan 6th, 2016, 12:35 PM
Join Date: Sep 2011
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We spent a couple of weeks last year heading from the Netherlands up to Mecklenburg Voorpommern, and then down towards the Harz. We never made it to the Harz, because of the dog being ill. We had found so few people who spoke any English on our trip we headed back home to our Dutch vet with him.
We also spent some time in the Eiffel.
We were camping, staying at small sites and stellplatzen, and our Dutch registration led to people assuming we could speak German, as many Dutch people do. We don't speak it. We both understand some, and I can string together a few words into a poor sentence. It was a source of great frustration, as everyone (with the notable exception of the cashiers in one supermarket) was so friendly and wanted to help. The young people may have learned English at school, but they didn't dare use it, any more than I would have dared use my school French at their age.

One curious conversation we had was in Alsace, at a commune campsite. The local villager who came round to collect the money spoke German to us, we spoke French to her, since we were in France, and so continued the entire conversation.
hetismij2 is offline  
Jan 6th, 2016, 01:30 PM
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St-Cirq - at about 60% of Germans who speak some kind of English that means about 40% speak none or little and most of those obviously live in big cities - the total sum of the population in remote small towns being a relative tiny part of the total.

About half of those living in large cities speak no English obviously by those polls - my point is get into real normal untouristed neighborhoods in large cities is just as good as small villages in finding those who do not speak English - it don't matter where you go you can find areas where many folks speak little or no English - more totally than in all the tiny villages combined and cities are a lot more fun for longer stays.
PalenQ is online now  
Jan 6th, 2016, 01:50 PM
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Ingo: As usual, you are making wonderful suggestions. I'd heard of Görlitz and Bautzen, but I don't think I'd looked at photos of either place. They will definitely be on my list, as well as the activities you've suggested.

Weisser: Will I have to wear Lederhosen, or at least Tracht? Kidding aside, that looks like a great hotel.
Pegontheroad is online now  
Jan 6th, 2016, 02:18 PM
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Changing the subject a bit, but in reference to a comment above by Pegontheroad. When I got married and moved to Italy, a man in our small town couldn't wait to try out his English on me. When I asked where he had learned English, it turned out he had been a POW in the US, where he had worked on a farm. I also was a bit taken aback, but it turned out that he had quite enjoyed his enforced stay in the US. Better than the Eastern Front, for sure.

Of course, after 1943, when Mussolini was overthrown,the position of Italians was ambiguous. Many POWs volunteered to help the Allied war effort after that; I'm pretty sure our neighbor did, otherwise I don't see how he could have been working on a farm.
bvlenci is offline  
Jan 6th, 2016, 02:26 PM
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A lot of allied POW's were working in german farms.
(even one in my family).
They were no volunteer - maybe the same could have happened in the US ?
Whathello is offline  
Jan 6th, 2016, 02:40 PM
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When we arrived in Munich ( 8 years ago) we asked an older man for the metro statitoo near our destination
..he did not speak a word of English... I found the same in a Berlin suburb.

Conversing with some really old people might be the answer.
danon is offline  
Jan 6th, 2016, 03:01 PM
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"Will I have to wear Lederhosen, or at least Tracht?"

Yeah, that part of the video was a little OTT, esp with the toddler running around in his lederhosen. The staff do all dress in traditional clothes, most of the guests don't. (The monks from the abbey next door also wear traditional garb and while we were there, several of our fellow diners in the outdoor garden restaurant were in monks' robes.)
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Jan 6th, 2016, 03:41 PM
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Over 400,000 German soldiers were interned in prison camps in America. They were treated very well because America followed the Generva conventions in regard to treatment of P.O.W's. Their food had to be equivalent to the amount of food G.I's received, and they were required to have the same amount of living space as the G.I.'s. They were paid for their work at the same rate as the G.I.'s.

About 5000 internees returned to live in the U.S. after the war, and many more returned for visits. I met an American woman tourist in Heidelberg who told me that her father had been a P.O.W in the States during the war and had like it so well that he returned and eventually became a citizen.

According to what my two ex-P.O.W. friends said, they were both interned in Europe. Both said they were not fed well. My professor said treatment improved after the death of Roosevelt. He said they all believed Roosevelt was a Jew and that was why they were not fed well.

The Wehrmacht officer claimed that they received only 300 calories a day. I was shocked. He said that it was okay because they didn't have to work and they stole a lot. He was interned in Italy.

My suspicion is that he exaggerated the "300 calories" business. However, it may well be that food was scares for everybody.
Pegontheroad is online now  
Jan 6th, 2016, 05:18 PM
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That's supposed to read "food was scarce."
Pegontheroad is online now  
Jan 7th, 2016, 01:29 AM
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I tend to think my German is better than it is until reality bites.... I was asked if I was Russian on two separate occasions in Nuremberg (I am Australian, both parents East German)
And the German conversation when meeting with several older ladies in Chemnitz had me completely mixing up basic words, so instead of 'entschieden' I used 'geschieden' which led to some confusion
Anyway, I agree, the older generation in the east definitely lacked English, but how to meet with them? Towns we visited that were interesting/ pretty/ with few non-German tourists were Annaberg and Frohnau (the hammer mill nearby, great display in German).
Adelaidean is online now  
Jan 7th, 2016, 02:16 AM
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In general, the smaller the village and the farther East you go, the more likely you will have to rely on German. Steering clear of "touristy" places helps too.

We took a 1 week vacation up on the Island of Rugen and we had to rely on German much more than we had anticipated. In fact, the only English speaker we ran into was a woman who ran a jewelry store in Sassnitz. I don't recall communicating in English much in Stralsund (we had a good time at the aquarium figuring out the German only signage) or Peenemünde either.

We used to live in Mittelfranken right on the border with the Fränkische Schweiz and day to day life there never included speaking English -- the local restaurants, Biergartens, and grocery stores were German only (I don't know whether this was because they didn't know or feel confident in their English skills or that they knew English but wanted us to speak German because insular Franken). Now, of course if you went to touristy places, the likelihood of English being spoken went up quite a bit.

Even if you are in somewhere that English will be known and spoken for the tourists, f you want to speak German, go right ahead and speak German. If you speak to someone in German and they reply in English, tell them (in German) that you want to speak German because you must have practice and they will generally happily accommodate you.
sparkchaser is offline  
Jan 7th, 2016, 08:26 AM
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Thinking back to our time in Germany, I still think the issue is that people who regularly interact with visitors are more likely to speak English. We lived in a big city, but the proprietors of our neighborhood Italian restaurant didn't speak enough English to feel comfortable using it; our bank had one person who was eager to speak English with us, but the rest kind of got that "oh-oh, here come those Americans who don't know banking terms in German" look on their faces.

Maybe it was just Murphy's Law, but we just didn't run into many fluent English speakers in our daily lives.

(I should add that people were often apologetic about their lack of English, which embarrassed me because I felt that it was our responsibility to speak better German in Germany, for pete's sake.)
NewbE is offline  
Jan 7th, 2016, 08:39 AM
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Before I learned much German and pretty much had to communicate in English, when I would ask someone if they spoke English, they would almost always say, "A little."

That usually meant that they were more or less fluent.
Pegontheroad is online now  
Jan 7th, 2016, 11:58 AM
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True, lol. I've found that in a lot of countries, actually.
NewbE is offline  
Jan 7th, 2016, 12:04 PM
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Have a

my favorite German expression - meaning have a good trip and not what you may think!
PalenQ is online now  
Jan 7th, 2016, 06:32 PM
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Peg - we spent three weeks in Germany last month. That was our experience too, with the notable exception of one rather memorable emphatic 'NO' at a bus station ticket office, and random people we'd run into in the street.

We struggled a bit in Annaberg and the surrounding towns, particularly with bus drivers, but we managed.

I applaud you for learning the language.
Melnq8 is offline  
Jan 7th, 2016, 07:06 PM
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I enjoyed Görlitz - cute little town which originally had suburbs to the east that are now in Poland. You can walk across the pedestrian bridge into Poland now - like an entirely different city, a much lower class one, unfortunately. The difference in standard of living between the two sides is stark.

My B&B owner (German side) most definitely did not speak English. ;-) When I checked in, it took us some time to get through it because I don't speak three words of German but we managed.
Andrew is online now  
Jan 7th, 2016, 10:38 PM
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melnq8... I looked for your latest TR, couldn't find it, so hope it's a work in progress

But I revisited your 2014 Christmas trip, so glad I did, hubby wants to visit similar area next year (summer though) and your photos of Guarda/Ardez/ Scuol tempt me greatly.
Adelaidean is online now  
Jan 8th, 2016, 12:22 AM
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Another problem for practicing your German with Germans who don't speak English is that they often don't speak proper German.

The regional dialects can be pretty thick. In some parts of Bavaria or Saxony even someone with German as 1st language has a hard time to fully understand the locals.
It can be even more frustrating for those who already have an intermediate command of German, but still cannot understand most of the chatter at the pub.

Only in the region around Hanover proper Hochdeutsch is spoken by default - the region I am from, by coincidence only, of course ;-)
That's a bit tongue-in-cheek, of course.
But if your stay in Germany is supposed to have a meaningful impact on your language skills, it may be helpful to steer towards the Northern part of the country - roughly the part North of the 52nd parallel.
Cowboy1968 is offline  
Jan 8th, 2016, 12:27 AM
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Good point, Cowboy. The Bavarian and Franken dialects can be quite confusing.
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