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Does Berlin Speak English?

DW-WORLD's Sonia Phalnikar, who went undercover to give her city an English test, got a lot of response for her story on Berlin's linguistic challenges a year ahead of the World Cup.

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Time for Berlin to brush up on the universal language

The following comments reflect the views of our readers. If you would like to have your say, click on the feedback button below. Not all reader comments will be published. DW-WORLD reserves the right to edit for length and appropriateness of content.

God forbid that Americans should ever attempt to learn another language. They glide across the globe expecting native populaces to bow and scrape to them in English. When I've suggested to Americans that they take a bit of a crash course in the language of the country they're going to visit, they look at me like I'm from Mars. "Well, they DO speak English there, don't they, sort of?" is the type of response I get. Any language barrier in whatever country is being visited is the fault of the stupid native, not the visiting American, who couldn't be bothered to learn a few rudimentary phrases. -- Lee Loomis

I will be visiting Berlin in two weeks, so I found this article most interesting. I have a small amount of German from my high school days, and put it to good use on a recent trip to Vienna. People there would hear my accent and immediately launch into English or say something like "How sweet! You're speaking German!" I hope that people I meet in Berlin will look on me with the same kindness (amusement?) when I speak. Personally, I wouldn't dream of going to a foreign country without knowing at least a few phrases of the local language -- as an American, it's more important than ever. -- Cindy Lindau

I spent six months in Berlin learning to speak German at a language institute. I only knew a few words in the beginning but after six months I became very competent. Sometimes, even though my German grammar and pronunciation was correct, at the mere sound of my accent I could see people's eye's glaze over and it was obvious they were not even listening. I tried not to take it personally, and chose to believe it was only their mannerism and not deliberate rudeness. I have been to Germany several times and have immediate family who are German immigrants. It is our conclusion that many service sector employees all over Germany need a crash course in politeness and helpfulness to customers. I am not so sure that even if they could speak English, they would be any more helpful or polite. -- Michelle, USA

I was in Berlin October 2004 and my experience was wonderful. People asked if spoke German. There was always someone who knew English. -- Engin Sor

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