Germany: Language & People                                      

Basic German Words

Hello                        hallo                               (HAHL-oh)

Good day                 guten Tag                        (GOOT-un TA HG)

Good-bye                 auf Wiedersehen              (owf VEE-der-zayn)

No                           nein                                (NINE)

Thank you                danke                             (DAHNK-un)

Yes                          ja                                   (YAH) 

You’re welcome        bitte                                (BIT-uh)

Please                     bitte                                (BIT-uh)

Father                     Vater                               (FAH-ter)

Mother                    Mutter                              (MUH-ter)

House                     Haus                                (howse)


Other Fun Words to Know

  • Autobahn (AH-toh-bahn) highways (often without speed limits)
  • Dirndl (DEERN-del) traditional jumper-like dress with a colorful embroidered top worn over a lacy white blouse by women and girls to traditional festivals in Bavaria and the Black Forest
  • Schultűte (Shul-TOO-te) a large paper cone filled with school supplies and special treats which parents give to young children on their first day of school
  • Kegeln (KAY-guhln) German nine-pin bowling


  • Most German children attend Kindergarten (a German invention).


  • Children start elementary school at age 6.


  • On their first day of school, their parents give them a big paper cone filled with school supplies and special treats which is called a Schultűte (shul-TOO-te).


  • The school year is just under eleven months, with 6 weeks of summer vacation at the end. There are other holidays throughout the year.


  • There are no school uniforms and students wear casual clothing to school.


  • After school, children usually do their homework. Older children may return to school for special study or activities.


  • Students attend Grundschule, or elementary school, for four years.


  • Report cards show a student’s strengths and weaknesses rather than grades.


  • In many schools, religion is a required subject for German children through the age of 14.


  • After elementary school, at about age 10, students choose between three types of schools for the next five to six years.


  • They may choose training school called Hauptschule where they learn jobs that require special skills. After studying math, science, reading and learning skills to help them in their trade, by age 16, they are ready for trade school which prepares them for careers in food service, health and beauty care or construction.


  • Another choice is Realschule, which prepares students for technical school and careers in business, industry or public service.


  • Or they can go to a Gymnasium (which is not a sports facility), which lasts through grade 12 or 13, and prepares students for university. German universities are very competitive, so students must study hard and be well prepared when leaving Gymnasium.


  • German schools typically offer few athletic activities, but there are local sports clubs where children may participate in sports activities. There are many local teen clubs where youth go to meet their friends. Sometimes these clubs have their own cafés and may sponsor various sporting events. Sometimes dances or amateur rock concerts are held at teen clubs.


  • There are many international schools throughout Germany—mostly in the major cities. Many children from expatriate families attend international schools which have a curriculum that allows the children to learn in the system that they are accustomed to in their home country.