Category Archives: history

Holidays in Germany Part I

Holidays in Germany Part I

The 1st of May

Why is May 1st celebrated in parts of Europe? The reason for our holiday is the history of America.

In the era of industrialization in the 19th century, May 1 was in the United States of America the day of the demonstration of the rights of the working class. This day was chosen because of the tradition of moving on the 1st of May and is still known as “the day of moving”. The ambiguity of private change and political fights is still present today. Above all, in Germany the power of the citizens’ movement and the right to work, especially work for everyone under human conditions, are celebrated.

Maibaum

In the suburbs and cities, special trees called “Maibäume” are placed, which are not only a symbol of change, but also a part of the festivities. So it is tradition to steal the May trees of the neighboring cities and celebrate the victory with music, good food and traditional drinks. In some parts of Germany couple dances are also popular around the May trees. Especially in Bavaria, traditional clothes are used for these dances. In Europe the day of work is celebrated not only in Germany – also in Liechtenstein, Austria, Belgium, and in parts of Switzerland, May 1st is something special!

Feiertage in Deutschland Teil I

Feiertage in Deutschland Teil I

Der 1. Mai

Warum wird in Teilen Europas der 1. Mai gefeiert?
Der Grund für unseren Feiertag ist die Geschichte Amerikas.

Im Zeitalter der Industrialisierung im 19. Jahrhundert wurde der 1. Mai zuerst in den Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika der Tag der Demonstration für die Rechte der Arbeiterklasse. Dieser Tag wurde wegen der Tradition des privaten Umzugs am 1. Mai ausgewählt und ist auch heute noch bekannt als „the day of moving“. Die Doppeldeutigkeit von privater und politischer Veränderung besteht auch heute noch. Vor allem wird in Deutschland die Kraft der bürgerlichen Bewegung und das Recht auf Arbeit, besonders Arbeit für jedermann zu menschlichen und fairen Bedingungen, gefeiert.

Maibaum

In Vororten und Städten werden für die Feier Maibäume aufgestellt, die nicht nur als Symbol für etwas Neues stehen, sondern auch zur Unterhaltung dienen. So ist es Tradition die Maibäume der Nachbarstädte zu entfernen und den Sieg mit viel Musik, Essen und Trinken zu feiern. In manchen Teilen Deutschlands sind auch Paartänze um den Maibaum herum beliebt. Besonders in Bayern werden zu diesen Tänzen auch traditionelle Kleider getragen. In Europa wird der Tag der Arbeit nicht nur in Deutschland gefeiert – auch in Liechtenstein, Österreich, Belgien, und in Teilen der Schweiz ist der 1. Mai etwas Besonderes!

Das deutsche Sprachgebiet

Das deutsche Sprachgebiet

Sprachen und Sprachenlernen
Vielfalt in der Einheit

In Deutschland werden neben Deutsch viele andere Sprachen gesprochen. Es gibt die Sprachen der Migranten und Religionsgruppen (Italienern, Spanier, Griechen, Jugoslawen, Türken u.a.). die z.T. bereits seit zwei oder drei Generationen bei uns leben. Außerdem finden sich die Sprachen der autochtonen (= eingesessenen) Volksgruppen wie Sorbisch und Friesisch. Diese Sprachen wurden seit alters her dort gesprochen. Sie wandelten sich erst im Laufe der geschichtlichen Entwicklung zu Minderheitensprachen.

Wo-spricht-man-Deutsch---Poster---Sprachgebiete
Sprachen und Sprachenlernen – Vielfalt in der Einheit

What is a foreign language worth?

JOHNSON is a fan of the Freakonomics books and columns. But this week’s podcast makes me wonder if the team of Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt aren’t overstretching themselves a bit. “Is learning a foreign language really worth it?”, asks the headline. A reader writes:

Is learning a foreign language really worth it?
Is learning a foreign language really worth it?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My oldest daughter is a college freshman, and not only have I paid for her to study Spanish for the last four or more years — they even do it in grade school now! — but her college is requiring her to study EVEN MORE! What on earth is going on? How did it ever get this far? … Or to put it in economics terms, where is the ROI?
To sum up the podcast’s answers, there are pros and cons to language-learning. The pros are that working in a foreign language can make people make better decisions (research Johnson covered here) and that bilingualism helps with executive function in children and dementia in older people (covered here). The cons: one study finds that the earnings bonus for an American who learns a foreign language is just 2%. If you make $30,000 a year, sniffs Mr Dubner, that’s just $600.

But for the sake of provocation, Mr Dubner seems to have low-balled this. He should know the power of lifetime earnings and compound interest. First, instead of $30,000, assume a university graduate, who in America is likelier to use a foreign language than someone without university. The average starting salary is almost $45,000. Imagine that our graduate saves her “language bonus”. Compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe (a statement dubiously attributed to Einstein, but nonetheless worth committing to memory). Assuming just a 1% real salary increase per year and a 2% average real return over 40 years, a 2% language bonus turns into an extra $67,000 (at 2014 value) in your retirement account. Not bad for a few years of “où est la plume de ma tante?”

Accumulated language bonuses
Accumulated language bonuses

Second, Albert Saiz, the MIT economist who calculated the 2% premium, found quite different premiums for different languages: just 1.5% for Spanish, 2.3% for French and 3.8% for German. This translates into big differences in the language account: your Spanish is worth $51,000, but French, $77,000, and German, $128,000. Humans are famously bad at weighting the future against the present, but if you dangled even a post-dated $128,000 cheque in front of the average 14-year-old, Goethe and Schiller would be hotter than Facebook.

Why do the languages offer such different returns? It has nothing to do with the inherent qualities of Spanish, of course. The obvious answer is the interplay of supply and demand. This chart reckons that Spanish-speakers account for a bit more of world GDP than German-speakers do. But an important factor is economic openness. Germany is a trade powerhouse, so its language will be more economically valuable for an outsider than the language of a relatively more closed economy.

But in American context (the one Mr Saiz studied), the more important factor is probably supply, not demand, of speakers of a given language. Non-Latino Americans might study Spanish because they hear and see so much of it spoken in their country. But that might be the best reason not to study the language, from a purely economic point of view. A non-native learner of Spanish will have a hard time competing with a fluent native bilingual for a job requiring both languages. Indeed, Mr Saiz found worse returns for Spanish study in states with a larger share of Hispanics. Better to learn a language in high demand, but short supply—one reason, no doubt, ambitious American parents are steering their children towards Mandarin. The drop-off in recent years in the American study of German might be another reason for young people to hit the Bücher.

And studies like Mr Saiz’s can only work with the economy the researchers have at hand to study. But of course changes in educational structures can have dynamic effects on entire economies. A list of the richest countries in the world is dominated by open, trade-driven economies. Oil economies aside, the top 10 includes countries where trilingualism is typical, like Luxembourg, Switzerland and Singapore, and small countries like the Scandinavian ones, where English knowledge is excellent.

There are of course many reasons that such countries are rich. But a willingness to learn about export markets, and their languages, is a plausible candidate. One study, led by James Foreman-Peck of Cardiff Business School, has estimated that lack of foreign-language proficiency in Britain costs the economy £48 billion ($80 billion), or 3.5% of GDP, each year. Even if that number is high, the cost of assuming that foreign customers will learn your language, and never bothering to learn theirs, is certainly a lot greater than zero. So if Mr Saiz had run his language-premium study against a parallel-universe America, in which the last half-century had been a golden age of language-learning, he might have found a bigger foreign-language bonus (and a bigger GDP pie to divide) in that more open and export-oriented fantasy America. And of course greater investment in foreign-language teaching would have other dynamic effects: more and better teachers and materials, plus a cultural premium on multilingualism, means more people will actually master a language, rather than wasting several years never getting past la plume de ma tante, as happens in Britain and America.

To be sure, everything has an opportunity cost. An hour spent learning French is an hour spent not learning something else. But it isn’t hard to think of school subjects that provide less return—economically, anyway—than a foreign language. What is the return on investment for history, literature or art? Of course schools are intended to do more than create little GDP-producing machines. (And there are also great non-economic benefits to learning a foreign language.) But if it is GDP you’re after, the world isn’t learning English as fast as some people think. One optimistic estimate is that half the world’s people might speak English by 2050. That leaves billions who will not, and billions of others who remain happier (and more willing to spend money) in their own language.

Source: The Economist – Mar 11th 2014, 17:11 BY R.L.G. | BERLIN