Life in Germany is hard, so Germans don’t have the energy to work as much as Americans. Even German professionals punch the clock to track their time spent at work down to the minute. The concept of flex time is nearly universal in Germany as is the constant complaining by every German employee that they have so many overtime hours that they don’t know how to get rid of. It is such a burden to them knowing that they are needed by their employers yet owed more time off, because their 30 days of vacation and multitude of holidays a year just aren’t enough, when they work a little longer on the few days a year that they actually go to the office.
When the stress of trying to take care of their own leisure time needs and work place demands simultaneously gets to be too much, Germans go to a doctor to get prescribed a six week Kur, a sort of health spa retreat, where they can enjoy the benefit of having their health insurance pay for the all-inclusive resort, and their employer paying them their full salary for learning horseback riding and cooking. The best part for Germans is that these count as sick days and don’t take away any of their thirty days of vacation.
Germans are delicate and need lots of time to erholen, to sort of rejuvenate, and they need at least one vacation a year with 3 consecutive weeks to properly recoup. This is best done in a sunny place like Greece, Turkey, Spain, or Portugal. In America we tell each other to have fun on vacation, Germans command each other to erholen themselves well.
Germans don’t make very many babies, but the ones who do are well rewarded for leaving their employers in a precarious position. Whether they are male or female, Germans can take maternity or paternity leave for up to three years and their employers must hold a place for them, so they can waltz back into corporate life right where they left off. These poor workers can still complain though that they unfairly have to start back where they left off, having missed out on 3 years of raises and promotion opportunities.
Posters of snow-capped castles, Oktoberfest revelry and Albert Einstein decorate the walls of Claudia Keller's classroom in Frisco. She's only missing students. Six attend her AP German class, the only one in the school district.
Across the country, German is sputtering next to its garrulous Spanish competitor, and now Mandarin is grabbing the spotlight.
Even in Texas, a state once known for its meat-and-potatoes heritage and annual polka festivals, German's lost the love.
The battle of the tongues is tight. Foreign languages remain a low priority among American students, who start later and study fewer years than counterparts in many other countries. Teachers blame this language loss on budget constraints and a heavier focus on core subjects such as science and math.
But they also point to a societal crutch: Students know they can always rely on English. This leaves German teachers trying to prove that languages have value and that German is still worth it.
"These days we're just happy when kids are taking any language," said Helene Zimmer-Loew, executive director of the American Association of Teachers of German. "It's pitiful. And I have a feeling German might be one of the losers."
National membership in the group has dropped by 2,000 in a little more than a decade, she said. Hawaii is down to five members.
About 200 students study German in Frisco ISD, compared with more than 3,000 enrolled in Spanish classes. It's the least-celebrated language in the district, behind even American Sign Language. It also has the smallest enrollment in Richardson, where Japanese and Latin are more popular. Highland Park and Lovejoy ISD have dropped their German programs and taken up Mandarin instead.
This collective disinterest had the opposite effect on Frisco High School senior Chase Porter, a student in Keller's AP class. "Everybody else takes Spanish," he said, "so I went for German."
Porter is one of a handful of students who study a language throughout high school. Texas students are required to take only two years of foreign language, and in many area schools, at least half don't continue.
That mirrors the rest of the country. Nationwide, less than half of students take foreign languages in public high school, according to the most recent report from the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. The percentage of students enrolled in these classes has crept up just 2.5 percentage points since 1990.
The numbers are flipped in Europe. About 60 percent of high school students in the European Union studied at least two foreign languages in 2007, according to Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Communities. Only 6 percent didn't study at least one.
"There just doesn't seem to be as much of a push here to find and embrace solutions to language deficits," said Steve Ackley, a spokesman for the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. "There's a lot of lip service but languages are not being translated into things schools are graded on."
Beverly LeMaster, a retired German teacher who taught in North Texas for 30 years, said that mentality plays almost as significant a role in marginalizing language classes as funding does.
"Part of it is good old American arrogance," she said. "Haven't you heard, 'I don't need to learn another language; everyone speaks English?' "
The educational structures in place reinforce that notion, LeMaster said.
"We're not immersing them at an early age, and we're teaching them one hour a day," she said. "By the end of two years, it's impossible to have any fluency."
German's suffering even more because it can no longer draw on the intrigue of ancestral ties or frequent exchange programs, said Gray Westmoreland, president of the Texas German Society and a former German teacher in Yoakum, Texas.
"Young people just don't seem to be interested in cultural heritage," he said. "It's a real pitfall in teaching this language."
The German influence in Texas stretches back to the 19th century, when job opportunities and open land brought thousands to Central Texas. The community expanded, leaving legacies like the town of New Braunfels and Shiner beer. More than 2.7 million Texans claim German ancestry, according to the 2008 American Community Survey done by the Census Bureau. More than 112,000 Collin County residents report German heritage, nearly 15 percent of the population.
Backlash from the World Wars silenced a number of German speakers, but German language study gained popularity again as a result of the Cold War. Texas became a prime location for military bases as did Germany, where many American soldiers landed at some point in their careers. And military children like Kevin Lariscy returned to Texas hoping to continue their language study.
He remembers full classes at Lamar High School in Arlington in the late 1980s. Almost two decades later, he struggles to speak more than a few pleasantries – even though he lives in New Braunfels, with one of the oldest German communities in Texas.
"There is definitely an influx of other cultures watering down the tradition," he said, adding that taquerias now outnumber delis.
A reshaped ethnic landscape doesn't mean German shouldn't still get credit in public high schools, said Frisco's Keller as she joked with her small batch of students about pronoun placement.
She points out that Germany is the world's biggest exporter and Europe's largest economy. It's a leader in research and high-tech products. German tourists are the largest spenders of vacation money in the world. And its lively punk and metal music scene spawned a generation of imitators.
Foreign languages, she said, "open us to different cultures so that not everything is Texas, America."
Then she smiled and gave a courtesy nod. One student had just roared from across the room: "No English!"
Traute Malhotra (President German/American Chamber of Commerce NTX), Charlotte von Engelbrechten (Principal of German Intl. School) and her husband Malte, Roland Herrmann, General Consul of the Federal Republic of Germany, Karl Ziebarth (President Dallas Goethe Center) and Andreas Bremer (Board Member of German Intl. School)
You want more information about the German International School in Dallas?
Two important changes have recently gone into effect with Texas law pertaining to DPS (Department of Public safety).
Assignees/Expatriates coming from Germany may now exchange their driver’s license, similar to Canadian transferees, without taking the driving test. The documentation required to receive a state driver’s license remains the same.
The USA Bid Committee, which sent letters to stadium operators in major markets in the U.S., has named the two Dallas sports sites as possible host locations for the 2018 or 2022 World Cup.
The committee says 70 stadiums in 50 metropolitan areas are up for consideration.
The bidding criteria includes the capacity to handle 40,000 or more sporting spectators. Among the stadiums up for consideration, more than 65 have a capacity above 60,000 and 20 can hold more than 80,000 spectators.
“The United States is uniquely qualified to stage the FIFA World Cup in 2018 or 2022 as demonstrated by the dozens of metropolitan markets with venues capable of staging World Cup matches in every respect, from the quality of their stadiums to their overall ability to accommodate thousands of fans, news media and visitors,” said Sunil Gulati, U.S. Soccer president.
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The North Texas Chapter of the German American Chamber of Commerce celebrated their annual membership appreciation event on December 4, 2008 in the lobby of the Mercantile Place upscale apartments on Main Street in the heart of downtown Dallas with a beautiful view over the Dallas skyline.
We are thankful for the support of our main sponsors, Dan Hughes with The Mercantile apartments who made it possible to use one of their lobby's on the 14th floor for our Christmas Event. A special thanks to Dan as well for taking our guests on several tours throughout the entire apartment complex.
Vertima Smith, owner of Le Soiree Catering spoiled our guests with delicious Hors-d’œuvre's and a beautiful arranged fruit buffet.
Special thanks goes to the following companies who donated products for our silent auction:
The Bavarian Grill, Eugene Flynn, GermanDeli.com, La Buena Vida Vineyard and Lufthansa German Airlines.
The winning bidders will help us to make a donation to the Dirk Nowitzki Foundation.
A special thanks goes to Jorge Varela with Technology for Business Corporation, who was the highest bidder of the night and received a picture signed by Dirk Nowitzki.
The other winners are: Patrick Moebel with ABX Logistics USA, Eugene Flynn with Eugene Flynn, P.C., Lothar Katz with Leadership Crossroads and Traute Malhotra with THM Realty.
Another special thanks goes to the Event organizing team Traute Malhotra, Alexandra Kinney, Kristin Drauschke, Christina Stoll-Shewmaker and Nathalie Flat for her continous support during the year.
Alex Kinney, Christina Stoll-Shewmaker, Nathalie Flatt and Kristin Drauschke (not on picture Director of the GACC Traute Malhotra)
Here are some more pictures, - hope to see you next year again! Merry Christmas everyone and all the best for 2009!
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