Berlin Is Being Swamped By English-Speakers & These Germans Aren’t Having It

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These days, the idea of moving to Berlin is one that many of us in our 20s or 30s will entertain. What with the relatively low cost of living, highly appealing rent controls, laid-back culture and extraordinary nightlife, the German capital pretty much has everything a frazzled Brit could want. So it's no wonder that there are nearly 14,000 of us living there – a number that only looks set to rise post-Brexit as more of us consider dual citizenship.
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But there's a downside to the influx of English-speaking people, including Americans, choosing to make their lives in Berlin, according to prominent German politicians. Too many people are speaking English in the city, with some restaurant staff speaking no German at all, said Jens Spahn, a deputy finance minister and high-profile voice on the right wing of the CDU, Chancellor Angela Merkel's party.
"It drives me up the wall the way waiters in Berlin restaurants only speak English," Spahn told German newspaper Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung, adding that Germans are too relaxed about the matter. “You would never find this craziness in Paris.”
The 37-year-old believes all immigrants should have to learn the local language, saying that peaceful "co-existence can only work in Germany if we all speak German". The country's language has become a political issue in recent years as many believe it's under threat from immigration.
Since last year, it's been compulsory for asylum seekers to learn German and take "integration courses" if they want to claim benefits and live there permanently. However, EU residents don't have to meet the same requirements, meaning it's relatively easy for them to move to the city to look for work in industries such as hospitality.
It's easy to get by in Berlin with little-to-no German, as English is taught in the country's schools from primary level and it's considered an important skill. Some areas in particular are teeming with English-speaking expats, such as Mitte and Prenzlauer Berg.
However, it's not only Spahn who's frustrated by the dominance of English in the country. Three German MPs wrote a letter to Chancellor Merkel and EU officials last week urging the government to support German being used at official functions and within EU institutions, reported The Guardian, adding that German shouldn't be considered a “scrapheap language”.
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