How to get started

One of the first things you should consider when going to Germany is to learn the German language. Of course, most of the people here speak English, but as soon as it comes to applying and working at a German company, it will make things much easier for you if you are able to understand and talk in German.
See Intercultural Differences for some basic vocabulary that you might need in everyday life, working life and for your application.

You are already getting things ready for your stay in Germany? You do already have a training place/ place at university or still plan to apply?
Learning German is something you could do beforehand in your home country or in Germany before you start to work or study. In this case, you should schedule to have a few weeks (2 to 8 weeks for an intensive course) or a couple of months (3 to 12 months for long-term courses) prior to your training period/ semester.
These are some institutions that offer courses for German as a foreign language:

Institution Website Details
VHS (Volkshochschule) Affordable prices (price reduction for students, trainees and university students)
Goethe Institut The Goethe Institut offers different course programmes and accommodation
DAAD (Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst) The DAAD provides a search engine that searches for German courses at German higher education institutions (e.g. universities)
Berlitz – A Global Education Company German courses as group instruction or individual instruction in more than 60 language centres in Germany
Higher education institutions (universities and universities of applied sciences/ advanced technical colleges) If you want to study in Germany, look on your university of choice's website and find out if it offers preparative German courses

Vocabulary List for Beginners

No matter if you have already mastered the difficult German language or if you are still working hard on it – here are some useful phrases you might need during your first stay in Germany.

Everyday life

German English
(rather informal, can be used the whole day)

„Grüß Gott.“ / „Servus.“
(used in areas of southern Germany)

„Moin.“/ „Moin Moin“
(used in areas of northern Germany)
“Hello.” / “Hi.”
„Auf Wiedersehen“
(short form: Wiederseh'n.)
“Bye bye.”
„Guten Morgen.“
(typically said until noon)

„Guten Tag.“
(used from noon till around 6 pm)

„Guten Abend.“

„Gute Nacht.“
(before going to bed)
“Good morning.”

“Good day”

“Good evening.”

“Good night.”
„...bitte....“ / „Bitteschön.“/ „Bittesehr“ “...please...”/ “you are welcome”
„Danke.“ / „Dankesehr“
„Wo ist hier der nächste Bäcker/ Supermarkt?“ “Where is the closest bakery/ supermarket?”
„Wissen Sie, wo man hier Batterien bekommt?“ “Do you know where to buy batteries?”
„Gehen wir einen Kaffee trinken?“ “Shall we go and have a coffee?”
„Können Sie mir bitte sagen, wie spät es ist?“ “Can you please tell me what time it is?”
„Ich hätte gerne 500 Gramm Erdbeeren.“ “I'd like to have 500g of strawberries.”
„Ich möchte ein Bankkonto eröffnen.“ “I'd like to open a bank account.”
Öffnungszeiten “Opening hours”
Mwst (= Mehrwertsteuer) Value-added tax
„Gibt es das auch in Größe M?“ “Is it available in size M?”
„Ich suche ein Geschenk für meinen Bruder.“ “I am looking for a present/gift for my brother.”
„Ich hätte gerne/ bräuchte ein Ticket bis zum Alexanderplatz.“
(“Ticket“ is „Fahrkarte“ in German, but the English term is used more frequently)
“I'd like to have/ need a ticket to Alexanderplatz.”
„Ich brauche einen Termin zur Vorsorgeuntersuchung.“ “I need an appointment for medical check-up.”
„Ich würde gerne mit der Frau Meier sprechen./ Ist Frau Meier geradezu sprechen?“
(used when calling someone)
“I'd like to talk to Ms. Meier./ Is Ms. Meier available right now?”


German English
Bewerbung application
Kandidat/ Kandidatin
Die Bewerbungsfrist ist abgelaufen.
closing date for applications
The application deadline has expired.
Bewerbungsmappe application portfolio
Deckblatt title page
Anschreiben/ Bewerbungsanschreiben covering letter
Sehr geehrter Herr .../ Sehr geehrte Frau...

Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren
(not frequently used because companies prefer that you figure out your person to contact and address him or her directly)
Dear Mr.../ Dear Ms. ...

Dear Sir or Madam
Ansprechpartner/ Ansprechpartnerin
person to contact
Mit freundlichen Grüßen,
(at the end of a letter or e-mail)
Sincerely, ...
Unterschrift signature
Teamgeist team spirit
Einsatz, Engagement commitment
Eigenmotivation self-motivation
Zuverlässigkeit, Verlässlichkeit
Ich bin sehr zuverlässig.
dependability, reliability
I am highly reliable.
sprachgewandt, ausdrucksfähig eloquent
flexibel flexible
hohe Lernbereitschaft profound willingness to learn
Motivation, Elan drive, energy, motivation
Selbstbewusstsein, Selbstvertrauen self-confidence
Verantwortungsbewusstsein sense of responsibility
Sorgfalt meticulousness
kontaktfreudig enjoying communication
Einfühlungsvermögen, Empathie empathy
Ich bin handwerklich begabt./ Ich habe handwerkliches Geschick. I am prone to handicraft.
Verkaufstalent sales talent
selbstständig independent
Eigeninitiative zeigen (to) be proactive (doing things on one's own initiative)
Zeitmanagement time management
tabellarischer Lebenslauf
Curriculum Vitae
table format CV
work experience
internships/ placements
Zeugnisse und Zertifikate school reports and certificates
per E-mail
per Online-Formular
per Postweg
by e-mail
by an online application form
by post
Anschrift address
Porto postage
Initiativbewerbung speculative application
Unternehmen/ Firma company/ enterprise
Vorstellungsgespräch/ Bewerbungsgespräch (job) interview
Gehaltsvorstellungen salary expectation
Stärken und Schwächen assets and weaknesses
„Wieso bewerben Sie sich gerade bei uns?“ “Why do you apply for a job in our company?”

Working life

German English
„Wo finde ich hier die Toilette?“ “Where is the lavatory/ bathroom?”
„Wann ist nochmal das Meeting/ die Konferenz heute?“ “Could you tell me once again when the meeting takes place today?”
„Bis wann soll das fertig sein?“ “When is this due?”
„Ich würde gerne mit Ihnen über meine Aufgabe sprechen.“ “I would like to talk about my area of responsibility with you.”
(can be said to colleagues at meal time)
Word-to-word translation: “Meal time”
„Wie war Ihr Wochenende?“ “How was your weekend?”
„Sind Sie damit einverstanden, wenn ich mal das Fenster öffne?“ “Is it okay for you if I open the window for a little bit?”
„Haben Sie vielleicht einen Kugelschreiber für mich?“ “Could I borrow your pen, please?”
Ausbilder Trainer
Berufsschule Vocational school
„Das habe ich nicht verstanden“ „I did not understand that“
Berichtsheft Report
„Können Sie mir das erläutern?“ „Could you please explain that to me?“