More than 100 teenagers from across the globe gathered in Frankfurt this week to compete in the German Language Olympics, singling out their favourite words and aiming to learn new ones.
Two students and a teacher from each of 50 countries on five continents have arrived in Frankfurt to show their language skills, “demonstrate creativity and ability to work in a team,” said Institute spokeswoman Angelika Ludwig.
“Isolieren”, to isolate, and Wasserhahn tap, are two of 17-year-old Janne Song’s favourite words, she said. Korean-born, New Zealand raised Song has been learning German as a fourth language after Korean, French and English.
German was full of “cute words”, the 17-year-old said, as she embarked on two weeks of quizzes, debates and theatre performances in the third such competition organised by the Goethe Institute.
Hamburg and Dresden have previously hosted the competition, but this year the teenagers are meeting in Frankfurt. Song said she thought it was “very German”, adding that this was “maybe because there are so many bridges and the houses are all so old.”
Her trip was also breaking down some assumptions – she said many people in New Zealand thought Germans were only interested in “cars and beer and maybe football.” But in reality, Song said she had found everyone really friendly, and the country very international.
Vigorous rounds of naming different German towns, taking part in role-play and answering questions such as “Are people in Germany more open or closed than those in your home town?” will result in a winner which will be announced on July 13.