(The) German (language.... has a reputation for having) ....grammar. (Duh! But after years of dwindling interest in foreign language learning in general), the European debt crisis seems to help German to some sort of a renaissance. German language courses are in high demand.
It's three p.m. at the adult evening education center VHS in Hamburg. A long line of people has formed and one after the other, they take a number from the machine and join the crowd already sitting in the waiting room ready to register for the German language classes. Over the next three hours, Anna Neves from VHS and her four colleagues will work non-stop.
"The demand for language classes started rising about a year ago," Neves said. "Every day, we are now dealing with an average of 100 people who we consult and whose language skills we assess."
In comparison to 2010, the number of applications for German classes has increased by 30 percent at the center in Hamburg. Neves said people from southern European euro crisis countries, in particular, are now coming to learn German.
"Many come to us from the Spanish-speaking world, from Spain itself or from South America, who reside in Spain," Neves said, adding that Portuguese and Greeks didn't come at all in the past while now their number is also on the rise.
Large crowds at registration
The Office of Statistics for Hamburg confirms Neves' observations. In 2011, Hamburg saw a considerable rise in the number of residency registrations. Some 2,200 people moved to Hamburg, 600 more than in 2010, and most of them from Spain.
The air is stuffy in the waiting room at the education center. Susana Millan Prol holds a slip of paper with the number 78. There are 30 people still ahead of her. The 31-year-old came to Hamburg two months ago. "In Spain, I study tourism," she said, "but I only ever have a job in the summer. I came here to learn a bit of German. I believe that'll be good for me."