More than thirty people gathered at the Langmeil Centre in Tanunda earlier this month to learn more about the German language promoted by the Barossa German Language Association (BGLA).
Why learn German in an English speaking country? Professor Peter Mickan addressed the question.
He explained, for the people of the Barossa Valley, German is the language of their ancestors, and if they wish to understand how the first European settlers in the valley thought and how they lived – knowledge of the German language is essential.
“In such places as the Lutheran Archives, the record of their lives can be found, written as they spoke in German,” he said.
In an age of travel and worldwide employment opportunities German is also very useful.
It is the native language for more Europeans than any other, and historically it has been a world language in many fields of science and medicine.
And in everyday, practical terms studies have shown that learning foreign languages assists flexible thinking and improves literacy.
Even though her chosen career does not require a knowledge of German, Stephanie Trinkle, the 2017 Dux of Faith College, Tanunda, has no doubts about the benefits of learning German.
She studied the language throughout her secondary years, is certain to continue using the language and is confident that she will find the language useful when she, like so many her age, leaves Australia to gain overseas experience.
What she found most helpful in her German studies was the group environment, the learning together and sharing of ideas.
To assist with the language, Gundi Tophinke is holding German classes in the Barossa Valley with an aim to set up classes for beginners and for more advanced students.
She will teach from a textbook, because some students may wish to sit examinations (which are not compulsory), but will also employ innovative techniques.
BFGLA president Steffi Traeger supports the language by running Spielgruppe (play group) for pre-school children, because she believes their young minds pick up German words and phrases with ease.
One mother in the audience asked whether classes could continue after the children begin school. Her suggestion was that classes could be held after school and would provide a beneficial alternative to after school care.
From the meeting it was clear that interest in the German language remains strong.
Information about the classes will be posted on the BGLA website when dates and times have been finalised.