Celebrating Oktoberfest Like the Germans Do – Language & Culture Tips

If you want to celebrate Oktoberfest like the Germans do, you have to think like a native. Sure, you may already be looking forward to consuming large amounts of beer, along with the occasional sausage or pretzel, but remember, there’s a lot more to the festival than the goodies. Munich’s Oktoberfest is the world’s largest folk festival, and it is a very important part of Bavarian culture. If you’re going to be in attendance (or attend a local variation in your hometown), you’ll have the perfect opportunity to embrace that culture. Here are a few tips that will help you make the most out of your experience:


Break Down the Language Barrier & Connect with Natives

One of the best things about Oktoberfest is that it’s a coming together of people, all for the sake of merriment and tradition. While there are quite a few Australians and Britons in attendance at the Munich Oktoberfest, most of the festival-goers hail from Bavaria and other parts of Germany. If you want to have a full, authentic experience, it’s important that you take the necessary steps to connect with the locals–and that can be hard when you’re speaking two different languages. The key? Break down the language barrier.

Watching locals enjoy the festivities is one thing; conversing with them and immersing yourself in their culture will provide you with a whole different experience. To prepare for this year’s Oktoberfest, learn how to speak like a native. Whether you want to learn how to speak German fluently in time for the festival, or you just want to pick up a few helpful phrases, our foreign language experts at City Speakeasy will help you achieve your goal. Here are a few German language tips that will help you get started:


Rejoice In the Similarities

English comes from the Germanic language family, so English speakers will be happy to find quite a few similarities between the two. First off, English and German use the same 26 letter alphabet (although the German alphabet does include an additional four characters:  ä, ö, ü and ß.) Because of this, studying German will prove to be far less jarring than studying a language with an entirely different writing system (ex: Japanese or Arabic).

Another similarity is that German and English words often follow the same grammatical rules. Take verb patterns, for instance. Verbs in both languages change according to tense, and these changes are so similar that English speakers can easily pick up on general verb patterns, even in the very beginning of their German studies. Here is an example:

  • English: Sink, Sank, Sunk
  • German: Sinkt, Sank, Gesunken

Lastly, German and English also share a wide variety of words that have the same meaning, and are either identical, or very close to one another in appearance. Brush up on these cognates. Not only will they be helpful building blocks when it comes to your language acquisition, but they’ll help you maintain confidence during conversation.


Get Familiar with Noun Genders

Here’s another bit of advice for those who want to speak German fluently in time for Oktoberfest: get familiar with articles and noun genders. In English, our nouns are not gendered–but in German, nouns can have one of three genders. Don’t worry; it’s a lot to get used to, but if you familiarize yourself with gender rules right away, you’ll save yourself a lot of confusion down the line.

Looking for a quick way to determine a noun’s gender? Pay close attention to word endings. While identifying the word’s gender based on the word ending isn’t technically a rule, it is successful approximately 80% percent of the time, and will help you to speak German fluently at a much faster rate.


Don’t Be Afraid to Speak As You Learn–With German, It’s Easy

German is a phonetically consistent language–which means that words that are native to the language are almost always pronounced the way they are spelled. (There are a few exceptions, but most words with a more complex pronunciation were originally borrowed from other languages over the years.) Because of this, German is a very easy language to speak as you learn.

If you want to learn how to speak German fluently, pay close attention to the sounds that are associated with particular spellings. (If you’re interested in how to learn german fast, look up a pronunciation guide on the internet.) Once you know how to properly identify and pronounce these sounds, you’ll be able to correctly pronounce every German word that you come into contact with. How does this translate to your time at Oktoberfest? You’ll be able to properly read fliers and order from menus, even if you haven’t been exposed to some of the words before.


How to Learn German Fast with City Speakeasy

If Oktoberfest is fast approaching, and you’re in need of some hands-on guidance, let our experts at City Speakeasy help you with your language acquisition. Not only will our award-winning linguists teach you how to learn german fast, but our immersion classes will also give you the opportunity to use what you’ve learned in a real-world setting–it’s the perfect stepping stone leading up to Oktoberfest! Contact us today for more information.

Now that you have the language aspect covered, here are a few helpful culture tips that will help you celebrate Oktoberfest like the locals:


Dress Appropriately

It’s not required that you dress in traditional German garb for Oktoberfest. However, if you want to blend in with the locals and make the most of your experience, it’s definitely favorable. Be mindful, however, of the outfit you choose. Women are expected to wear dirndls, and men are expected to wear lederhosen. Because there is a lot of broken glass strewn on the ground, and festival-goers are packed into confined tents, sensible shoes are required.

Traditional outfits can be bought or rented for the festival, but be wary of dirndls that are on the tacky side (made with shiny fabric, neon hues, and rhinestones) or fall above the knee. These outfits are frowned upon by locals.


Don’t Be Afraid to Rub Elbows

During Oktoberfest, sharing is caring–especially when it comes to the tables. All tables that have been set up inside the tents are communal. Now that you’ve learned how to speak German fluently, or at least picked up a few basics, put you work to the test. Don’t be afraid to rub elbows with strangers. Offer up the seats next to your own if someone is looking to sit down, or ask if a seat is taken before joining in with a merry-looking bunch. There’s no better opportunity for you to chat up some locals and make a Wiesenbekanntschaft (an Oktoberfest acquaintance) or two.


Be Considerate of the Waitresses–No Touching!

Waitressing at Oktoberfest is hard work. Imagine squeezing through tight crowds, carrying 6-8 full glasses of beer at a time. Now imagine doing it for hours, with no break, as you care for countless inebriated festival-goers. With all of that effort, patience, and mounting stress, it’s clear to see why your waitress deserves your tips and your consideration. Do not touch, tap, or grab at your waitress–even if you’re just trying to get her attention. She will see you, she will serve you, and if you get on her bad side, she will not hesitate to scold you (and that’s the nice way of saying it).


Bring Cash & Expect High Prices

Germany is a country that runs on cash, and while some places may accept credit cards, it’s not something you should expect. What you should expect, however, is that you’ll have to pay a pretty penny every time you want to wet your whistle in one of the Oktoberfest tents. A single mass (a glass that holds a liter of beer) will cost you around $11! To save on money–and better enjoy your time–don’t be afraid to pace yourself. All of the beer that’s served at Oktoberfest is brewed Munich’s six breweries, and all are stronger than your average variety. Pacing yourself will help you go easy on your wallet and stop you from ending up under a table before the evening festivities even begin.

Tip: while there are ATMs on the festival grounds, you should make sure you’re well-equipped for the day’s festivities before entering. You don’t want to find yourself stuck in an extremely long line–or, even worse, find out that the ATMs have already run out of cash.


Go Get Your Drink On!

Now that you’ve finished our crash course on how to celebrate Oktoberfest like a local, it’s time to go get your drink on! For more insight on how you can learn german fast, feel free to contact our foreign language experts at City Speakeasy today! We’ll get you on the fast track to fluency.