Vienna - Post Report Question and Answers

How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

You can get away without learning German, but your life will be easier if you take at least some lessons. I find it makes my day-to-day a lot nicer when I can at least try to communicate in German. I get a lot more respect that way. Classes aren't cheap, but there are lots of online courses now that are a little less expensive. - Sep 2022

Most young people speak English, but it's good to have at least the basics down. In the countryside, sometimes there won't be any english speakers at a hotel/restaurant. - Sep 2021

Some basic phrases of German are helpful. I wish I had put in more time and energy into the language. Classes are available at the Embassy and local community centers. - Feb 2019

Most Austrians speak English, particularly in Vienna. When I learned German at FSI, I was told that Austrians would understand me but that I wouldn't necessarily understand them. That was often true, though I think my German was good enough that, if I made the effort, Austrians usually kept the conversation going in German. - Jul 2018

More local language is needed outside of the Inner Stadt and the expat districts. Local language classes are numerous and run across a wide price range, depending on the level and intensity of instruction. - Nov 2017

You need some German out for signage, train announcements, and shopping Qs and As. - Jun 2016

When I first arrived I desperately wanted to improve my basic German skills. 95% of the time when I try to speak German people automatically switch to very decent English. It makes it hard to learn and too easy to get by without German. - Mar 2015

Always good to know at least how to buy food, and a few other basic phrases. Many people speak English, but one's experience is always better with local language knowledge. - Jul 2014

You can get by without any German, but life will be a LOT easier if you have some language. - Mar 2014

I am a native German speaker so it's hard for me to say but it seems like that everyone understands some degree of English! This is a tourist city, after all. But, keep in mind that like in any other city, a little bit of the local language goes a long way. - Aug 2013

I really think it helps a LOT to have at least some German. Many people here speak English, but many do not. And, nearly all signage etc. is in German only. To really enjoy living here, it helps to at least be able to understand menus, labels, tram announcements, etc. The embassy has a pretty good language program and I also know lots of people who have taken month-long intensive courses at one of the local language institutes. German is a tough language to speak well, but it is not too difficult to acquire some basic vocabulary, numbers, greetings, etc. I get by quite nicely with my minimal ability, picked up on the fly and in weekly conversation classes. - May 2013

None really. It's nice to have some German, but you can get by just fine without it. Pretty much everyone here speaks some English. - Jan 2013

You don't NEED much, but any German you can speak would be helpful. Austrians aren't super interested in customer service, so knowing some German would be helpful with that. - Aug 2011

A lot more than you'd think. There is a real fear of looking dumb among this culture. So if someone does not speak English, they will respond with disgust. Make a strong effort to learn basics ahead of time and use the local phrases even if you think you sound dumb. It goes a long way to get what you want (but do not expect a smile). - Aug 2011

In Vienna, none. Most educated people speak English. But it helps to know some German, especially in the countryside. - Aug 2009

You could probably get by with no German, but it just makes things so much easier and more interesting. - Aug 2009

Just a bit of German (Austrian dialect) goes far. English is fine tho. - Jul 2009

Little, but make no mistake, this is a German speaking country. You can get by with no German, but I think you're better off knowing some. - Apr 2008

Many Austrians speak English and they are happy to practice it. That was not really helpful for me because I couldn't practice my German. - Jan 2008

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