|Est. L1 speakers:||95,000,000|
|Est. L2 speakers:||15,000,000|
|Est. total speakers:||110,000,000|
Having lost much of its international and scientific prestige following WWII, German is slowly but steadily regaining its status, nowadays less as the language of science and technology (this spot having been taken by English) and more as the language behind the economic engine of Europe. It is spoken by roughly 100 million people – mainly in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland – and used as a regional / inter-cultural language in a host of other European countries, especially in Central and Eastern Europe.
While it belongs to the same linguistic group as English, and is quite obviously related to it, German is not considered to be a particularly easy language to learn for native English speakers. Though the shock of seeing long, composite words wears off rather quickly, much of the real difficulty resides in the noun case system, which English did away with while German retained. Some researchers have estimated that learning to speak German fluently will require 20%-30% more time compared to, say, Spanish or French.
If you decide to brave it, learning German will open many doors and bring many professional opportunities – especially if you are planning to study, live, or work in Europe at some point in your life.