Contrary to popular belief, not everyone speaks fluent English in Europe. And while most Germans know at least some English because they learned it in school, most of the people you meet will have been out of school for a long time. (How much Spanish do you remember from high school?)
A little understanding of the language will go a long way in making your trip more enjoyable, and everyone will be very appreciative of your efforts to speak their language.
Below are some basic words and phrases to get you started.
Feel free to print these out and bring along on your trip. Each page also has extra spaces for new words and phrases you learn and would like to remember.
Pronounciation Guide - A few general notes and English equivalents of all of the German sounds.
Basic Essentials - The most frequently used words and phrases, like "good morning", "please", "thank you", "excuse me", "Do you speak English?", "I would like..." and probably the most important phrase, "Where is the restroom?"
Emergency Phrases - Common injuries, medical attention phrases and words and phrases to know in case of an emergency.
Asking for Directions - Basic terms and phrases for asking directions, and more importantly, understanding the directions you are given.
General Travel/Airport Information - Terms for navigating your way through airports, train stations and customs.
Food Terminology - Terms for all of the basic foods (meats, seafood, vegetables, fruits, dairy, etc...)
Restaurant Terminology - Basic restaurant and menu terms as well as phrases to help you better communicate with your server.
Shopping Terminology - Words and phrases for navigating your way through a store and asking for help in finding what you want.
Banking Terminology - The numbers and general terms and phrases about money and banking.
Hotel, Post Office, Telephone Information - Terms and phrases for communicating with hotel staff, sending something at the post office, and telephone calls. (See the Communications page in this section for more specific information on understanding the German telephone system.)
Pharmacy Terminology & Parts of the Body - Learn the parts of the body as well as phrases for purchasing medicine at the Apotheke.
The Time, Weather, and Colors - General time terminology (parts of the day, days of the week, months, seasons), asking what time it is, weather phrases, and the colors.