我猜他们小时候英语教材里肯定有这两句话，- Do you speak english?- Yes, a little bit. (a 下抑，bit 上扬)这两句话的出现率高到令人发指，能媲美我们的- How are you?- I'm fine. Thank you, and you？
Not all German can perfect English, but it goes. You can almost all understand in your everyday life, if you only English speak.
本答案可能偏题本答案有不雅用语15+是是是，德国人英语勉强凑合啦！但是你以为你逃得过德意志铁路吗？但是你以为你逃得过德意志铁路吗？但是你以为你逃得过德意志铁路吗？但是你以为你逃得过德意志铁路吗？但是你以为你逃得过德意志铁路吗？但是你以为你逃得过德意志铁路吗？报个站你给我只报一遍！！只有德文！！带口音！！哥是身经百战了呀！！好多妹子搭讪啊！！尼玛都是在问“刚才广播说什么”啊！！卧槽旁边那么多德国大叔你不问！！！你绝对是想搭讪我的对不对？！尼玛德国大叔也过来问我刚才广播讲什么啊！！！Ach, der Zug fällt aus.（车挂了）Scheiße!（操！）你甩色我也甩色啊啊啊啊！你个报站都是这样玩的：下一站xxxxxx（德语）下一站xxxxx（德语）下一站xxxxx（德语） next station, Frankfurt Airport 下一站xxxxx（德语）。。。。尼玛啊！！不过呆个两三年就习惯啦！
I am a German, married to a French wife. In my own company, the only company language is EnglishFirst of all: The question is justified. In deed, the average English level of German people is comparatively really good, much better than the average English level of French, Italian or Spanish people for example.
If you are lost, ask for directions on the street, not everybody in Germany will speak English or speak it well, but you will quickly find somebody who does, even if you talk to random people.
If your main concern is, if you can life in Germany, and get by only with English, my answer is very clear: Yes, that is absolutely possible. As long as you are not lost in a tiny village of 100 people in the middle of the woods, but in a town or city, you will be fine.
If you go to the former West-Germany, it will be even better than in former East Germany, because there, Russian was the mandatory foreign language to learn, and the populations have not mixed that much since the reunification in 1990. Of course, that is not true for Berlin, Dresden, Leipzig.
You will also find that our German language becomes more and more full of anglicism, English words used as part of a German sentence. Here some popular examples from the past couple of years:
You get the picture. For a German like me, this can even be painful: I can understand that new developments rather get global words (typically English), rather than many new words in local languages. That is especially true for the world of computers and telecommunication with their fast innovation cycles. So it seems normal that we Germans also speak about "servers, screens, smart phones, cloud computing, or virus scanner".
What I find painful sometimes is the idea that especially in product advertisement, English vocabulary replaces German words which are perfectly fine, and it suggests, that the English version is somehow better, more valuable.
Example: German commercials will talk about "kids" rather than "Kinder" = German for children.
Check out this example
Only "eis" = ice cream is still in German, the other 85% are English. Everybody understands "in the city" or "soft" in Germany, no problem. But why do it this way at all?
This has led to what we call "Denglish"= mixtture of Deutsch (German) and English.
And sometimes, it shows the utter lack of understanding of English:
In such a case I would say: A single language, but correct, would have been better.
Anyhow, for your purpose (live in Germany without knowledge of German), it is actually ideal.
In France, it might be much harder.
When I was in high school in Germany, 20% of my classmates spent 6 or 12 months abroad, almost all in an English speaking country (most in the US, some Canada, Australia, New Zealand, UK). Myself, I spent 12 months in the US, in a small place where nobody spoke German, and I started to think and dream in English after only a few weeks of intense immersion.
The main characteristic of the German accent in English is that many can't fully well pronounce the "th", and replace is by "s". It is like the Chinese replacing "r" by "l". If you know that, it is easy to adjust.
So what are the reasons for good English?
The French don't necessarily prioritize English as first foreign language. In Germany, that is the norm. Only very few schools (like mine, when I went to high school) start with the dead language Latin. For me, English was second, at age 12.
My wife started with Spanish, which is more normal here in the South of France. Traditionally, there is also a large number of students starting with German, of course more towards the border with Germany in the East. That share is declining, but it's still there.
Next I think is the fact that French people have a lower need to speak foreign languages than Germans. Germany has more borders with other countries than any other country in Europe. Also, German is spoken as mother tongue only by Austrians and a part of Swiss people besides Germans.
When you look at smaller countries, their language skills are even much better. Take the Dutch, the Swedes, the Danish or Norwegians.
French people prefer to stay in their own cultural context, and often they can.
Compare that to the British, as the most extreme case: Having had the better part of the world as a colony once, their language is spoken globally. In consequence, their own skills of foreign languages are quite underdeveloped. There is simply no pressure.
Germany and France are in the middle between the Nordic or Baltic states and the UK. But Germany is a little bit more like the small countries, while France is a little more like the UK.
In France itself, people are known for not speaking English, even if they could, simply in order to force the other side to speak French. This is maybe gradually disappearing, as most of the other things I mentioned above are also changing. But It still can be felt a little. Some French still take themselves for "La grande Nation", = the great nation, and want others to adapt.
Germans on the other hand love to travel. They are "world champions in travel", at least by per-capita budget.
German and English are both Germanic Languages. French is a romanic language = of Latin origin.
It is probably easier for a German to learn English than for a French.