In Hannover, Essen, Dusseldorf & Berlin german, speaking English Fluently is A-typical amongst the cab drivers, bell hops, hotel reception, waitresses, and other service personnel I encountered 2 weeks ago. Some speak it in a very limited sense. Others have about a "first year's introduction" of basic vocabulary and sentence structure, but cannot form their thoughts or understand just a few expressions. This is a contrast from what I found around Munich, Frankfurt, and Seigen, where English proficiency was "normal & expected". And it was unlike Dresden and Freital, where the languages spoken were primarily German & Russian, with very very very little English and absolutely No French.
This unexpected lack of English fluency often made communication a challenge. My 2 years of High School German and one year of University German meant I could speak German about as well as a 5 or 6 year old child of idiocracy, slowly, with basic Worschatz (vocabulary), and we'd manage to have short, hesitant, conversations or interactions that relied more upon gesturing and pointing and inference than on actual concise communication. I was SO VERY happy to get to France after 5 days in Germany, for the language, food, wine, culture, and the fact that it had been 10 years since my last business visit, and 8 years since my last vacation in France. Plus the fact, I am nearly fluent in French.
1 year ago