Europe has recently increased its migration rate. According to the Eurostat statistics, Germany has the most non-EU immigrants in the EU countries as on 1 January 2018 with a total number of 9.7 million, followed by the United Kingdom (6.3 million) and Italy (5.1) million.
Living in a society of people with different cultural backgrounds may be challenging. For this reason, managing Europe’s increasing cultural diversity represents a priority for the Council of Europe, whose aim is to ensure a vibrant and open society without discrimination and that is beneficial to everyone. Intercultural dialogue is crucial to achieve these goals to prevent ethnic, religious, linguistic and cultural divides.
Language is an essential tool for intercultural dialogue, which in turn is needed for integration. Based on European Commission’s statistics on migrant integration, the successful measures of migrant integration are: employment, education, active participation in the society.
Undoubtedly, language is a gateway to the mentioned elements of successful integration. It is therefore essential that the migrants learn the language of their host countries. Although the Council of Europe’s White Paper acknowledges the value of languages used by the migrants, it recognises the importance of learning the language of the host country to achieve a successful integration. The European Charter for Regional of Minority Languages emphasizes on recognising the minority languages as contributory to the diversification of cultural heritage. Language learning encourages openness among people and makes them ready to discover the culture of others. Moreover, discovering cultures of other people may help to change stereotypes or attitudes about individuals belonging to other cultures.
Language situation in Germany
With the increased rate of migration in Germany, immigrants speak their native languages. The common languages spoken by immigrants are Turkish, Arabic, Kurdhish, Russian, Polish, Balkan languages among others. The influx of the refugees in Germany has increased the population of migrants in the country. Most of the refugees come from Syria, Iraq, Iran and Eritrea. In order to reinforce integration, the German government requires them to learn German while seeking for asylum. This is meant to encourage the immigrants to integrate and be able to find employment. Integrating migrants contributes to the development of the hosting state and the European Union as a whole, which regards migrants as a resource for economic, social, cultural and political development of the member states.
Moreover, adult Education Centers offer a variety of language courses in different languages to give people the opportunity to learn a new language and discover a new culture.
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Müller, V. (2019). The New Reality: Germany Adapts to Its Role as a Major Migrant Magnet. https://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/new-reality-germany-adapts-its-role-major-migrant-magnet? Published 31. August 2016. Accessed 16 Aug. 2019.
Nag OS. What Languages are Spoken in Germany? WorldAtlas. https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/what-languages-are-spoken-in-germany.html. Published July 25, 2017. Accessed August 23, 2019.
White Paper on Intercultural Dialogue – coe.int. https://www.coe.int/t/dg4/intercultural/source/white paper_final_revised_en.pdf. Published 2008. Accessed August 19, 2019.
Your key to European statistics. Home – Eurostat. https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat. Accessed August 23, 2019.
Written by Edna Muliro – Study visitor at the Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament in Luxembourg. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Education and a Bachelor’s degree in Arts (English, Linguistics, literature and cultures) and Comparative linguistics in German. She is currently studying for a Master’s degree in Language and Communication in Multilingual and Multicultural context in Luxembourg University.