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Foreign language teaching in EU countries: German is increasingly disappearing from the timetable

German as a foreign language is less and less taught in schools across Europe. The situation is different in Central and Eastern Europe, where every second student learns the language of poets and thinkers.

"All of a sudden, German is being spoken in Europe," said Union faction leader Volker Kauder at the CDU party meeting in Leipzig in mid-November. At that time he did not mean the language per se, but the fact that European countries such as Spain or France are dancing to the Berlin tact in fiscal policy and have made decisions based on the model of the German debt brake. In Great Britain, the statement by "Merkel's Ally" caused an uproar. The British didn't like the idea of ​​how Kauder was promoting Germany. Media people were outraged that such statements aroused war memories. English journalists swung the tabloid club and attacked Merkel's confidante with sharp words. The gossip “Daily Mail” headlined “Now it's England versus Germany”.

Against German - the motto also applies to many schools in other European countries. Because in most EU countries the language of poets and thinkers disappeared more and more from the timetable between 2005 and 2010. In the Netherlands alone, the proportion of German students fell from 86 to 44 percent during this period, as the Federal Statistical Office announced on Wednesday with reference to Eurostat data. The student rate in Denmark fell from 50 percent to 35 percent, and in Finland from 38 percent to 26 percent. Instead, English and French are the preferred foreign languages ​​in schools in EU countries.

Popularity is increasing among young adults


The exception is Luxembourg: In 2010, German was on the timetable for all students there. In 2010, more than every second person in four Central and Eastern European EU countries learned German at school. These included Slovenia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Poland.

The popularity of the German language abroad will probably only increase again after leaving school. The Goethe-Institut recorded increased interest from young adults, especially in southern Europe, in Spain up to 60 percent. "The significantly increased interest in German is not limited to Europe," said Hans-Dieter Lehman, President of the Goethe-Institut.

In addition to the southern Europeans, Asians and Americans also showed an interest in the German language. "Thanks to an 'Education Offensive German' funded by the Bundestag with eight million euros, we were able to further consolidate the quality and the range of language courses in 2011, develop new forms of teaching and at the same time operate a targeted language policy in important markets," said Lehmen. In Russia, for example, the institute uses the “Learn‘ German! ”Campaign to promote the language among educational policy-makers, school principals and parents. In the USA, the cultural institute tried to interest young researchers in German through a tour of German rock bands.

Lehmann believes it is particularly important to stay in touch with the people on site when it comes to the language courses offered, since old fears of German dominance could very quickly reappear in view of current developments in Europe.

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