The German state of Niedersachsen has endorsed Turkish, Arabic and Russian as languages to be offered and promoted in schools as way to encourage mutual understanding and open-mindedness.

The drive, known as ‘Mehrsprachigkeit födern’ (promoting multilingualism) targets particularly foreign languages that children speak at home or from their country of origin known as ‘herkunftssprachen’ (origin languages). Many of these languages were never offered until now.

A drive had already existed at primary level with Turkish being most popular choice with currently 4.5 thousand students studying the langauge and representing almost half of the origin languages. From a language learning point of view, primary level remains a key moment to develop language skills.

In Germany, it had been difficult for parents to find extra curricula lessons to retain these langauges for their children. English, Spanish and French were underrepresented, let alone Turkish or Polish.

The drive now hopes to develop this push in secondary schools as well, with Turkish again being at the forefront.

Within the drive, three key aspects have been pointed out:

1. Origin languages remain a priority of the family and the state can only support langauges which have sufficient numbers.

2. The current offering of languages are well established and these will not be replaced but rather expanded.

3. The languages should help bring students from various schools together rather than divide them.

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