The Future of Multilingualism in the German Education System: Russian and Turkish in Focus

Although half the world’s population is multilingual and the number of multilingual citizens in Germany is steadily increasing, multilingualism is still perceived not as an opportunity but as an obstacle on the way to a successful societal integration. Furthermore, multilingualism is beneficial in many ways and is a huge resource for today’s society. Being capable of speaking three languages is one of the primary education policy goals of the European Union and the support of multilingual development offers a solid basis for the further course of life.  

Roughly twenty percent of the population in Germany uses one more language other than German within their families. Thus, hundreds of thousands of children in Germany are raised multilingually. The number of people who use Russian and Turkish along with German in everyday life is the highest. 

German educational institutions have reacted fairly slowly to the fact that more and more children are being raised multilingually. Even though there are many bilingual kindergartens and schools in which bilingual education incorporates the languages spoken in Germany, education in the language of origin still remains at the margin nationwide. In this situation, the demand is considerably greater than the supply and is certainly not limited to Turkish and Russian.

It is the goal of the conference "The Future of Multilingualism in the German Education System: Russian and Turkish in Focus" to make a scientific and pedagogical-methodical contribution to current research and to the implementation of Turkish and Russian in the educational context. The conference aims at fostering the exchange between experts from the fields of multilingualism research and education policy, and from educational institutions and migrant associations. Thereby, the awareness of the benefits of multilingualism will be promoted and a positive attitude towards multilingualism and multilingual language acquisition among children will be reinforced. Scientific knowledge will be made more accessible for more immediate implementation.

In plenary presentations with invited speakers and numerous workshops, current issues in multilingualism will be discussed and presented to a broader public; examples for “good practice” will be introduced. The participation of international researchers enables intense discussions of various aspects of multilingualism and the experience of various countries can be shared. For instance, the issue of the necessity of regular language assessments and their particularities in multilingual children will be raised and the significance of holistic/crosslinguistic language support in early childhood and in kindergarten will be discussed, as well as the role of a home language, bilingual literacy, intercultural competence and the potential of language support programs in schools.

Organized by:

  • Berliner Interdisziplinärer Verbund für Mehrsprachigkeit (BIVEM), angesiedelt am ZAS
  • Botschaft der Russischen Föderation in Deutschland
  • Türkische Botschaft Berlin
  • Zentrum für Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft (ZAS), Berlin

Further Cooperation Partners:

  • Berliner Institut für interkulturelle Arbeit an der Alice Salomon Hochschule
  • dtz-bildung & qualifizierung Berlin
  • Föderation Türkischer Elternvereine in Deutschland e.V. (FÖTED)
  • Freie Universität Berlin
  • Russisches Haus der Wissenschaft und Kultur Berlin
  • Technische Universität Berlin
  • Türkisches Generalkonsulat Berlin
  • Zentrum für Sprache, Variation und Migration, Universität Potsdam
  • Yunus Emre Enstitüsü, Türkisches Kulturzentrum Berlin