A German integration council has proposed dropping English classes in primary schools and instead force children to learn Turkish to improve migrant integration.
The idea was proposed by Tayfun Keltek, chairman of the Integration Council of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia.
Keltek said: “Lots of children speak Turkish, Russian or Polish, for example. For many German children, it would be simpler if they learned these languages.”
He also claimed that teaching Turkish instead of English would be beneficial for the integration of migrant children.
Keltek said: “Children with a migrant background will have more time to concentrate on German.”
However, the plan encountered opposition in the state government of North Rhine-Westphalia.
Education Minister Yvonne Gebauer of the liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP) said: “In primary schools and all secondary schools, compulsory English teaching will remain.”
Gebauer said that students wanting to learn Turkish or Polish already have the opportunity to select those subjects as part of their extracurricular activities.
She said: “English is and will remain the central foreign language which allows for worldwide communication.”
State secretary for integration Serap Guler of Angela Merkel s Christian-Democratic Union (CDU) said she is also opposed to Keltek s idea despite being Turkish-German herself.
Guler said: “Of course the mother tongue is important, also from an integration point of view.
“We are aware that an increasing number of children do not manage to stay in primary school because of their poor knowledge of German. That puts them at a disadvantage right from the start.”
She said that it would therefore be more logical to put an increased focus on teaching German.