African parents and their children as well as guests at the annual African Youth Education Award, Hamburg, 2018. Researchers say that speaking your native language to your children at home will even improve their ability to learn German in school/Photo: AYAE

Germany: Report reveals languages spoken by immigrants at home

Most people with a history of immigration living in Germany speak German at home in addition to their mother tongue. This was revealed by the Federal Statistical Office in its report, released on Tuesday, citing the results of the 2022 micro census.

About 24 per cent of the approximately 20.2 million people with a history of immigration in Germany only spoke German at home, while more than half (about 54 per cent) spoke German and at least one other language. About 23 per cent still communicate exclusively in one or more other languages at home.

The reason for the publication of the report is to commemorate the International Mother Language Day, marked globally on 21 February.

The idea of celebrating the Day goes back to an initiative by Bangladesh. It was adopted at the UNESCO General Conference in 1999 and has been celebrated worldwide since 2000.

The main motivation of the annual commemoration is to promote the mother tongue in the UNESCO’s belief that cultural and linguistic diversity is important for sustainable societies.

The Berlin Centre for General Linguistics recently called on immigrants not to speak German to their children at home. When migrants speak German at home instead of their native language, their children’s native language skills deteriorate, while their German language skills do not improve, explains Natalia Gagarina, a researcher at the Centre. This contradicts the widespread view that migrants should speak more German at home in order to give their children better educational opportunities.

Sola Jolaoso

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