Головатенко Т.Ю. “One mother tongue plus two foreign” training principle implementation in the germany educational policy

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Головатенко Тетяна Юріївна – студентка Педагогічного інституту Київського університету імені Бориса Грінченка, спеціальність «Початкова освіта», кафедра іноземних мов і методик їх навчання Київського університету імені Бориса Грінченка

У статті розглянуто проблему мовного різноманіття ґрунтуючись на ідеї багатомовності, досліджено мовну політику багатомовності у Європейському Союзі. У статті проаналізовано стан навчання іноземних мов у Німеччині. Надано опис заходів здійснених у рамках реалізації принципу «одна рідна мова та дві іноземні» в освітній політиці Німеччини.

Ключові слова: багатомовність, «одна рідна мова та дві іноземні», мовна політика Німеччини, навчання іноземних мов, предметно-мовне інтегроване навчання у Німеччині, початкова освіта.

В статье рассмотрено проблему языкового многообразия, основанную на идее многоязычия, а также исследовано языковую политику многоязычия в Европейском Союзе. В статье проанализировано состояние обучения иностранных языков в Германии. Предоставлено описание мер принятых в рамках реализации принципа «один родной язык и два иностранных» в образовательной политике Германии.

Ключевые слова: многоязычие, «один родной язык и два иностранных», языковая политика Германии, обучение иностранным языкам, предметно-языковое интегрированное обучение в Германии, начальное образование.

The article discusses the problem of linguistic diversity based on the multilingualism idea. The article dwells upon the language policy of multilingualism in the European Union. The situation of foreign languages teaching in Germany is researched and analyzed. The description of measures taken to implement the training principle “One mother tongue plus two foreign” in education of Germany is made.

Key words: multilingualism, “one mother tongue plus two foreign languages” training principle, language policy in Germany, foreign languages learning, CLIL in Germany, primary education.


Problem setting

There are more than 60 languages existing in the European Union. The most widely used languages in the EU are English, German, French, Italian and Spanish. The problem of multilingualism in the European Union is highly discussed nowadays. There are certain language policy measures taken to ensure multilingual education in different countries. Our article is devoted to the working principle “One mother tongue and two foreign languages” in primary schools in Germany.

Last scientific researches and publications analysis

Nowadays, language and educational policy of the EU is of a great interest, nevertheless it is not investigated fully. Different aspects of this topic are investigated by R. Phillips, J. Bjornavold, A. Tuschling, C. Angemann and others. The educational processes and its peculiarities in Germany are thoroughly researched by Eurydice. Different aspects of schooling in Germany are dwelled by L. Pukhovska, N. Abashkina, N. Makhynia, L. Chulkova and others.

Formulation of the article’s purpose and setting tasks

The purpose of our article is to investigate the process of implementation “One mother tongue plus two foreign” principle, proclaimed in Barcelona in 2002, in Germany educational policy. In this article we set for us the following goal: to research the measures taken to implement the “one mother tongue plus two foreign” principle in the education policy of Germany.

The statement of basic material of investigation

There are a lot of premises to appearance and implementation of “one mother tongue plus two foreign” training principle, for example, historical development of the EU, the idea of multilingualism, presence of minority languages and migration of different ethnic groups on the territory of the EU. As far as we are concerned, multilingualism is very important in the Community policy since the middle of the XX century mostly to fulfill the communicative and connective function [13, 81-86]. There are a lot of definitions of multilingualism due to the approach taken [11, 11-26].

Commonly, “multilingualism” is understood as the ability of societies, institutions, groups and individuals to engage, on a regular basis, with more than one language in their day-to-day lives” [2, 6]. European language policy promotes the idea of multilingualism by a principle “one mother tongue plus two foreign” and language education policy.

The idea of multilingualism did not appear at once. The most significant steps in its consolidation were made by the European Cultural Convention (Paris, 1954) [4] and different projects carried out recently (e.g. COMETT (Community Action Program for Education and Training for Technology in the European Community), LINGUA (program to assist foreign languages learning), LEONARDO DA VINCI (program to assist new teaching methods development) and SOCRATES (comprising ERASMUS and LINGUA, implementing COMENIUS program in the school education)) [8].

Besides these, in 2002 in Barcelona the Member States made a commitment “...To improve the mastery of basic skills, in particular by teaching at least two foreign languages from a very early age” [3, 19]. It was also specified as an objective of “Education and Training 2010” program. Due to this commitment, the principle “one mother tongue plus two foreign” was formulated and worked on in the educational system of the EU members.

Different measures have been taken to introduce the principle “One mother tongue plus two foreign” in Germany. Let us investigate a question more deeply.

We need to clarify the language policy in Germany. According to the BBC data [7], the official language of Germany is German. 95% of the population considers it as their first language. Minority languages include Sorbian (0.09%, east of Germany) and North Frisian (0.01%, Nordfriesland). Danish is spoken by 0.06%, mainly in the area along the Danish border. Romani, an indigenous language is spoken by around 0.08%. Immigrant languages include Turkish (1.8%), and Kurdish (0.3%).

Mainly, these languages are taught in the areas they are spread on. To implement the principle “One mother tongue plus two foreign” in Germany there were made several important changes and reforms.

Firstly, primary education was reformed in order to start teaching a foreign language earlier. The trend is to start teaching a second language earlier (commonly in the first three years of primary education). According to the Eurydice data [6, 25], compulsory first foreign language teaching was introduced in Germany for the children aged between 8 and 10 [6, 26]. It worth mentioning that maximum two compulsory foreign languages are taught to students on certain educational pathways in primary and/or general secondary education in Germany. As mentioned by the Eurydice [6, 34], in Germany there are recommendations to schools on the inclusion of specific foreign languages in the curriculum of the primary and/or general secondary levels which restrict the language choice (e.g.: a list of languages, specific requirements on students or references on school autonomy). In fact, either school have at least three languages to choose from or students are required to learn one or more specific languages (i.e. specific mandatory languages) or official regulations state the school autonomy in deciding which languages to include in the school curriculum. The choice is quite wide. English is stated as a specific mandatory language by central educational authorities.

According to the 2009/10 Eurydice data, nearly 65% of students in primary education learn English, 5% learn French and 30% learn foreign languages outside the curriculum correspondingly.

So, the first language is generally being taught at the age of 8 and the second language is taught from the age of 12, when children “... may choose educational pathways/types of school where they have to study two foreign languages” [6, 147].

Secondly, there is content and language integrated learning (CLIL) performed in some schools. CLIL “...designates different types of bilingual or immersion education” [6, 137]. CLIL takes place in Germany from 1963 when the Treaty on Franco-German Cooperation was signed [1].

There are no official recommendations/regulations for schools to use specific admissions criteria in order to select students for CLIL. For instance, in Staatliche Europe-Schule Berlin [10] CLIL is performed in different partner languages for every student while teaching Geography, History, Civil Education, Nature Study, Music, Art and Sport [9]. The curriculum is changed to fit the curriculum of the partner country [11, 92-96].

Nowadays, there are schools performing CLIL in the following languages [6, 154]: German-English, German-French, German-Spanish, German-Italian, German-Russian, German-Greek, German-Polish, German-Portuguese and German-Turkish.

Thirdly, with the implementation of the training principle “one mother tongue and two foreign” the problem of qualified teachers raised. In Germany besides philologists, generalist and semi-specialist teachers can teach foreign languages on the primary level. Generalist teachers are those who are entrusted to teach all the curriculum subjects and semi-specialists are entrusted to teach a group of at least three different subjects [6, 139-140]. Nowadays, more universities open such courses as Primary School Teacher (Lehramt an Grundschulen) combining teaching German, Maths and an additional subject (can be English, French or others) [5, 66]. It is a really important change. Recently, there is a trend in Ukraine as training specifically Primary School Teachers, who may teach a foreign language. We consider it a positive reform towards integration in the EU educational space.

Fourthly, the minimal taught annual time for foreign languages tends to be increased [6, 111]. For instance, for primary school (Grundschule), secondary modern school (Hauptschule, Realschule) and grammar school (Gymnasium) it is 56 hours annually in the 3 and 4 forms.

According to the autonomy of Länder (Lands) in Germany, there are differences in implementing “One mother tongue and two foreign” principle which we need to distinguish.

In Baden-Wurttemberg, the compulsory learning of the first foreign language starts at the age of 6, not 8 [6, 26].

Although English is a specific mandatory language, French is considered to be obligatory in Saarland. We find it important to mention, just English and French are permitted to be learnt at the primary education level.

We have mentioned above the average annual taught time, but in Berlin and Brandenburg, where primary education lasts 6 years, the annual time varies from 113 hours (Grundschule + Hauptschule) to 226 hours correspondingly (Grundschule + Gymnasium).

So, to summarize above mentioned objects of our investigation it is clear that the process of implementation of training principle “one mother tongue and two foreign” meets obstacles and yet a lot has to be made.

Conclusion and the results of the investigation

As it follows from the things we have investigated above we can make a conclusion.

Firstly, the idea of multilingualism is very important in the EU. It is more of a political issue than the language learning one. The idea started to develop on the political level in the middle of the XX century. Nowadays it is a part of Life Long Learning Program.

Secondly, the peculiarities of foreign language teaching in Germany are the following: combined efforts towards the common educational space with the EU, respect to minorities languages and wide range of educational pathways possibly chosen, early foreign languages learning and cooperation with society.

Thirdly, to implement the “one mother tongue plus two foreign” principle in the education policy in Germany the following measures have been taken: participation in international educational programs; implementation of foreign languages learning in the primary school curriculum; learning regional/minority languages and other languages at schools; content and language integrated learning of non-language subjects in primary schools; requalification and changes in training of foreign languages teachers.

Therefore, in the light of recent direction of Ukraine towards the EU it is important to be aware of the educational processes taking place there. We believe further observance of the educational and language policy of Germany in all its aspects should be investigated for further possible changes, reforms and adoption of the positive results to Ukraine.


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