Inspiring people to learn German
Enlarge image A teacher from Brandenburg, Germany, instructs a class of German students in Gubin, Poland. (© picture-alliance / dpa) With the campaign “German – Language of Ideas” Federal Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle aims to promote learning German as a foreign language abroad. Minister of State Pieper introduced the campaign at the Federal Foreign Office. German is the most widely spoken language in Europe.
Nearly 15 million people speak and learn German as a foreign language. However, in recent years there has been a decline in the number of people learning German. Pieper called this trend an “alarming sign” that the German Government was determined to counter. After all, language was a foundation for establishing good relations between countries.
According to Pieper, establishing German as an attractive foreign language depended on successfully anchoring multilingualism as a valuable basis for cultural and economic development. The initiative to achieve this had to be taken up at the European level as well. Projects involving language were “multi-generation projects” and required long-term investment. To be able to actively shape language policy in the future, the funding for promoting language had to be secured for the long term.
The aim of “German – Language of Ideas” is to inspire people around the world to learn German. The initiative’s name is a spin-off of the successful “Germany – Land of Ideas” campaign that promoted knowledge of Germany during the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Through projects and series of events all around the world, the Federal Foreign Office and its partners aim to promote the German language.
German – Europe’s most widely spoken language
Over 100 million people speak German as their native language. No other language is more widely spoken in Europe. Learning German as a foreign language happens primarily at school: pupils alone make up 12.8 million learners of the German language outside of the Federal Republic of Germany.
Regionally, Poland has the highest number of German-learners (2.35 million), followed by Russia (2.3 million) and France (1.2 million).
Enlarge image Minister of State Cornelia Pieper (© picture-alliance / dpa) The campaign “German – Language of Ideas” would not be possible without the help of the various partner organizations in cultural relations policy. Another important instrument is a worldwide network of partner schools that provide access to the German language and education system, and also generate interest in today’s Germany. Just two years ago the network encompassed 500 schools – today it can proudly count 1420 schools among its partners.
Pieper emphasized that promoting the German language would also help raise awareness of Germany as a centre of research and higher education. That was why “German – Language of Ideas” would aim to achieve greater visibility particularly in countries where German is already popular as a foreign language. For instance, five “Deutschmobiles” are touring Poland promoting the German language among teachers, parents, pupils and students.
The Minister of State also wants to promote the German language within the European Union and strengthen the use of German in key Brussels institutions.