Germany/ 4.2 Specific policy issues and recent debates  

4.2.5 Language issues and policies

German is the official language in the Federal Republic of Germany and the language used in schools, the media and other forms of communication. Cultivation of the German language is the task of all groups in society. Learning the German language is also an important prerequisite for the integration of foreigners living in Germany. Improvement of the language skills of immigrants and foreign residents is, therefore, a focus of efforts to further their integration. In addition to programmes of the federal states (Länder) and the municipalities, the Federal Government funds a multitude of measures to promote language learning. A broad range of courses are also offered by the private sector.

Dialects of the German language are cultivated and promoted on a regional and local basis. The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages entered into force in Germany on 1 January 1999. Under this Charter, Niederdeutsch is protected as a regional language, and funding is provided to further its use in the federal states (Länder) where it is spoken. Minority languages that are protected benefit from funding provided by the Federal Government and the federal states (Länder) in which they are spoken. Languages of the minorities traditionally residing in Germany (i. e. autochthonous minorities) are protected under the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities including: Danish, North Frisian, Sater Frisian, Sorbian and the Romany language spoken by German Sinti and Roma.


Chapter published: 30-08-2016


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