It is now projected that over 1 million refugees will make their way to Germany by the end of this year. What will the future look like for those who manage to stay?
So far, German language learning has been a keystone to integration programs. The requirement to enroll in schools varies across German states, but usually comes into effect 3 months after asylum applications are submitted. Students of all levels join Willkomensklassen, where language acquisition is the main focus. The expectation is that these separate courses will enable refugee children to later join standard classes the next year.
Throughout Germany; however, schools are struggling to cope with the unprecedented demand in German as a second language courses. The consensus among teachers seems to be that not enough resources are available and that schools are understaffed and overburdened. Berlitz, the country’s largest language school, lacks both teachers and space, and waiting lists have become the norm. Free online platforms are being expanded to cope with increasing demand, but provide only temporary relief.
Knowing the language is important for the future success of refugees in Germany; however, it is just one piece of the puzzle. For both children and adults, learning German is part of a larger effort to prepare refugees to enter the workforce and become economically independent. In order for refugees to truly build a lasting future in Germany, they are not the only ones that need to adjust and learn; Germans will have to as well.
Although much has been done to welcome and assist refugees in Germany, a new survey found that 51% of Germans do not believe that the country can deal with the rising refugee numbers. Die Zeit released a very disturbing report claiming that there have been over 200 attacks directed towards refugees this year alone and of those, only 4 convictions have been made. These statistics are alarming.
This is an important time for the country. Germany’s demographics have and will continue to change and it is a reality that Germans must come to terms with. Initiatives, like those by Aktion Mensch, provide transitional and psychological help to refugees, but also provide local communities with the opportunity to engage and participate in events with their new neighbors. Cities all over Germany have also launched their own websites, where similar events and information sessions are hosted. Those who want to volunteer to make their rooms available to refugees can do so with Flüchtlinge Willkommen. Germany must work hard to enable and encourage communication and interaction initiatives like these.
Instead of just focussing on language learning, it is imperative to also foster relationships and connections between German communities and the newly arrived refugees. The road ahead for Germany can only be successful if everyone is involved and engaged.
For more stories and insight on issues relating to migration and education I highly recommend following Edugration blog.
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