The southwestern German state of Saarland, which shares a border with France, is pushing to have their next generation be fully bilingual in French and German by 2043. While German schools have pushed foreign languages as a part of the curriculum for some time now, this would be the first German state to make a second language an official working language of the state.
This 2043 goal would require that changes occur in the classroom fairly soon in order to raise the next generation with a fluency in both German and French. The state government is already planning on hiring French-speaking teachers to work alongside German-speaking educators in roughly half of the state’s day care centers, and once children enter primary school, French will be taught from the start.
Christine Klos, who works for the Saarland government, spoke to DW about the bold plans, and stated that the state would “like to see those children born last year or this year are brought up bilingually.” In the meantime, local government offices will need to begin training staff in the French language to ease the transition.
Of course this plan to go bilingual isn’t without opposition, and some are even saying that this move is more symbolic than practical. Saarland is Germany’s smallest state and is often seen as being too small to even hold the title of being a state. A move like this would surely make the state of Saarland stand out on its own.
Saarland could also see the same fate as Baden-Württemberg when it comes to pulling of the push to become bilingual. Baden-Württemberg also shares a border with France, and at one time wanted to make French the first foreign language requirement for all students. Parents were strongly opposed to the idea, and after losing a court case on the issue, the state government withdrew their bilingual plans.