Germany: Reluctant young Turks offered courses to learn Turkish

Germany: Reluctant young Turks offered courses to learn Turkish

Authorities and nongovernmental organizations in both Turkey and Germany are working to ensure that the younger generation of Germany's Turkish immigrant community remain fluent speakers of their native language, but it is proving to be a difficult mission as the children of these families increasingly perceive Turkish skills an unnecessary tool to succeed in their education and social life.

After 50 years, Turkish immigrants living in Germany are no longer considered guest workers; instead, they constitute a community which is viewed as one which should be integrated into German society as quickly as possible. However, attempts to integrate the Turkish minority into German society are causing identity problems, especially regarding the use of the community's native language.

Vedat Fındık, a university student from a Turkish family which migrated to Germany in the 1960s, says the children of immigrants are sandwiched between two languages, namely Turkish and German. "I have to speak German with my friends at university; however, since my parents can not speak German well, I must use only Turkish at home, which is quite difficult for me. But the worst thing happens with my 10-year-old nephew. His Turkish parents speak in German at home, but when he visits us I must translate what he said to my parents [his grandparents] because he speaks very limited Turkish," said Fındık.

Nükhet Kirvan, a manager of the Munich Education and Training Platform, a voluntary civil society group working to teach Turkish as a foreign language in elementary and high schools in Munich, said the group has successfully initiated Turkish courses in three high schools in the city. Speaking to Today's Zaman in an e-mail interview, she added, "The interesting thing is that not only Turkish students, but also German students and students from other ethnic backgrounds are also interested in Turkish courses."

Asked whether the third generation of Turks use Turkish correctly and frequently in their daily lives, Kirvan replied by describing personal experiences and emphasized the role of the family. "I, as a child of a Turkish immigrant family, personally observed that my family was not interested in teaching their national values or their native language to their children as they were struggling with the hard economic conditions they faced. Consequently, I could not speak Turkish correctly. Rather, I spoke a different language mixed with Turkish and German. When I noticed that, I forced myself to speak the languages separately and correctly," she said.

In an effort to keep the younger generations of the Turkish community connected to their culture, the Turkish government has been sending Turkish teachers to Germany, Austria and the Netherlands to offer Turkish lessons to Turkish students independent of their daily schooling.


Source: Today's Zaman (English)

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