In an interview on Monday with Die Welt, a Berlin newspaper, University of Hamburg linguistics professor Angelika Redder said that Germans need to learn Arabic and Kurdish in response to the influx of immigrants who speak those languages.
Redder, who promotes the concept of “multilingual communication,” said that the successful integration requires German citizens and newly-arrived immigrants “to approach each other, and the same goes for the language.”
Germans should learn at least rudimentary Arabic — or Kurdish — because “for the majority of people in the world, multilingualism is completely normal.”
Redder specifically pointed to Australia, a place where she believes a vast multitude of languages is flourishing.
“Outside of Europe, which is still marked by its national state and language barriers, a lot of people speak two, three or more languages and switch briskly back and forth,” the professor said. “This applies to African and Asian countries especially, but also, for example, for Australia.”
According to the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook, about 77 percent of Australians speak English. The next-most commonly spoken language is Mandarin, at 1.6 percent. Five other languages are spoken down under at a clip of about 1 percent (and about 10 percent of the population speaks various “other” languages). (RELATED: Chronically Drunk First Settlers Caused Aussie Accent, Professor Says)
After Die Welt suggested that many Germans speak English and French, Redder agreed that Germans “can still be proud of something.”
Then, she castigated the United States as an inferior, mono-linguistic nation.
“In the United States, for example, until recently, much of the population only spoke English,” Redder said. “But slowly Spanish has become included.”
The linguistics professor noted that German schools promote “learning one or even two foreign languages” — like, say, English and French — and that European Union policy also champions foreign language education.
Redder said she believes “multilingualism should be offered” as a recruitment tool for doctors and nurses and for “the big companies and the transport companies.”
A corresponding Die Welt poll shows that Germans — or at least readers of Die Welt — have very little interest in learning Arabic or requiring Arabic language training. Fully 94 percent of respondents answered a robust “nein” to the question: “Should Arabic in Germany be a compulsory subject?” Just 6 percent answered “ja.”