Beginning of March three focus group meetings took place in Germany, in the region of Erlangen-Nuremberg. Meetings were organized by the German partner, the Innovation in Learning Institute (ILI) at the Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg (FAU). One focus group was organized for parents of children with multilingual backgrounds, one for primary school teachers and one for secondary school teachers.
In these three very interesting focus groups, very motivated and engaged parents and teachers discussed the benefits of multilingualism from different angles: the benefits of learning more languages at school, the benefits and difficulties children with different mother tongues face in school and at home and how to value and support cultural and language diversity. In general, almost all children enjoy learning languages and are very motivated to learn about different cultures. However, for children with problems learning the German language, school in general can be tough and the focus of the schools for them is, to foster their German skills. Valuing their already existing, multilingual skills is often not or less done by teachers, especially not in secondary school, as there is no time for this due to a strict curriculum. Therefore, it is also important to integrate the parents in language learning and offer extra lessons after school.
In the primary education, there is more time for projects about language and culture and language learning is often mainly seen as “getting a feeling” for a certain language. With this approach, multilingual teaching and valuing more languages is easier to be integrated in existing concepts in primary schools than in secondary schools and teachers of these schools would appreciate it, if tools and easy to adapt material enriched with multimedia contents would be accessible for them online.