The Association of European primary schools in Cologne, Germany
In Cologne, as in all major German cities, there is a large proportion of children who learn German as their second language and the education system has gradually had to adapt to this situation. The City Council used the opportunity to create the Association of European Primary Schools in order to offer the possibility to children to develop two languages in addition to their mother tongue. The 13 member schools uses the most common heritage languages as languages of instruction in addition to German, and provide additional language teaching as a separate subject.
In all major German cities, there is a large proportion of children who speak a different language other than German at home and who have learned German as their second language. For the whole country, the share is 4,8 %, just above the European average, but in large cities the share of children and adolescents with immigrant background is often 50 % or more.
This is the case for Cologne, which is Germany's fourth largest city, with more than 1 million inhabitants, centre of the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan area with more than 10 million inhabitants. More than 180 different nationalities live and work in Cologne and its international population is contributing to a rich and dynamic culture. The education system has gradually had to adapt to new waves of immigrants and linguistic issues have now been at the heart of the city's integration policies for several decades.
In all German schools, English as a foreign language is now introduced from the first grade of primary school. Given that so many children have German as their second language, the City Council considers this as an opportunity to follow the European guideline adopted in Barcelona in 2002, calling for all Member States to help children develop two languages in addition to their mother tongue. This is the background to the City Council's decision to create the Association of European Primary Schools in Cologne. Each of the 13 member schools uses one of the most common heritage languages as language of instruction in addition to German, and provides various degrees of teaching of the respective language as a separate subject.
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