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Immigration debate flares up in Germany and among our readers

Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan encouraged Turkish immigrants to teach their children Turkish first and, in doing so, launched a new round of debate on the subject of integration in Germany.

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan giving a speech in parliament

Erdogan's comments have reignited the debate

The following comments reflect the views of DW-WORLD.DE readers. DW-WORLD.DE reserves the right to edit for length and appropriateness of content.

Debate rages in Germany over Erdogan's 'Turkish first' comments

Before, it was all about financial aid and reaching the EU living standards. But now it's changed. Turkey wants to have the freedom of movement. Nobody is interested to be a part of a financially unstable union. Turkey's financial status is much more stable and bigger than most of the EU countries. On the other hand, Turkey needs to do these reforms and increase its democracy standards, but not for EU entry, for itself. And nowadays people are aware of this. Again, big majority is not interested in joining, but they want freedom of movement. - Eddy, Turkey

I am a US citizen. My second wife, a citizen of Mexico, had two children from a previous marriage. I worked in the US but we resided in Mexico while we arranged US residence papers for her. She speaks no English, so our children grew up speaking only Spanish in the home. We relocated to the US when the oldest began school, and within a year she was able to take classes in English. Our third child was born then, and we returned to Mexico until he was able to enroll in school at age six, speaking only Spanish. He is now 26 years old, and all three of my children are completely bilingual. It is a fact that children have a deep aptitude for all languages at an early age, and should be encouraged to develop multilingualism much more than is now done. The children are then free to select their citizenship or modify their choice. By the way, my six grand-children are also bilingual US citizens by choice! - Warren, US

As an immigrant living in Germany, I find the controversy surrounding Erdogan's statement to be absurd. My wife and I are native English speakers, and we are raising our son in Germany. It is our intention to have our child grow up integrated in German culture. But there is no question that we will teach our son English as his first language. Practically speaking, it is more conducive to his integration that we teach him English as opposed to German. I would much rather have him learn German from a native speaker as opposed to absorbing my and my wife's imperfect grammar, vocabulary, and accent. Moreover, as long as children of immigrants are engaged in the various native social institutions such as Kindergarten, they will quite naturally learn German regardless of the language they are taught by their parents. In fact, such bilingual and bicultural rearing will prove to be a future asset for these children. It seems to me that this debate is more motivated by a deep ethnocentricism. No one is crying foul that British or American foreigners in Germany are teaching English to their children. Such a skill set is actually viewed positively. Why are Turkish residents treated differently? - Kevin, Germany

Premier Erdogan should push to the Turkish population in Germany to learn German first if the population wishes to be treated equally. Turkey should clean up their act with Cyprus first before trying to join the EU. - Fred, Canada

I am an Armenian born in Lebanon. I was sent to a private Armenian school where students were taught Armenian, Arabic and French, simultaneously. I am of course fluent in all three languages. I immigrated to the USA, had children and, rather than send them to public schools, I enrolled them in a private Armenian school, where they learned Armenian and English, simultaneously. They are fluent in both languages, although we mostly speak Armenian at home. It is very important for the children of immigrants to not forget their heritage and their language. But it is an inexcusable shame to live in a country which has generously offered one shelter and work, and not have the willingness to learn the spoken language. If the Turks feel strongly about their language, let them open private schools where both Turkish and German are taught in tandem, not expect the government to teach Turkish in public schools, as Mr. Erdogan is "requiring," and end up with youngsters speaking broken German. This spirit of "entitlement" denotes arrogance, where there should be gratefulness and gratitude for being able to live in a society where there are rules of law, democracy, healthcare and jobs! Those who cannot live by the standards of Germany or any other country, should ask themselves why they chose to leave their country of origin in the first place ... - Liliane, US

Compiled by Stuart Tiffen
Editor: Susan Houlton

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