German school bans foreign languages

Jan. 26, 2006 at 1:43 PM
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BERLIN, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- Left-wing politicians are outraged that a school in Berlin has decided to ban foreign language classes in order to improve pupils German language skills.

The ban has triggered a heated public debate about the integration of immigrants with Muslim organizations and left parties arguing the measure is counterproductive and racist.

The Herbert-Hoover School, named after the 31st President of the United States, is located in the immigrant-dominated district in Wedding. Ninety percent of the school's students have foreign-born parents, mostly Turks, according to Deutsche Welle, and each class features between eight and ten different languages.

Since last September, however, 370 pupils have not been allowed to speak in their native tongue at school. The rule has entered the school's code of conduct, agreed to by parents' representatives and school authorities.

School headmaster Jutta Steinkamp told Deutsche Welle her pupils' command of German has improved substantially over the past few months.

"We have introduced this ban to enable our students to take part in German society through speaking and understanding the language properly," Steinkamp said, adding it was necessary to speak German well in order to get a job later in life.

Several conservative and Social Democrat politicians have said the move was necessary and students have not complained over the rule, according to school officials.

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