Which languages should be taught in Europe? Evidence from bilingual education in Berlin

Gabriela Meier

Research output: Working paper / PreprintWorking paper


Currently, English is at the top and migrant languages at the bottom of the ‘foreign’ language hierarchy in Europe, the latter often being seen as a problem, especially in schools. The prestige of a language affects the prestige of its speakers, thus establishing a hierarchy not only of languages but also of cultural and social groups. This paper argues that ‘foreign’ language curricula in schools tend to contribute to the perpetuation of this hierarchy, which can have social implications. Empirical evidence collected among teenagers from multilingual areas in Berlin is used to argue that there may be other ways of thinking about language curricula. This is based on a comparative quantitative study of bilingually and monolingually taught students, which indicates that the status given to languages at school can affect the opinions of students, and influence the importance they attach to different languages. On the basis of this, the inclusion of migrant, or other locally spoken languages, is considered as a genuine option, and reflections are offered from three perspectives: language education, social integration and European language policy.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherEuropean Education Policy Network
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2007


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