Migrants help migrants to learn German

Often more than half of the migrants fail their official German language courses. So both learners and teachers need help. The main problem seems to be the strictly monolingual coursebooks along with an official German-only approach (analogous to an English-only approach worldwide). The learners’ own languages are not taken into account. For those, of course, who already know English or French and the Latin alphabet, these languages can serve as a bridge to German. But for other beginners, the German lessons are extremely difficult, which is especially obvious for learners with mother tongues unrelated to German and other traditional European school languages. For them, German is quite an exotic language.

What is to be done when learners with various language backgrounds come together? Why not use texts – occasionally and in between – where translations are available in the various mother-tongues? Every learner has the same German text plus a translation in their own language. Everybody understands everything (level A2).

For this to be possible, we have selected a series of Bible passages, simplified and modernised them. Then we asked bilingual migrants to translate them into their respective languages line for line, and use available Bible translations as a crutch. So our aim is a double aim: to assist learners in learning German as well as to familiarise them with our Christian tradition as part of our culture.

It is definitely not our intention to proselytise but to increase knowledge. “If God is infinite, there must be infinite ways to find him.” Also: “God speaks all languages.”

You can read the texts in a parallel bilingual format and talk about them in class. In the taskbar, under “Kommunikation im Unterricht”, you can find useful classroom phrases. The “Bonusmaterial” contains dialogues for everyday life (level A1) as well as some inspiring additional texts in the same bilingual format.