Languages of Germany
|Languages of Germany|
|Regional||Low Rhenish; Limburgish; Luxembourgish; Alemannic; Bavarian; Danish; Upper Sorbian, Lower Sorbian; North Frisian, Saterland Frisian; Romani, Low German|
|Immigrant||Turkish, Kurdish, Arabic, Russian, Polish, Serbo-Croatian, Dutch, Italian, Greek, Romanian, Hindustani, Spanish; and others|
see also:immigration to Germany
|Foreign||English (56%) |
|Signed||German Sign Language|
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The official language of Germany is Standard German, with over 95 percent of the country speaking Standard German or German dialects as their first language. This figure includes speakers of Northern Low Saxon, a recognized minority or regional language that is not considered separately from Standard German in statistics. Recognized minority languages have official status as well, usually in their respective regions.
Language spoken at home
Neither the 1987 West German census nor the 2011 census inquired about language. Starting with the 2017 microcensus (a survey with a sampling fraction of 1% of the persons and households in Germany that supplies basic sociodemographic data and facilitates ongoing monitoring of the labor market), a question asking, "Which language is being spoken predominantly in your household?" was added, nearly eighty years since the 1939 Census asked for the mother tongue of the population.
- German (90% of households)
- Turkish (2% of households)
- Arabic (1% of households)
- Other (6% of households)
The questionnaire didn't distinguish Standard German from German dialects.
- Upper Sorbian and Lower Sorbian (0.01%)
- Romani (0.8%)
- Danish (0.06%)
- North Frisian (0.01%) and Saterland Frisian
European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages
Germany ratified the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages on 16 September 1998 for the following languages in respect of specific Länder:
- Danish (in Schleswig-Holstein)
- Upper Sorbian (in the Free State of Saxony)
- Lower Sorbian (in Brandenburg)
- North Frisian (in Schleswig-Holstein)
- Saterland Frisian (in Lower Saxony)
- Romani (across Germany)
- Low German (part III in Bremen, Hamburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein); (part II in Brandenburg, Northrhine-Westphalia and Saxony-Anhalt)
Immigrant languages spoken by sizable[clarification needed] communities of first and second-generation (dominant origin of the speakers in brackets):
- Turkish (southern Europe and Western Asia) c. 1.8%
- Kurdish (Western Asia) c. 0.3%
- Tamil (South Asia and Southeast Asia)
- Russian (eastern Europe and Northern Asia)
- Arabic (Western Asia and North Africa)
- Greek (southern Europe)
- Dutch (Western Europe)
- Igbo (Nigeria, West Africa)
- Polish (central Europe)
- Serbo-Croatian (Western Balkans, southern Europe)
- Italian (southern Europe)
- Portuguese (southern Europe)
Most Germans learn English as their first foreign language at school. However, in some cases, French or Latin are taught first; French and Latin are also common second or third foreign languages. Russian, Italian, Spanish, Polish, Dutch, Classical Greek, and other languages are also offered in schools, depending on the school's geographic location and available resources.
During the existence of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany), the most common second language taught there was Russian, while English and French were the preferred second languages taught in schools in the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany).
However, the English of German schoolchildren is generally not as good as that of their peers in Scandinavian countries.
Several bilingual kindergartens and schools exist in Germany offering education in German and English, French, Spanish, Japanese, Turkish, and other languages.
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