Heritage Language Education in Germany: A Focus on Turkish and Russian from Primary to Higher Education

Research output: Contributions to collected editions/worksChapterpeer-review


The purpose of the present chapter is to demonstrate the implementation of two major heritage languages, Turkish and Russian, throughout the German educational system. Due to historical reasons, these languages differ according to their institutional implementation, their instruction from primary to higher education and their acceptance by society. In this context, after a brief outline of the migration processes of Russian and Turkish speakers to Germany, the chapter discusses characteristics of heritage language instruction in contrast to foreign language teaching in primary and secondary schools. While in primary education heritage language instruction is established in almost every public school throughout Germany for more than 30 years, Russian and Turkish language learning in secondary schools is considerably heterogeneous depending on the assigned status of the language. By providing course attendance rates for Russian and Turkish speakers, this chapter also traces differences in the language maintenance motives of these two migrant groups. At university level, only recently specific courses for heritage language students have been established at some university language centers thus recognizing heritage languages as a resource and empowerment tool. The discussion of the implementation of Turkish and Russian in the German educational system considers factors such as official legislation, the status and prestige of the respective language at different educational levels, issues of teacher education, the development of adequate curricula and learning material as well as diagnostic test instruments.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Research and Practice in Heritage Language Education
EditorsPeter Pericles Trifonas, Themistoklis Aravossitas
Number of pages19
Place of PublicationCham
Publication date2018
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-44692-9
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-44694-3
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes