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Migrant Influx Pushing Germany To Learn Arabic

Migrant Influx Pushing Germany To Learn Arabic

HAMBURG — Few will deny that the influx of migrants in recent months, mostly coming from Syria and other Arab countries, has shaken up German society. Reactions have ranged from pride in Germany's ability to welcome refugees to outrage at the New Year's Eve attacks against women by mobs of mostly North African men.

But now, some are looking at practical, long-term ways of adjusting to the new reality. Writing in the German weekly newspaper Die Zeit, oneuniversity president said it should be compulsory for German students to learn Arabic.

Thomas Strothotte, President of the Kühne Logistics University in Hamburg, writes that the introduction of Arabic in German classrooms could make Germany a leader in gaining access to comprehension of the Arabic world. If Arabic were a required subject for all students, Strothotte writes: "This would prove that we acknowledge being an immigration country with a multilingual society."

An even superior act would be put the two languages on the same level, as languages of instruction, says Strothotte. This would make it possible for children to start preparing for the profound transformation process that has already started in the Middle East.

By pushing to learn Arabic language from a very young age on, Germany would present itself in the Middle East as a valuable economic, cultural and political partner, ready to accompany those countries in their transformation process.

In the meantime, broadcasting companies under public law are planning on adding Arabic programs. Considering the strong influx of refugees coming from the Middle East, the country's ARD network announced the support of the Deutsche Welle TV channel DW Arabia.

Further, broadcasting of documentaries and news coverage for an Arabic audience is scheduled. ARD chairman Karola Wille calls the cooperation "an important signal, in difficult times." Since December 2015, DW Arabia has been reporting 24/7 on recent events and evolutions, from a German and European point of view.

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The Benefits Of "Buongiorno"

Our Naples-based psychiatrist reflects on her morning walk to work, as she passes by people who simply want to see a friendly smile.

Photograph of a woman looking down onto the street from her balcony in Naples

A woman looks down from her balcony in Naples

Ciro Pipoli/Instagram
Mariateresa Fichele

In Naples, lonely people leave their homes early in the morning. You can tell they're lonely by the look in their eyes. Mostly men, often walking a dog, typically mixed breeds that look as scruffy as their owners. You see them heading to the coffee bar, chatting with the newsstand owner, buying cigarettes, timidly interacting with each another.

This morning as I was going to work, I tried to put myself in their shoes. I woke up tired and moody, but as soon as I left the building, I felt compelled, like every day, to say to dozens of "buongiorno!" (good morning!) and smile in return just as many times.

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