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Woman ordered to learn German after 30 years
Photo: DPA

Woman ordered to learn German after 30 years

Published: 27 Nov 2012 07:01 GMT+01:00
Updated: 27 Nov 2012 07:01 GMT+01:00

The ruling released this week confirmed an order made by a public authority for foreign residents, requiring her to attend a class.

The 61-year-old woman sued to be freed from the course on the grounds her children were all well-educated, paid taxes and had become German citizens. She said her poor language skills were due to her general illiteracy.

But the administrative court in the south-western state of Baden-Württemberg rejected her argument, ruling there was societal interest “that all foreigners living permanently in Germany can at least verbally express themselves in a rudimentary fashion.”

The woman has filed an appeal against the decision.

DAPD/The Local/mry

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

08:25 November 27, 2012 by ChrisRea
Well, it was about time, wasn't it?
09:23 November 27, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
It won't do her any harm. That is for sure.
09:28 November 27, 2012 by mehta_p
"verbally express" ?

I thought for GERMANS documents are more important than JUST knowing German-language. Does she have to give Language test after the course?

Here the court from Baden Württemberg talks about "verbally express". I am damn sure that there are 1000sss of people from foreign origin who have got German Citizenship are still unable to communicate well in German Language. I would love to see all those nuts soon in German Language course for the sake of Germany. Otherwise, soon in near future we will see some funny trend around making some secxy sound calling it German language.
10:22 November 27, 2012 by pepsionice
You have to ask yourself....how would one survive for thirty years in a country....without knowing it's language? I believe the answer is that she did actually pick up a fair amount of German. She may not test well on it because she's just a lousy tester.
10:23 November 27, 2012 by Anny One again
@mehta_p "nuts" ????

At least if you need an Ambulance, Doctor or Fire-and Police- Departments, it would be an advantage.It still has not even for their own lives.

Btw,what is for you a "secxy" sounding language;something from the middle east?
10:55 November 27, 2012 by DULS
@ mehta_p

Dude relax, Well from your comment as you said, their are German citizens with some low language skills and even if they don't communicate well at least they can verbally express themselves and that is the whole point.

This is done for the sake of her, you and her children. Honestly I don't understand why trolls like you, seems to release their whole frustrations in this kind of forums, I am living in this country because, I like it, if you feel other way, the door was left open when you came.
13:28 November 27, 2012 by mehta_p
@Duls:

I am in favour of the rule regarding knowing language. And even if there were not such rule, it is always a big advantage to know native language. Then wherever you are.

But what was Ausländerbehörde doing while giving her Visa when she is not that good in the language? and then the 'einbürgerungsbehörde' for einbürgerung?

At this age, it is very hard for her to learn any new language. There are many 'young' people who are having german citizenship but still they are not that good in german language. Authorities should seek those people first than 61 year-old-woman.

When Germany talks about equality then why still they do difference between different kinds of foreigners? To some they issue Visa/Einbürgerung without much hesitation, but for others who have to give this test, that test and then also have to wait for weeekss to get any feedback. And on the other side, any refugee or any well educated foreginer is on the same level for them.

I am not at all furstrated but the way these 'Behörde' handles the matter, that will make them pay one day by degrading Germany. Otherwise 'egal' what they do, how they handle.

@Anny: not particularly middle east, but 'not-proper' way of German communication.
14:24 November 27, 2012 by raandy
The integration course is a good offer, why not try to learn the language.

It would appear she doen't like to be ordered to do so.

I would like to know how this came to light.
14:55 November 27, 2012 by DULS
@mehta_p

Honestly, you and I don't know how the AEB is handling this matter, only the woman and her AEB where she goes knows. What annoys me is your attittude and you even said that you don't feel frustrated but your first comment is about inequality in Germany.

I have been living here for years and I have been through a lot of crap but don't give me the Germany this and germans that as generalisations should not tolerated. As I we don't like all foreigners' stereotypes. Each country is free to pursue their national interests and if Germany decided tomorrow immigration only for the most qualified people or that all who wants to live here should speak broken German at least... well they are in their right.

if you feel discriminated or treated badly by any Behörde then use your right and make an official complaint then you will see how it works as a charm but you don't feel like dealing with it, why not going somewhere else, I mean you speak english fairly good perhaps even better than me then why not going to Canada, UK or perhaps USA just go somewhere else , where you will feel loved and wanted ;)

Anyway, I bet you that the old women will not take the integration course , she could appeal due to her age, but honestly is that to much to ask? Why making Germany the evil by changing their laws and now start asking foreigners to attend a free language course... It is not about equality, as you and me we are not in equal terms, in the sense that they are german, they speak German and guess what they are in their own country called Germany. I hope you get my point.

If you ever leave this this country , which I hope is not the case, then you are going to realised that Germany wasn't that bad at all.
15:12 November 27, 2012 by rits
societal interest ¦quot;that all foreigners living permanently in Germany can at least verbally express themselves in a rudimentary fashion.¦quot;

Express in front of who? Was this lady contesting an election?

When she have so many other Turkish with who she could speak in Turkish why should she learn German?

In that case all Ambassador of Germany to foreign country should learn the local language of that country(Ambassador to China should learn Chinese, Japan-Japanese,to India should learn Hindi and the local language of the state in which the embassy is located), which is never the case. Also the court should order, all Ambassador of all foreign embassies(UK,US, Australia, China) in Germany to learn German. If the court can not dare to ask the Ambassadors, then its another example of discrimination and harassement of foreigners in Germany.
15:19 November 27, 2012 by onemark
Dollars to doughnuts she didn't learn German because of her - as she puts it - "general illiteracy", i.e. she lacked the self-confidence that comes with illiteracy.

Which is not to say she shouldn't learn German - of course she should, even if it is only of a rudimentary standard.

But what were the German authorities doing all these years?
16:09 November 27, 2012 by catjones
The german government knows what's best for you, right down to the last millimeter of your life and they can well afford to investigate and prosecute to ensure you meet what they deem necessary.........this does not include bankers and corporate low-lifes or those who build airports or trains. 61 year old women? Yes.
16:48 November 27, 2012 by ChrisRea
@ rits #10

"Express in front of who?" - In front of authorities for example. Or in front of the ticket controller that tells her that her ticket is not valid on that bus. Or to the doctor/paramedic that tries to help her when she has an accident. And the examples can go on and on.

"n that case all Ambassador of Germany to foreign country should learn the local language of that country" - I think you can rest assure that if they do not speak the language, they are accompanied at all times by someone who speaks the local language (driver, bodyguard etc).

@ catjones

"right down to the last millimeter of your life" - I guess you are an anarchist. Probably you disagree with other common sense regulations imposed by the goverment (like minimum age for drinking or driving). Damn the German government, why do they want to control the life of kids by not letting them drive cars?
17:07 November 27, 2012 by grinners
As someone who's been through the Intergration Course, learnt the language and culture, all inside 6 months, I can say the course would be of GREAT benefit to anyone to was to take it.

It should be noted that up until 2009/10 it was not mandatory to learn the german language. Hence why it has taken 30 years to get her (almost) into a course.

The course gives anyone the ability to learn the language up to a B2 Standard. Older people are allowed to pass with A2 and still qualify (ie small talk on known subjects and simply expressions/conversations).

It is too easy for foreigners (inc English speaking foreigners) to move here but not require german. Their local doctor is Turkish, the milk man, the police officer, the butcher etc etc.

I've met lots of people in this situation, from all over the world.

It's pretty simple guys, learn the most you can of the language and try to adapt to to the german culture. It's the best way to enjoy the country and get to know the locals.

Prost !!
17:26 November 27, 2012 by Leo Strauss
@ grinners

Very good points.

@ ChrisRea

Totally agree with your first two points but....cut the cat some slack!

@catjones

You go cat. The Beamten are there for the little fish but when it comes to the real criminals there is no justice.

Justice = Just us.
17:53 November 27, 2012 by sonriete
I think if Germans move to BW they should be forced to take a course in Allemanisch so they can express themselves on the street.
18:18 November 27, 2012 by raandy
Leo Strauss and here I thought you were on the wagon -:)
18:21 November 27, 2012 by Englishted
With six children she couldn't say no in any language.
18:30 November 27, 2012 by Leo Strauss
@raandy

Not on the wagon, just way-gone.

@Englishted

XD !
18:59 November 27, 2012 by gwenness
Unlike the USA, Germany has a 'national language' and people should learn it. I came from California and the sheer amount of paperwork for multiple languages and the cost of printing for the state is astounding. I worked for a CA University and all materials had to be created in 20+ languages, in addition to providing translators as needed at no cost to immigrants in the courts and DMV. I'm enrolled in German classes right now and we have a woman enrolled through the government 'integration' (which the DE government pays for - I am paying for my own classes) who has been here 25 years from Vietnam and speaks little to no German. It just seems logical and more cost effective to keep everything in the same language. Or am I being too rational?
20:08 November 27, 2012 by sonriete
Considering 70% of our laws are imposed in the form of "directives" from our French speaking masters inBrussels, maybe we should all just speak that language for the sake of rationality.
20:39 November 27, 2012 by DULS
@ gwenness

For the californians, I though the cost of the translators was already included in their high taxes. :-P

Besides it is hard to compared both countries as in USA the citizenship is granted by Jus soli, and in Germany is ruled by Jus sanguinis.

The point is that here even if there where no official language, the simple fact that regulates the nationality would assure that anyone who is german share the same roots and probably the same language.

I don't aggree that in USA only english is used, as you suggested, but here DE, I am happy to heard that you are making the effort to learn the language. It seems many people don't realized that the language is the key for that open many doors in this country.
21:27 November 27, 2012 by gwenness
@ DULS - yes, the taxes in CA are amazingly high, but that's also because you pay for the weather ;)

I don't think everyone in the USA should learn English - it's called "the melting pot" for that reason and that's why there is no 'national language' - it's a country of all nations. Only 80% of Americans speak English and the people pay to keep it that way. I just think if a country *does* have an official language stated, it's best for all to learn that language. It costs far too much to accommodate multiple languages if it's not necessary. I can't imagine living here in Germany, long term, without speaking the language and being able to live 100% independently :)
09:45 November 28, 2012 by raandy
Leo Strauss,

cleaver,,wagon-- way-gone and justice-- just -us, I like it ,good one -:)
11:08 November 28, 2012 by michael4096
I once knew a woman who turned down an invitation move from the shop floor to a managerial position including all academic training. The reason: she didn't want the world to know she couldn't read and she was afraid of looking like an idiot in front of youngsters if she had to go back to school...
14:33 November 28, 2012 by rits
@ChrisRea #13

If ambassadors are accompanies by translators, if that is the solution, then the court could also order her, to have a translator when she is in public place instead of doing a German course.

@gwenness #20

Do you know how many millions are spend by the EU Parliament in translating all documents in the language of the member countries, just because, all just know their mother tongue and are too reluctant to learn a common language called ENGLISH.

(English because a French company who have a subsidiary in Germany does most meeting in English and not in German or French)

Even illiterate who have never attended school can speak their mother tongue.
16:54 November 28, 2012 by ChrisRea
@ rits #26

Two things differentiate the cases of ambassadors and, respectively, the 61-year old lady. First, the ambassadors are in a foreign country only for a limited time (their mandate). Secondly, the translators wages for ambassadors are relatively small to the financial means of the states they represent. I pretty much think that the 61-old Turkish lady could not afford something like that.
23:55 November 28, 2012 by jamboree
There were several debates a few years ago as there are different languages used in Germany. There was an article on Sorben on the local. Although German was the language used de facto by the Behörden, it was not "official". A few years ago it was proposed to make English the official language of the USA.(on a similar note)

This is a very specific case, but it could have repercussions for years to come.
02:07 November 29, 2012 by lovemymac&cheez
sonriete

I think if Germans move to BW they should be forced to take a course in Allemanisch so they can express themselves on the street.

HAHA, I had to laugh with this one - clumsily assembled nation--->stubborn regional tribes whose dialect was the only cohesive force for centuries ---> and which today still acts as an exclusive tool to differentiate themselves from the other tribes making it a nightmare for any integration attempt.

If you are a foreigner... good luck trying to master both the official, and the dialect!
12:53 November 29, 2012 by saddness
@rits why you think the common language has to be english?

i know in all it´s the most spoken language in the world but if you look for the dirrence dialekts of it like uk english, old english,american english and australien english it´s just as big as french,spain or even german.... so which country should get preferd to use their national language?

@topic... kinda bad for her that she has to do it now and not had to before...

but new laws are there to improve the condition in the country and as natives you wanna use your language and not speak a forgin in your home country...

sure there are a lot places where people can live in germany without a single word of german cause this places got isolated so much

a bad think in all, cause when people wanna live in a country they HAVE to learn the language of it in my eyes...just a sign of respect and integration will

the single dialects are bad as i can say so as a german to, but the same is world wide also with english as example i barly can understand southern americans or scotish people, but that´s ok as long there is a way to comunicate

if people are not willing to do so they can choose a country without national language and go there

to bad that germany started so late to regonize it is loosing it´s identy by try to please everyone
17:49 November 29, 2012 by lovemymac&cheez
@saddness: your spelling is sad.

for centuries there were tribes coexisting in the same tiny area WITHOUT integration. Before there was a Germany, these regionalisms took precedence over any national or "german" thing. So if the tribes that became Germany failed to integrate each other for centuries (they still speak in dialects they cannot even understand and are even proud of it) how could we expect that they could be progressive enough to welcome something from even farther away.

Comparing deep bayerisch or schwaebisch (the y don't even conjugate in the same form as in high German, dich/dir, etc) to southern american accent is a bit off. A guy from Maine could understand a Florida guy, regardless of the accent. Now, throw a Hannover person in the black forest, and you will see that this is farther away than just a regional accent, it's intelligible.

Also, what IDENTITY are you talking about? There is very little national identity, rather a patchwork of people that were forced to stay together by tax and political interests. The identity is REGIONAL, and if we go by that, it would be like India with over 100 languages....

The difference is that in India people are not stubborn with this and they learn English to communicate!
18:55 November 29, 2012 by Reader75
When I lived in Germany a few years ago, I knew several (literate) Germans who could not read or write English, but they could speak English fluently, and even knew how to use slang. They learned English from their American neighbors.
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