German region of Saarland moves towards bilingualism

  • 21 January 2014
  • From the section Europe
German and French flags
Image caption Germany and France already have close ties, but Saarland wants to go further

Germany's western Saarland region says it wants its next generation to be bilingual in German and French.

It is part of a strategy to deepen economic ties with France, which borders the region.

Proposals by the regional government include bilingual teaching from pre-school age and requiring new state employees to be able to work in French.

Government jobs would be open to French citizens too under the proposals which are being put out to consultation.

English, currently the most taught second language, will remain important but French would become the main foreign tongue in usage in Saarland.

By 2043, Saarland should become a multilingual region with the stress on French and German ties, according to the regional government.

The Christian Democrat-led administration wants Saarland - one of the smallest German states with a population of just over one million people - to become "an indispensible and unavoidable bridge to Germany and a gateway to France".

The region's "France strategy" is designed to attract business to Saarland, which relied on its former mining industry for much of its wealth.

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