This article reports on the initial findings from an ethnographic study conducted in a preparatory class for young refugees in Cologne, Germany. Focusing on the current language policy which aims to integrate newly arrived children into the German society through language assimilation in schools, this study examines how such policies (re)produce the monoglossic hegemony. We hold that language policies at both macro and micro levels are key to creating opportunities for multilingual education. We provide a brief sociopolitical discussion on Germany and Europe to contextualize the language policy engagement in schools. Through ethnographic observations, we present how teachers act as policy actors and policy makers to re(produce) a ‘German only’ policy in the school context. Our analysis reveals that teachers’ appropriation of the government policy to integrate refugee children into the mainstream classroom not only enforces a monolingual ‘German only’ assimilation policy, it also denies children the right to use their home and other languages in learning the German language. Our findings suggest that pre- and in-service teacher training programs are much needed to change the deeply rooted deficit perception of minority language students in German schools and to transform the monolingually oriented pedagogical approaches to the teaching of refugee children.

DOI: 10.1080/09500782.2018.1489829
ISSN: 0950-0782