German for Foreigners (Deutsch als Fremdsprache) is an established field of German Studies which focuses on the methodology and didactics of teaching a language and a culture of communication. Should we want to refer to German used as the language of communication among immigrants living within a German-speaking environment, we need to talk about German as a Second Language (Deutsch als Zweitsprache). This suggests a communication level which is absolutely necessary for surviving in a foreign environment. Without sufficient proficiency in German, immigrants are limited in their chances of finding adequate employment and attaining additional qualifications. Speaking German is therefore essential for the integration and acculturation process. Knowledge of the English language is useful but absolutely insufficient for integrating into a German speaking society. Attaining sufficient mastery of the German language is possible within a foreseeable time frame, but the integration process may take decades. The current immigration crisis has revealed serious shortcomings within the education system which have tended to be overlooked until now. The article describes the demands placed on educators and the actual situations the educators and relevant authorities are currently facing: mentoring children and young people; incidences of absolute (primary) illiteracy or inability to read the Roman alphabet, etc. It has become apparent that only a minority of educators and language teachers have sufficient methodological and didactic background to be able to work with immigrants. Most of them have to rely on their own intuition, inspiration, and improvisation. The relevant authorities and politicians responsible have so far failed to provide adequate assistance and support, which is all the more serious considering that failure to integrate the immigrants would have immeasurable social and political consequences.

DOI: 10.21104/CL.2016.2.06
ISSN: 0009-0794