Migration and Multilingualism: Family Language Practices and Early Childhood Education Programmes

For many families in Germany, migration-related multilingualism is a part of everyday life. Families’ language practices are shaped in each case by a combination of factors both in and outside the home, and can also change over time. In light of the current linguistic diversity in Germany’s families, (early childhood) educational institutions face a growing demand to accommodate linguistic heterogeneity. There are various ways in which multilingualism can be acknowledged in and integrated into the daily childcare centre routine. And since parents are increasingly being seen as partners in institutionalised educational work, some early childhood education programmes on migration-related multilingualism have been specifically designed to involve parents.
This paper will discuss the possibilities and risks of programmes with one specific target group, using concrete examples from the multilingualism-oriented education programme Rucksack.1 In the process, the importance of striking a balance between acknowledging the current needs and avoiding a problem-oriented approach towards multilingual migrant families will become apparent.

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