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German region aims to become bilingual in French

January 21, 2014

BERLIN (AP) — A western German state bordering France has announced plans to make the region bilingual within a generation — a strategy it hopes will improve its economic prospects.

Saarland, a former mining region of about 1 million people, has been struggling with high debt and a declining population. The state government Tuesday proposed introducing French teaching for all young children and making knowledge of French a condition for recruiting public employees; it said French citizens ultimately could be hired for some government jobs.

The aim is to establish Saarland as a multilingual region by 2043 and to make it “indispensable as a bridge to Germany and gateway to France.” Although France and Germany have close political relations, it’s typical in Germany for children to learn English as their second language.

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