An Alternative Voice: Bilingual Turkish-German Storybooks in German Public Schools

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The objective of my study is to initiate an interest on bilingual Turkish-German children’s books with an ethnic content. I believe that those kinds of books can serve as a crucial tool to integrate multicultural education into the German education system. In Germany, each federal state has its own policy on bilingual education mainly offered to minority students only. However, German children also need to be exposed into another language and transform into bilingual individuals who are aware of the multicultural population of their country and appreciate the diversity it brings. As for Turkish minority children, bilingual Turkish-German storybooks with an ethnic content might be an important medium for both defining their identity as German-Turks and improve their comprehensive academic language proficiency. I have been able to locate around fifty books most of which lacked ethnic content and did not go beyond a mere translation of Turkish. This is an important sign that shows how neglected the production of such books are. In this study, I tried to answer a number of questions. The results of this small study show that bilingual Turkish-German storybooks can potentially achieve an important mission. The distancing of both from the members of the dominant culture as well as the minorities, and the gap it creates in-between can be filled with the conscious use of bilingual books and exposing the whole student population to both cultures. I disagree with the fact that this literature should be considered as part of the ‘German language literature’ because it is obvious that these books equally contain the Turkish language along with the culture they bring. I also do not agree with the idea that this new literature may cause a cultural deviation and alienate German children from their roots.


Keywords: Multiliteracies, Turkish Minority Children, German, Exclusion, Education, Bilingual Education, Storybooks, Government Policy, Diversity
Stream: Literacy, Language, Multiliteracies; Languages Education and Second Language Learning
Presentation Type: 30 minute Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Yusuf Incetas

PhD Candidate, Language and Literacy Division
Curriculum and Instruction Department
College of Education, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, USA

I am particularly interested in exploring the cultural effects of the home and school environments on non-native students’ literacy skills development. My focus is mainly on third generation Turkish minority children attending public pre-K, K, and elementary schools in Germany. I examine the perceptions about the sub-Turkish culture by German school staff and personnel, and cross-cultural resources and programs created and applied for the Turkish minority children to help them reach grade level standards. In addition, I look into the acquisition of the dominant German culture by student’s family members at home, and its reverberations on the student through everyday home practices.

Ref: L09P0997