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REVIVING GERMAN LANGUAGE IN THE BAROSSA

Tags: Tony Piccolo MP / Building Communities / Schools / Young People / Barossa

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  • By Light Electoral Office
  • May 10, 2021
REVIVING GERMAN LANGUAGE IN THE BAROSSA

The State Government has been asked to re-establish a German bi-lingual school in the Barossa.

Speaking in State Parliament this week, Member of Parliament Mr Tony Piccolo said, “I think the time has now come to consider some bilingual schools, acknowledging the importance of English but also accessing the culture of the Barossa through an understanding of the German language.”

Mr Piccolo said the Barossa German Language Association are very keen to re-establish a bilingual German program either as a subject or subjects to be taught in German or as a bilingual program throughout the Barossa.

“With appropriate government support, I believe a pilot program could be initiated to see what the uptake would be,” Mr Piccolo said.

“German is a heritage language in the Barossa. There is an emerging younger generation of local families and migrants who want their children to learn and retain bilingualism with effective German programs.”

Dr Peter Mickan from the University of Adelaide has been a key driver of this initiative as a project leader of a Barossa German language revival and renewal project, which led to the establishment of the Barossa German Language Association in 2015 along with Steffi Traeger, the current president of the Barossa German Language Association and local historians Everard Leske and Don Ross.

“The history of spoken German in the Barossa is a combination of the resilience of language transmission across generations and the fragility of language in the face of ethnic hostility, exacerbated by global conflicts,” said Dr Mickan.

In the Barossa community, German was spoken normally until the second half of the 20th century. People spoke German with families and neighbours and in their day-to-day business. They attended local Lutheran churches with services held in German.

When children went to school, they were required to learn English as an additional language. Celebrations and social events were in German. German was the first language at home, in church, in schools and for business. It was for quite a while the community's language in the Barossa.

“A bilingual program would re-establish bilingualism for community members who have missed out on the opportunity to be competent in the use of German,” said Mr Piccolo.

I hope the debate in this parliament will contribute to the rehabilitation of the status of German as significant in the lives of people and in the history of the Barossa Valley,” said Mr Piccolo.

Mr Piccolo plans to introduce a motion in State Parliament to recognise German as a heritage language in the Barossa Valley and promote the need for more bilingual programs in local schools.

Before 1914 and the First World War, there were 29 bilingual German-English schools in the Barossa Valley. The schools were closed down due to anti-German sentiment in 1917. This has had a big impact on the practice of spoken German in the valley.

Labor Duty Member for Schubert Tony Piccolo will introduce a motion to State Parliament to recognise German as a heritage language in the Barossa Valley and promote the need for more bilingual programs in local schools.

 

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