Over half of young schoolchildren in Vienna 'don’t speak German at home'

Aaron Burnett
Aaron Burnett - [email protected]
Over half of young schoolchildren in Vienna 'don’t speak German at home'
Thousands of Vienna schoolchildren don't speak German at home, and need remedial German lessons. (Photo by Vincenzo PINTO / AFP)

A new Statistics Austria study finds that as many as 55 percent of all young schoolchildren in Vienna speak a language at home and in their everyday lives that isn’t German – even if they speak German at school itself. Among middle school children, that figure is even higher.


Not surprisingly, this number is particularly high in districts that have a high number of foreign residents. 84 percent of elementary school children, or those between six and ten, who live in Margareten don’t speak German at home, compared to 82 percent in Brigittenau and 75 percent in Favoriten.

Among middle school children, or those aged 11-14, the number who don’t speak German at home or in daily life outside of school is even higher – 77 percent, including over 90 percent of middle school-aged kids living in Hernals, Ottakring, and Margareten.

IN NUMBERS: The Vienna districts where most foreigners live

While many of these schoolchildren may be comfortably multilingual, around 10,000 elementary schoolchildren in Vienna are classed as ‘extraordinary’ students – meaning they don’t know enough German to be able to follow their lessons and need a remedial German course.


60 percent of these students were born in Austria and 80 percent attended kindergarten for at least two years.

The centre-right People’s Party (ÖVP) took a swipe at the Social Democrats and liberal NEOS running Vienna as a result.

“If Viennese kindergartens were being built, we wouldn’t need German support classes,” said ÖVP education spokesperson Harald Zierfuß. “How can it be that children are born in Vienna and have been in kindergarten for two years and don’t have enough German for lessons?”

READ ALSO: How to register your child for Vienna's free summer German classes

Zierfuß says the number of teachers in Vienna kindergartens needs to increase dramatically, and that three years of required kindergarten be considered.

READ ALSO: Four things foreigners in Austria need to know about the education system


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