With millions forced to flee Syria’s civil war, the recent wave of migration presented Western Europe with an enormous social challenge. But for Germany, which welcomed over a million refugees in the last two years, it was a particularly acute one: how do you assimilate new arrivals into the country and ensure they are valuable long-term contributors?
One publishing house that is entering Germany believes it has the answer. Mantra Lingua is a publisher of dual-language children’s books and digital resources. Its product range spans German and as many as 65 other languages spanning nearly every corner of the world.
“Our ambition is to help the country avoid the challenges it faced half a century ago,” says Mantra Lingua’s Regional Manager Olav Stahl, referring to an immigration policy that saw hundreds of thousands of Turkish immigrants invited to fill labour shortages with little attempt to help them learn German or build their prospects. “Chancellor Angela Merkel said in 2015 that the country should seek to integrate migrants from day one. Now her government has focused on language and vocational training to help 1.2 million new arrivals. We want to be part of that effort too.”
The company claims to be the world’s largest children’s book publisher in terms of languages offered. Its publishing philosophy is to “reflect the multilingual nature of today’s society”. They offer books and digital resources that combine German with a range of languages including Arabic, Turkish, Farsi, Kurdish, Albanian and Russian.
It has also added minority languages to famous titles including Eric Carle’s ‘The Hungry Caterpillar’ and Michael Rosen’s ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’. “By including mixed race, multiracial and multicultural images in illustrations we’re aiming to reflect the new reality in European cities,” says Stahl.
Mantra’s range is not just about the latest wave of migration. With free movement across Europe, the publishing house, which is headquartered in London, produces books in a range of European languages including Polish, Bulgarian, Romanian, French, Italian and Spanish.
BOOKS THAT SPEAK
And it’s not just about books. The company has also built interactive technology through its “PENpal, Talking Pen”, which allows users to listen to stories in their home language and in German. The product also allows them to record their voice on every page and listen back to it via the pen. PENpal comes with 1200+ free audio in 54 languages. “There is also a free software where users can add sound in any book, not just published by Mantra Lingua,” adds OIav. “It is a never-seen-before experience in interactivity that fuses traditional analogue books with the latest audio digital technology.” Finally, the company, whose slogan is: “Language is our Mantra”, believes in protecting endangered languages. Their latest picture books are dual-language in German with Plattdeutsch spoken in Northern Germany; Sorbian, a West Slavic minority language from eastern Germany; Spanish with Tutunaku, a minority language from Mexico and Swedish with Sami, a language of the indigenous people of northern Europe. “In Donald Trump’s USA, Navajo with American English is also on the way,” says Stahl. For interviews, images or more details please contact: Olav Stahl. email@example.com German mob +49 (0)15787200064, UK mob: +44 (0)7846088661