Bilinguality

At our bilingual school both German and English are of equal value. To ensure the successful acquisition of each language, we use the immersion method of teaching. Throughout their primary and secondary education, our students learn to use both languages with accuracy and confidence. Immersing students in the language means that they not only learn the colloquialisms and how to socialise in the language, but also how to read and understand textbooks, participate in discussions and debates, and to correctly structure and write texts.

Wandbild mit deutschen und englischen Übungen

Questions and Answers about Bilinguality

Immersion is currently the most successful method of language acquisition in the world.

Immersion means immersing yourself in a foreign language. This new language is the colloquial language and the working language, which our students naturally surround in their everyday school life, even if they do not yet know this new language at the beginning. It is almost as if they were on holiday in a foreign-language country or going to school. The children themselves discover the new language from the context in which they use it. Their language competence develops, starting with understanding, through speaking individual words, two and three word sentences, entire sentences, to reading and writing. In this way, every child learns its mother tongue.

Our teachers and Erzieher*innen are native German or English speakers or they teach the language by speaking in their so-called working language at mother-tongue level. In their communication with the students, they always remain in their mother tongue or working language and do not translate. This principle is called “one teacher = one language”. It applies to all our employees – starting with the “Good Morning” in the secretary’s office, through the specialist lessons and Ganztag, to “Please” and “Thank You” when the children receive their lunch. Every single person in our school is a language role model.

Immersion of course works in German and English as well as in any other language.

The language is not made a topic in immersion, grammar or “learning vocabulary” are not in the foreground. The most important thing is the experience of the respective activity – whether in class or playing football, singing and dancing, even while checking the homework books. Thus the new language is casually promoted and instinctively learned.

Erzieher*innen and teachers support everything they say to the children through clear pronunciation, auditions, facial expressions, gestures and pictures in patient repetition and integrated into multi-layered playful and action-oriented periods of time. The foreign language is learnt naturally, so immersion does not overwhelm.

Immersion requires not only continuity, but also time. In our all-day school (from kindergarten to 10th grade) with all-day offers and Team-Teaching or Support-Teaching during regular school hours, working groups as well as early and late care, the children have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the new language throughout the day.

The subject lessons are taught in roughly equal proportions in German and English over the six years of primary school and the four years of secondary school. The respective proportion may vary depending on the working language of the teachers in the school years.

The language in which a subject is taught depends on the mother tongue or working language of the respective pedagogue. 
From grade 5 onwards we mainly teach mathematics in German in order to work towards Berlin-wide comparison work and the intermediate school leaving certificate (MSA) at the end of grade 10.

In order to support language acquisition outside the classroom as well, we create a variety of language events in both languages in everyday school life, breaks, meals, all-day periods, working groups, early and late childhood care, the holiday program, the weekly project day, excursions, class trips and the Work & Travel program.

In class, we meet individual needs in German and English through differentiation and Team-Teaching or Support-Teaching integrative in class, both in the language and in the other subjects.

Most students speak German as their mother tongue. About 30% of are English native speakers. A lot come from a bilingual (German/English) or even multilingual background (German, English and one or more other languages). Our bilingual teaching staff are prepared for this heterogeneous composition of classes.
If we have free places available, very good and motivated German- or English-speaking children are welcome at every class level. There is only one exception: Due to the preparations for the Middle School Certificate (MSA), we do not accept any new students in the 10th grade.

The prerequisite for admission is that their performance level and social behaviour promise that they can make up for the gap in the other language.

English and German lessons always take place in Team-Teaching or Support-Teaching with two teachers and subject lessons are also often taught in Team-Teaching or Support-Teaching. In the course of the entire school day – also during the Ganztag and afternoon activities – the transfer students have many opportunities to hear and speak German or English. If there is a special need for support, they can either take part in our individual support in “German as a Second Language” (DaZ) or “English as an Additional Language” (EAL). In addition, for all children who come to us later, intrinsic motivation and joy in the other language as well as patience and above all perseverance in the active practice and use of the new language enable quick experiences of success. It is advisable to hear, speak, read and write as much as possible in the new language – in everyday life and at school.