Evaluation of our bilingual Program
19. October 2018 • In the following, we cite: Steinlen, A. & Piske, Th. (2018). Final report for the Platanus School in Berlin: Scientific support in the 2016/17 school year.
The chair for foreign language teaching of Prof. Thorsten Piske at the FAU Erlangen-Nuremberg was asked by the Platanus School in Berlin to evaluate the school’s bilingual program.
To this end, Dr. Anja Steinlen, Eva Wimmer and Florian Menzke undertook diagnostic language tests in all Platanus classes and observations of the teaching and the co-curricular enrichment program at the beginning and at the end of the 2016/2017 school year.
The purpose of the investigations was to document the linguistic performance of pupils at the Platanus School in Berlin.
With this data, it is possible to longitudinally record the linguistic development of the children’s English and German in individual school years.
Also, on the basis of cross-sectional analyses, the course of the linguistic development can be documented from the end of Class 1 to Class 7.
Description of school and sample
More precisely, the school takes the form of a so-called “partial immersion program”: The subject of German is taught in all school years through the medium of German; at primary level (Classes 1-4), the subjects of mathematics, PSE and music (depending on the class teacher) are delivered in English or German, meaning that approximately 50% of lesson time is offered in the new language of English.
Sports is taught in German and art is taught in English; however, an English or German educator is often present.
The bilingual program of the Platanus School Berlin is characterised by the following aspects, which go beyond what is offered in other bilingual programs:
The Platanus School in Berlin is preceded by a bilingual kindergarten, which is attended by many of the children.
In the 2016/17 school year, a total of 42 teachers were working at the school, 20 of whom had an English-speaking background. 228 students attended the school in that school year, Classes 1-4 were double-entry while Classes 5-7 were single-entry.(p. 8)
The sample comprises a total of 228 pupils, of whom 55% are girls and 45% are boys. The proportion of multilingual students who speak a language or several languages other than German at home (see PISA and IGLU for similar definitions of the multilingualism) is 36%. In these families, the family language/s is mostly used plus German, as the questionnaires show (see Section 4.1).
Approximately 30 family languages were named by the parents (Classes 1 and 2) or by the pupils (Classes 3-7), including Arabic, Bulgarian, Chinese, Danish, Finnish, French, Greek, Gujrathi, Hindi, Indonesian, Icelandic, Kazakh, Lithuanian, Mongolian, Dutch, Persian, Turkish, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Swedish, Serbian, Spanish, Thai, Czech, Turkish, Twi, Ukrainian and Vietnamese, whereby English forms the most frequently represented family language (see Table 1). (p.10)
Summary of the results (pp. 42-43)
Observations in the classroom and in the co-curricular enrichment program
– a lot of talking to each other and
– a lot of reading aloud and encouraging the children to read.
Note from the school: the parents of the children who attend our school, can find the complete final report and the presentation from the parents’ information evenings in January and May 2018 in the Platanus “Schulweb” Intranet.
Where do we go from here?
In May 2018, the diagnostic language tests will be continued anew with Classes 3-5, as the statistical analysis and the generalisability of the results requires a sample of at least 100 pupils per year group.
This was particularly evident in the comparison of the test results with regard to the linguistic background of the pupils (Sections 4.3.3. and 4.4.5).
This will also allow the concept employed by the Platanus School in Berlin to be made accessible to a wider audience. (p. 41)
Note from the school: the evaluations of the diagnostic language tests from May 2018 are to be expected in the first half of 2019.