International schools vs local schools

104 posts in this topic

Posted

I've read so much conflicting advice on TT in the past 3 days that my head is spinning. We are looking to staying in Germany permanently or for a very long time. I have a child who will start kindergarten next year, and another one later than that. I know I am researching this very early but I prefer that.

We speak English at home and with our kids in just about any situation, place, or event. Kids converse in German with grandparents and with peers in social settings. This will always be our setup. So, which schools would be better for us? I have been looking at a bunch of international schools. Other than the costs and transportation issues, they are viable options. :D

Please give me some insight from your own experiences.

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Posted

What nationalities are the parents?

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Posted

American-German

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Posted

This has been covered so many times. Half the people will say - stick them in the German schools they'll learn the language faster and be fine and save the cost and inability to switch back to the stricter german system and the other half will warn you about the nightmare of german schools and to put them in international schools to make sure they grow up to be lawyers or doctors or such.

It's very individual.

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Posted

Where in Germany do you live? There is an International Kindergarten and a state-sponsored International school near Darmstadt. Kindergarten you pay around 680 euros per month. The school is around 200 per month.

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Posted

This is such a personal decision. As, you will receive great recommendations for both sides, especially for kindergarten. We had to attend an International school because our son in moving into the 6th grade. And we were fearful that he would fall behind while learning German. It is the state-sponsored International School in Seeheim-Jugenheim. Family members told us that we should send him to German Schools, as that is where their children go and they couldn't see us spending money for something the Government provides. (that is what taxes are for) At this age, transition from lower to upper school and that our son is working 2-3 years ahead of class level, we knew International would be best. Our son has always worked hard for his achievements and it would seem to punish him.

In May we had an appointment with the school and our son did the two day evaluation, testing and interviewing. We are excited that he will be attending and he has already made a few friends. It put him at ease to have others speak English and he is excited for school to start so that he can learn German. (and Spanish)

I also believe that it is important for parents to be involved with school and this parent speaks English, making our decision for International School much easier. And, I do plan to learn German while my husband laughs at my pronunciation. Genau

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Posted

Where in Germany do you live?

We live in between Karlsruhe and Stuttgart. Every international school will be about 45 min. drive from us. There is no getting around that.

The question is whether we can afford the money and time for international schools. My husband is very apprehensive about the distance involved. The costs were discussed before the children were born as we knew we would be relocating to Germany.

I am a teacher myself and have several German teacher friends. I went through a school system very similar to the German one and do not want that for my kids. I turned out just fine and am no worse than others who went to expensive private schools but if I could go back in time, I would never want to repeat that experience. Also, I would like to start teaching again and my American qualifications will probably fit better with international schools. I don't know.

I understand this is a personal decision but I am trying to get a better feel for the schools from expats rather than our German friends because we identify better with the former group rather than the latter (for education, at least). As I mentioned, I have read a lot of posts in the last few days suggesting one system over the other. I am just trying to arrive at a more concrete decision by reading what people have gone through and what their conclusions are. I guess it's a sort of repetition of all the schools posts in the past.

My German husband does not want our kids to go the same schools he went to. (We live in his hometown). But he doesn't have an alternative and is not very involved in this decision because of his current load at work. I am sure he will be more involved once we get closer to making a decision but right now, I am doing the research and presenting it to him.

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Posted

In short, you stay here permanently or for a very long time, but you don't want your kids to go through the German school system, nor does your husband want them to go to his schools. The reasoning behind this is frankly unclear to me, but will they not better integrate in German society and culture with a local school? How much German do they learn in an international school? Very important to be successful in Germany.

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Posted

Our son is starting at the International School in Seeheim next August. We are an English-German couple and we want our son to be bilingual and bicultural, and to be educated bilingually. He will also have more possibilities should he want to go to university aged 18.

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Posted

Luke - I just saw your post. Our son is already bilingual as he spends a lot of time with local German friends and his grandparents. I don't see a problem for him integrating but I want him to have the choice/possibility to go elsewhere when he is 18 and feel comfortable with that choice. Integration (whatever that means) is fine but I want to give him the opportunity to feel European. Germany is not the world!

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Posted

How much German do they learn in an international school? Very important to be successful in Germany.

I know many successful people in Munich who speak no or very little German. So it's not that important depending on the type of business you're involved in.

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Posted

Well, the OP and her husband don't speak about German schools in a positive way, because that's what you read between the lines. I don't agree with this. The German education system with further training like "Ausbildung" and "Lehre" explains for a big part why unemployment among youngsters is very low vs. countries where this system is nonexistent, but yes, being bilingual offers more opportunities for your son. You pay the high fees yourself or your employer?

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Posted

I know many successful people in Munich who speak no or very little German. So it's not that important depending on the type of business you're involved in.

This is correct. I work in IT myself where German is a nice-to-have (BTW, typical IT term :)), but I think we can all agree that German language skills are very important for the bigger part of jobs in Germany.

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Posted

Hello Luke - we are paying the fees ourselves but because the International School in Seeheim is part of the German state system, the fees are next to nothing (basically they cover the food). There are also many German children there - ie children of parents who spent time in the US or UK and who want their children to contine to be bilingual. Our son spent 2 years at the international Kindergarten in Seeheim and spoke as much german as English. To be honest, I feel very, very lucky to have this school on our doorstep.

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Posted

The question is not only about education. Do you want your children to become German, send them to a German school. If you don't want to, send them to an international school.

If you go through Grundschule and Gymnasium for example you come out of that culturally German. Regardless of where your parents come from and how they tick, you will be a German kid with foreign parents.

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Posted

If you go through Grundschule and Gymnasium for example you come out of that culturally German.

Gosh, how terrible. Living somewhere where you are culturally attuned to the people and places around you. <Shudder>

Regardless of where your parents come from and how they tick, you will be a German kid with foreign parents.

Now why exactly would that be a bad thing?

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Posted

... we are paying the fees ourselves but because the International School in Seeheim is part of the German state system, the fees are next to nothing (basically they cover the food).

I understand. I work next to the ESM (European School Munich), where the school fees are €3.800 for primary school and €5.200 for secondary school. Not exactly cheap. Only parents with good jobs can afford that or if they work for the EPO (European Patent Office) they pay nothing. I also had colleagues who were based in Munich for 3 years (long-term delegation) and typically our employer paid the fees for their children. It didn't make sense to send them to a local German school.

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Posted

Luke - I just saw your post. Our son is already bilingual as he spends a lot of time with local German friends and his grandparents. I don't see a problem for him integrating but I want him to have the choice/possibility to go elsewhere when he is 18 and feel comfortable with that choice. Integration (whatever that means) is fine but I want to give him the opportunity to feel European. Germany is not the world!

What possible negative effects could it have to be totally integrated and have a deeply ingrained understanding of the culture you grew up in? That, plus bilinguality and "foreign" parents would surely be the ultimate in adaptability training.

My personal reservations of sending a child to an "international" school from the beginning (I understand it more if the kid is in the middle of their studies) is that it craetes someone who isnt European or International but someone who has no real sense of belonging anywhere (and possibly no real interest in doing so). Surely most of the "international" experience gained there is re-hashed rose-spectacles experience of aprenst and teachers, rather than "real" personal experiences for the child.

I realise this amy be a minority view among ex-pats but I regard it as massively enriching to have both my UK upbringing but also total immersion in german culture. Having experienced this, I would hate to be somewhere and only skim the surface og where I choose to live.

My very personal opinion. YMMV.

Must be something I had for lunch.

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Posted

Gosh, how terrible. Living somewhere where you are culturally attuned to the people and places around you. <Shudder>

Now why exactly would that be a bad thing?

No it wouldn't be bad. It's just a simple logic some people do not see. And it's more than being culturally attuned, it's not having a foreign perspective at all.

And a 19 year old having a complete Kindergarten to Abitur career in Germany might stay in Germany and do what his friends do, while the parents may decide to 'go back'.

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Posted

And a 19 year old having a complete Kindergarten to Abitur career in Germany might stay in Germany and do what his friends do, while the parents may decide to 'go back'.

Yeah, and...? Why is that so terrible? Isn't that how things normally work out, at some point children leave the nest and - ideally - foster a close and loving relationship with their parents, but do launch out on their own?

There are all kinds of permutations these days, with the vastly increased mobility of people for jobs, leisure travel etc. More and more people can't give a straight one-word answer when you ask them where they're from - which is okay, although - speaking as someone who grew up in this situation - it can take time to "find yourself" and figure out where you belong.

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Posted

And a 19 year old having a complete Kindergarten to Abitur career in Germany might stay in Germany and do what his friends do, while the parents may decide to 'go back'.

Our 19-yr-old German kindergarten to Abitur son is dying to get out of Germany, actually. I don't know that he considers himself all that German. He's very comfortable in both his parents' cultures.

Being integrated and immersed in a culture is a wonderful thing despite having one foreign parent but it would be much more wonderful if the German school system were better.

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Posted

I can see that the OP might be concerned about German being the dominant language and culture, as she is married to a German and living in his home town and I don't know what that town is like.

However, depending on where you live, I don't see why sending your children to a German school will turn them into little Germans with no understanding of other cultures. My two children attend a German school, where they seem to be doing really well. As we only speak English at home, they speak excellent English and German,and at the age of 7 can already read really well in both languages. We mix with people of all nationalities both within school and externally, and we live in the centre of Europe where other cultures and other countries are just a stone's throw away.

I decided not to send my children to an International school because

1) I didn't want to spend the money when I didn't think it was necessary

2) I wanted their German to be as good as it could possibly be. I felt sure that with a little bit of effort on my part, I can help their English to be the standard that it should be if we were living in the UK.

3) I love living close to the school (we are 300 metres away) and we feel part of the community here.

I don't have a recommendation for the OP as I think I would need to know more about her situation.

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Posted

Children will choose their own path no matter what their parents want! Sending our son to the International School (and having German grandparents and German friends - not to mention his German mother) means that there is more than one path open to him. At the moment, Anton often refuses to say he is half German and half English. He says he is 100% German and 100% English. That's what I like to hear!

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