Do English-speaking kids attend German schools?

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This is my first post and your site is a wealth of information.

 

We are considering moving to Dusseldorf but before any decision is made, I have to check the schooling. While I have read most people's posts regarding International Schools, I doubt we can afford it. Actually the schools are way over budget and because of that, I have to look at sending them to German public school.

 

I have a 10 year old in Year 4 (in British Curriculum) and a 3 year old. I am also pregnant and due end Sept. So we were looking at moving in August from Dubai (although we are British/South African family).

 

So my question is, does anyone here on the forum with no German link, have their English Speaking children in a German public school? How did they manage with the language barrier and did it take a long time to integrate. My son has French and German children in his English school who took about 3 months to grasp the language, so was wondering if it is the same here.

 

I am looking specifically at members with older children rather than those sending to Kindergarten. I know the younger one will be fine. Also which schools in Dusseldorf would you recommend?

 

Thanks in Advance

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Please have a good search through the forum about this topic. Not sure the best search query for you, but this is not an unusual situation. However, your 10-year-old might be caught in a the "which route to take", seeing as in Germany the kids get put into one of 3 tracks for education (hauptschule, realschule and gymnasium) after the 4th grade, so when they're 10. your kid, without having any German, will probably have the toughest time; however, he/she will survive, will pick up the language quite quickly, but will probably have to repeat the 4th grade. No worries, this is not a stigma.

 

Your 3-year-old will go to a kindergarten until they can enter 1st grade, so at around 6 years old.

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Thanks for that. I thought of perhaps sending him for German lessons or buying DVDs and books to get him used to the language prior to joining. That may help a bit. Also, can you only apply for schools once you are in the country? I read somewhere schools start end August. Do children always get into schools closest to where they live? Or can a school reject them if they are full?

 

I will try another search to check old posts regarding this too, thanks

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Yes, you can contact schools now and talk to them (but do you have enough German yourself to do that.) Do some searching of primary schools - a lot of Grundschule have their own websites. A good place to start is here - for Ort enter Düsseldorf and tick Grundschule.

 

http://www.schulministerium.nrw.de/BP/_suche1/SchuleSuchen/index.html

 

Ask schools how much experience they have of taking kids with another first language. The way they answer this question will tell you a lot. The same applies when you look for a Kindergarten for the younger one. Some schools will do more than other in terms of supporting the non-native German speakers. In oother ways it will be quite different to what you are used to if you have your son in an International school at the moment.

 

If a school is full that means the classes are at the maximum size.

 

Bear in mind that Yr 4 in the British system is the equivalent of 3 Klasse in Germany (most kids still start 1 Klasse when they are 6 years old). So if your son is now in Yr4 and goes to 4 Klasse next year he is not going back or repeating a year. In any case German schools are not as strict about of keeping kids in classes according to their age as the British system and other issues such as maturity, development and catching up all mean that a 4 Klasse can be 9 - 11 years olds.

 

 

I thought of perhaps sending him for German lessons

What is stopping you?

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I moved over here with my family from Australia when I was seven, speaking about three sentences of German.. (My parents spoke a tiny bit more, as they had studied for a few months before we left) My sister was nine, and brother three. We all went straight into German schools (my brother to Kindergarten), and I can honestly say I'm not traumatised by the experience. It was fabulous, and the fastest way to learn the language. Other children are helpful, miming etc to help with the language barrier, and there are bound to be some teachers that know a little bit of English. Children adapt very quickly! Just throw them in there and they will be forever grateful in years to come : )

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yeah, I agree with miss olive. i don't see any problems with your children learning german. the only challenge is with the school for your ten year old. i typed in primary schools in the search and found loads of threads on the topic. browse through them and see what other folks have to say.

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We came here (Bonn) last year with our 4 year old and our 6 year old who spoke no German. Our 4 year old is in Kindergarten and our 6 year old started the Erste Klasse at public school. It took him until after Christmas break before he integrated, but I think that is because he is a perfectionist and doesn't like to speak when he knows he doesn't speak as well as a native. We did find that the curriculum here seems to be a little behind what he had in Kindergarten back in the USA. At first we thought that would be a good thing so he could concentrate on his German. In retrospect, it would have been better for him to be challenged a little more. Our younger child integrated a lot faster. After being here for nearly ten months, both communicate well with their teacher and other children in German.

 

I was concerned with this same topic last year before we came. We really wanted our kids to learn German and had heard that immersing them in the culture in the public school is really a good way to have them learn. We heard this from colleagues of my wife who were in similar situations. I searched this forum at the time, but didn't find much on this topic. It seems like many posters choose to send their kids to private schools rather than to the public school system. And in fact, a German colleague of my wife's who now lives in the USA sent his kids to a private school when he came back to Bonn for a year.

 

I contacted the school system here in Bonn before we arrived and got the names of two schools near the apartment we rented. We chose one close to our home, but we could have sent our kids to any school in Bonn. I'm not sure if that is the same all over Germany or only in Bonn.

 

Before we came, we borrowed "Muzzy" from our library. It is a language learning DVD produced by the BBC. It is a cartoon with a princess, a king, a queen, the evil guy, the humble gardener, and a big green alien named Muzzy. It was cute and a great introduction to German for the kids.

 

After we arrived, my son's teacher recommended we check out the foreigner integration office in town which offers language instruction for kids. My daughter's course is absolutely free and meets for 45 minutes twice per week. My 6 y.o. son's course costs 10 Euro for the entire semester (about 20 weeks) and meets twice per week for 90 minutes. That has also helped to improve his confidence and helped him to speak more freely. I'm not sure if every city has such an office or not, but it is something to look into.

 

Aside from that, the school itself didn't offer much in the way of help for my son. The teacher did manage to find a couple of bi-lingual parents who came in and worked with my son during the school day once a week for a few weeks, but I think that my son just learned that he could get by without speaking German so he didn't try.

 

At my daughter's kindergarten, by contrast, they speak only German to her, and she learned very quickly.

 

I hope this helps. Good luck with your move.

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Please have a good search through the forum about this topic. Not sure the best search query for you, but this is not an unusual situation. However, your 10-year-old might be caught in a the "which route to take", seeing as in Germany the kids get put into one of 3 tracks for education (hauptschule, realschule and gymnasium) after the 4th grade, so when they're 10. your kid, without having any German, will probably have the toughest time; however, he/she will survive, will pick up the language quite quickly, but will probably have to repeat the 4th grade. No worries, this is not a stigma.

 

This is exactly what my kid did (was 10 when arrived). He ended up in Gymnasium, but I had to fight the principal. In our Land it's the parent who decides where the kid goes, and despite having been told that mine is good enough to go to Gymnasium, something opposite was written in the Zeugniss.

 

Bottom line: all went well.

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LMB - how tough of a fight did you have to put up? This is what concerns me with my 10 yo who would be hitting 5th grade in the States.

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There are several threads that have information for parents of non-German-speaking 10-year-olds. Generally it's recommended that a kid that age drop down one grade when starting school in Germany. Fourth grade - at least in Bavaria - is very important in terms of class content. And since children in Germany don't begin school until the age of six - and some may actually be close to seven - your boy won't necessarily be over-old for the class. My daughter actually spent three years in fifth grade - one in the US, one in Germany at the local school, and the third in Gymnasium. For her the delay was definitely worth it.

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Hi Everybody,

 

So nice to have found info about this.

 

We are going through the same dilema.

We are moving to Bonn at the end of August and have 2 children one is 6 and the other 4 years old, having said that we are strugling on whether to put them in straight into the German school. However I must say that, I am dreading the tears and screams of leaving them to start with.

No doubt our little one will go straight into kindergarden and i can only assume that will prepare him better for the primary school. None of them speak german and neither do us but we would like them to learn and we think it would be good for the kids and for ourselfs. We are looking into Lohmar, but not yet looked into any schools up there, any info on this would be much appreciated. Really is hard knowing what is the best thing to do...

Am I being cruel by putting them into the german education??

 

Any help on this would be great.

Thanks

Gina

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If you're going to be in Germany long-term, those are really good ages to start German kindergarten/school and you might even think about having your 6 yr old do a year of kindergarten to get used to things before he/she starts elementary school (schools and kindergartens are separet entities here). Many children in Germany don't start school until they are 7. Your 4 yr old will adjust to kindergarten quickly.

 

International schools are very exepensive but if you can afford it they are also an option, of course.

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Thanks Westan for your info. We defenitely considering puting the kids in the german education systems. As we are moving to Lohmar in Bonn, do you know any good schools or kindergarden that you could recomend.

 

Thanks

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No, sorry, I don't live in that area but you could perhaps start a new thread with that specific question. There are a fewBonn + schools threads but they mostly seem to deal with international schools.

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Is there a particular reason why you are planning to live in Lohmar. (Lohmar is not part of Bonn - I think administratively it belongs to Siegburg)

 

Generally the local schools in Bonn city have more international families and more experience of taking kids who speak little or no German. How flexible are you about where you live? Sometimes it makes sense to find a good school first and then look for somewhere to live. This applies even if you are putting both into Kindergarten for the first year. If you are looking for a school place for the next academic year start making phone calls now as term ends this week.

 

It is really worth asking schools if they have a lot of non German speaking children and how they support these kids in learning German. Schools vary a lot in terms of attitude and how much extra help they are able to organise.

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Hi Rebecca,

 

We thought of Lohmar, as we have driven there and liked the area. Having said that we havent yet found a place to live, hubby went to see 2 houses yesterday in the area but did not liked it. We both need to visit some of the schools I had a look at the Lohmar Waldschule, have you heard of it???

Perhaps we should really consider looking into Bonn itself. Are you able to recommend any schools in Bonn.

 

Thanks

gina

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Over recent years across the country, German schools have had a far larger influx of none German speaking children. As I understand it schools are more prepared & understanding now and have systems in place to deal with the situation. At some stage or other, both of my children have come home from school saying "We have a new boy/girl in the school, who can't speak German". A number of months later, the language barrier is well & trully broken.

 

One 13 year old?? Bosnian girl who lives in the neighbourhood, when she first started German school, she was placed a few classes lower than for a child of her age, she was rapidly moved up as her language improved.

 

GOG

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Visiting schools may be difficult as the holidays start next week. German schools don't usually invite parents in to look around the way British schools do. They are more likely to ofer an appointment with the headteacher. For a real look at what goes on in a school you need to wait for an open day (Tag der Offnen Tür). These are usually in October or November.

 

If you don't want to live in the city there are nice villages around Bonn. If you are looking for a school place for September then I suggest you phone around schools this week. But if the school in Lohmar offered you a place and you felt good about the school when you visited you may not want to look any further.

 

I don't know about Lohmar but there are some big companies in Bonn that employ English and Americans and they don't all send their kids to the International schools. A lot depends on how long a family is planning to stay and how committed they are to learning German.

 

This link takes you to a list of primary schools in Bonn - many of them have websites. If a school looks interesting to you just phone them and explain your situation.

 

http://www.bonn.de/familie_gesellschaft_bildung_soziales/schulen/schulen_im_netz/01052/index.html

 

Also use the search button to look at old threads on this topic - you are not the first to be asking these questions.

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We are in Essen area, Have a 7 year old in Grade 1 and 4 year old in kinda.$ year old learning brilliantly. & year old has struggled, but tries to speak German a bit now. The main difference is that German schools only go for the morning. Once he began Ganz Tag Schule he made more friends. Have looked into schooling. There are many smaller schools. It is important to ask Principal if there are other English or Bi speakers in the school. Extra German tuition is also a must for Primary aged kids. The kids who find it easiest to adapt have one German and one English speaking parent. Only the International Schools do immersion English classes, yes but sehr Teuer as Germany doesn't assist funding Private schools like Australia. Most of the kids in International schools are wealthy German Bratts. The parents at our local school are lovely, but as my son is still struggling with language we may have to send him into town IS with the Schickey Mickeys.

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