Need to find schools for children

15 posts in this topic

Hi everyone

Just moved to Berlin with whirlwind husbands job and need to get children into local school.

They don't speak german, but have an understanding of a few words. Ideally we want them to go to a local school but not sure how to go about this.

Do I just need to call all schools in the area? Are schools happy to accept emails, as my german is not good enough to ask loads of questions. I don't know anyone here yet and could really do with a friend or some support from someone who has been through this already.

Kids are age 8 and 6.

 

Would really appreciate any info out there. Live in Prenzlauer Berg.

 

Thanks everyone

 

s

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You will want to speak with the Schulamt (Schools Office) for Prenzlauer Berg. Generally speaking nobody in Germany likes to communicate via email, so if you're worried about language, call and ask the secretary by phone if there's anyone there who speaks English well enough to assist you, then make an appointment with that person. Alternatively, go to the Schulamt during their opening hours and bring either a translating App on your mobile device or else a real-live person who can translate for you in a pinch. (A neighbor? Someone from your husband's work? A Toytowner?) Chances are the folks at the Schulamt will speak enough English to explain all you need to know.

 

I seem to recall other threads elsewhere on TT about schools in Berlin (bilingual state schools, regular German-language primaries, etc.), plus other threads about integrating non-German-speaking kids into German schools, so if you haven't already found those, they're worth having a look at.

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Generally speaking nobody in Germany likes to communicate via email...

 

and even less so if the email would be in English!

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Hi, our bilingual Montessori School in Wannsee is still accepting students for this school year. Please e-mail ims(at)montessori-friends.de and refer to Toytown Germany.

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Hi Stephcorden,

 

If you don't mind me asking how did you get on with finding schools? Did you end up going down the international school route?

 

Cheers

 

ajw

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Hi ajw

In the end we opted for a Germany school near us, they start 5th jan, the kids have been having private german lessons which my 8 year old picked up really quickly.

The schools reassures me that they will learn german really fast as part of being socialble with other kids and for the older one he will have 15 mins german teaching a day, the little one 6 is expected that he will just get it, some of the other kids don't speak german and they all work together.

To be honest I'm a bit scared seeing my babies go off into the new but long term I think it will really help them, more local friends, confident german language skills.

Hope this helps

 

S

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Hi Stephcorden,

 

I'm basically in the same shoes as you, only my kid is 9 and has had private German lessons before. However, the Schulamt want to put him in a Willkommensklasse. The school closest to us does not have it and they are offering another school further away. Did they offer you a Willkommensklasse or is this something they only do for kids from third-world countries?

What's the name of the school your kids go to? We're also in P' Berg.

 

Thanks!

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hi everyone,

 

we're also looking for schools for our children - 13 (boy) , 10 (girl) & 8 (boy) - we are still apartment hunting, but i think we'll end up somewhere in the charlottenburg to friedenau to zehlendorf region. we just arrived 2 weeks back and have been somewhat overwhelmed by the process. i think the idea of a willkommensklasse is a good one and wouldn't mind our kids repeating a grade if they could concentrate on getting the german first. they're rather anxious about it all, and who can blame them?!

 

good luck & cheers - and if anyone has geeky/artistic kids the same age or thereabouts, would love to meet up.

 

julianna

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only my kid is 9 and has had private German lessons before. However, the Schulamt want to put him in a Willkommensklasse. The school closest to us does not have it and they are offering another school further away. Did they offer you a Willkommensklasse or is this something they only do for kids from third-world countries?

 

The already underfunded school system in Berlin is now overwhelmed by the influx of foreign children (mainly the children of refugees or low income workers) who can't speak German. Although in theory the Willkommensklasse is a good idea, there are not sufficient resources available to ensure that children quickly learn enough German to smoothly transition to a regular class.

 

Although your child is still young enough to have a chance of learning German properly, you'll need to be proactive and organise private tutoring for him as well.

 

 

i think the idea of a willkommensklasse is a good one and wouldn't mind our kids repeating a grade if they could concentrate on getting the german first.

 

I think your 13 year old is too old to be put into the German system, you can find info on international schools in International schools in Berlin. In the Willkomensklasse they only learn German and most older children never make it out of the Willkommensklasse (i.e. they leave school without any type of diploma).

 

 

Auch Schulnoten gibt es nicht, der Deutsch-Test für Ausländer, wie er an den Goethe-Instituten durchgeführt wird, gilt als Richtwert. Fatima hat schnell sehr gut Deutsch gelernt, so dass sie nun in eine normale Klasse wechselt. Das geschieht in ihrem Alter nicht mehr so häufig, oft reicht es nur für Schnupperkurse in bestimmten Fächern. Grundschulkindern fällt es leichter, den Übergang zu schaffen. Für die älteren Schüler endet nach zehn Jahren die Schulpflicht, längst nicht alle werden einen Abschluss schaffen.

Source

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Thanks engelchen, that's what I was afraid of regarding Willkommensklasse. I'll try to get him in a regular class in the school his sister will begin in September and then organize private lessons.

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I wanted to comment Wilkommensklasses in general. My two boys started in one in the Fall when we moved here, before transitioning into a regular class after about 3 months. They are 12 and 14. While it is true that the resources for this may be limited, I have to say that both of them learned an immense amount in this class. As my husband is German, they also did extra grammar work at home, and they already had a bit of a base in German, although it is not their mother tongue.

 

I would advise strongly against putting a 9 year old into a regular class in a German school if they really do not have a reasonable grasp of German. They will really struggle to get up to speed on the vocabulary. Even after spending 3 months in the Wilkommensklasse in a gymnasium in Weissensee, both of my boys had quite a bit of difficulty in most classes, due to the subject-specific vocabulary, which was in addition to figuring out all the unwritten rules that are particular to German schools.

 

My advice for those moving to Berlin with school age kids would be to try out these classes, even if they are not as close to your home as you'd like them to be. It might save you all a lot of frustration and tears.

 

In addition, native English speakers might want to look into whether any bilingual (English-German) programs are offered at the elementary level in Berlin. My youngest, who is in Gr 7, is in one, and this gymnasium is in the process of rolling it out to Gr 5, when some students will enter the gymnasium.

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JBBerlin, I see what you say. However, putting him in a Willkommensklasse in one school and then transferring him to a regular class in a different school sounds a bit too much. I would need to transfer him to the school closest to us because it doesn't make much sense in having him in one school and his sister in another, all that with a 5 month old in tow. If the school closest to had those classes, I wouldn't think twice.

Bilingual (eng - ger) is not an option for us unfortunately.

I've contacted our local school and hope to get an appointment with the headmistress this week and we'll take it from there.

Thanks everyone, you've been helpful.

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What did everyone in the thread end up doing with their older kids? I have a 13 year old son entering 8th grade this fall. We only speak English and currently live in Minnesota. I have an interview for a job in Berlin. I can't afford more than $5000/yr for schooling. Is it too late to get into anything for this fall? What school options do I have? Does the US Embassy help at all finding schools? I should also mention my son has ADHD and is currently on an IEP at his public school. I need a school that accommodates special needs. My job would be in Friedrichshain neighborhood.

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Going into a new school at age 13 is difficult in Germany, especially with no German. The German school system is not set up to deal with differences and he would fall behind. Even more so with special needs, as German mainstream schools have not had to deal with this until the past year or two and thus do not know how to integrate children with specific learning needs like the ones your son has. They are miles behind in that and it will take years to catch up in provision.

 

Best bet would be an international school, but even then provision is hit and miss depending on the individual school. You would have to do some ringing around to find out who, if anyone, offers what you need.

 

For the record, when I moved to Germany, I left my (non-special needs) 12 year old to finish his education in the UK because of the problems in integrating a child of such an age in a German-speaking school environment. On a teacher's salary, I couldn't afford an international school and the one I was working at didn't (at that time) have classes at his age level.

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