Recommendations for Realschule or Gymnasium with help for non-German speaking kids

55 posts in this topic

Hi All,

 

This is all very disheartening but I appreciate the honesty and the details by everyone.

 

We are only staying for 3 years as we all love Japan for living and currently have no intention of moving to Europe. Having said that, I wanted to give them a different perspective in terms of communication, thinking and an additional language, which is why I went after the immersion plan. 

 

Schools are not as demanding In Japan ( at least for the girls) in terms of content, but they are time-consuming, as kids just passively listen for the full day and do sports and cram school on top of that and come back in the evening. They only do paper tests and I want to rub off a bit on the western style of thinking / discussion style, which is my main motivation to put them in a local school. I understand this would be initially painful for all parties involved.

 

Japanese school - I read the website  and their " education mission"  is to teach Japanese culture and values, which to be honest, they already have enough knowledge about and I am not too keen on just keeping in touch with their Japan culture and peeps. I feel clubs would not be enough for them to learn a language fluently, so still on the fence of what to do...

 

Not trying to be stubborn, just thinking if there is any way to pull this off, knowing what I know thanks to all of you...

 

I promise to keep you updated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ok, that was awkward. 

 

By the way, has anyone heard anything about the only GesammtSchule in Munich? I read somewhere one bad review from an ex-student, talking about weekly fights in the cafeteria, bad neighbourhood and demotivated teachers.

 

If you have any view of that, I thought to explore that option as well.

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24 minutes ago, AniFuru said:

By the way, has anyone heard anything about the only GesammtSchule in Munich?

 

That would be the Städtische Willy-Brand-Gesamtschule, which is located in Hasenbergl.

map: https://goo.gl/maps/FeFX8hjCLXp

reviews on this school on Google (copy the German review text and past it into GoogleTranslate).

 

And here is a short article on it.

In 2011, 49% of its pupils had a migration background.

 

Hasenbergl has a bit of a bad reputation, I suggest you read this discussion on another forum about it.

Here are all the discussions on Toytown about Hasenbergl: https://www.google.de/search?q=Hasenbergl+site%3Atoytowngermany.com&oq=Hasenbergl+site%3Atoytowngermany.com

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2 hours ago, AniFuru said:

..Not trying to be stubborn...

 

But you are ;)

 

Let the kids get the immersion by simply living in Germany, in a German neighborhood where everyone around them speaks German. Join a club (Sportsverein) - the kids will get to know other kids, learn to do activities together with  German-speaking kids. PandaMunich's suggestion for the Japanese school is fantastic. Don't let your stubborness ruin this opportunity.

 

We're moving to Singapore this summer. Aside from the fact that is nearly impossible to get an expat kid into a local school, we have no choice but to put our child in an international school. I would so love for him to go to an English-speaking school, but that's not going to help our kid once we do return to Germany, so a German school it is. I'm sure he will pick up more English simply by being in the environment, engaging with other (non-German-speaking) kids in our neighborhood and through other activities.

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3 hours ago, PandaMunich said:

If you cannot be dissuaded from putting your children in German school, e.g. because you have decided to leave Japan for good since life there is difficult for children with mixed heritage (see this example of Japanase school obliging pupils to colour their hair black if their natural hair colour is not black), then you should know that you have chosen one of the most difficult locations in Germany for this, since Bavaria has - bar Saxonia in eastern Germany - the most academically demanding school system in Germany.

This is very complicated for a Japanese. They are bonded to their company. If he leaves the company, he will be a traitor and will find life hard if he wants to return to Japan later, even for other companies.

 

I met a Japanese who has been here for 19 years but he told me that he had to make a hard choice and he knows he can only return to Japan for retirement.

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48 minutes ago, Elfenstar said:

Let the kids get the immersion by simply living in Germany, in a German neighborhood where everyone around them speaks German.

Do these neigbourhoods still exist in Mannheim? Do these neighbourhoods have affordable housing?

This is not a rhetorical question.:)

 

In Berlin there are probably more areas with a high number of foreign children with weak German skills than areas with predominantly German children with good German skills.

 

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, AniFuru said:

I read somewhere one bad review from an ex-student, talking about weekly fights in the cafeteria, bad neighbourhood and demotivated teachers.

 

That is sadly very common in many places.  

 

I would suggest that you contact the Japanese school to ask for advice given your circumstances and aims.  Also, have you spoken to the school that you want your children to return to?  What is their view of a 3 year educational gap? Might it be considered a disadvantage given that the curricucula are likely very different?

 

Also, make contact with the potential schools in the area.  Ask for a telephone appointment with the head.  Best to discuss your situation early and even whether there would be a place for your children. 

 

Another option is to consider a private German school or a faith school, if appropriate.  I don't know about the Munich area though I was surprised to recently learn that the costs aren't all that high. Near us, private schools range from 100-250€ per month.  Other private schools offer means tested fees.  Nevertheless, private tuition would still be necessary in order for your children to follow the curriculum.

 

 

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Emkay, 

 

I will start there and will call the Jp school for advice and book calls with some of the school heads. 

 

Not nearly as positive as when I started the thread. Thanks to all for the valuable information.

 

Quite sceptical they will pick up enough of the language while just being in clubs and camps, but will consider that as well.

 

 

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23 hours ago, engelchen said:

 

Why? Both programmes specifically require students to already know English.

 

Have you ever heard of such options for kids who can't even speak English?

 

 

 

Yes i have.  My kids' gymnasium has an extensive DaF program and some of the kids don't speak english at all either.  Things have changed.  Things keep changing.  We have had spanish, arabic and chinese kids in our DaF sup program that had neither german nor english.  

 

I don't want to give the OP false hope but my advice is to contact individual gymnasiums (or realschules) in a 20 km radius and simply ask to meet with an english speaking school representative that YOU can communicate with (not the secretary) and outline the situation and ask.  

 

Schools being overburdened with non-german speaking newcomers has been a plus and a minus situation.  10 years ago, we had NO resources for non-German speaking kids at our local schools because there simply weren't enough of them.  Add 5-20 more kids into a local school and all of a sudden they have a program for it.  I have no doubt that the schools are overloaded, but from the perspective of schools becoming more inclusive, its actually not a terrible thing - the load used to be on the hauptschule, now its spread across to gymnasiums, which I personally like otherwise its too homogeneous in population for my taste.    

 

For me personally, this whole "uproot your kids" thing is extremely in the "your mileage may vary" category.  I am rooted here and have no interest in changing countries, so i don't know if i would have the energy to do it.  But i have friends who move from country to country all the time, and there are some kids that really thrive being thrown into new cultures and languages, even just for short 3 period stints and do so entirely within public or Stiftung-funded schools.  The disruption in education is often offset by other plenty of other benefits, some of which lead to a more holistic academic experience (Read "Third Culture Kids" for a complete unbiased perspective on the pluses and minuses, I am not the expert, since I'm not one of these transient people). 

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17 minutes ago, Joanie said:

Schools being overburdened with non-german speaking newcomers has been a plus and a minus situation.  10 years ago, we had NO resources for non-German speaking kids at our local schools because there simply weren't enough of them.  Add 5-20 more kids into a local school and all of a sudden they have a program for it.  I have no doubt that the schools are overloaded, but from the perspective of schools becoming more inclusive, its actually not a terrible thing - the load used to be on the hauptschule, now its spread across to gymnasiums, which I personally like otherwise its too homogeneous in population for my taste.    

 

In my opinion you are only partially correct, the amount of foreign kids is changing things in the schools, but the changes are only starting and no deep changes have happened yet in the system.  In my opinion the whole thing is setup in a way that most of those kids will fail and that's very sad.   The kids go to the Welcome Class where they concentrate in learning German creating a segregation.  The streaming is still done without considering what the kid has been going through and that's unfair.   Now, I do not want to bring the race card and I do not even think these decisions are done directly by the school, at least at the beginning, but I've seen how non-German speaking Middle Easter kids are sent to the Welcome Class while the non-German speaking kid from another first class EU country is thrown in a normal class and extra language support is provided.    I actually like the latter one, which was the normal way to do it before the refugee crisis, I do not really think the Welcome Class thing is working as it should.

 

Something else the OP should consider, she mentioned limitations in the budget and she at least in the beginning rejected the idea of the Japanese Private school which would be around 300 EUR per kid and maybe almost 1/3 of that might be recovered via filing taxes.   If that amount of money is already a no-go, the OP is probably missing something very important I already mentioned.   It is expected that the parents are involved in the education of the kid and if you can't provide that support you have to get private tutors and they are not cheap.   Even normal German kids need tutors here and there.

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1 hour ago, Krieg said:

If that amount of money is already a no-go, the OP is probably missing something very important I already mentioned.   It is expected that the parents are involved in the education of the kid and if you can't provide that support you have to get private tutors and they are not cheap.   Even normal German kids need tutors here and there.

 

Absolutely.  When we moved here when my daughter was 10, 6 years ago, I searched extensively for German tuition for her.  Teachers couldn't help nor any suggestions from the Schulamt. They told me then that German lessons were only suitable for children with a migrant background who would only ever qualify for Hauptschule.  I'm sure that things have changed since then though it doesn't sound like the OP's aim of her children being immersed into German language and culture would be met if her children are often only in classes with other foreign kids. 

 

We ended up using Schülerhilfe as then it was the only tuition company near to us.  Google shows others.  Here is a link of the price list of one of the München branches. 

 

https://www.schuelerhilfe.de/fileadmin/Bilder_Zentrale/Preislisten_GmbH/328_München-Moosach.pdf

 

On page 2 at the top, shows one to one tuition prices.  140€ per child per month for 1 lesson of 45 minutes per week (school 'hours' are generally 45 minutes). 35€ per hour.  Plus, one off registration fee of 55€. I would imagine you may well need at least 3 hours per week per child initially.  We also eventually found a student (they often freelance for tuition companies) and privately paid her 20€ per hour (a real hour).  

 

Further down that page, there are holiday courses which could be a great idea for the summer holiday that starts 31st July.  

 

@AniFuru, are you planning to visit before your possible June move?

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The more I thought about this whole thing the more I feel the OP should really think about her kids. If you HAVE to come for work. Ok then you need to make it work. If you are doing this because you want to give them an experience, I would really rethink it. 3 years is not worth the hell you are going to go through. When I came it was for long term. So we had to deal with it. I can honestly say I am not so sure I would do it again knowing what I do now. 

 

Also any school is not going to put in the effort when they know you are leaving in 3 years. An international school would since that is what they do. 

 

I think most of us had our rose glasses on but most of us also had them taken off quickly.  As for tutors, all of my kids have had them. Just part of our budget. My youngest has a college kid now for math at 30 euro for a double hour each week. That's a great price. And she was born here.

 

11 is a tough age and then they would have another adjustment at 14. I would personally pass.

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Ani,
We moved our son who was 14 at the time to Germany. At this point the lad was already fluent in Russian, Swedish and English. We assumed German would be challenging but as he had picked up the latter two languages so well, assumed that like his mother he had a gift. 

German friends warned us about Hauptschule and we were also warned on this forum about the difficulties of gymnasium at his age. Nonetheless, we decided to give it a try but kept our apartment in Sweden as a safety net. 

We spent six months trying to get him into a gymnasium in Aachen, the individual who was our contact in the education department was extremely unhelpful and pushed to put him in Hauptschule. Eventually, through a separate contact who worked for the local government we managed to secure a place in a gymnasium.

He was put in a class with 17 other foreign students, from many different countries. Most could not speak English, and had ages from 11 to 17. The first month he studied German every day with these students, but put into an English and Maths class with the other German students. This was difficult and frustrating for him - as I mentioned he was fluent in English and decent at Maths, but the teacher only spoke German of course. He became increasingly unhappy. The straw that broke the camels back was when after a month, they also put him into the French class. After a few weeks of this he had anxiety attacks, became depressed and parts of his hair turned grey. 

The stress of this combined caused my wife to also suffer depression. He visited a councillor which didn't help and so he went back to Sweden to his old school and my wife parents went to look after him. After another 6 months, he wanted to come back to Germany. This time we placed him in an expensive private school, but immediately the panic attacks returned. We eventually managed to get him appointments with a child psychologist that lasted for two months. Ultimately we were given the option to place him on strong medication or allow him to return to Sweden.

By this time he was 16 and we decided to allow him to live in Sweden by himself, which he was keen to do. My wife followed him for the first month and during this time she noticed a marked improvement. After this, it was plain sailing. He joined a local gym and started to do weight training, and eventually finished school with much higher grades that we could believe. He is now studying in college, doing really well and very happy. He has his independence, friends and at an age where holidays with parents are less attractive :-). My wife has also recovered and is happy with life in Germany, happier that in Sweden.  

But those two years came close multiple times to ripping the family apart and were the most miserable and stressful of our lives. The financial cost was and remains high to run two homes and pay for so many flights. We were not able to sell our apartment in Sweden and had to postpone buying property here. In the meantime property prices in Sweden are decreasing, so we will take another loss there in addition to needing to continue to pay rent here. The other cost is the physical distance to our son. Of course, our children leave home and some may choose to live in another part of the country or move abroad, so perhaps this is inevitable. 

My advice if you choose to move, is to keep an option to return to Japan if possible, and have sufficient funds to place your daughters in an international school if necessary. We were lucky that our son was able to live by himself, had he been younger this would not have been possible. 

I should also add that our objective was always to retire in Germany. I would not contemplate the potential risks and unhappiness for a short term move. 

 

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This won't apply to you, if you are only in Germany for 3 years. But others considering the move might read this thread, or your period in German may get extended. That is the issue of pensions. It is something that I overlooked when I moved to Sweden from the UK, in part probably because of my ignorance about most things financial (other that business accounts). There are three things I didn't know:

1. The State pension in the new country would start at year zero. This means I have 25 years of UK pension and now 14 years of Swedish pension. The total payout of both is significantly less than had I remained in the UK. The reason for this is.
2. Pensions are calculated not on a linear scale but an exponential kind of scale. This means for the first 30 years of contributions, the payout slowly increases for each year worked, until the last 5 years when it ramps up significantly. By working 25 years in one country and 14 years in another, I miss that ramp up effect and will have a much lower pension at the end. 
3. That free movement in the EU is really aimed at moving low cost labour from the east to the west. I say this because I can't transfer my UK pension to Sweden and combine all my years worked into one pension to get the ramp up effect. 

Fortunately I have a business and hopefully this will continue to provide an income - at least while I have my mental faculties :-)

 

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40 minutes ago, Cheeseroller2 said:

Pensions are calculated not on a linear scale but an exponential kind of scale. This means for the first 30 years of contributions, the payout slowly increases for each year worked, until the last 5 years when it ramps up significantly. By working 25 years in one country and 14 years in another, I miss that ramp up effect and will have a much lower pension at the end. 

Couldn´t it simply be due to that UK pensions are more generous than those of most other countries?

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Ani, I think one thing in favour of your plan is that you have no long term expectations or hopes for the girls within the German system, only short term, so as I understand it, all you want is for them to have a positive experience, become as immersed in the culture and lifestyle as is possible in a short time, and obviously learn the language as part of that set of experiences.

 

They also need to keep up with their Japanese schooling. 

 

This is not the same as someone who wants to bring kids of this age over, have them go to Gymnasium and succeed at the same level as they would have in their home culture by the end of their school years. 

 

The girls are already a supportive pair (presumably) which means they will learn German more slowly (unless they agree to speak German together...) but on the enormously positive side, means they will be sharing their experiences, and have a strength in numbers already built in. School can be rather brutal in Germany, the way teachers speak to their students rather beggars belief on occasion, and there is usually little or no support for those who are struggling.

 

Is there an institution for learning Japanese in Munich? If so I wonder if there would be students who would be willing to swop your native Japanese for their native German and cut down costs for language instruction. It is less critical for your girls that they have a DAF teacher because they are not going to need perfect German for a good Abitur in 8 years, but rather a quick rough German to get them going, which they will hopefully have time to hone.

 

I admire you for considering this, it would be an amazing thing for the children, and if you are absolutely sure that they will not lose out on their Japanese education, then it may be worth a go, if you can find a school you are happy with. We had a kid in a Hauptschule (the lowest band) and had a remarkably positive experience, but we may of course have been very lucky - a sample of 1 doesn't make a great pattern to follow! 

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Most of gymnasiums has a project , help kids whose parents are foreigner,

Grundschule has too. 

 

Parents  can also pay extra fee for private lessons in order to speed up the children's language skill. 

Some erman family also pay fee for children's good notes

 

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