Public schools with good support for foreigners with little German

26 posts in this topic

Hello, everyone!

Could anyone share experience with putting English-speaking kids (with a little German, but not enough) into a public school, specifically in Frankfurt or Wiesbaden or Mainz, or anything close by?  My husband has received a job offer in Frankfurt.  We have an 11-year old and an 8-year old.  I have looked into bilingual schools, but I would love to hear if anyone has had experience, good or bad, with any extra help that a public school might offer, anywhere close to Frankfurt.  I know this is not a good situation for the kids, especially the 11-year old, so I would appreciate any direct experience with a school.  Thank you very much! 

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, ST can said:

My husband has received a job offer in Frankfurt.  We have an 11-year old and an 8-year old.

 

Has your husband asked his prospective employer to pay for private school for the older kid?

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are lots of threads detailing the experiences of public schools here on Toytown.  Use the search function and browse.

 

Are you planning to stay in Germany long term?  Do you know where you will be living and when are you likely to arrive? Will your husband's company pay for private education and German tuition?

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Are you aware that you cannot simply choose which public primary school to send your kid to? Unless you get an exception it will be the school the parish of which you´re residing in. It might be worth talking to the local "Schulberatungsstelle" (helpdesk of the school authority).

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 minutes ago, jeba said:

Are you aware that you cannot simply choose which public primary school to send your kid to? 

 

Of course you can.  At least in the cities I am aware of, you can.

 

The closest school would be just your "default" school, but you can go and find a different one.  

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, ST can said:

Hello, everyone!

Could anyone share experience with putting English-speaking kids (with a little German, but not enough) into a public school, specifically in Frankfurt or Wiesbaden or Mainz, or anything close by?  My husband has received a job offer in Frankfurt.  We have an 11-year old and an 8-year old.  I have looked into bilingual schools, but I would love to hear if anyone has had experience, good or bad, with any extra help that a public school might offer, anywhere close to Frankfurt.  I know this is not a good situation for the kids, especially the 11-year old, so I would appreciate any direct experience with a school.  Thank you very much! 

 

The real question is: how committed would you be to staying here?

 

If you plan on staying permanently, you'll find a way. Frankfurt has everything you need, but it takes patience and dedication.

 

If you really only bank on a couple of years, maybe private tuition is your best bet?

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Like many people, I expect, I can only mainly speak about local schools. Our local schools (Darmstadt) are mainly Europaschulen.  They at least very much focus on pupils who have (or will have) German as an additional language and there's a whole set up for them - teachers who focus on kids coming in via that route, training methods for them, and so on. 

 

Frankfurt is 50% foreign background now, Darmstadt 40% and so on.  We increasingly dominate this region.  So it's entirely normal here and our communities and systems respond accordingly.  Your foreign born kids will just be two of a vast number from diverse backgrounds whose education needs are catered for.    I've been here long enough now to have seen family (also from other foreign nations as well as mine) go through it and thus seen their little friends from many nations from all over the world do it too.

 

We actually have that typical modern gentrification problem - our foreign kids at these good city centre schools, close to top Universities and big business etc, are now starting to be crowded out by the arriving German middle-class.  That's the sort of school you want. 

 

A good place to start might be coworkers with kids of this age, they will know the score.   While it is true to say you do not have to go to the one nearest, the modern middle class opposite (catchments) tends to apply these days.  If you want the good school, you often tend to need to live fairly near it.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Krieg said:

 

Of course you can.  At least in the cities I am aware of, you can.

 

The closest school would be just your "default" school, but you can go and find a different one.  

Read this: http://www.sueddeutsche.de/news/leben/familie-freie-wahl-der-grundschule-ist-meist-eingeschraenkt-dpa.urn-newsml-dpa-com-20090101-170621-99-931147

 

It is not as easy as you think it is...

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's why I said, in the cities I am aware of.   I myself didn't put my kids in the default school, they are now in a Europaschule (Public as well).   In Berlin, together with the information to which default school your kid was assigned to you receive the Ummeldung form, in which you can re-apply for up to 3 different schools, you list them in your order of preference and you start the process of applying for those schools.  You will be accepted of course only if there is place and if you fulfill their application requirements if they have.   You do not have to state any reason why you want to send your kid to other school.

 

 

Edit: From your link, what I get it is talking more about when the kid is not accepted in the other school and they still want to force the school to take the kid.  This happens a lot around here, people engage lawyers and fight it.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, swimmer said:

A good place to start might be coworkers with kids of this age, they will know the score.   While it is true to say you do not have to go to the one nearest, the modern middle class opposite (catchments) tends to apply these days.  If you want the good school, you often tend to need to live fairly near it.

 

I agree, asking colleagues/management would be a good start. Schools close to home would be a major benefit particularly as it's a good idea for kids to be involved in out of school activities.  Social activities help significantly with language learning.

 

Once you know where you will live, I suggest you contact the appropriate Schulamt for advice.  They will be able to best advise which public schools offer language assistance. I don't know how effective the language tuition is these days.  When I asked our local Schulamt in 2012, I was told that government supported courses are only intended for those with a migrant background and only enables kids to get by in the lowest level of secondary education. 

 

A public school will most likely suggest that your children go back a year to give them a better opportunity to learn German, especially for your 11 year old.  This is really not a negative as people often think.  The ages of kids in a class can vary by up to 2 years. 

 

If your intention is that your children fully integrate and potentially have the option to go onto higher education, private tuition is likely to be necessary.  The sooner the better.  The need for private tuition is common for many school children.  Parents are generally expected to assist their children with homework. There are various tuition franchises though private tutors can be more difficult to find. Your chosen school may be able to advise.  In our first few years, we spent around 500€ per month for German tuition. 

 

If your move is likely to be imminent, the Hessen school term finishes this week and re-starts early August though some school management may be contactable during the holiday.  If you don't yet know where you will live, it might be worth contacting the 3 different Hessen school authorities (Schulamt) that cover the areas you stated...Wiesbaden, Rüsselsheim am Main and Frankfurt. Contact details here...https://kultusministerium.hessen.de/ueber-uns/aufgaben-und-organisation/staatliche-schulaemter?page=1

Mainz https://www.mainz.de/vv/oe/schulamt.php#tab-infos

 

 

 

2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Krieg said:

Of course you can.  At least in the cities I am aware of, you can.

I remember reading about a case where people registered their children as living with their grandparents in order to get them into a different school and where the case was dealt with by the courts. Others moved for that purpose. At least in Bavaria (and I think Hesse, where Frankfurt is located) you can´t simply decide to not send your kid to a public primary school outside your parish. Unless that has changed.  I´d recommend to ask the local school authority before making further plans.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, jeba said:

I remember reading about a case where people registered their children as living with their grandparents in order to get them into a different school and where the case was dealt with by the courts. Others moved for that purpose. At least in Bavaria (and I think Hesse, where Frankfurt is located) you can´t simply decide to not send your kid to a public primary school outside your parish. Unless that has changed.  I´d recommend to ask the local school authority before making further plans.

 

Again, this probably change from state to state or maybe from city to city.   Yes, some schools only take kids in the same district, but some schools take kids from anywhere in the city.     And then in a big city a district means already a bunch of school to choose (not meaning you will definitely get what you want, but the chance is there).   

 

Your bold statement that it is not possible is not true.   I like how I am here telling you I changed my kids to a different school (and so did a bunch of people I know) and you are there telling me it is not possible.   What you read in the Internet it is irrelevant, because like always, you didn't read or or didn't understand the whole situation and you have no idea what you are talking about.

 

 

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Lots of advice here to select school once OP knows where the family will be living. But what if the OP might be looking to select accommodation based on schools rather than the other way around? (That's the way I would do it, anyway.)  Is there likely to be a palpable difference in what support (etc.) the schools can offer in, say, Mainz versus Frankfurt vs. Darmstadt?  If schooling for 8- and 11-year-old English-speakers with no German were your main priority in choosing a place to live in that broad region, where would folks (with some knowledge of those areas) choose? Or is it too unpredictable and/or specific to the level of the individual school and/or the teachers, so that location doesn't make much of a difference, in the end? 

2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 minutes ago, Krieg said:

Your bold statement that it is not possible is not true. 

Quote

§ 60 Hessisches Schulgesetz - Erfüllung der Vollzeitschulpflicht
...
(4) In der Grundstufe (Primarstufe) haben die Schülerinnen und Schüler die Schulpflicht durch den Besuch der Grundschule zu erfüllen, in deren Schulbezirk (§ 143 Abs. 1) sie wohnen.

Translates like: Regarding primary school pupils have to visit the primary school of their parish

Source: http://www.schulrecht-hessen.rechtsanwalt-zoller.de/schulwahl-grundschule-schulbezirk-schulsprengel.html

 

I never said it´s not possible though. I said:

Quote

Unless you get an exception...

 

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
28 minutes ago, liebling said:

But what if the OP might be looking to select accommodation based on schools rather than the other way around? (That's the way I would do it, anyway.)  Is there likely to be a palpable difference in what support (etc.) the schools can offer in, say, Mainz versus Frankfurt vs. Darmstadt?  

 

There are two states there and of course a third as well (Aschaffenburg - Bavaria).   Certainly we've long since entered the familiar territory of people faking addresses to get into the good schools, here, and all of that.   It's nothing like as easy to pick and choose where one lives in this area these days, especially when looking for (high demand and often rare) family-sized property in the more central areas, and I think that applies to the four big population centres now.

 

But, yes, you probably do need to be living near the best schools if you want to get in them.  Choose some of the (outer) administrative authorities round my way and you have much much less chance of getting to the most sought after gymnasia in the centre.  Or at least you only move to them and their often better choice of larger and cheaper family homes once your child's safely entered the best Gymnasium they can enter.

 

There are local differences but few of us would know them all.  Darmstadt's very much a Gymnasium city, with specialisms within that.   But go to the neighbouring locales and it's often just Gesamtschulen, for instance.   So home location can play a big role.

 

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
37 minutes ago, liebling said:

Lots of advice here to select school once OP knows where the family will be living. But what if the OP might be looking to select accommodation based on schools rather than the other way around? (That's the way I would do it, anyway.)  Is there likely to be a palpable difference in what support (etc.) the schools can offer in, say, Mainz versus Frankfurt vs. Darmstadt?  If schooling for 8- and 11-year-old English-speakers with no German were your main priority in choosing a place to live in that broad region, where would folks (with some knowledge of those areas) choose? Or is it too unpredictable and/or specific to the level of the individual school and/or the teachers, so that location doesn't make much of a difference, in the end? 

We had the same dilemma about where to live.  We lived in temporary accommodation when we arrived and fortunately, the nearest primary school was fine for a few months.  The biggest concern is likely to be the secondary school option.  Close to home is usually preferable especially for kids going through such a major life change.  Once my daughter secured a place at a secondary school, we bought our house.  Useful too to be close ot public transport.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, swimmer said:

Choose some of the (outer) administrative authorities round my way and you have much much less chance of getting to the most sought after gymnasia in the centre.

For secondary schools there is no need to visit those of your parish. You can even send them across state borders if you wish) a popular option for kids in the Aschaffenburg area because the standards in Hesse are lower so it´s easier to get the marks required to study e. g. medicine).

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks, everyone!  I did not expect to get so many responses; I really appreciate all of this.

To answer some of your questions and give some more context:

My husband has asked for international school fees for the older kid.  We don't know yet whether they will agree. 

We plan to be in Germany for a long time, so we are motivated to put them into either public or at least bilingual school.  I have read some frightening things about public schools, though, for children with little German, so I am trying to find information about better public schools for foreigners, because they seem to exist.  I don't want to just move into a neighborhood and 'roll the dice', though, with a school. 

We will arrive in mid-July; we don't know which neighborhood, though my husband will work at an office at the Frankfurt airport. 

We are willing to live anywhere in the area.  We'd like to live very close to the kids' schools, and my husband doesn't mind commuting 45 minutes or so, if necessary.  So, I know that the norm is to find a school based on neighborhood, but (and thank you, liebling, for saying so), I would love to find a neighborhood based on someone recommending a school.  I am not as worried for my 8-year-old (though I am somewhat), but I am very worried for the 11-year-old.  Does anyone have an experience with a specific Gymnasium anywhere near Frankfurt with which you had a positive or negative experience with helping children with little German?  I actually am somewhat confident that the 11-year-old could do well, with the right support; she has been in French immersion here in Canada (with English as our mother tongue), and has done well, but she is so behind in German.  She has done a few years of an after school program in German, but there is no way she could keep up in the first year or more of 'normal' public school in Germany.

We don't have family in Germany, and we don't know many of my husband's coworkers yet, but we will ask who we know for advice.

So, would the 11-year old be put back to grade 4, or grade 5?  She is just finishing grade 5 here in Canada.  I wouldn't mind grade 4 for her if it would help with the transition.  If grade 4 is a possibility, I guess I should then be looking at Grundschule options, too?

swimmer, could you please recommend any specific schools in Darmstadt that might be helpful?  I appreciate your recommendation to look in Darmstadt in general. 

We have interviews booked with some Obermayr schools, but no guarantees that the 11-year-old will be accepted.  Very daunting.

I really appreciate this conversation!  Thank you, everyone!

 

 

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you daughter already has learned one foreign language and if she has a basic awareness of German, I think that repeating fifth grade in the local school, perhaps with tutoring in German and math, would prepare her for Gymnasium.  I have several children and my 11-year-old daughter spent three years in the fifth grade: in the U.S., in the local school, and finally in Gymnasium, entering at the age of twelve.  She graduated from the Gymnasium (made her Abitur).
But Realschule is also an option.  I had friends who became teachers, engineers, and one a college professor, following Realschule.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now