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GSIS > Bilingual Advantage

Bilingual Advantage

1. Guiding principles/foreword

Why is our school bilingual?

Our school is located in a multilingual country where English is the official and common language. Many of our students come from multilingual families and grow up bilingual, one of the languages being either German or English.

The acquisition of several languages is very important, as the knowledge of foreign languages is a prerequisite in today's professional world. In addition, the majority of our families come from all over the world for professional reasons.

Due to the fact that some years ago, the school decided to become bilingual and introduce an English stream, the GSIS also became interesting for families with a non-German background.

2. Bilingualism

Bilingualism means that someone has the ability to speak or understand two languages. In the broadest sense, a bilingual person is someone who has grammatical and communicative skills in two languages, active and/or passive.

3. The objectives of bilingualism

Already from the Nursery on, the children are confronted with both languages, as it is particularly easy for them to learn languages in early childhood. This also lays the foundation for learning other foreign languages. After a short time, the children are able to express themselves comprehensibly in both languages with regards to everyday life.

Those who are taught in this school for several years can also express themselves orally and in writing beyond everyday situations. They are therefore equipped to be able to continue in another German or English secondary school.

4. Organization 

In preschool, the children are taught by one German and one English teacher each. Every day, both teachers are present throughout the morning and share the activities among themselves. The children experience both languages intensively on a daily basis.

In primary school, the pupils are divided into the English or German stream according to their parents' wishes. Here the subjects German or English and Mathematics are taught in the corresponding stream language. For the respective "foreign language" the teacher is changed and the lessons take place to approximately the same extent as the stream language. The other subjects are taught in roughly equal proportions in German or English in the class group of both streams (see quota table in the appendix). The German stream is based on the Thuringian curriculum and the English branch follows the Cambridge program.

The upper grades (grades 7 and 8) are currently taught in German, with English and French as foreign languages.

5. Requirements and framework conditions

At all levels, the relevant subjects are taught by native speakers without switching to the second language, according to the principle of "one face - one language". The classrooms are designed for the respective languages and learning posters are hung up in the respective language as an incentive.

For all subjects there are textbooks in German and English, which fulfil the objectives of the corresponding curricula.

6. Methodical - didactic principles

Since not all pupils are sufficiently proficient in both languages, the lessons are particularly focused on visual aids. A lot of content is conveyed through experience and action, so that all the pupils understand it.

Gestures and facial expressions represent an important support of the spoken language. When teaching the mixed language group, the teacher consciously applies the parrot principle, i.e. the teacher repeats important contributions of the children linguistically correct. This ensures that the children understand what is being said repeatedly and internalise the correct wording.

Partner and group work is adapted to the teaching situation, either specifically separated on the basis of language or deliberately mixed.

7. Evaluation

In German or English and mathematics the children are regularly assessed according to the prescribed grade scale 1-6.

Even in subjects in which the pupils of both streams are taught together, the native speakers or all those who are proficient in the language receive regularly determined grades.

The foreign language learners are assessed differently. They are required to complete written work in the language of instruction. These tests are corrected twice. In the first correction, only answers in the language of instruction are taken into account, but more attention is paid to content and not to form and expression. The first grade is then determined on a regular basis. In the case of the second correction, the teacher of the other language may have to be consulted. Now the answers which were not given in the language of instruction are also evaluated. The assignment now graded a second time, taking the answers of both languages into account. The final result of the test is the average of the two grades.

In general, questions are not translated into the other language during a test, but are reformulated for better understanding or formulated with concrete examples from the classroom.

Furthermore, in individual cases the teacher may decide whether the oral performance of the children in the foreign language is to be assessed more strongly (max. 65%).

The report card states that the subject was taken in the foreign language.