Bilingualism in our Kindergarten
Children entering kindergarten are at the beginning stages of learning language. Those already exposed to both German and English are not necessarily at an advantage. Kindergarten students are between the ages of two and a half and six, therefore any child who enters is in an incredibly important stage in their language development. Lateral entrants learning German, English or both first and foremost develop the skill of understanding. Teachers use visual cues to demonstrate directions or ask questions, developing a child’s understanding of the language. Listening to stories, music and other students or teachers conversing encourages growth, and creating a picture environment helps them develop vocabulary. Lateral entrants attending kindergarten excel daily within the first three months of attendance. Children are like sponges, soaking up new experiences with great ease. Delving into an environment with two languages fosters a platform to develop these skills. Kindergarteners broaden their understanding, increase their vocabulary, and begin forming sentences in their new language rather quickly. Students have a strong language competence when exposed to languages early on, however, their learning is not just limited to these years.
Kira Stanley, Primary School Teacher SIS Ingolstadt
Bilingualism in our Primary Classroom
Parents are often concerned that teaching children multiple languages early on may cause some confusion, but in the majority of instances, the opposite proves to be the case. It has been proven that the most effective way to learn a language is to be completely immersed in it. Students who begin their language journey in primary school are certainly immersed in the two languages of instruction from day one. Employing the concept of “one teacher, one language” supports this immersion process. Students joining grade 1 from our SIS Kindergarten definitely have an advantage over the students starting school with one language. These students are already proficient in both German and English and play a vital role in the school environment. When children engage with peers who also speak a second language, they are more likely to find joy in the language and continue to gain more confidence to communicate in the new language. Children can learn a great deal from each other in very organic and meaningful ways. Our primary classrooms foster this development.
Sarah Kragl, Primary School Teacher SIS Ingolstadt
Bilingualism in the Secondary Classrooms
One would think that our secondary school language learners would have a more uniform language development, but strangely enough, it instead takes on a differentiated, more individual pace depending on what language capabilities students have when enrolling. Some students initially favour one language over the other, but also later on rarely treat both languages equally. Age, feeling inhibited when trying to communicate due to fear of making mistakes, and perceiving peer pressure all play a role here. Facilitating and encouraging more active bilingualism has been achieved through teacher support in reinforcement lessons and additional ESL and DaF lessons which encourage active use of both languages in and outside of the classroom. This fosters language development and confidence over a longer period of time. We see steady improvement among the various grade levels in secondary school.
Pamela Bradley-Höllering, Principal SIS Ingolstadt