Learning Languages

Languages and Language Training

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Multilingualism at the CDSC

Language is the foundation of learning, and is one of the most important elements of our emotional and social communication. The sooner language skills are developed, the more effective a person will be in learning, communicating and expressing himself.

The primary teaching language and most important language of communication at the CDSC is German. To meet the demands of an increasingly globalized world, our students also learn English and Thai, beginning in Grade 1. The demand for increased language skill runs throughout the classes, culminating in the German International Abitur (DIA) which has a strong foreign language emphasis compared to the domestic Abitur.

Beginning in Grade 6, students qualified for high school will begin to study French. The French language plays a particularly important role for our Swiss students, but is also a prerequisite for students who plan to attend a Gymnasium (high school) in Germany. The CDSC will assist new students in arranging French tutoring if extra language support is necessary. Beginning in Grade 8, History courses are taught bilingually (English/German). Physics is taught completely in English beginning in Grade 10, with testing in English in the German International Abitur examinations.

German and partly also English are the languages of communication in everyday school life both among students and teachers. German clearly dominates.
The teachers consciously work to ensure that this relationship is maintained without restricting the use of English. We see this ability to vary between languages as a strength.
In order to achieve the goal of a lived multilingualism with a special focus on the German language, it is important for a small school like CDSC to maintain a balance in the linguistic requirements of the students.
We deliberately do not set percentages in order to be able to make the best possible individual decisions. In general, the principal decides on admission and placement in a class level.
This decision is usually made in consultation with colleagues who would be affected by admission. Important criteria are the expected working and social behaviour of the students, regardless of their level of language proficiency.

Goals and Instruments of Language Support

With the introduction of the Abitur at the CDSC, it is our goal to support all students in such a way that they reach the language level required for the Abitur but also for the middle school-leaving certificates in time.

To achieve this goal, we have constantly improved our support program in recent years, especially to bring those children who grow up with two or even three languages and for whom German is not necessarily the first language to reach the required language level.

The language concept adopted in the 2019 school year includes precisely defined admission requirements, diagnostic procedures, differentiation possibilities and didactic principles of language support. The main element is an annual conference to determine the language level of each student, in which all teachers participate. At this conference, all the knowledge gained during a school year is used to develop the language level. On the basis of these results, individual support plans are then created for everyone who needs support, which are presented to the students and their parents. At the moment, about one third of our students take advantage of the support of two to four hours per week.

Language Support Classes

In kindergarten we speak more of language education than of learning languages. Through the immersion method, language structures such as grammar and vocabulary are not cognitively grasped in everyday kindergarten life.
Instead, learning the German language is done intuitively, playfully and by imitation, just like learning the mother tongue.
There are currently no special diagnostic procedures, the state of language acquisition is discussed in regular meetings between the kindergarten teachers and the language support teachers.
In these discussions, further language development measures are also determined. The testing of a diagnostic procedure is planned for the school year 2020 / 2021.
The additional language support takes place in small groups in the kindergarten and is adapted to the individual needs and different language levels of the children.
It is based on the language acquisition in 5 phases according to Clahsen and is also carried out by means of speech and rhythm exercises, picture cards and games.
Initially, the children in the kindergarten receive a teaching unit of German language support three times a week. The focus is on the promotion of the spoken language.
From October, as a further differentiation, pre-school takes place once a week.

From Flex (primary school) onwards, specific problem areas resulting from multilingualism are addressed, based on the topics of regular German lessons, thus building up language confidence and language awareness.
The DaZ lessons are designed according to a rhythmic schedule. Games, movement and the written development of the teaching material - provided the children are already able to write - alternate.
We take up everyday experiences from the children's immediate environment and encourage them to listen, speak, tell stories and write on the basis of various language development materials.
The basic principle of external differentiation is the grade level and the number of six students is not exceeded. Support groups can also be reorganised between different grades if the necessary support requirements of students in different classes are similar.

In grades 5 to 7, the competences expected in the respective grade are weighted and taught in the areas of vocabulary, pronunciation, oral communication skills, grammar, spelling and text production, depending on the funding requirements. The expected competences are listed in the respective subject curricula. In individual cases it is possible to repeat lessons or assist with homework after consultation with the subject teachers.

From grade 8 onwards, participation in remedial teaching is voluntary. This is much more oriented towards German-language subject lessons and is intended above all to promote the understanding of difficult specialist texts and text production, also with regard to the examinations in grades 10 and 12. There is close cooperation between the support teacher and the specialist teachers.

Foreign Language Newcomers Program

Since 2012, the CDSC has opened a contingent for foreign language beginners.
These are children between the ages of ten and twelve who have not previously been educated in German or who have not acquired German as a written language.
The changeover to the German system with the option of taking the German international Abitur is a great challenge for both students and teachers, which we are happy to take up.
An annual German preparation course from April to July prepares the children for this change.
After successful completion of the final test, the students are integrated into the 5th grade at the beginning of the new school year.
Up to the 7th grade they are taught according to a special timetable with a strong focus on learning the German language, and from grade 8 onwards they participate fully in the regular lessons of the class, which then takes them up to the Abitur.

Further Need of Support

If it turns out that a child's difficulties cannot be resolved by language support alone, then the learning difficulties can be diagnosed more accurately through observations, individual checks and standardised test procedures.
The reasons for this can be, for example, a general reading disorder (LRS), ADHD or a problem in perception processing.
We try to approach the problem individually within our educational possibilities and meet the child's special needs by means of support plans, internal differentiation in lessons and additional support hours.

This is always done in close consultation with the parents and we usually recommend consulting specialists (child psychologists, therapists).

Thai Classes

Since the 2012/13 school year, we offer two different programs for Thai language education. The "Thai-Regular" program includes two lessons per week and is based on the "Thai Language & Culture Curriculum for International Schools", a curriculum mandated by the Thai government for all international schools.

As more and more families see Thailand as their long-term home, a desire has grown for students to have the opportunity to study the Thai language more intensively. Students attending the "Thai Intensive" program learn Thai at a native-language level and attend four lessons per week. When students are enrolled in the “Thai Intensive” program, parents and teachers must regularly monitor and evaluate the impact of the extra study workload on general school performance.

Thai lessons in both programs not only impart speaking, reading and writing, but also include historical and cultural contents and demonstrate the connections between history, culture and language. From Flex through Grade 8, all students are required to attend the “Thai Regular” program at minimum.

 

Learning Languages

 

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