There is a lot to consider when parents are planning to move abroad to Germany, especially when it comes to learning German for kids and for the parents themselves.
[Contributed by International School on the Rhine]
1. Should you learn German before the move?
Since learning a language can be considered difficult for some, it is often advantageous to learn German before actually moving to Germany. The non-profit German culture association Goethe Institute has numerous locations around the world, especially in major cities such as New York, London and Paris, meaning that a high-quality German language course is almost always nearby.
2. How do people learn German in the country? What is the process of learning German for kids?
In Germany, students become increasingly familiar with the German language every day they attend school. In the beginning, this is done by translating the German to English to prevent misunderstandings and to facilitate understanding. Over time, however, the English language is slowly removed from the classroom until the lessons are held almost exclusively in German. Skilled German teachers will try to train all four skills — listening, speaking, reading and writing — in the classroom.
A qualified school will usually offer different language courses to meet the various levels of language acquisition and needs of the students. At the International School on the Rhine (ISR), three levels of German language courses are offered: Gf1 (A1), Gf2 (A2) and Gf3 (B1).
The sooner children begin to learn German — coupled with diligence and plenty of hard work — the higher the chances that they will master the language, speaking and writing German at a native level after a few years. It is recommended that German language learners determine their language level after two years of German language courses through an official language test.
3. How can parents promote and support integration in Germany and German language learning?
It is important that integration in Germany is carried out on all sides. It is advisable that the children, for example, play with neighbour children and learn German conversation. It is also recommended that parents register their children with a sports club so that they can listen and speak German during these activities.
Since students are accustomed to using the Internet, it is also possible to learn German online at home with apps and websites such as Goethe Institute’s vocabulary training app, DW Akademie’s online German language course and even Quizlet.
Offline, children can learn German by watching German television, listening to German radio stations and watching their favourite DVD in German with German subtitles, allowing them to both hear and read the language. These activities outside the classroom help German language learners enormously.