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Language FAQ

EDUCATION For all ages

Engaging students in German language instruction since 1964

Are you an immersion school, and what does that mean?

    Yes, we are an immersion school. It means that the primary language spoken throughout the whole day at our school is German, including during meal times, outdoor play, and when giving instructions.

How much German does my child have to know to join?

    None. While most children in our classes speak some German, we love to see non-German speaking students gradually start speaking German in our class.

How much German will be spoken during class?

    The teachers strive to only speak German, except in emergency situations, or if English is needed to help a child cope with a difficult situation. 
    In Kindergarten, the children will additionally be instructed in English for some language and math concepts. This will be about 20% of their day. We believe by giving our Kindergarteners the opportunity to learn academic English, they can then seamlessly integrate into either an English speaking first grade, or a German "erste Klasse." We had graduates go either route, and both integrated without friction.

How much English will be spoken during class?

    English will only be spoken if there is an emergency situation, or if a child needs English to cope with a difficult situation.
    In Kindergarten, the children will be instructed in English for some language and math concepts. This will be about 20% of their day. This is to ensure a smooth transition to an English language first grade school.

What is the language proficiency of the teachers and assistants?

    The teachers are native German speakers. Assistants and after-care staff are either native speakers, or are typically enrolled in a German language program and can speak German on a nearly native level.

How will my child learn German?

    We are an immersion school, which means that children hear only German throughout their day with us, which will lead them to use that language themselves. It takes children about two years to acquire social language in a German immersion setting. They typically understand nearly all instructions given in the foreign language after a year, develop fluency in speaking German within the second year and acquire academic fluency in 5-7 years. 
    For those children who already have a more complex knowledge of German, immersion will reinforce grammar structures, introduce new vocabulary, and contextualize German beyond a language that may only be spoken at home, i.e. students now know friends that speak German.

I am worried that German will interfere with my child’s English speaking abilities.

    Research has shown that learning a second language actually benefits the students first language development; click here to find out more about the benefits of learning a second language. In fact, second language acquisition involves more than the language only, and the American Council for International Education has recently stated in this article that “ [d]uring the last decade, multiple research studies have demonstrated the significant cognitive benefits derived from early language learning, as well as the potential long-term educational and career benefits that multilingual students accrue.”

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German American Cultural Center 

4740 North Western Ave. 
Chicago, IL 60625

DANK Haus German American Cultural Center is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

DANK Haus German American Cultural Center does not discriminate based on race, color, sexuality, national origin, sex, disability or age.

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Phone: +1 (773) 561-9181

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