The German School London - from non-German parents

(6 Posts)
CoCaMum Tue 20-Jan-15 21:19:01

Hello, I would be interested in receiving members' views (and have read the other posts on this/similar topics).

My husband and I are native English speakers. So are our 2 boys (almost 5 and 9). We have lived in Switzerland (Swiss-German side) for 4 years. Both boys have been in local school/kindergarten plus supplemented with extra English. Oldest boy is fluent Swiss German + high German at school (3rd grade), moving towards bilingual and seems to have an affinity for languages. Is not far behind where would be in relevant English class re reading/writing. Youngest boy a bit of a mystery: understands Swiss and high German I believe, speaks English mostly and a bit of Swiss German/German (when we are not around).

We are moving back to the UK (probably for good) but want to maintain and develop their language skills/bilingualism, we realise it is very valuable for later life. My husband and I understand beginner German (probably A2).

Dilemma: Should we put our oldest son in The Deutsche School (DSL) in Richmond, Arbitur and IB appealing, and see how it goes/for the duration OR English school system (private for 2 years to get him ready for state secondary) and supplement with private German lessons. He seems bright (but I would say that). Potential university range (if relevant) would be UK, US (has passport) or Europe (Switzerland appealing). He is OK with both options.

Our concern: We may not be able to support him sufficiently as he gets further along at DSL - and it starts to get really tough. We already notice the difference from Kl. 2 to Kl. 3 here.

OR: English school plus additional tutoring, German Saturday School (if you can get in), Kika, German movies etc for both. But it would never be the same and some of his fluency would be lost.

Youngest son: Initially local school (reception) due to spaces but would try to get him at DSL if he could get in - although his German could be less developed, so might just not happen.

Sorry for the rant. But is it crazy for both non-German parents to send their child/children to DSL. Could pull out later and transplant into the English system (secondary), but is that a good idea/disruptive and may be difficult to transfer to that syllabus?

Any thoughts/experience? Would be interested. NB: parents intend to continue with German lessons, supplemented with Google translate.

Thanks!

noramum Fri 23-Jan-15 15:22:10

I am German but DD does not attend the school.

One of the negative points for us was the quite strong movement in the school. Lots of ex-pats come for a couple of years, enrol their child and leave when the work contract is over. My sister had such a primary school (army barrack area) and never really could bond as friends would move frequently.

We are also in the UK most likely for good or at least very long time. I didn't see a point having my DD taught in a fully German curriculum.

Have you thought about a bi-lingual school, the Judith Kerr one in SE London? I do not exactly how heavy the German part is! it is too far away from us to be of interest! but it could be a compromise.

Trying to keep German alive with no proper learning input or German as home language will be otherwise very difficult for you and most likely impossible for the younger one.

Would a German Au-pair or Nanny otherwise be of interest? A former colleague did it as he was often away on business and the mum only spoke French and English.

CoCaMum Sat 24-Jan-15 22:45:59

Hi Noramum, many thanks, for your reply. It was very useful. I did look at the Judith Kerr school. It would mean looking at a different area yet again! - but they are not yet up to year 4 (current of my oldest child). But good to know about.

Good point about a German nanny or au pair - it would be such a shame to lose the language skill. Or we might look into a German tutor, with German TV, so it is not lose completely - touch wood.

spica Sun 08-Feb-15 23:28:30

You'd be surprised how mixed the school is. Several families I know have lived in a German speaking country but are not themselves German speaking, so similar to your circumstances. Yes, you do have a point about being able to support your child when it comes to language, but then, he already does well in a Swiss school, and a German au-pair sounds a good solution to me.
However, I do think it is probably not straight forward to go to an English school later, and if your heart is set for an English university, I believe the required A levels are easier to achieve than the relevant Abiturschnitt, but, then, again, IB is well recognised and he will find it easier to go to an international or German university.
Our kids have been going for 3 years, and so far only 2 kids in each class have actually left. Yes, it does have a big expat community but also increasingly "native" bilingual families and second/ third generation Germans living in the area. No guarantees, though, and you may well have a very different experience.
We looked into the Judith Kerr school as well, but the big downside is that you do not really achieve bilingualism if the majority of children are English speaking...
Good luck - whatever you choose!

Meggie22 Sun 27-Mar-16 14:54:56

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

xtreme Thu 01-Sep-16 06:31:57

Hi, reading with interest as wondering how much German vs English is used in the upper primary school years - ie. standard required.
Thanks.

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