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German language immersion course for teens

(33 Posts)
ReallyTired Thu 05-May-16 21:25:20

Ds wants to do German GCSE, but he is currently in the bottom German set. I am worried that he will not cover the material to pass. I am thinking of sending him to an intensive immersion German course for a couple of weeks in the summer. He would stay with a German host family, have mixture of German lessons and fun activities. Has anyone else sent their teens on a residential course and can you recommend a language school.

ReallyTired Fri 06-May-16 10:54:13

Anyone's kids done a language course?

NewLife4Me Fri 06-May-16 11:00:13

Hi, I'm bumping for you.
Apart from the usual online free duolingo I can't really think.

I spend ages looking though so maybe a google search will find something in your area.

personally, I would find a tutor or online course that covers the topics for KS3 and GCSE. That way you know the essentials are being covered.

I'm on look out for Italian, German and french for summer hols, but can't afford the packages, so free sites only for us.

Hope you get sorted and if I find anything on my own search, will forward to you.

NewLife4Me Fri 06-May-16 11:06:57

How old is your DS? Is he already doing GCSE?

ReallyTired Fri 06-May-16 11:13:47

I want to send my son on a fun residential course in Germany. Ideally I would like him to have German lessons in the morning, something fun in the afternoon and maybe stay with a German host family. He needs grammar, writing and reading lessons as his school German lessons are little more than a baby sitting service. He is not being taught the grammar that he needs to pass GCSE in his bottom German set. I am hoping that if he spent a couple of weeks in Germany he might see the point of languages.

I have seen a couple of courses on the web and the price does vary considerably. It would be great to have a recommendation. My son is 14 years old and I would like somewhere with a good level of supervision.

GlowWine Fri 06-May-16 11:31:33

Where are you OP? The Goethe Institut might be able to advise, I have a colleague who did a course through them like that - though Adult obviously.

Ancienchateau Fri 06-May-16 11:41:04

Can he do an exchange that ties in with him going to school with the host? European school holidays aren't always the same as UK. Or post on overseas board here - there are lots of Germany dwellers who will be able to advise I should think.

ReallyTired Fri 06-May-16 11:48:40

I want my son to do actual lessons in grammar and writing. An exchange would not give him that. He needs to knuckle down and learn some grammar. I don't think his level of german is good enough to cope with an exchange.

ReallyTired Fri 06-May-16 12:04:22

There are plenty of language schools that cater for teens whose parents want them to learn German. However its really hard to know what they are like and what they offer.

There are courses like this one for £440

or courses like this that are well over a grand.

Or this course where the cost is in the middle for two weeks

Its hard to know what different language schools offer.

I am happy to pay a bit more for better supervision or activites or lower teacher to pupil ratio. However I want somewhere that is good value for money.

MrsBlimey Fri 06-May-16 12:09:44

Why not ask his German teacher what he needs to do to cope with the course? And what support would be in place for him during lessons before you go spending huge amounts of money on a short term solution? Teachers are always keen to ensure that as many students as possible take an MFL at GCSE and will go to great lengths to make it accessible to everyone.

It's quite possible that you've overestimated the grammar skills etc needed for GCSE. I'm saying this as a German teacher and a GCSE examiner, btw.

If you're in Suffolk then I also do private tuition for GCSE German grin

NewLife4Me Fri 06-May-16 12:15:04


For people who can't speak to their childs teacher for one reason or another, can you recommend the best way to make sure they are covering everything to stay on track and reach their potential.
I think teaching varies quite a bit and some schools here end up with supply or cover.

ReallyTired Fri 06-May-16 12:18:11

I am wondering if sending my son to Germany for a week or two would make him more enthusasic towards German. If he spent a bit of time in Germany then he would realise that German is not completely pointless.

He is in the bottom set because he does sweet fa. Last year when he was in the middle set he was doing grammar and more writing. His german has gone completely backwards as expectations are so low. He is in a set where all the children are lazy and muck about.

Thanks for the offer of private tutition. Unfortunately we are in Hertfordshire.

AgonyBeetle Fri 06-May-16 12:28:39

The German pupil courses run by UK German Connection (an off-shoot of the German Embassy/DAAD) are very good.

They are advertised as being very selective, but given the very small number of pupils doing German in the UK, I suspect the bar is not in fact that high, assuming he would get a supportive reference from a teacher. They run a course each year for pupils in Y10, the vast majority from state schools spread all across the UK.

They're subsidised by the Gm govt too, so much cheaper than a commercial language course - the format is exactly that one of formal lessons in the morning followed by language immersion activities in the afternoons, accommodation with a German host family.

Two of my dc have done it, one who was at a very high standard of Gm in Y10, the other one definitely not, and both enjoyed it and benefited from it.

MrsBlimey Fri 06-May-16 12:30:27

Completely sympathise about supply situation and the feeling of being dumped into bottom babysitting set. Do you know why he was moved down? Year 9 (I'm making assumptions here) post options can be a bit if a nightmare for language lessons.

Other things to try in the meantime:

Find out which exam board and specification the school will be doing. New GCSEs come into force in Sept which are all final exam (no coursework). Would this suit your DS?

Find specimen exam papers, vocabulary lists, grammar checklists etc on the exam board website. Don't forget that they contain the learning which is expected by the end of Yr 11, not mid yr 9/the start of yr 10.

Speak to Head of Languages (failing that Head of Year/House etc) to ascertain whether DC would be able to cope with the course and what DC could be doing in meantime to catch up/fill in any gaps. They can also give recommendations for books, online tools, revision etc

If DS is in Yr 9 and the rest of the class is unlikely to take a language after the end of the year, can he be transferred to another class further up the food chain so as to help him catch up a bit and ensure a more positive lesson experience? Head of Langs etc should be able to deal with this even if supply teacher taking current bottom set class.

There are billions of free apps etc to help with language learning and vocabulary acquisition: Memrise and Duolingo are pretty much the best I've found and I've always recommended them to students.

I'm sure there are other things but that's all my preg brain can think of at the moment. Il post more later if I can think of anything.

Good luck!

guiltynetter Fri 06-May-16 12:34:33

Reallytired not really answering your question but can you not encourage him to pick a different GCSE?! I don't understand why he would pick a gcse in a subject that he is in bottom set for...

ReallyTired Fri 06-May-16 13:06:05

His school forces all children without special needs to do a modern foreign language so that as many children as possible can get the EBAC. I would like him to do an MFL and he has chosen German. He got bumped down st the end of year 8 because he didn't do home work, repeated forgot to bring his book and generally annoyed the middle set teacher. It is hard for him to get back into the middle set because the bottom set aren't taught the necessary grammar because they are deemed to be a bunch of thickos. His last homework was colouring and a word search in year 9.

I think that the shit will hit the fan when OFSTED next visits because many of these "thickos" have excellent key stage 2 sat results and there is no reason why they aren't capable of a proper German lesson.

NewLife4Me Fri 06-May-16 13:19:12

This is what really bugs me tbh.
Ok he messed about and didn't gel with the teacher, but there should be movement within sets up until the exam imo.
What about the late bloomers, those for whom it eventually clicks?
Is it still higher and lower papers, this used to get on my nerves.
They should all be given the same paper gradually getting more in depth.
A child answers the questions they can.

MrsBlimey Fri 06-May-16 13:21:06

Sounds like you really need to speak to Head of Langs about the situation, especially if you're concerned about current homework. He will need to be on the ball with homework etc when doing GCSE though.

ReallyTired Fri 06-May-16 13:23:52

I don't think that many pre teens understand that consequences for laziness at 12 can prevent you getting an education at 15. The school would argue that hard working teens should not be held back, hence lazy but capable children end up in the bottom set. However a bottom set with 29 disenaged teens is a total waste of time. Ds has learnt nothing.

eeyorestails Fri 06-May-16 13:31:08

Newlife I'm mid 20s I did my English language exam halfway through year 11 got the results, I was in top set didn't really care because I had another set and generally found exams easy. I was the only own in the class, which included a Chinese student who had been at the school for a year, to not get a C I got moved down a set and we focused on English literature mostly as we also had a GCSE in that at the end of the year. I ended up getting Bs in both, and in almost every other subject I had taken, the rest were a C and 1D in ironically the one subject my teacher told me a B would be the lowest grade I should get.

I'm waffling but I mean some do change sets, but they are often interlinked with other subjects as I had to move PE and RE, and I believe math sets also to accommodate that one change

eeyorestails Fri 06-May-16 13:32:47

Whilst I don't know about actual courses OP Duolingo has been mentioned, Memrise has an actual course for GCSE German so he can actively learn and memorise the words.

Babbel whilst a paid service is quite good for grammar

ReallyTired Fri 06-May-16 13:37:00

My son is not particularly moviated. I think the online courses would work if he wasn't so lazy. I want him to meet real live German people and experience German culture. Hence thinking of sending him to Germany for a week or two.

NewLife4Me Fri 06-May-16 13:44:49


i love your nn, btw. grin I hadn't thought about having to change other subjects too.
I just think there are things that schools could do help in these cases, it's not just mfl either it's all subjects.
It seems as though communication could be better during ks3. Children could be given examples of how the system works and be told that what they do during ks3 will determine papers, results and sets for GCSE.

My dd can't see this in y7 and no amount of telling her makes a difference, if school were to do the same it might have the necessary impact.

Yes, Babbel is good. I forgot this one, it was the one dd tutor used for french and German.It was only ks2 though, so not sure what its like for other stages.

Even though he's not a little child anymore I think he maybe more inclined to put in extra effort if it is fun, challenging and maybe compete against others on an online app. A bit like Mathletics does for younger ones.

gleegeek Fri 06-May-16 13:51:01

I went to Freiburg in 1989 to do a language course. I absolutely loved it! I stayed 2 weeks, did German language lessons in the mornings and trips each afternoon. As a university town I would imagine these courses are still running... wish I could remember who it was with...
The Goethe Institute is a good suggestion for advice.

ReallyTired Fri 06-May-16 13:51:56

"My dd can't see this in y7 and no amount of telling her makes a difference, if school were to do the same it might have the necessary impact."

Girls are full of raging hormones in year 7/8 where as boys go through their incredible hulk stage during year 8/9. Ds was a good student in year 7 and now he just wants to rebel against everything. Its like having Kevin the Teenager.

I am not sure what the solution is. Many high achieving countries have more mixed ablity teaching. I think that the British obcession with setting puts a ceiling on our children's learning.

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