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Living in/near Berlin

(6 Posts)
stickylittlefingers Mon 02-Nov-09 17:51:50

Hi - it looks like we might be moving to Berlin for six months. I wondered if any one could give me any advice re where is nice to live (in or near Berlin - we wouldn't have to be that near necessarily as I wouldn't be working and DP wouldn't be 9-5), how it works with school/kindergarten (my dds will be turning 4 and turning 7 while we're there) and really anything else I should know! TIA smile

Francasaysrelax Mon 02-Nov-09 17:58:46

Hi sticky, I can't really advise on Berlin, but I think that in Living Overseas there must be a thread of Mumsnetters who live in Germany who could certainly help you out smile
All the best with your move!

Francasaysrelax Mon 02-Nov-09 17:59:59

Ups, sorry, I've just seen you have posted there too blush grin

MmeGuisingt Tue 03-Nov-09 10:17:01

Hi there. I can't advise really on areas of Berlin other than to say that a friend of ours lived in Grünwald which was a lovely area, a bit outside the city.

Your 4yo will go to kindergarten. Once you know where you are going to live, get in touch with the nearest kindergarten and make an appointment to go and see them. I am not sure of the rules in Berlin, in most places you can look at several different Kindergärten and choose the one you like best, apply there and see if you get in. Some areas you apply generally, giving a preference and hope you get accepted to the one that you want.

I am assuming that your DC do not speak German?

German DC normally start school at 6 (sometimes even 7yo) so your 7yo would go into either 1. Klasse or 2. Klasse if you put her into a German school.

Are you definitely only going to be there 6 months? If so, I would look into bilingual or International schools. They are not going to learn enough German in 6 months to really communicate with others and it may just be frustrating for them.

My DC were 4 and 6yo when we moved to Switzerland and it was not until we had been here 7 or 8 months that they were really getting to grips with the language and finding it easier to mix with the local DC. The first 6 months were really hard work for them.

stickylittlefingers Tue 03-Nov-09 12:45:49

Thanks that's really useful. They don't speak German - so we may have to look at bilingual schools as you say. I hope this still means they'll learn some German while they're there smile

BlauerEngel Tue 10-Nov-09 18:30:25

Hi Sticky,

Just seen the thread now. I've been living in Berlin for 18 years and both dcs were born here. We've spent 9 years in total with childminders/Kindergarten and seven years so far with the school system.

There are plenty of options for English language education here. You do need to decide if you want to go for a state school (which is truly bilingual, although native English speakers with no German would be accepted at 7) or a private English-only school.

If you are in the state school system and living in Brandenburg (the federal state surrounding Berlin) it can be tricky getting into a Berlin school - officially you're not allowed to do it and some people rent a cheap flat in Berlin to give them a Berlin address.

Some good bilingual state schools are:

Nelson Mandela State International (or something like that)
Charles Dickens Europe School
Quentin Blake Europe School

All three of these are 'Ganztagschulen' from 8 am - 4pm.

There's also the JFK, but as non-Americans you have virtually no chance of getting a place.

Other private schools are officially bilingual, but in practice they're full of Germans who want their children to learn English early on. Examples are Phorms and Berlin Metropolitan School. I've heard that the Kant Schule and Berlin International are both quite good, also private.

International School Villa Amalienhof is English language only, and as pretentious and overpriced as it sounds. And you said you were more interested in a bilingual school anyway.

There are also a huge number of bilingual nurseries, again most of them are German-only kids whose parents want them to learn English, so dd2 might feel a bit left out (but would learn German very quickly!). My younger dd went to Tom-Sawyer-Kinderhaus, which is Montessori, and she loved it. It's run by a non-profit organisation but the fees are the same as for a state nursery, and very income dependent. We never paid more than 180 euros per month, and the maximum is 500, I think.

It's much easier to join schools/Kitas in August/September at the start of the school year, of course, but internationals schools are more relaxed in that respect. The registration date for Kitas each year is in February, I believe.

Two good areas to live would be Zehlendorf/Dahlem and Westend. Both have bilingual schools nearby and many other English speakers, especially Zehlendorf, which used to be the American zone. The local officials at the Jugendamt (for Kita and school registration) can also speak better English there, through more experience.

If you want to send me a message (I think I've activated that), I can give you more details.

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