GERMAN BILINGUAL PROGRAM
Allendale is proud to be the only junior high school in Edmonton that offers the German Bilingual Program. Typically, students from the elementary German Bilingual program continue their German language studies at Allendale School. However, students with a strong background in the German language are welcome to enroll. The German Bilingual Program fosters an appreciation for the culture and language of the German people. A highlight of the German Bilingual Program is the annual grade eight Germany Exchange trip.
The English-German Bilingual Program began in the fall of 1978 as an experimental program in response to the wishes expressed by parents who wanted their children to grow up with German as a strong second language. Because of the interest shown in the program the Edmonton Public School Board decided to give the program the necessary support and was prepared to offer a bilingual program kindergarten through to Grade Six. This successful program was extended in 1985 to Junior High School and later to Senior High School.
What are the goals of the Bilingual Program?
- Attainment of challenging, age-appropriate academic skills and knowledge using English and German.
- Advanced levels of functional proficiency in English and German.
- Understanding and appreciation of cross-cultural differences.
How is the Bilingual Program organized?
- 50% of the curriculum is taught in German and 50% in English. Students are taught the same curriculum as others in the same grade level.
- During German instructional time, the target language (German) dominates the classroom interaction, whether the teacher or students are speaking. Even in lower level classes, very little English is used. The target language is the operating language of the classroom (immersion).
- Children have fun as they learn. They learn to understand, speak, read and write German naturally and without undue stress. "Fun" activities are planned in German.The classroom climate is warm and accepting (teacher-student interactions as well as among peers). The teacher is appreciative of and praises the children's efforts to communicate in German. Correcting the students' language is necessary and done with extreme sensitivity. Error correction is performed gently and tactfully. The student is often corrected by the teacher simply by repeating the question properly and then answering it. Children are encouraged to express themselves in German no matter what the level of their skills is. Students are taught to identify their own errors and edit their work.
- Difficulties in the language are "ironed out" as students proceed through the program. The Edmonton Public School Board has developed a German Language Arts Curriculum that articulates the skills taught at each grade level.
- All students learn! No child need be afraid of making mistakes. The children who are less fluent learn from the others. Those who are more fluent will perhaps concentrate more on their written work.
- The teacher does not translate! Instead, he/she facilitates understanding through the use of techniques such as gestures, mime and appropriate intonation. He/she is expressive and animated and uses concrete materials and audio-visual aids. Students develop a passive vocabulary very quickly. Their active vocabulary also develops daily.
- The beginning of each target language session is planned so that the students are passively exposed to the language for a period of time before they are expected to produce language, e.g. teacher reads to the class, then has the students read leisurely to themselves, then has simple conversation with the students, before the students are expected to perform more difficult tasks. It is important to try to get the students "thinking" in the target language.
- Languages are not mixed. The target language is taught in one longer block of time when exposure to other languages is nil. This allows students to "think" in the target language and allows for more natural language production.
- Children in this sort of setting can't help but learn German. Their German skills will improve whether they want them to or not! (Of course the more effort - the more students learn!)
What are the benefits of participating in such a program?
- Different reasons may be given in response to this question. There are some parents who find it difficult to transmit a solid knowledge of German in the home, but who would like their child to know the language so that he or she will not lose all contacts with his or her European heritage as the child grows up.
- Other parents may want to give their child the opportunity to get a head start on a good knowledge of German for the future. German is one of the major European languages. It is the mother tongue of over 100 million people.
- Speakers of English are at an advantage when learning German as both languages belong to the same linguistic family and have many similarities.
- The past and present contributions made by speakers of German to literature, music, philosophy, the arts and sciences will remain to be of great interest in the future - not to mention Germany's continuing development in the economic sphere.
- Research shows that the acquisition of second language skills impacts positively on a child?s development of English. Students in the Edmonton Public School Board German Bilingual Program consistently achieve higher than the average results on the provincial achievement examinations. Furthermore, they are often more creative, mentally flexible and have a more diverse vocabulary than do their unilingual peers.
- Many bilingual individuals maintain that knowing another language well gives them access to the ways of thinking and behaving embodied in the foreign language and culture; moreover, it forces them to re-examine their own values as well. One might well say that by knowing others you come to know yourself better.
- Second language skills are sought after by businesses looking to hire the best candidates. Think about all of the big and small companies that do business with German companies.
- In Junior High, English-German Bilingual Program students currently participate in a student exchange with students in Germany.
- The children are proud of their German language skills! They can function with their German "in the real world."
- Evidence has shown that children who have learned a second language learn additional languages more quickly. German is already the third language for many of our students.
Quotes from article: Genesee & Cloud, "Multilingualism Is Basic"
"Research in Canada and the U.S. shows that English-speaking students in foreign language immersion programs achieve high levels of functional proficiency in other languages without detrimental effects to their English language development or academic achievement."
"Research in Canada shows that English-speaking students in...immersion programs...outperform similar students in all-English schools on a variety of English language tests.""Competence in more than one language can be an additive educational experience, provided students learn in supportive, language-rich environments."
"Proficiency in other languages permits people to expand their world. Such communication leads to greater intercultural understanding and tolerance."