To learn german in kindergarten, politics – society, dw

Almost all federal states take German tests for children under the age of six. But the funding programs are of little use. The little ones obviously learn best in everyday life in kindergarten. Especially migrant children.

Children need other children and adults who speak German with them

Thursday morning in the Rheinaue daycare center in Bonn. Sanni, Julia and Paul play Zoo Memory: "Julia, what is that??", asks kindergarten teacher Stephanie Lindlahr. "A cow", the girl knows. Your playmates discover another pig and learn that the big bird on one of the wooden cards is a peacock. Stephanie Lindlahr is happy.

German is spoken in kindergarten

When looking for the right pair of animals, the three children between the ages of two and three practice their German on the side. Sanni’s parents are French, Julia’s parents are from China and Paul has German as their mother tongue. In the Rheinaue daycare center, children are looked after from the fourth month of life until they start school at the age of six. Out of 70 families, almost 40 have a migration background, they came to study in Bonn in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) from all over the world. The kindergarten is operated by the Studentenwerk in Bonn.

The concept for these children is simple: at home with their parents they learn their mother tongue. And they learn German in the daycare center, or Kita for short. It is an advantage that the little ones usually get a place in the daycare well before they are three years old, says Jutta Deißler, educator and manager of the house.

Language tests should determine your knowledge of German

Everyday life in daycare: painting, playing, speaking included

The target group for the language test and the subsequent support program are children with a migration background. They often don’t speak German as their first language. It should be ensured that each child speaks enough German before starting school to take part in the class.

In Germany, around 85 percent of three- to six-year-olds from migrant families go to daycare or other day care. According to the Federal Statistical Office, the figure for German children is 95 percent. In children under three years of age, however, the proportion of both groups is because of of the missing places significantly lower.

In 2007, NRW was the first federal state to introduce a language test that was taken two years before the planned school enrollment of the children. Today there are 17 different procedures in 14 federal states. The spectrum ranges from voluntary tests in Hessen to compulsory tests for all children in NRW. In Bavaria, however need children Have your German tested only if at least one parent has a migration background. Sometimes two years, sometimes one year invited to test before starting school.

Despite the range of language tests: children with a migration background would be tested almost everywhere, says Andrea Lisker, expert for pre-school language proficiency assessment for the German Youth Institute. Only in Thuringia and Mecklenburg-West Pomerania there are no German tests.

However, it is not known how many of the children with a migration background need support after a language test. "We asked about that", says Lisker from the German Youth Institute. "But it was reported back by very few federal states. Sometimes for privacy reasons. But mostly because it was not noted in such a differentiated way."

Lisker has summarized language testing and funding in the federal states for the German Youth Institute in two areas of expertise. The results are also included in the Federal Ministry of Family Affairs’ National Education Report.

Various funding offers in the federal states

The subsequent German support for children in the individual federal states is as varied as the tests. Bavaria, for example, finances up to 240 hours in 18 months. In Brandenburg, on the other hand, children receive half an hour of German support every day for three months.

The little ones learn German playfully in kindergartens

However, individual studies on the success of the German programs provide sobering results. "Children who were also supported with special programs had no more growth in learning than the children who were supported in their day-to-day school work by the teachers in their daily work", Liska knows. In some federal states, there is a discussion about whether the support programs need to be improved or whether the money for language tests and support offers should not be better spent on everyday language support in kindergartens.

An example of this is the Rheinaue daycare center in Bonn, where language training is one of the tasks of the educators.

Better German through everyday life in daycare?

Anette Stein is an expert in early childhood education at the Bertelsmann Foundation. She has a clear opinion: "You learn language by speaking." That is why children need not only children, but, if possible, educators and adults who talk to them. "This in turn has a lot to do with the quality of facilities. How big is the personnel key??", means stone. "The best language support takes place in everyday life in day care centers. And not in additional language support programs."

But there must also be enough daycare places available. Stein from the Bertelsmann Foundation knows that there is not enough in all federal states for all children from the age of three. In some federal states, the allocation of a day care center also depends on the professional activity of the parents. "Someone who is unemployed or works minimally gets a maximum of half a daycare place. And you can see that from the children’s quotas", says Stein.

In addition to the availability of places, barriers that prevent parents with a migration background from getting a daycare place or registering their children would also have to be removed. From Stein’s perspective, these are hidden fees, for example for lunch. "We have the situation in Germany that migrant families are often linked to poverty."

Sanni, Julia and Paul from Bonn have fun playing the memory. After the first round they would like to play one more. They do not yet know that they are lucky because their kindergarten teacher has time for this in the Rheinaue daycare center.

Author: Klaudia Prevezanos
Editor: Hartmut Lüning

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  • date 31/05/2011
  • TagsDolphin, language test, language test, German, migrants, day care center, kindergarten, Bertelsmann Foundation
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