What does “Bilingual” mean?
In German schools, “bilingual” does not stand for instruction in English for non-speakers of German. It neither means teaching most or even all subjects in English as some international schools do. It is aimed at the general audience of a German grammar school who has had some basic acquaintance with English at primary school level. Native speakers of English are however very welcome and in the past have been well-integrated.
Students initially get one extra English lesson per week to prepare them for active participation in those subjects where English takes over as the language of instruction from year 7 onwards. There will never be more than three of these per year, the majority of classes will be taught in German, especially all the sciences.
It is hard to find reasons why a good mastering of English could do anyone any harm these days and Germans (and indeed speakers of other languages) realise that studying almost any subject at university level confronts them with the need for good English language skills.
Details on bilingual teaching
Instruction in both English as a foreign language and in Geography and History respectively is given according to the general principles of these subjects and their particular curricula.
There is some modification in Beginners English concerning vocabulary and grammar.
All staff teaching bilingual students have studied both English and Geography/History/Politics at university level and keep up with new developments
The subjects other than English are so-called oral subjects which means that participation and mastering the topics are the main areas of assessment. Of course language competence is considered too..
The story so far…
Since 1990 we have usually started year 5 with two forms of “bilingual” pupils along with two standard classes. These groups stay together for the next five years. Before entering the German equivalent of “sixth form” or “senior high school” there is opportunity to reconsider.
The achievements in English naturally are better in the “bilingual” groups, in Geography, Historyand Politics the level is quite comparable to German-taught classes. It does take some effort though. Final exams are often quite impressive. Together with their “Abiturzeugnis” students will receive a Certificate of Bilingual Education.
Choosing our bilingual offer does not interfere in anyway with the other foreign languages. Should a change of residence be necessary, there is a good chance of finding another bilingual school: there are more than 100 in North-Rhine Westphalia alone.