At the German School of the East Bay (GSEB), we try to provide students with the learning environment they need to advance and succeed. Per current language learning research, this can best be accomplished by offering classes for German Heritage Speakers (HS) and novice German Language Learners (LL).
German Heritage Speakers (HS) are children of at least one German-speaking parent. Depending on the amount of daily German input, some can speak German almost on the same level as native speakers of the same age in a German speaking country (strong heritage speakers). Others may be somewhat fluent, but show a lot of vocabulary gaps and grammar errors (intermediate heritage speakers); yet another group may have only minimal communication skills. Most heritage speakers have good listening comprehension skills and can speak well, but have significant problems reading, and especially writing, in German.
German Language Learners (LL) do not have a German-speaking parent at home. That includes parents who can speak German, but don’t speak German regularly at home. These children have not been exposed to German language, culture and media or only minimally.
A German heritage speaker doesn’t need to learn basic German, especially vocabulary, but needs help to develop reading and writing skills, to expand vocabulary and to develop grammar skills at an increasingly advanced level of language mastery. Novice German Learners and Heritage Speakers with minimal German skills benefit more from a systematic language approach, starting with basic listening, vocabulary development and conversation skills that allow them to start communicating in German (speaking and writing) and gradually learning basic grammar structures.
Where does a student fit?
To find out if your child is a Heritage German Speaker (HS) or German Language Learner (LL), please answer the following questions with as much insight as possible.
- Student is exposed to the German language at home daily? Yes No
- Student can communicate in German? Yes No
- Student has lived in a German speaking country for an extended time? Yes No
(Two or more Yes responses: German Heritage Speaker)
Reading and writing skills (third grade and higher):
- Student can read in German at a level appropriate for his/her grade level at school or at most up to two grades below his school grade level? Yes No
- Student can write simple texts in German that might show spelling and grammar weakness but are readable and understandable? Yes No
(At least one Yes, plus oral skills: Heritage German Speaker)
New students who want to register for our Heritage Speaker classes on any level can only be accepted if these criteria are met. New students will be asked to participate in a brief interview before placement will be confirmed.
Teachers will assign current students to their appropriate classes at the end of the term.
The GSEB offers German Heritage Speaker and German Language Learner classes at the following grade levels for children:
(For toddlers and preschoolers from the ages of 24 months to 4 years, see Toddler/Preschool Classes.)
For the general class times of all children’s classes, see School Hours.