Regular classes or welcome classes – “Gathering languages ​​without prior knowledge makes no sense”

The deciding factor for me is reading, and therefore writing. Children will only be able to pass through our school system successfully if they can read and understand German. Therefore, in my opinion, it must be ensured that every child, regardless of his age or origin, learns to read and write.

But what we tend to forget is that each of those kids who come to us from another country is usually illiterate in German. Even children who have learned Latin letters are far from reading, because the pronunciation is different in each language. Try to pronounce French, Hungarian or Finnish correctly without any prior knowledge. We are illiterate in these languages, despite having the same letters. So the correct pronunciation is very important, otherwise it is very difficult to expand your vocabulary beyond what you just heard.

However, many of the children who have moved here come from countries with completely different personalities. They write Arabic, Cyrillic or Asian characters – according to Wikipedia, there are 294 known writing systems in the world.

This means that we first have to see where the child is in written language acquisition and how this can best be approached in the respective school, because not all options are available in every school.

Previous experience is crucial

If the child has already learned to read and write the language, has the ability to combine letters into words, match letters with sounds, translate letters into sounds, then this is already a very good foundation. If the child is still proficient in learning in general, either through his mother tongue or a foreign language he has already learned and uses Latin letters, he can usually go to a regular classroom so that he can make new friends and follow the regular regular lessons without having time to “get lost” .

However, it is necessary to teach these children German pronunciation and spelling with additional support lessons, and in order to reach a really good language level, to practice reading fluently, dealing with vocabulary expansion, grammar, sentence structure and much more. Workbooks or related digital formats that can support self-study are useful. But in my experience, this mostly affects older children, and rarely affects children who attend elementary school.

Children who do not have such previous experience need special lessons to learn letters, reading and writing. This is definitely not possible in a normal class. And even remedial lessons are usually not enough, because a very continuous practice process is necessary, especially with the young ones. You can’t teach yourself to read, you have to hear voices, talk to them and see associated characters. Incorporating sounds into words is a real challenge – and often takes several weeks, if not months. Children spell the words, and they can only be read together by repeating them over and over. In addition, many of our letter combinations are spoken differently than written, for example b. Will [äu] as oye read, [chs] Like x , which is all self-explanatory. In general, a very hard work that a class teacher cannot do “aside”. Only when you pronounce the words correctly, you can continue to work on your own with good material, expand your vocabulary and grammar and gather more knowledge. The same applies to writing: the sounds of words must be heard and special features noted, for example, many of the letters one hears are written in the r form, as with a pear [Biane] or summer [Somma]. Another example is the lengthening of letters: as in bee, -h in train or even both as in clouds. It’s not just spelling, it’s the basis of language acquisition.

It is often said that children do not yet have the vocabulary they need to learn to read. Or there is a claim that children must understand every word they read and write. But in my experience, quite the opposite is true: Babies learn to read mechanically, me. h. They pronounce the words correctly without having to understand them all. They are practicing so many words that it will be difficult to ask them to learn that vocabulary at the same time. Vocabulary is built in parallel and all three — reading, writing, and vocabulary — combine after a few weeks or months and then form a good foundation for everything else.

Real integration needs good language

However, I wouldn’t just support welcome classes for this reason, even if many experts recommended immediate enrollment into the regular class. The justification that children immediately socialize there and learn German very quickly and easily in the language complex is often insufficient. Most children who pray do not understand a German word and therefore cannot understand themselves. The sentence “children learn very quickly” is not necessarily true. If children are not so well educated that they can easily remember German words and connect to their existing network of knowledge, it often takes weeks to months before they can speak sentences on their own.

After a few weeks, basic understanding is possible, often with lots of gestures and facial expressions. But true integration requires good language and language. Linguistic pigeons, which are so highly regarded, are justified, but only if there are some basics on which children attach unknown words that can be explained from the context. undifferentiated linguistic bath is very cumbersome and meaningless; Anyone can try it in an Arab bazaar or on the Chinese subway.

In the welcome class, basic vocabulary is built in a very purposeful way and children are trained to speak. This is difficult to implement in a regular class, because children often practice the same simple things at first until they can make sure they are available. Only sentences such as “I need please…” or “Can you please…” are spoken to some children for weeks not to say “help” just because that would keep them at a somewhat lower language level. If you want children to learn German well, you should encourage them to speak complete sentences, even if they are simple at first. In regular classes, this will require a great deal of extra attention and individual attention from the teacher.

Participation in regular classes in individual subjects

Participation in regular classes on individual subjects would certainly be conceivable, if organizationally feasible. However, it is often overlooked that even subjects such as mathematics that are based on an extensive vocabulary often confuse children, especially in the first few months.

In my opinion, the aim of the welcome class, on the one hand, should be to enable the children to settle in and teach them proper reading, writing and vocabulary so that they understand German adequately and can express themselves in an understandable way. . On the other hand, it is important to accompany each child individually so that they can contact the respective regular class as soon as possible. Because only if children have mastered the necessary working techniques and are at the level of their peers, especially in subjects where the content is based on what they have previously learned, such as mathematics, German grammar and English, can they successfully participate in the lessons and eventually develop themselves as well, immerse themselves and feel good.

For these tasks, the welcome class needs special preparation. In the next column I will describe how it should be designed.

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