Hamburg has launched a new language support program for children

At the beginning of the academic year, Hamburg started a language support program in 32 primary schools. It is aimed primarily at students with immigrant backgrounds, for whom learning German presents a particular challenge due to the learning deficit caused by the pandemic.



press release

School and Vocational Training Authority (BSB)

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Language support is based on the tried and tested “MIT Sprach” program from Fairchance for preschool and first and second graders. The federal government, school authorities and the Foundation provide a total of €450,000 for the programme.

With the start of the language support program, Hamburg stresses that its schools are committed to equality in education and language support. Language training should take place on an ongoing basis – as part of funding offers and on each subject. MITLanguage explains that the Hamburg language support concept deliberately creates space for projects and initiatives as well as binding support structures.

Two and a half years of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated closures and restrictions in schools and day care centers have resulted in new language support needs. Unfortunately, the gaps in education were deepened during the crisis.

Funding for the language support program is largely provided by the national support program “AUF! Hamburg bears about a quarter of the costs.

The education senator connects Rabea:

If you want to learn well in school, you must be able to speak, understand, read and write well. For a quarter of students, school closures due to the pandemic have led to a significant learning deficit. Children who did not speak German well in preschool or elementary school now have a particularly difficult time. So I am particularly pleased with the commitment of the Fairchance Foundation, as it contributes to educational equality with targeted language support.

Alexander Wolff, Managing Director of the Fairchance Foundation:

We were pleasantly surprised by the reaction of the primary schools in Hamburg to “MITsprache”. Apparently, given the current difficult situation, there is a great willingness to engage in good programs. All schools have already received the intensive materials and have started the associated training courses. Seems to be a huge success – so far there’s been only positive feedback!

The program has been scientifically developed and evaluated by an independent body. Among other things, it is highly efficient through the digitization of comprehensive and language level assessment, as well as more digital training of teachers and the involvement of parents or guardians, which supports the success of the programme. In detail, as part of the program, schools receive a total of five volumes containing instructions and documentation for 360 specially developed support hours of 45 minutes each in five learning levels that build on each other, which can be used immediately in support classes. With the help of an application, the children’s language level is initially determined, after which they are assigned to one of the five support levels according to their performance. The comprehensive data protection concept is part of the technology. The app complements the HAVAS (Hamburg Method for Language Proficiency Analysis) tool that has been used in Hamburg for a long time. Teachers receive hands-on courses distributed throughout the year to use the materials: a total of nine 3-hour modules, some face-to-face, some digital. Parents and guardians are also specially supported in a separate component of the program so that they can make an appropriate contribution to their children’s language development.

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