The Steinmühle Bilingual Primary School

Steinmühle is systematically developing its extensive language concept and experience in its association with the international dimension, this time in the form of the Steinmühle Bilingual Primary School. This forms the foundation for an international school which will be developed up to Year 10 by the academic year 2027/28.

 

Target group

Our bilingual primary school is aimed at the following types of pupils:

  1. Pupils (boys and girls) from abroad who wish to develop their language skills in English and German and who would like to fit into both the Hesse and international school system.
  2. Pupils (boys and girls) whose parents are seeking a lengthy work-related posting abroad in the foreseeable future or who are involved in international frames of reference in other forms. Our remarks about compatibility with the Hesse and international school systems in 1 above also apply.

The size of the Steinmühle Bilingual Primary School will be determined by our single stream per year. One class of about 16 to 20 pupils is planned for each year.

Our bilingual approach

All the content of lessons in the Steinmühle Bilingual School will be taught in English and German, as a result of which the children will become increasingly aware of these two languages at the same time as their native language. The objective therefore is equal development of language skills in both languages.

Concepts for the acquisition of a foreign language

Two different methods of acquiring a foreign language will be adopted in the Steinmühle Bilingual Primary School to ensure that the children become truly bilingual: these methods are bilingual lessons and immersion.

Bilingual lessons

In the bilingual lessons a large part of the lesson content will be taught in English and a smaller part taught in German. The objective is that the pupils express themselves solely in the foreign language (English) during a large proportion of the lessons and that German is scarcely used in these lessons.

This methodology is applied at the Steinmühle Bilingual Primary School in four subjects, albeit to different degrees:

  • English is the main teaching language in Music and Sport and only essential explanations such as safety instruction are also given in German. This rationale is sensible as many musical items as well as types of (team) sports use English vocabulary.
  • English and German are used in almost the same proportion in Art and Religion. We consider this to be reasonable as these are subjects which are intended to promote personal feelings and understanding for each other. Communication in the children’s native language is therefore necessary.

The above subjects will be taught by teachers who are fully proficient in English and German, and in exactly the same way as has been the custom in the bilingual lessons of classes 5 to 10 (Sekundarstufe I) in the Steinmühle Secondary School for many years. A classroom assistant can also join the class if the situation should make this necessary.

Immersion

When the immersion method is being used the new language is the working and conversational language. Following the principle of “one person, one language” one teacher speaks only German, the other only English. The foreign language teacher reinforces everything he or she says by facial expressions, gestures or signs. The pupils acquire the language by their own efforts from the context of the situation. This is the natural way that children learn a language, irrespective of whether it is their mother tongue or first foreign language. Immersion is therefore a method which is ideally suited to children and which also has its own motivation; in addition and to a large extent it achieves its goals without coercion and pressure to perform. The teacher’s prime objective is to convey the content, not the new language.

This immersion methodology is also used in four subjects in the Steinmühle Bilingual Primary School – and here too with varying emphasis:

  • When teaching English the language of instruction is of course English. Wherever possible an English native-speaker takes the lead and overall responsibility in the English lessons. The teacher is joined by a classroom assistant to enhance the lesson for children whose first language is not English; the assistant brings out the main points in sub-groups of the class and, where necessary, in separate rooms at times using “English as a second language“ teaching methods.
  • The teaching of German is structured like the teaching of English – but the other way around and with a classroom assistant who has been trained in teaching “German as a foreign language“.
  • The languages of instruction in the subjects of Mathematics and General Studies (Sachunterricht) are English and German. The teacher communicates consistently in English and the assistant in German or vice versa. The purely theoretical approach stipulates that no German-speaking teacher should be present if the English-speaking teacher is giving the lesson as this could lead to confusion among the pupils and would therefore be detrimental to learning the language. On the other hand, in the subjects of Mathematics and General Studies we think it essential that there is someone on hand who can help a pupil in his/her mother tongue if the child is having difficulty understanding. In addition, the specialist vocabulary must be developed in both languages.

From what we have just described it is evident that two teachers will also be in the classroom when Mathematics and General Studies are being taught: one teacher with the specialist vocabulary in English and one teacher with the specialist vocabulary in German. One of the teachers will take the main responsibility for the lesson while the other provides assistance. The principle of immersion is maintained in that each teacher or assistant only communicates in his or her native language.

Flexible school admission age

The Steinmühle Bilingual Primary School has adopted the principle of the flexible school admission age (flexibler Schulanfang) and therefore enables the primary school period to be covered in three to five years. Depending on their age, developmental stage and skills, children can complete the flexi-class of Years 1 and 2 in one, two or three years. By adopting this concept, we are allowing for the diversity of the pupils which owes its origin to the differences in their cultural and geographic origin and enable every pupil to achieve a performance in every lesson which is a success as measured by their requirements. In addition, teaching is based on dialogue: identifying the way the pupils learn also forms part of teachers’ responsibilities, just as much as imparting the knowledge itself.

Timetable

We have developed a timetable for the Steinmühle Bilingual Primary School which takes as its starting point the subject matter and skills which are to be taught, and which is designed to enable the pupils to switch at any time to the international school system.

Subjects / study areas12341 to 4
Religion / Social Studies22228
Deutsch / German666624
General Studies (Sachunterricht) / Science224412
Mathematik / Maths555520
Kunst/Musik / Arts/Music334414
Sport / Physical Education333312
Englisch / English666624
Learn and Play33006
Total30303030120

 

The school day

The table below shows the structure of a day at the Steinmühle Bilingual School. You can see that the week consists of 30 lessons, in other words far more than can be found in the timetable of the Hesse state school system. There are reasons for this large number of lessons – and consequences too.

On the one hand the reasons can be found in the bilingual nature of the primary school education, and on the other hand in the overall approach to teaching which is intended to provide the children with an opportunity of learning which is unhurried, prompted by their interests and cooperative.

The consequences are that the children must be presented with a daily routine which is suitable for children and has a rhythm of its own: lengthy breaks with healthy food, plenty of opportunities to move about, holistic play opportunities and, if required, even the opportunity for a short sleep at midday (a power nap!) can be mentioned in this connection.

TimePhaseStaff
07:30 – 08:30 amArrival – supervision – morning assemblyClassroom assistants and teachers
08:30 – 10:00 amLesson 1Teachers
10:00 – 10:30 amBreak with fruit and vegetable snackClassroom assistants and teachers
10:30 am – 12:00 noonLesson 2Teachers
12:00 – 12:30 pmLunch in the dining roomClassroom assistants and teachers
12:30 – 1:30 pmLunch break – playing / movement / restTeachers
1:30 – 3:00 pmLesson 3Teachers
3:00 – 4:00 pmOptional supervision time 1Education specialists, classroom assistants
4:00 – 5:00 pmOptional supervision time 2Education specialists, classroom assistants

School fees

A bilingual school is more expensive and employs more staff than a German independent school, not least because of the additional coaching and the immersion method described. It is therefore necessary to invoice parents EUR 390.00 per month for a child in Years 1 to 4. This fee includes EUR 60.00 for supervising the children when the primary school day commences. Thus parents have the opportunity of leaving children at the school from as early as 7.30 am onwards but with the assurance that the children will be supervised. The tuition fee itself for Years 1 to 4 is therefore EUR 330.00 per month.

Fees for supervision and school lunches

The tuition fee of EUR 330.00 plus EUR 60.00 for early morning supervision is obligatory. In addition, a lump sum charge is made for food: this covers lunch every day, drinks and a fruit and vegetable breakfast. The costs for these are based on the meal fees charged for Years 5 and 6 in our secondary school and are EUR 80.00 per month.

The timetable you can see that lessons end at 3.00 pm in the full-time primary school. Two supervision periods are offered in the afternoon as an option for parents who are unable to collect their child at this time. These periods involve an active, play-based programme suitable for children. The first supervision period lasts from 3.00 pm to 4.00 pm and the second from 4.00 to 5.00 pm. The fee for each period is EUR 60.00 per month per child. These fees are only charged if you have registered for this service.

Costs of one-on-one coaching

If pupils older than the flexible school commencement age (flexible Schulanfang) (i.e. from Year 3 onwards) join the Steinmühle Bilingual Primary School we expect them to have language proficiency of at least level A1 in German and English. If this is not the case it is nevertheless possible for the child to be accepted for the school by special arrangement if additional language instruction is booked. The costs for this additional coaching are charged in addition to the normal fees and depend on the time involved.