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Questions and answers on how, why and when NMS offers French and Spanish.

Do you actually offer French or Spanish to your students starting from year 5, and if yes, how many teaching hours per week?

Yes, we do offer voluntary French and Spanish in years 5 and 6 (as the first additional foreign language) as part of the electives (WUV) course system. The subjects are taught for four hours a week (including four written exams per year). In year 7 these students are supposed to continue with Spanish in an advanced group. Ideally there should be 18 students in each group. We also want to implement the prior condition that only students who are clearly good at languages (German and English) can choose these courses. The reason is that a lot of bilingual students are already struggling with the two (or even more) languages that they have to master and another language could make things worse in the long run.

Can you tell me about scheduling? Do the students have French or Spanish at the same time? Do you have classes that only learn French or Spanish, or do you combine students?

We have had mixed classes but decided to change that ?due to scheduling problems: six parallel groups in four grade levels is very ?hard to coordinate with teachers who teach more than one subject, in both lower and upper secondary school.? That is why all year 7 ?classes are now organized by second foreign language choice (French or Spanish).

How many students do you have in total (years 5 to 12)? How many study French? Spanish? Both?

Spanish teaching started only a few years ago, so we have not yet reached the Abitur classes. When this process is finished, there will be more or less an equal number of Spanish and French learners. There will be roughly 280 Spanish and 280 French learners, out of these maybe 50 students learn both.  Our policy is to try not to compete with each other but to collaborate.?The tendency of the students is to choose rather Spanish then French (60:40). However, we just introduced the system of a/b (Spanish) and c/d (French) classes because it turned out that it had become more and more difficult to work out an acceptable schedule with so many parallel groups and it's an easy way of supporting French and getting equal numbers. ??The target figures for 2014 are:

  • Year 5: 100 students in total - 18 Spanish, 18 French
  • Year 6: 105 students in total - 18 Spanish, 18 French
  • Year 7: 105 students in total - 50 Spanish (7a/7b), 50 French (7c/7d) at 4 hours per week. 3 Spanish groups (1 advanced, 2 beginners), 3 French groups (1 advanced, 2 beginners)
  • Year 8: 105 students in total - 50 Spanish (8a/8b), 50 French (8c/8d) at 4 hours per week. 3 Spanish groups (1 advanced, 2 beginners), 3 French groups (1 advanced, 2 beginners)
  • Year 9: 105 students in total - 50 Spanish (9a/9b), 50 French (9c/9d) at 3 hours per week. 3 Spanish groups (1 advanced, 2 beginners), 3 French groups (1 advanced, 2 beginners)
  • Year 9 WPU (elective, Wahlpflichtfach): 10-15 students per group in French and Spanish at 3 hours per week. These can be students who have learned the other language from year7 on and are now taking, for example, German (mother tongue), English (partner tongue), Spanish (second foreign language from year 7) and French (third foreign language as an elective subject (Wahlpflichtfach), or beginner students (Seiteneinsteiger) who need to meet the Abitur prerequisites (four continuous years of second foreign language learning).
    In the past we had some students in the elective course who used it as a comfortable way of receiving additional instruction parallel to their normal Spanish classes, but this is not the idea and should be avoided. We sometimes combine the courses with year 11 students from the IB program who selected Spanish ab initio, the curriculum is very similar (language level A1).
  • Year 10: 105 students - 50 Spanish (10a/10b), 50 French (10c/10d) at 3 hours per week. 3 Spanish groups (1 advanced, 2 beginners), 3 French groups (1 advanced, 2 beginners). After year 10 (after four years of second foreign language learning) students can stop learning Spanish or French.
  • Year 10 WPU (elective, Wahlpflichtfach): 10-15 students per group in French and Spanish at 3 hours per week.? We sometimes combine the courses with year 12 students from the ?IB program who selected Spanish ab initio (language level A2).
  • Year 11 (Abitur/IB): 100 students; 3 hours per week - 10-15 Spanish, 10-15 French (Basiskurs/IB Language B) (language level B1).
  • Year 12 (Abitur/IB): 100 students; 3 hours per week - 10-15 Spanish, 10-15 French (Grandeurs/IB Language B) (language level B2).
  • Year 13: 50 students; 3 hours per week - 10 Spanish, 10 French. Exception: beginners in German (Seiteneinsteiger Deutsch). These are students new to Germany, they do not take French or Spanish because they attend the parallel German course.

How many teaching hours do you have in total, for the whole school, in Spanish and in French?

70 teaching hours for each language per week including one remedial hour (Förderstunde) for each language in lower secondary school.

Do you have exchange programs for either/both foreign languages?

The French department has managed to establish an exchange with a school in Paris. We are still looking for partners in Spain, but organizing an exchange for a whole class is very time consuming and difficult due to our busy schedule and the different school system in France and Spain. (When we would like to travel - at the beginning or at the end of a school year, the partners have not yet started or already finished with classes. In the middle of the school year our students are very busy with so many other projects and exams that it is hard to find the right slot.)

Can all the students choose either language, or do you have to split the numbers of students equally (or other) to fit your staff/teaching hours criteria?

See above. The problem is not so much the staff as we do have enough hours and teachers for Spanish and French, but the number of students per class. It's not fair to have small French classes with 10 students and parallel Spanish groups with 24 students. That was the situation in the past before we decided to split them into equal groups. There are six teachers for French and six for Spanish. One of them can teach both.

Can your students who have no German background enroll in a third language class, or do they need to reach a certain level in German before they are able to add another language?

As you can see above, the German beginners (Seiteneinsteiger) are currently not attending French or Spanish classes in years 7 and 8. However, in the past some students have demonstrated the ability to learn German and Spanish at the same time in year 7 and have been very successful in both languages. The number of German beginners (Seiteneinsteiger) is too small to open a special foreign language class for them so they are offered the WPU elective (Wahlpflichtfach) in year 9.

Are you planning to offer any other language to your students in the future?

This is not the case, there seems to be no demand within the school community.

Cäcilia Harder
Acting Head of Spanish
NMS/ March 2012

 

25.06.2017 Nelson-Mandela-Schule · Staatliche Internationale Schule Berlin | Nelson Mandela School · State International School Berlin