German programs flourish all across the US–whether in the frozen landscape of Alaska, the deserts of the Southwest, the shores of the Atlantic in the East or the Pacific in the West, or in the middle of America’s heartland, German teachers create success for learners of all ages.
The World Language Department at Lincoln Sudbury Regional High School offers 4-year programs in 4 languages – German, French, Latin and Spanish.
Lincoln Sudbury is located in the western suburbs of Boston and has an enrollment of over 1600 pupils. We are a PASCH-School; both our students and our teachers have benefited greatly from the opportunity to participate in sponsored courses and seminars in Germany each year.
German has been offered since Lincoln Sudbury was founded over 50 years ago. Traditionally, German was the small, add-on language for high academic achievers who perhaps already had a background in another language. Beginning in 2003, we made a concerted effort to strengthen the program and increase enrollment. In the 12 years since then, our enrollment has increased from 43 students in 2 sections with one half-time teacher to 160 students in 7 sections with 2 full-time teachers and one part-time teacher. So how did we do it?
This involved a culture shift at our school. Through conversations with guidance counselors, administrators and middle school teachers, we demonstrated that German is for everyone, highlighting the many linguistic and cultural connections between Germany and the US. Celebrating German cultural events in a big and loud way is a great promoter of German at our school. We celebrate Oktoberfest, Silvester & Karneval with lots of good food and very loud music. Once we have our students’ attention via these activities, we emphasize academic excellence teaching to high standards and offering our students the opportunity to participate in both the National German Exam and the German Advanced Placement Exam every year.
Our program would not be what it is today without our GAPP exchange. We partner with the Gymnasium Vilshofen in Niederbayern on a yearly student exchange. We include our exchange partners into our German program activities and the larger Lincoln Sudbury community with welcome parties, excursions, presentations on German life and culture, and visits to classes across all disciplines. This draws more students to German and encourages students already enrolled to complete the full 4-year program.
Our plans for the future are to continue making German come alive for our students, extending our outreach efforts to students traditionally under-represented in the German classroom to build our base and continue to show that at Lincoln Sudbury, German truly is for everyone.
Contact information Joan Campbell
World Language Department Coordinator & German Teacher
Lincoln Sudbury Regional High School
390 Lincoln Rd.
Sudbury, MA 01776 firstname.lastname@example.org School Website
Westchester Academy for International Studies, TX
Westchester Academy for International Studies (WAIS) has found that the chances for motivating children for German language study is increased when early language study is required. All incoming 6th graders at WAIS who choose German as their foreign language study must take at least five years of it.
WAIS is of the firm belief that exposing our students beyond the bare minimum of the state required two years of a foreign language not only fosters better German language retention, but also allows our students to perform very well on German Language Achievement Tests. We have also found that the best way to promote continued study of a foreign language is to treat foreign language as a core subject from the start. We have found evidence in our German program that early-start language learning improves cognitive skills and academic performance.
When conducting our German classes, we teach these classes according to International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement foreign language standards. We try to expose the German student to the most possible of a total immersion course no matter what level is being taught. Our primary emphasis is on the acquisition of spoken German at all levels of German. We also expose our German students to games, songs, every day modern German culture, and role-playing. In a relaxed and fun-filled environment, young learners build upon and refine the skills and vocabulary developed in each year of German study. We provide continued opportunities for genuine communication in German. Our German program has grown on a regular basis year to year. Currently we have students enrolled in German levels I – VI. Annually students participate successfully in IB and AP exams.
In addition, we encourage the students to participate in our German Club and to qualify for Delta Epsilon Phi, our honor society for outstanding German students. We strongly promote GAPP, the German American Partnership Program. Every two years WAIS students go to Germany and German students come to WAIS.
We have also found that providing a number of starting points for students new to WAIS helps with language retention. This means that a student who entered WAIS sometime after the sixth grade will have the same German language opportunities and requirements as those who entered in sixth grade.
Building community support and respect is very important for our German program, especially during times of severe fiscal constraints. Language fairs, competitions, and involvement of parents and community members keep our German language classes vital.
The success of our German program at WAIS is also due to our teacher profile expectations. We currently have two German teachers at WAIS (myself and Jürgen Müller). The two absolute musts are that German language teachers be certified for the grade levels they will teach and be native or near-native speakers of German. It is also important that our foreign language teachers understand first and second language acquisition in children. The amount of time that we spend teaching German per class period also has a great effect on German language retention. In their first year WAIS students spend at least 45 minutes per class period learning German. In subsequent years it is at least an hour and a half per class period. This will also ensure that students receive the amount of instruction needed to meet the goals of the national standards.
WAIS hires at least one foreign language teacher per language so that the teacher is part of the school staff and can communicate and coordinate with regular classroom teachers. Each WAIS German teacher has a reasonable amount of classes per day and most classes have no more than 20 students per class. WAIS does build time in each German language teacher’s schedule to collaborate with the regular classroom teachers, develop and adapt materials, and participate in meetings and opportunities for professional development.
Cheyenne Mountain High School in Colorado Springs has offered its students German classes since at least the early 1960s. In August 2001 I became the German teacher at CMHS, after having taught German in Oklahoma for 15 years where I built a program up from 40 students in German 1 & 2 to 160 in German 1-4(AP).
Cheyenne Mountain has a student population of 1,350 and we offer German, French and Spanish. We have the three languages in our junior high as well, so students can learn there for two years, and have those years count as the first year of language learning. Thus, ninth graders can start in Level 2 and proceed up through AP. At the high school we have German 1-4 and AP. When there is enough interest, we also offer German Film and Conversation class. We currently have 135 students in German. Deborah Abbo is the second German teacher who teaches German 1 & 2, while I teach German 3, 4, and AP.
My aim has always been to engage the students actively in their language learning. I use a wide variety of techniques and materials to help them achieve the most they can in German classes. My approach to language learning is a mixture of methods with the end goals being that the students will be able to communicate well in speaking and writing while having cultural and historical knowledge of the German speaking countries. I try very hard to help my students make German an integral part of their lives.
To achieve these goals, I strive to stay updated on everything German, and be very active in AATG and Goethe-Institut events. We are fortunate to be a PASCH-School, so I have been able to participate in summer seminars, on a Goethe-Institut scholarship. This has greatly increased my knowledge while freshening up my language skills. We have also been able to send students to Germany for PASCH summer camps, from which the students have benefited greatly. Our partnership with the Goethe-Institut enabled us to host several speakers and performers, all of which has kindled interest here in German. We also participate in the annual AATG Colorado German immersion weekend where students get to use German very actively for 48 hours. Our German Club watches real German movies and hosts events where students can use German.
My goals for German at CMHS include continuing to grow the program so that we can add a third German teacher. It is through continually igniting student enthusiasm for German that we will achieve that goal. We are also exploring starting a school exchange program. Up until now we have traveled to Germany and had family stays in various cities, all arranged through International Student Exchange. Our administration has approved an exchange program, so that is the next adventure awaiting us.