Frequently Answered Questions
Below you will find the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions. If you have any questions that are not addressed here, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 617-783-2600 x12.
Does my child need to be fluent in both German and English to attend GISB?
That depends on the grade to which they are applying. Children who apply for admission to our Preschool and Kindergarten programs do not need to speak or understand German. Starting in grade 1, applicants must demonstrate a good understanding of German. Since many of our subjects are taught exclusively in German, we want to make sure that students are comfortable participating in classroom activities and completing homework assignments in German. Applicants entering grades 1 – 5 who have little to no German language skills may be eligible for the GISB Fast Track, an accelerated language program for strong candidates. Applicants to our Middle and High School must be fluent and literate in German.
While it is not necessary that German is spoken at home, it is proven that children who have opportunities to converse and read in German outside of school have an overall easier time achieving fluency and literacy.
English fluency is not required at any grade level. Our outstanding English Department provides differentiated instruction for both novice and native English speakers alike.
Are applicants required to take any tests prior to admission?
While we do not require specific admission tests, applicants whose primary language is not German must be tested by one of our German as a Second Language teachers to ensure that we can meet your child’s language-learning needs. This can be done during a “Schnuppertag” (visit day) or via Skype, if a visit is not possible. We also request the previous two years of report cards when applicable.
Students applying to our Fast Track program will be tested in English and Mathematics as well.
Where do I find the supply list for my child’s grade?
Supply lists & reading lists are posted here.
What do I need to submit to the Nurse’s office for my student?
Please see our health information on the Get-Ready webpage.
What is the difference between Preschool and Kindergarten?
The term ‘Preschool’ in American English equals the German term ‘Kindergarten’ (ages 2.9-5).
The term ‘Kindergarten’ in American English equals the German term ‘Vorschule’ (ages 5-6).
What are the requirements for Preschool and Kindergarten admission?
Children must be three years old by December 31 of the year in which they will enroll, in order to be able to enter our Preschool. They should be reliably toilet trained by the beginning of the school year. Due to state regulations, children must be 2.9 years old when entering preschool. Therefore, children who turn three years old between December 1 and December 31 can only start in the preschool program on October 1 and not at the beginning of the school year (September 1).
Children must be five years old by September 1, in order to participate in GISB’s Kindergarten program. For more information please contact our admission department.
Do all high school students at GISB take the International Abitur Exams?
As a German International School, GISB leads to all degrees of the German school system, including the Abitur, as well as the GISB high school diploma.
In the German school system, grades 5 and 6 are seen as an orientation level, where teachers and parents are working closely together to observe the student’s performance in the different academic fields. At the beginning of grade 7, a small percentage of students at GISB may be placed in the Realschule (“Mittlerer Schulabschluss”) or Hauptschule tracks (“Erster Schulabschluss”) instead of the Gymnasium track, which leads to the Abitur. This is a decision made thoughtfully by both the parents and the school based on a thorough consideration of a student’s interests and academic abilities. However, students of all three tracks (Gymnasium, Mittlerer Schulabschluss, Erster Schulabschluss) remain in the same class studying the same subject matter. Through personalized, in-class differentiation and grading modified for each track, students are challenged according to their abilities.
Fast Track Admissions
Is there any German required required when applying to the Fast Track program?
No previous German is required for students applying to the Fast Track program in grades 1-4. Students applying to the grade 5 Fast Track program are expected to speak and understand some German (Level A2 – according to Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).
How much German instruction will my child get each week?
A lot! Together with other students enrolled in the program, your child will participate in an enriching German as Foreign Language program. Throughout the week, while their peers attend regular German Language & Literature lessons, Fast Track students meet and learn together. In addition, approximately half a day each week is dedicated to German language learning. Also, throughout each week there will be scheduled periods of German support in your child’s regular classroom. Frequently, the Fast Track teacher will be present in addition to the subject teacher. Some classes at GISB are taught in English, so your child will also maintain and develop their English fluency.
What are the differences between the Fast Track Program and GISB’s regular curriculum?
Students in the Fast Track receive even more individual attention and significant additional hours of classroom instruction in German. This begins in late August, when Fast Track students will participate in an additional language orientation camp the week before the school year starts.
The Fast Track program is lead by a dedicated teacher, working in close coordination with regular classroom teachers for grades 1 – 5. Together, faculty ensure each student’s maximum participation in GISB’s regular curriculum. Your child will be a full participant in their regular grade-level classroom, including going on field trips, making friends, and sharing recess.
Does my child have to wait a full year before they can switch fully into the regular curriculum?
It depends on the child and their progress. Students will need to consistently demonstrate the ability to participate fully in GISB’s regular curriculum in order to depart the Fast Track.
What if my child isn’t ready to leave the Fast Track after one year?
We are confident in the Fast Track model, because of the growing number of similar language immersion programs across Germany and the US. Research in language acquisition and into specific programs with a similar model demonstrates the enormous success of such programs. That said, every child is different. For all students at GISB, we address individual learning needs on a case-by-case basis as a team. Ongoing, varied, and thoughtful assessment will help you and your child’s teachers discuss possibilities far in advance, if it appears that your child may continue to need significant language support beyond the one-year term of the Fast Track.
After my child moves to a regular classroom, is additional support planned?
The teacher overseeing your child’s German language acquisition is a native German speaker. Yvonne Aust is a long-time resident of New England with an MA in Education & Sociology from the University of Heidelberg (Germany). With broad and deep experience teaching students at the university level, supporting elementary students with special needs, and teaching preschool in the US and China, in addition to work in the private sector, Yvonne Aust has a career-long focus and demonstrated success teaching German-as-a-second-language.
As a parent, do I need to speak German to support my child’s learning and connect with other families at the school?
It is completely fine for parents to have no German language skills. GISB is a multicultural community and parent meetings and communication are always in English. It goes without saying that we suspect those interested in this challenging program will make time at home for a child to read German books, watch videos, visit German websites, and listen to audio CDs. Beyond that, parents of all languages and backgrounds enjoy taking part in our annual festivals and celebrations, where GISB friendliness unites us!