Wednesday, May 15, 2013

German Schoolwork (Winter/Spring, 1st Grade)

I have to say, it feels like Luxembourg expat blogs are popping up all over the place right now!  Which is great!  Still, I haven't seen too many (any?) that delve into the public school system or curriculum from a participant's perspective, so I'd like to continue to fill that role in the "market" in case anyone is curious.  Plus, as a former teacher, it just interests me.

I've taken a few sample snapshots of Daphne's German tests from December, February, and April.  Before I share these, however, I'd like to share a few things I've learned (or at least understand better) about the curriculum over the past few months:
  1. Just a few years ago, the curriculum was altered in that they teach German, beginning in Cycle 2.1 (1st grade), with a new approach : as if German is a foreign language to all the students.  For Americans to wrap their minds around that, it would be like going to school in which all the kids are in the ESL program.  Apparently, they used to treat it more like a native language.
  2. The students do not learn letter names.  Rather, the approach is phonetic.  In other words, they don't learn the name of the letter "E."  Instead, they learn three different E sounds and vocabulary words that go with each, plus a representative word they always associate with that sound for reference.  So for E, they learned E as in Ente ("eh" sound in the word for duck), E as in Esel (long ee sound in the word for donkey) and E as in Katze ("uh" sound at the end of the word for cat).  Now they are learning the Ei sound as in Eimer (it's a long "I" sound in the word for bucket)
  3. Part of the reason the school years come in groups of two (Cycle 2 = year 2.1 and 2.2, Cycle 3 = year 3.1 and 3.2, etc, often with the same teacher for both years) is that learning objectives are set on a two-year basis. When you discuss your children's progress or are given a report, you will see their progress on a two-year scale.  So if your child is in Cycle 2.1 or 3.1 and it looks like s/he is quite low on the scale, this is not cause for alarm - s/he has another year+ to get there.  This system makes a lot of sense to me in light of the diverse and transient nature of the Luxembourg population.
  4. It is possible for children to work on material from the next Cycle in a subject if they are very advanced and have already met the objectives for that subject in their Cycle. (No, Daphne is not doing this! I just discovered it.)
In the fall, I posted on Daphne's German work here.  Many of the types of activities and assessments have remained constant...
what's the first letter sound of each word?
which words contain the sound, and where in the word does the sound occur?
Other methods have continued, but with an added degree of difficulty.  In these puzzle-train activities, as seen below, they now must spell the whole word instead of just coloring the spot where the one specified sound goes...

We've also encountered a few new assessment techniques.  Here, they must take the mushedtogethersentenceandseparateitintoindividualwords.
Um, but I'm pretty sure German actually has individual words that are this long too! ;)
Here's a choose-the-correct-word-for-the-blank...
so some reading comprehension involved here
As in the example with the puzzle-train, spelling is becoming more important.  Here are some dictation examples...
from the winter
and here from the spring
Below, they must highlight and correct the misspelling...

And understand some of the more subtle differences in spellings and meanings...
hmm, must ask Daphne the difference between isst and ist!
They have, in theory, learned the articles (der, die, das...) with each vocabulary word all along, but now they are assessed on this knowledge...
sticking with the yellow, blue, and red color-coding system from day one
We can definitely observe what they mean by teaching German as a foreign language.  At the beginning it was all about vocabulary - massive word lists without much attention to spelling at all except one or two letter sounds.   They must get all the kids as close to on the same page as possible in terms of understanding and speaking the language.  This is the most urgent objective, considering how many "mother tongues" are represented in any given class.  Soon, they work on writing a few very simple sentences.  Now, they are gradually introducing the spelling and grammar pieces, reading comprehension, etc.

Daphne's spelling is quite amusing at the moment (but you must not tell her I said that!).  At home, she still writes in English, because it's her native language and she learned a bit of reading and spelling in kindergarten in Oregon.  If you are familiar with the phonetic spelling of a Kindergartener, though, you'll know it can be a bit difficult to decipher.  But now what we have is an interesting combination of German and English phonetic spelling of English words!

As a small example, she just wrote a story at home about a little fish, spelled "Fich" - and with a capital F as in German.  For the record, that's not correct in either language.

She'll get there.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting all this information, Rosie!
Nana and Granddad