Differences in MBE in Germany
of 16 federal states, each of which has its own school system.
- Mecklenburg-Vorpommern: does not take part in
the bilingual system at all (so far)]
- Bremen: subjects in the general curriculum
are cut to provide enough time for the bilingual lessons (owing to the financial
- Lower Saxony: possibility of offering more lessons.
- Northrhine-Westphalia: grades 5 and 6: two
additional lessons (in the foreign language), grades 7 and 8 another additional lesson.
Bilingual education in the
German context implies the following:
- additional general language lessons to provide the
necessary language skills in grades 5 and 6.
- starting in 7th grade, the bilingual subject, i.e.
History, Geography, Technology, Politics, Biology, Arts or Sport taught in the foreign
language and in the mother tongue in one additional lesson to make sure that the specific
terms are understood.
- MBE non-compulsory
- MBE teachers must be qualified in both the foreign
language and the subject area they are teaching. Problems of teacher-supply due to lack of
training courses in some federal states.
Case Study: Bilingual Education in the Rhineland-Palatinate
After Year 4: choice of school
to gain access to MBE
Parental choice of
school, made in consultation with teachers and with childs ability in mind, can
determine whether a child enters MBE at secondary level.
Gymnasium: possibility of
choosing French or English bilingual education
geographical location of this region, preponderance of French taught in MBE. 1992 = 13
Gymnasien had bilingual sections operating in French/German and 9 in English/German
First two years: two additional
lessons in the first foreign language (= 5+2)
7 hours per week in
first two years, as opposed to the normal 5 hours taken by non-MBE students. This provides
a solid basic knowledge of the foreign language
Towards the end of Year 6 : gradual
introduction to the subject matter (usually History / Geography)
earlier than normal to give MBE students a taster and the option of opting out of MBE
learning in Year 7.
Year 7: bilingual instruction
starts, usually two lessons in the foreign language and one in German (= 2+1; sometimes
German lessons to
ensure that all concepts, especially technical terms, have been understood and secured
1+1, where used, due to financial constraints
Common core for the bilingual
sections in upper-level secondary education
& Civic Education = Gemeinschafts/Sozialkunde taught in the foreign language, usually
putting special emphasis on the social and political background in the partner country.
taking foreign certificates (Baccalauréat [Bac] together with the Allgemeine
No foreign language
certificates awarded to the students. Small number of schools are taking part in bilingual
programme so far but growing. MBE sets out to provide students with a deep knowledge of
the foreign language to match the growing demands of the free job market.
Hauptschule: pilot project
(1989-1997) at 3 different schools
No MBE until pilot
project ("206A") started at three Hauptschulen in 1989. Unique in Germany
due to low expectations of students going to these schools. MBE in English only and their
only subject for this is Arbeitslehre (basic technology & economics).
MBE teachers follow
the official syllabus set for subjects taught in the mother tongue.
Success of this project led the Ministry of Education to write additional special
curricula that are oriented towards the specific aims of the bilingual sections. History
and Geography syllabi designed for classes ranging from Year seven to Year ten are being
Textbooks from the
target language country used and supplemented with resources from the PZ (regional
- integrating elements of bilingual education into
general modern language teaching;
- setting up bilingual sections for second or third
- offering bilingual education as an option in all
lower and upper secondary schools;
- developing concepts for teacher-training and
- developing student teacher exchanges;
- developing bilateral co-operation with regard to the
partial integration of binational education systems, curricula and diplomas, following the
example of the Franco-German schools experiment in simultaneously awarding the Abitur
and the Baccalauréat diplomas;
- co-ordinating curricular programmes leading to two
different national diplomas required for university entrance with university courses
leading to a dual qualification;
- exchanges of ideas and teaching material serving
- setting up a network of bilateral projects aimed at
having pupils work together in the places most suited to the themes chosen in the partner
for more information about MBE in Germany