Tag Archives: Language immersion

Adolesco – Your Ticket to the World!


A non-profit language immersion and cultural exchange program  – ADOLESCO


17-year old Sacramento-area teenager Gemma B. has lived in Germany, France, and Spain in addition to her native California thanks to Adolesco, a non-profit exchange organization that matches American children and teens with exchange partners in Europe for short-term language-immersion and cultural exchanges.

Unlike typical ‘one-way’ foreign exchange programs, Adolesco only offers real exchanges: each carefully matched partner has the chance to both host and travel, taking turns to live with their exchange partner and family for up to three months. This reciprocal exchange experience typically results in close friendships and life-long international connections on both sides.

“When I arrived at the airport in Germany, it wasn’t hard to find my exchange family: they were wearing matching grins and t-shirts that spelled out ‘GEMMA’. Johanna’s family was so welcoming that I quickly felt at home.”

You Can Participate With Little To No Foreign Language Knowledge

With Adolesco’s guidance, children and teens with little or no exposure to a second language are often able to gain remarkable fluency. As Gemma recalls, “I’d only studied German for a few months before going to Germany. During the first days of my exchange, beginning to understand and speak German was alternately frustrating and hilarious. Eventually, speaking German became Adolesco gemma-and-johanna_goslarsurprisingly normal.”

And there’s no reason to wait until college for the opportunity to study abroad. Living a new culture as a member of a family rather than visiting as a tourist is a tremendous opportunity that Adolesco makes available for children as young as 9 (and up to 18). Parents on both sides are encouraged to treat the visiting child not as a guest, but as another sibling. This true integration offers a unique opportunity for developing real understanding and appreciation.

“I enjoyed experiencing life in Germany and learning about its culture and history. I also had the opportunity to re-examine and better understand my own country’s culture and relationship with the world.” -Gemma B.

How Does It Work?

Adolesco is based in France and staffed by a network of representatives and volunteers across Europe and North America whose children have benefitted from these exchanges. Interested families must complete a thorough application process that includes a home visit and interview. Candidates are only matched with exchange partners when the team feels like an exchange will succeed. In many cases, the connection between the two families and the two exchange partners will be life-long.

“The girls have a perfect understanding… this exchange opened new horizons for Emma but also for the whole family – thank you!” -Sandrine, French mother

In Latin, Adolesco means ‘I’m growing’ and the Adolesco team believes that learning a new language, understanding another culture, and growing beyond our cultural boundaries benefits our children, our families, and our world.

Learn more about Adolesco:

Adolesco is accepting applications for this summer! To travel or host this summer, apply by March 31 – visit www.Adolesco.org to get started.

Watch a short video about Gemma and Johanna’s exchange:

Follow current and past exchanges at www.facebook.com/adolesco.org


 Contact Adolesco’s Exchange Coordinator in California at kristin@adolesco.org

Text & Images Copyright ©Adolesco                                                                       (Sponsored Post)



New Language Immersion School in Glendale to Open Fall 2017


In fall 2017 a new language immersion school is planning to open its doors in the Los Angeles area. 

International Studies Language Academy (www.islaca.org), a new charter school in Glendale, will have an:

ELEMENTARY SCHOOL (K-5) that will offer immersion (90/10 model) in French, German, Italian and Spanish. All grades K-5 will be open to all students, regardless of language skills – no prior knowledge of the target language is required.
The MIDDLE SCHOOL will have two tracks. A Continued Immersion track will be open to students already fluent in their target language (25/75 model). An Acquisition track will be open to students with no prior knowledge of the target language (25/75 model), giving them an opportunity to become fluent in their target language by high-school.

The program of the school is designed according to the International Baccalaureate framework and is furthermore supported by the school’s affiliation with the International Studies Charter School in Miami, which is ranked #1 among charter schools in Florida.

The State has already approved the new immersion school to have its location in Glendale. The actual school building will be in Southern Glendale and is still in the process of being negotiated. The school model, similar to Benjamin Franklin Magnet School in Glendale, will also offer 6-8 grades, so that the students can continue their immersion education in German (and other languages) throughout middle school. In 2018, the board is planning to file a petition for a Language Immersion High School as well.

If you are interested in the school and would like to find out more, please visit the future school’s website at www.islaca.org . Questions can also be sent to info@isla.ca.org . 


Image Credit: ISLA




German Schools in California – Plan Ahead for School Year 2013/14

German Schools in CALifornia – Send in your Application 

As the new year kicks off many schools are starting their application processes or are already in the midst of it. Language Immersion Schools are very sought after these days and its advisable to send in your application as soon as possible, or at least get your name on the waiting list.  If you have in mind for your child to attend a German language immersion school make sure you find out if there is a separate application procedure for native speakers.

At some immersion schools native speakers might have a slight advantage and a better chance to get a space since the school needs to have a certain percentage of  native speakers to offer a well-functioning language immersion program.

Apart from January’s application season many schools host also open houses for parents and students to check out their program and to see if it’s the right choice for them.

A Language Magnet School in Glendale

It’s nice to see that some parent groups are really active out there and engaged to keep German language programs going. One of these schools that can call itself lucky to have such an engaged parent volunteer body is the Franklin Magnet School in Glendale.

Franklin Magnet School – The International Foreign Language Academy of25 Glendale is offering several language immersion programs, German is one of them. Before the holidays the school had the honor of  German Deputy Consul General Stefan Biedermann visiting the students and presenting them with a check of nearly $6000 to support the German language program.

Anyone who is interested in applying to Franklin Magnet School’s immersion program is advised to send in applications immediately. The cut off date is January 25 at 4:30pm.

IF YOUR CHILD SPEAKS GERMAN, SCHEDULE A TIME FOR THE EXAM! WHERE: GUSD Magnet Office at 223 N. Jackson St., Glendale, CA 91206, PH:(818) 241-3111 ext 649.

For more information on the school and the application process see the following links:
Main GUSD Magnet Page: gusdelementarymagnet.org
Direct link to the application page: gusdmagnetandflag.com
Applications MUST be RECEIVED by the Glendale Unified School District (GUSD)  by January 25 at 4:30 p.m. !


California’s Southland

Orange County International Academy  (OCI Academy) in Ladera Ranch has been introduced in our previous article on German Schools in CA. The school opened its doors not too long ago, and because of the high demand in its various immersion programs established a popular German immersion program in South County for grades Pre-K to K.

On January 7th  and 12th, 2013 from 10pm-1pm  OCI Academy’s Open House invites parents and students to check out the school and its academic program. Parents can meet the teachers, find out more about the curriculum and tour the school.  For questions please call the school at (949)-545-7487

The Albert Einstein Academies in San Diego had announced that the lottery process for applying to their school’s K – 8 grade has already started. The application deadline for K-5 is Feb 28, 2013 but for grades 6-8 it is already Jan 31, 2013. More information about the application procedure can be found at www.aeacs.org . Middle school has its new separate website at http://aeacms.org

Northern California Schools

GISSV – German International School of Silicon Valley offering a bilingual education from Preschool to University opened up a new campus in November 2012. The historic Hillside School of Berkeley became the school’s 3rd campus in the San Francisco Area. GISSV, which is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges” (WASC), offers the German International Abitur (DIAP), and the CA High School Diploma, which qualifies students for acceptance into European and American universities.

noname“The GISSV Berkeley campus, currently housing a mixed-age Kindergarten and grades 1 through 5, to be extended through grade 8 over time, is honored to make its permanent East Bay home in Berkeley.” The Grand Opening  Ceremonies were quite impressive with theGISSV Orchestra, performing “Music for the Royal Fireworks” by George Frideric Handel.

The Following Open House Dates for GISSV are offered:
Berkeley Campus, Preschool and Grades K-6
Upcoming Open House:
January 12, 2013 – 11am to 1pm
San Francisco Campus, Grades K-3
Group School Tours:
Every Tuesday from 9:30am to 10:30am during our enrollment season. Please contact admissions@gissv.org to register (registration required).
Upcoming tour dates for 2012/2013:
January 8 / January 15

The German American International Schools (GAIS), another German immersion School in Silicon Valley which offers preschool through 8th grade,  has an information night on all sections of the school on January 8th at 8pm . The deadline to apply to the German American International School is already on Jan 14, 2013 (for new students only). To read their latest news, check out their online magazine .   

The Challenges Of Raising A Bilingual Child

Bringing up a bilingual or in fact even multilingual child isn’t always an easy task. Lots of unforeseen challenges often lay ahead and even with good intentions it’s often hard to follow through.

When our now eight-year old son was born it was simply expected that he would learn to speak German along with English.  There were several reasons for it. An important one was that I wanted him to be able to communicate with my parents whose knowledge of the English language would not have been sufficient enough for building a deeper relationship with my son, their grandchild. Another reason was that I had raised my older son, who was born in Germany, bilingual, and I naturally wanted to give the younger brother the same advantage of being comfortable in two languages as well as cultures – since with the language comes along also a deeper understanding of the particular culture. I had learned that early on myself that being able to dive into conversations with the natives when visiting a foreign country opens up a complete different perspective, and makes one understand people of a particular country more in depth, including their values and what makes them drive.

Challenges Ahead

What concerned us, we were initially thinking of raising our son trilingual, since my husband’s native tongue is Spanish. As much as our decision of raising our little son with three languages seemed like a very sensible one at first, it turned out to come with a lot of challenges along the way.

Feeling left out

One easily forgets that someone not understanding and speaking the other language might feel left out eventually. This often happens to be the spouse, but also other family like grandmothers, aunts, uncles etc. What we experienced in our family was that following through on speaking German with our little guy demanded a lot of patience and trust of others in the family particularly my husband whose German was limited at that time . Constant open mindedness was absolutely important for both parties in this endeavor, in addition to being consistent with speaking German despite discouraging looks and comments of people around.

Connecting to your child in your native language

Speaking of consistency, we learned first hand how hard it is for the parent who is working full time to follow through on using his/her native language. Since the main “family language” was English among us and our older children, my husband had a hard time to follow through on speaking Spanish only with our little son. He felt he couldn’t connect to his son properly since all the little guy heard during the day was either German or English. Slowly but surely my husband’s Spanish gave way to English in the end. Only now since our son is learning Spanish in school my husband experiments with speaking some Spanish with him also at home.

My child understands but doesn’t want to speak the language

Another quite common challenge I often hear about is that kids sometimes refuse speaking in the second language despite the fact that they fully understand everything. This was also the case with my older son. We had moved to California when he had just turned six years old. Even though he was already fluent in English and German at that time, he hated it when I addressed him speaking German in public. He didn’t want to be different and my speaking German to him embarrassed him in front of his friends. He constantly answered back in English and begged me to “speak normal” meaning using English when conversing with him. I then tried to reduce my German speaking to conversations at home, and ignored the fact that he was answering back in English. Today one of his courses in college is German literature after all.

Once all these various difficulties have been addressed in one way or another, it can be a very rewarding experience to raise a child with more than just one language. In our case it was not only our little son who benefitted from it and now can chat along with his cousins in Germany, but my husband learned to speak and understand German as well.

Constant immersion into the second language is one important key to success  

I believe it is very important to have the other language/s be a constant component in the daily life of a multilingual child. It is critical to implement a natural understanding of the other (native) languages especially in the very early stages of childhood. If my son wanted to watch a movie or listen to a story when he was little,  it had to be in German. Now that he is older and has his friends from school over I am more relaxed regarding German, even though our personal communication continues to be in German.

A great support not only for the child but also the specific parent I found, is initiating friendships with other children who grow up learning the same language. Join a German mother-child group or a German Immersion Kindergarten or start your own. Find some resources here on our website. Helpful in finding likeminded families can also be attending one of the German Saturday schools throughout California.

Find creative ways to immerse your child into German to strengthen those language skills. Have him/her listen to German books on tapes which make car rides fun. Watch German kids movies or TV series like Biene Maja or Die Sendung mit der Maus , and enjoy reading to them in German as well! There is great reading material out there and so much new kids & youth literature to discover, be it by German or English authors. Just get the book in German instead of English. We for example can’t get enough of Cornelia Funke’s books these days, but also can’t wait for the next book in Michael Buckley’s series “Die Grimm Akten” (engl title: “The Sisters Grimm”). They are all being read passionately in our house.

Finding adequate reading/movie material

The Goethe Institut in Los Angeles has an extensive media room and offers children even to rent out German movies. They host book fairs and Saturday movie mornings for children. There is also plenty of literature online these days, try the online libraries of the Gutenberg Projekt for example, which offer 10,000 titles for free including a great selection of Märchen and other children stories. If you are looking for a particular book or movie, try Amazon.de, they will send German movies oversees.

Should you worry about your child not learning English properly?

My experience is that since we are living in the U.S. and we are surrounded by people speaking English, one shouldn’t worry. The environment our children are growing up in is infused by the English language. Wherever they go they will most likely be addressed in English. They will have neighborhood friends who will speak English. And, as soon as your child attends Kindergarten or school he/she will make even more English speaking friends and therefore easily  learn to transition into English whenever needed and master it in perfection as well.

So dive into the fun of (re)discovering German literature and movies for your child and for yourself, and make it an enjoyable learning adventure for everyone in the family.

Finding a German Kindergarten, School, German Immersion School

Check out CaliforniaGermans Resources


Further Reading Material of Interest:

Article on Language Immersion Programs for Children:  http://www.pbs.org/teachers/earlychildhood/articles/language.html

KPCC – Bilingual Learning Report   http://projects.scpr.org/bilinguallearning/#options


“Global Communication Begins at Home” http://www.multilingualliving.com/2012/04/24/the-abcs-of-multilingual-parenting-the-letter-t/#more-8222

Language Development – Bilingual Children http://www.babyzone.com/baby/language-development/raising-bilingual-children_73233-page-2

Foreign Language Learning for Adults: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120328172212.htm

“Better living through Language Immersion” http://socialexpat.nymgo.com/?p=1242

Article on Raising a Child Bilingual: http://forward.com/articles/154652/why-my-daughter-isnt-bilingual-yet/?picks_feed=true

“German in a Multicultural World” http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/15/education/edlife/german-in-a-multicultural-world.html?pagewanted=2&_r=4

“What Role Does German Play Internationally”       http://www.magazin-deutschland.de/en/artikel-en/article/article/welche-rolle-spielt-deutsch-international.html

Online Gutenberg Book Catalog:  http://gutenberg.spiegel.de/buch/5502/1